“Educating Esme” is a sheer delight! As Madame Esme, a 24 year old teacher starts her first year as a fifth grade inner-city teacher in Chicago, she keeps a detailed and personal diary. The diary is the book. Esme’s honesty and acerbic wit, as well as her wildly imaginative teaching methods make her a great teacher, and an outcast with her principal, Mr. Turner, and her co-staff. Each entry Esme makes draws us deeper into the difficulties that she encounters having to be parent, teacher and counselor to children who have to learn boundaries, social skills, conflict resolution, and how to deal with their hard lives – as well as how to learn. She makes up titles for subjects: math is Puzzlers, science is Mad Scientist Time, social studies is T.T.W.E., which stands for Time Travel and World Exploring and language arts is Art of Language, while reading is Free Reading Time.
As Esme pours her soul into teaching the children learn respect and how to think, and she also earns their respect by always keeping her word. She deals with issues immediately. Called into Mr. Turner’s office, she fights back when he demands she call herself Mrs. Codell instead of Madame Esme. Fraught with hilarity, pathos and just plain Esme and her humanness, we fall in love with this confident and wacky soul. Her entries include poems about the janitor and life in the classroom, and are wonderful. When she creates a Time Travel machine out of an old refrigerator with a cop squad car siren on top (that works) the kids believe her. She puts them in one at a time, with a box of books and when they come out, they have to tell their travel adventures from the book they read in “real time.” As in, “when I was an alien on Garthos, I…” What an adventure they have and learning is fun.
This book is short and sweet – and a wonderful example of what we could have – and should have – for all of our children. Esme really teaches that learning is fun, conflict can be resolved respectfully and she teaches the reader that life is not the drama we make it.
I loved every page and so will you! Not only for educators, and teachers – although this is a MUST read for the profession, “Educating Esme” is about life. My only objection was that the book was too short. I am going to read it again! Delightful, delightful, delightful. And a true depiction of how difficult it is for our best and brightest teachers to remain teachers in the face of a standardized test-minded set of bureaucrats and directors of the board of public (and private) schools. Wish I had had Madame Esme as a teacher! Fantastic.
Rating is based on a 5-star scale.
Characters: 5 Overall: 5
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
To learn more about the Blog Tour and read other reviews as well as visits with the author you can visit Educating Esme Blog Tour.
Look for an upcoming interview with Esme Codell on Champagne Living.
Thank you to Julie Bonn Health and Esme Raji Codell for supplying this wonderful book for our review.
We’re giving away our review copy here on The Review Broads.
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