This book takes the form of a series of emails from Jack Woodson to a former colleague, Fred. Jack was made redundant after nearly 4 years at a thermal design firm, and decided to retrain as a teacher. The emails cover his first year as an educator, teaching 3rd grade and while names have been changed to protect the innocent the emails are based on real experiences.
The format of the book meant it was a nice easy read, with the emails creating an equivalent to short chapters. It would have been a nice book to have dipped into when I only had a bit of spare time to read, but in reality I read this over the course of two afternoons.
Due to the nature of the book, while we learn a bit about the background and physical attributes of Jack and some of his class and colleagues, this isn't really a character driven book, it's more of a literary sit-com. There are plenty of anecdotes about what his charges have said or done, and his responses to them. Some of the stories are so shocking you have to laugh and others must have bemused Jack as they certainly puzzled me. It is certainly a funny book and I found myself chuckling quite a lot. However I am also now in a state of fear. What starts in the States often makes it's way to this side of the pond, so I guess by the time my little one starts school I'll have to buy gifts for teacher for all sorts of occasions with no relation to education.
Quips aside it was also interesting to find out incidentally about some of the issues facing urban schools. I suspect a lot of the issues are the same here as in the US, such as teaching kids for whom English isn't a first language and endless testing. Don't expect serious debate though, this is a light hearted, irreverent book that suited my need for a short, humourous read perfectly.