The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Richard Peck is a master at packing even his lightest books with deeper meaning and thought-provoking ideas. Here they include the nature and purpose of education, transformation wrought by technology, the complexity of family relationships, the ways people judge and are judged, and, at the end, the ways in which "the child is father of the man."
What's the story?
\"If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of year for it.\" So thinks Russell Culver, when his \"teacher, Miss Myrt Arbuckle, hauled off and died.\" With no teacher in his one-room schoolhouse, Russell thinks he's home free -- until his big sister, Tansy, takes the job. Unlike Miss Arbuckle, Tansy isn't hard of hearing or arthritic -- she can still whup plenty hard.
Hardheaded, no-nonsense, and determined to call her students to the \"trough of knowledge,\" teacher Tansy is Russell's worst nightmare, and he aims to head out for harvest in the Dakotas. Even accidentally setting fire to the boy's privy on the first day of school doesn't slow her down, nor does a series of pranks and mishaps that includes an exploding stove and a snake in her desk. But both Tansy and his father are smarter and wiser than Russell knows, and they have some definite ideas about his future.
Is it any good?
Almost uniquely among comic novelists for children, Peck appeals to the head and the heart, as well as the funny bone, all without pandering to his readers' baser instincts. THE TEACHER'S FUNERAL has all the elements we've come to expect from Richard Peck: wicked wit conveyed in crackling, razor-sharp prose; a setting in a time and place unfamiliar to most readers; a depth, complexity, and compassion rare in comic novels; wise elders; vivid characters who are determined individualists; and subtle underlying messages that make his books terrific for discussion groups.
Peck makes his readers laugh out loud while watching children solve their own problems, but he does it in exquisite prose, filled with fascinating period detail, and without the usual writer's tricks of getting rid of the adults or making them useless. Now there's a writer's trick more authors need to learn.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about education. Why is Russell so eager to pursue physically demanding work instead of an education?