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Teacher's Dead [Paperback]

Benjamin Zephaniah
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 6.99
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Book Description

3 Sep 2007
A teacher is dead, murdered by two of his students in front of the school. He was a good man. People liked him. So how could this happen? Why? It just doesn't make sense to Jackson, and he is determined to investigate the case until he understands. Benjamin Zephaniah has, once again, chosen a topical and hard-hitting subject - and he deals with it in his own uniquely empathetic and edgy way.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (3 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747586098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747586098
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Benjamin Zephaniah is probably one of the most high-profile international authors writing today, with an enormous breadth of appeal, equally popular with adults and children. Most well-known for his performance poetry with a political edge for adults and ground-breaking performace poetry for children, Benjamin has also written several urban novels for teenagers. Benjamin has his own rap/reggae band and has appeared on Desert Island Discs. He travels the world speaking about his books and poetry.

Product Description

About the Author

Benjamin Zephaniah is probably one of the most high-profile international authors writing today, with an enormous breadth of appeal, equally popular with both adults and children. Most well known for his performance poetry with a political edge for adults and ground-breaking performance poetry for children, Benjamin also has his own rap/reggae band, and has appeared on desert Island Discs. He is in constant demand internationally to perform his work: he is (he thinks) Nelson Mandela's favourite poet, and is the only Rastafarian poet to be short-listed for the Chairs of Poetry for both Oxford and Cambridge University. His previous novels for Bloomsbury are Face, Refugee Boy and Gangsta Rap. He has also edited an anthology of poems, The Bloomsbury Book of Love Poems.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple message 4 Feb 2008
By Dah J
This story delivers a simple message. It warns of the dangers of indiscriminately believing everything one hears, and invites the reader to evaluate, analyse and review information before choosing how we react to those who the details relate to. In short, the message is don't be taken in by everything you see and hear.

Devoid of the trappings of flowery rhetoric, Zephaniah presents a straightforward account of one boy's quest to find the truth behind a horrendous murder he witnesses in the school playground. There is a noticeable lack of adjectives and adverbs, but this only serves to distance the reader from forming pre-conceived ideas about the characters presented in the story.

Zephaniah skilfully avoids stereotypes - we are not given any detail of ethnicity or religion. He does however, allude to some common mis-representations of individuals in society (noticeably mental illness) and allows us to consider the consequences of domestic violence, broken homes and absent parents; but without judgement or amplification. The reader is simply left to follow the story as the case unravels to a surprising and totally unexpected climax and here lies the strength of Zephaniah's writing, as the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place without any change in the pace or flow of the story.

Zephaniah does not preach, moralize nor make assumptions; but neither does he miss the opportunity to drive home the importance of tackling bullying. The lead character Jackson Jones is an ordinary boy who engages in frank exchanges with his mother, openly asks questions, enters 'enemy territory' and also cries. He is not presented as a weakling, but neither is he given the kudos of a Hollywood hero. He is simply a teenager in any secondary school, in any town in the country; but what he discovers allows the reader to consider how we 'see' 'hear' and process what is presented to us as the truth.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of truth narrated by a kind-hearted nerd 25 Jan 2010
Teacher's Dead begins with the murder of Mr Joseph. He is stabbed by one of his students. The student, Lionel, and his friend, Ramzi, plead guilty very early in the novel. Thus, the plot itself is not so much about the murder, but rather about the experiences the first-person narrator Jackson makes as he tries to get to the bottom of this "case". The novel is the account of a schoolboy who is determined to reveal why his two fellow students killed his teacher.

Throughout the storyline there is a critique of the media coverage of the murder. In the newspapers and the TV news, the two boys are the bad guys and their families are to be blamed for them turning out to be such bad guys. Like the narrator, the two boys lived with their single mother. Jackson is angry about this over-simplification and traces the personal story of the two boys. What he finds is sadness. Soon, the school boy and the wife of his stabbed teacher become close friends. He calls it his "case" and reports his findings in a diary type of style to the reader. In the course of his investigations he has contact with two different gangs of teenage bullies. It turns out that one of these gangs is directly related to the murder of his teacher. Finally, Jackson even becomes friend with the mother of the murderer, who is a considered to be a witch by everybody else.

The story is told in surprisingly distant terms. The first person narrator considers his search for the truth as a kind of personal therapy. However, we do not get an inward perspective of himself or of any of the characters. We get an idea of how some of the person involved must feel - the mum of the murderer feels lonely and sad, for example. But the reader is given little else than the necessary hints to make her/ his own assumptions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good read 1 Feb 2009
A good story for the over 12s. It makes you think about the issue of mental illness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Teacher's dead 12 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fiction written in a simplistic but very believable way! When you read in the papers about senseless acts of violence, you shake your head and wonder what on earth could possess a human being to act in such a way towards another human being. This story is that wondering with a teenage slant on it. It is all too easy to blame the parents for the young adult's actions but this book shows they are affected just as much as the family of the murder victim.
A good read - one I recommended to my book club!
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5.0 out of 5 stars So gripping 1 Dec 2013
By Dylan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It must be one of the best books i have read. I couldnt stop reading it i would definitely recommend this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars We need to talk about Benjamin. 23 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Oh, how I wanted to like this. After all, it's not about a boy wizard... and it makes a semi-decent stab (pun vaguely intended) at locating itself in a world that's recognisable to its readership... and it's by Benjamin Zephaniah, an unfailingly decent and upstanding chap.

Alas... it's really not up to much. While the intention is laudable, characterisation is desperately thin, the plot equally threadbare, the 'twist' virtually non-existent... and the dialogue... ooooh, the dialogue, given that it was written by a poet, is stiff and unnatural beyond redemption. I suspect that BZ might have had reluctant/lower ability readers in mind... but specialist publishers (and, more importantly, *editors*) like the good folk at Barrington Stoke manage to combine linguistic accessibility *and* brevity *and* pace *and* grittiness *and* realism... which this, unfortunately, only ever hints at.

So... consider my 3* rating a generous one, for attempting a novel that aspires to do a crossover between 'The Curious Incident...' and 'We Need To Talk About Kevin'... but falls at pretty much all the hurdles in between.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Long live the teacher
This is a thought-provoking book, mainly reinforcing the simple tenet; do not believe everything you see. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Michael Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Engages the reader and then poses many questions
Benjamin Zephaniah is better known as a poet than a novelist and this was the first book of his that I have read. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Dr R
4.0 out of 5 stars Very intriguing and a definite page-turner
I found this book very intriguing and a definite page-turner. I picked up this book because of the Author. Read more
Published 14 months ago by OliWoods
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I chose this book because I heard about it on school and wanted to read it but found it wasn't that good
Published 14 months ago by Neil Rutlidge
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Very good read, as good as all the other Benjamin Zephaniah books. Would recommend them all! Definite Five out of Five!
Published 17 months ago by Raoul Gromocki
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I thought this book was a real eye opener to how people think and how they are treated. It shows that seeing is not believing ...believing is seeing. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Danielle Cyster
4.0 out of 5 stars Tackles a challenging problem in a direct way
I am not the target market for this book so please bear that in mind when reading my review.
This author was interviewed on the radio about this book so I bought it for my... Read more
Published on 11 May 2010 by Janie U
2.0 out of 5 stars Considering the premise, a big let down
Jackson Jones sees two students kill a popular teacher and sets out on a mission to discover the true nature behind the murder. Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2009 by Stampy
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor dialogue, great concept
I was expecting more given the author's reputation. There are gaping holes in the story and at times the dialogue is pure, characterless exposition. Read more
Published on 15 July 2009 by Word Worker
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