Cover detail of Last Day of School by Jack Sheffield

Last Day of School by Jack Sheffield

Apologies for the lack of post on Tuesday, Panto rehearsals ramped up this week. The first performance is tonight, with 2 more scheduled for tomorrow and then that is panto over for the year. It has been immensely good fun, and I am in awe of anyone who can stand on a stage in front of a 100+ people. I certainly could not do it and am backstage this year helping with props.

Read my post about Back to School books

Today's book was a lovely surprise for me. It is the last in the Ragley-on-the Forest series, and I was not aware that it had been released! Traditionally, Jack Sheffield has released a book a year in this delightful series, which were dutifully purchased and enjoyed. Then Jack moved to a different series, which was a prequel, and featured some of our favourite characters from the books at school. But he has returned to the original series with this one, to close off the loop before embarking on another series. So was this a fitting finale?

The Plot

Change is in the air for Jack Sheffield and the Ragley Village School. It's 1987, and after a decade as head teacher at Ragley-on-the-Forest School, Jack Sheffield is looking to the future. he and his wife are expecting a baby and the school is preparing for the introduction of the new National Curriculum. And then there are the many everyday surprises that come with life in the village, like combing the Church for an escaped pet mouse....
So when Jack if offered an opportunity that could change everything, he has a difficult decision to make. Endings are never easy, but perhaps the thrill of a new beginning is exactly what Jack needs.

My Thoughts

These books are pure nostalgia for me. The first book in the series was set in 1977, I started school in 1978, so the stories that Jack Sheffield tells are my era. I can remember the school meals, the spam fritters, salad with roast potatoes and the comforting puddings all served with lashings of custard sometimes coloured pink. My primary school was a very happy time and certainly bears no resemblance to the amount of testing and homework that occurs for our young people today.

We played outdoors, spent all of our time riding on bicycles and loved exploring nature around us. jack Sheffield, takes this nostalgia up a level by talking about the fads of the day. The TV programmes that we watched, the history taking place around us and the fashions and music that dominated our lives. All set within a small North Yorkshire community.

If you enjoy the James Herriot stores, then prepare to meet another fab cast of characters. I love Nora, amateur thespian, at the coffee shop who will serve you 'fwothy coffee' and a day old rock cake, or Tidy Tim at the hardware shop, whose displays are precisely laid out. We catch up on the lives of our favourite school staff, Ruby the kind-hearted cleaner, Vera, the most-capable Secretary who is capable of solving any kind of moral dilemma. Jack Sheffield is almost happy to open up the stage to these characters and is happy to take a back-seat, whilst chewing over a career-changing decision.

A lot of the threads are nicely tied up and by the end it feels like we are leaving our favourite characters in a satisfying place. Jack Sheffield's next book is University Tales and is out in Hardback, with the paperback published in Summer 2024.