Twenty-four year old Esme Codell is an enthusiastic, sensitive, and often stubborn teacher who sets high standards for her fifth grade class. "Madame Esme," as Codell insists her students address her, teaches her first class with creative ideas and tactics. She makes a time machine filled with books that take students to places in the past and future. She organizes a "Cajun Christmas" pageant. When teaching her class about inventions, she wears an outfit made of rubber bands, light bulbs, chewing gum, and roller skates. However, things are not all fun and games. Codell's diary of her first year teaching also provides accounts of abused and angry children, gang members, and a rather senseless, sexist principal.
This is a funny and often very touching account of a teacher's first year in the classroom. Experience with Codell the joys and frustrations of teaching in an inner-city Chicago public school. Codell's public radio feature based on this book was awarded First Prize for National Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association. She is also the recipient of the Dr. Peggy Williams Award for outstanding new teacher in the field of reading and language arts, given by the Chicago chapter of the International Reading Association.
Reviewed by md, 1/4/00. Other reviews by md.