The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts

by Richard Peck

“If your teacher has to die, August isn’t a bad time of year for it.”... read more

“If your teacher has to die, August isn’t a bad time of year for it.” An irresistible opening sentence draws readers into Russell Culver’s memories of his 15 th year in a small Indiana town in 1904. Because of the unexpected death of Miss Myrt Arbuckle, teacher at Hominy Ridge School, Russell’s older sister, Tansy, is hired to take her place—to Russell’s absolute astonishment and dread. Even more shocking is that Tansy turns out to be good, a revelation that unfolds for both Russell and readers over the course of this highly entertaining novel. Richard Peck’s colorful supporting cast is comprised of characters in every sense of the word, from the other students at the one-room school to assorted townsfolk and others. But he balances high humor with tender and surprising revelations throughout the story, including the observant, sensitive parenting of Russell’s father, who knows the value of both restraint and well-timed intervention. Peck’s lively, artful writing (“Two hundred straw hats bobbed in the sun, and not a bonnet among us....You could scarcely draw a breath, and not every farmer had stopped by the trough on the way here.”) superbly captures a sense of time and place in a story that may be particularly enjoyable for many older children and young teens as a read-aloud. (Ages 12–15)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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