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Village Teacher
Teacher, Teacher series, book 4

by Jack Sheffield


If, like this reviewer you have been eagerly awaiting the fourth installment of the "alternative school logbook" from a primary school in rural Yorkshire, then here it is. It is now 1980, and the country is in the grip of a recession. Rural schools are closing everywhere, and it looks as though Ragley-on-the-Forest might be next to fall under the axe. Meanwhile, everybody is also wondering who shot JR, Vera the school secretary is getting to grips with an electric typewriter, Ruby yearns for roses, and Beth wonders when, if ever, Jack is going to ask her to marry him.

Fans of cozy nostalgia are having a thin time on Sunday evenings now that a certain programme has finished its monumental run, so it is a good thing that there are still books like this around. In some ways this is a lot less cozy than the first three titles, as it depicts a time that has many similarities to ours. But of course this is still a more innocent time, and once again we get treated to some of the hilarious things the children say; and we get to find out what series characters in the school and the village are doing. Perhaps the most memorable and most effective chapter is the one that deals with a day in the lives of two young brothers and describes perfectly how the eyes of childhood see the world. Undoubtedly this is a mixture of fact and fiction, but it is filed under "autobiography" and, as usual, is so entertaining maybe it is best to give Mr Sheffield the benefit of the doubt. Engaging, enjoyable and a trip down memory lane, showing the worst aspects of the period as well as the best.

The Book

Bantam Press (Transworld UK)
7 January 2010
0593061616 / 9780593061619
Autobiographical fiction / 1980-81 / Yorkshire, England .
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NOTE: These books come out of the author's own experiences as a teacher in a similar setting, but as he notes on his website, this village is a composite of several real life villages and the characters are largely a figment of his imagination.

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2010
© 2010