Educating Esme

Friday, August 28, 2009


What a relief that it's Friday - especially after a really hard half of a Back-to-School week (it's possible that looking at old back to school pictures has reinvigorating my penchant for melodrama.)

I've saved the most horrifying Back-to-School picture for last dear readers. I thought it would be best to work up to it, first show the ugly white tights, then move on to the hot pink sweat skirt, and then show you the worst back to school outfit ever:

A jean jumper with turquoise socks and Gidget hair. I'm really surprised to see that turquoise socks played such a large role in my childhood - I had no idea.

And I wish I could tell you why I have that look on my face, but I can't figure it out either. It's clearly not my best look - but, sadly enough, it wasn't the worst Back-to-School picture of me in the book so I had to go with this one.

And here's a picture that demonstrates my favorite thing about school: the chance to take my Little House obsession to whole new heights. When we had to make a shadowbox at school, I made one of a log cabin. When we had to carve a pumpkin, I made a pioneer pumpkin. And when we had to make a town out of Popsicle sticks, I made the town from Little House on the Prairie (the show, not the book.)

Today's book, "Esme Raji Codell has come to teach. And she's not going to let incompetent administrators, abusive parents, gang members, weary teachers, angry children, dim-witted principles, or her own insecurities get in the way of delivering the education her fifth-grade students deserve. Fresh-mouthed and mini skirted, Esme can be both pig-headed and generous, churlish and charming."

Shallow thoughts:

  • Today's book was my favorite of the three I've read for Back-to-School week. There are places in the book where Esme comes across as being kind of mean and I was about to warn you that you might not like the book because of it - but then I figured, what would you be doing reading my blog in the first place if you have a problem with that sort of thing. Personally, I prefer a narrator who is kind of mean over one who sugar coats everything - but I realize not everyone agrees with me on that point - so I leave it up to you decide whether this is a good book.

  • Here's an example of the meanness, in which Esme is discussing showing her class the movie The Miracle Worker, "The kids liked the part where Annie Sullivan and Helen are duking it out over the dinner table. I was jealous that Annie gets to smack her students and I have to be nice." - Okay, so I can see how a person might not care for that passage, but show me a person whose never even fantasized about slapping a kid and I'll show you a person whose never spent an hour in heavy traffic with an eight year-old who keeps taking their seat belt off every five minutes and chanting, "I hope we get in a car accident and I die cause dying sounds fun," while simultaneously trying to unhook his brother from his car seat so the baby can experience the thrill of death as well. I think even Mother Theresa might have a little fun in her imagination after that one.

  • My one problem with the book had nothing to do with the book itself, but rather the library copy that I was reading. Whoever read the book before me was oh so helpful and left little notes in the margins, explaining what certain words meant (and thank goodness too, or I would still be confused on what the word trepidation means), pointing out which parts of the book were funny (which ironically turned out to be the few parts of the book that weren't the slightest bit funny), underlining certain passages and putting the words "good idea" next to it. I shudder to think of what a horrifying reading experience I would have had today if there hadn't been someone there to point out to me all the places where I'm supposed to laugh, or tell me the meaning of the word karma.