The Pulitzer Prize–winning author’s classic, “brilliantly illuminated” account of education in America (TheNew York Times Book Review).
Mrs. Zajac is feisty, funny, and tough. She likes to call herself an “old-lady teacher.” (She is thirty-four.) Around Kelly School, she is infamous for her discipline: “She is mean, bro,” says one of her students. But children love her, and so will the reader of this extraordinarily moving book by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of House and The Soul of a New Machine.
Tracy Kidder spent nine months in Mrs. Zajac’s fifth-grade classroom in a depressed area of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Living among the twenty schoolchildren and their indomitable teacher, he shared their joys, catastrophes, and small but essential triumphs. His resulting New York Times bestseller is a revelatory and remarkably poignant account of an inner-city school that “erupts with passionate life,” and a close-up examination of what is wrong—and right—with education in America (USA Today).
“More than a book about needy children and a valiant teacher; it is full of the author’s genuine love, delight and celebration of the human condition. He has never used his talent so well.” —The New York Times
Christine Zajac teaches fifth grade in a racially mixed school in a poor district of Holyoke, Mass. About half of her students are Hispanic; many come from broken homes. Through Kidder's calmly detailed re-creation of Zajac's daily round, we come to know her students' fears and inmost strivings; we also share this teacher's frustrations, loneliness and the rush of satisfaction that comes with helping students learn. It's a tough job: in one social studies class, half the pupils can't name the country they live in. Kidder ( House ; The Soul of a New Machine ) writes with sensitivity of Zajac's Irish-Catholic roots, of the need for educational reform and of the Holyoke Puerto Ricans' struggles for equality and success. We see Kelly School as a compelling microcosm of what is wrong--and right--with our educational system. Author tour.