Book Binge – Teacher's Dead

book bingeNext up a book by a favourite author. I love Benjamin Zephaniah‘s poetry, so I launched into Teacher’s Dead with incredibly high expectations.

The book begins with a murder. We know who the killers are from the opening scene, this isn’t a whodunnit. The story is told from the perspective of Jackson Jones, a boy who witnessed the events and feels the need to find out why two of his fellow pupils became killers. This involves asking a lot of questions as well as befriending both the murdered man’s wife and the mother of the boy who stabbed him. The full story is gradually revealed, leading to an ending that is both satisfying and unexpected.

The fact that the wife of the murdered teacher is not at all vengeful and remains focused on celebrating his life provides much to reflect on, especially for younger readers. However in places the writing seemed a little patronising to me: a section reflecting on what constituted a broken family made me cringe, but I can imagine younger readers would view it differently. This is after all a children’s book, not one aimed at an adult audience.

Is Teacher’s Dead good enough to win the Sheffield Children’s Book Award*? I don’t know; but of the two I’ve read so far my personal choice would be Life on the Refrigerator Door.

However Teacher’s Dead is a good book, it is definitely worth reading and I would happily recommend it to any of my students, but probably not to adult readers.

Benjamin Zephaniah’s site is well worth a visit.

* This page is currently somewhat out of date. The shortlist of books that we’re reading for the 2008 award is here.

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