The Teacher's Funeral

( 21 )

Overview

If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of year for it," begins Richard Peck's latest novel, a book full of his signature wit and sass. Russell Culver is fifteen in 1904, and he's raring to leave his tiny Indiana farm town for the endless sky of the Dakotas. To him, school has been nothing but a chain holding him back from his dreams. Maybe now that his teacher has passed on, they'll shut the school down entirely and leave him free to roam.

No such luck. Russell has ...

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The Teacher's Funeral

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Overview

If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of year for it," begins Richard Peck's latest novel, a book full of his signature wit and sass. Russell Culver is fifteen in 1904, and he's raring to leave his tiny Indiana farm town for the endless sky of the Dakotas. To him, school has been nothing but a chain holding him back from his dreams. Maybe now that his teacher has passed on, they'll shut the school down entirely and leave him free to roam.

No such luck. Russell has a particularly eventful season of schooling ahead of him, led by a teacher he never could have predicted-perhaps the only teacher equipped to control the likes of him: his sister Tansy. Despite stolen supplies, a privy fire, and more than any classroom's share of snakes, Tansy will manage to keep that school alive and maybe, just maybe, set her brother on a new, wiser course.

In rural Indiana in 1904, fifteen-year-old Russell's dreams of quitting school and joining a wheat threshing crew are disrupted when his older sister takes over the teaching at his one-room schoolhouse after mean, old Myrt Arbuckle "hauls off and dies."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
PW wrote in a starred review, "Following the tradition of Mark Twain, Peck gently pokes fun at social manners and captures local color while providing first-rate entertainment." Ages 8-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Combine a slice of Americana with young adult angst, throw in some humor, unforgettable characters and beautiful writing and you have this YA novel by one of the country's most skilled and prolific writers. Russell Culver, 15, wastes few tears when he hears about his school teacher's sudden death. Maybe their one-room school will close for lack of a teacher and he and his friend, Charlie Parr, can light out for the Dakotas and a life of running shining farm machines. Or maybe not. Suddenly, his seventeen-year-old sister, Tansy, persuades the county school board to let her teach. Russell and his younger brother, Lloyd, are reluctantly educated at a pace that leaves the late Miss Myrt Arbuckle in the dust. Then the questions come: can Tansy handle a class ranging from a six-year-old to young men taller than she is? Why does Glenn Tarbox, older than the teacher, suddenly show up "for learnin' and for the long haul?" Are he and Charlie sweet on the teacher? Who is the mysterious Sweet Singer of Sycamore Township who posts her poems around the community and seems to know everyone too well? What about Eugene Hammond, the driver of the Overland speedster who literally ran into Russell's family as they returned from Miss Myrt's funeral? When boxes of school supplies arrive, compliments of the Overland Automobile Company, Russell is forced to see Tansy—and life in the small farming community—a bit differently. Peck is a wordsmith whose descriptions sing. Comedy or not, this book is a pleasure to read. 2004, Dial Books, Ages 12 up.
—Judy Crowder
KLIATT
Over the past few years, Richard Peck has left the realm of realistic fiction and ventured into the historical realms of his own past and the people and places that make up America of an earlier time. His new novel takes a humorous yet wholesome look at the Indiana farm country as America begins the 20th century. Rich with colorful characters, Midwest dialect and poignant plot twists, The Teacher's Funeral is the story of Russell Culver and the year the county schoolteacher dies of old age. What follows is a rollicking glimpse of adolescent pranks and dreams in a simpler time. Russell is all boy, 15 years old and not yet out of the eighth grade. He hopes that his school will close down, leaving him and his best friend free to ride the rails to the wheat harvests in the Dakotas. To his chagrin, his older sister Tansy is given the position of schoolteacher, and no sheets in the bell tower or snakes in the desk drawer are going to deter her. Tansy takes the task seriously and helps her brother see the importance of education in a rural world that has already begun to change with the times. Lloyd is Russell's younger brother, who looks up to him; Charlie is his best friend; and the Tarbox farm is one place to avoid. Russell's father is a good, wise man who allows for mischief but not at the expense of family relationships. Younger YAs might need help understanding the historical context, but Peck fully and gracefully describes the family life of an era gone by. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Penguin, Dial, 190p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-C'mon back to rural Indiana in 1904 and join 15-year-old Russell, whose summer ends with the unexpected death of old Miss Myrt Arbuckle. Russell and his younger brother are thrilled because just maybe the school board will decide to stop its foolishness and tear down the one-room schoolhouse. Surely it doesn't pay to hire a new teacher for the six students who attend. But to his utter horror, one is hired and it's none other than his extremely bossy older sister, even though she still has a year left of high school herself. Tansy takes to teaching with vigor and manages to circumvent all of the high jinx and calamities that threaten to undermine her authority, such as an accidental fire in the privy and a puff adder in her desk drawer. Peck expertly evokes humor and colloquial speech and mores with such sentences as "The water wasn't crotch-deep on a dwarf at that point," and "She had a snout on her long enough to drink water down a crawdad hole." Even readers who are blas about current technological advances will be as excited as Russell is when he sees the steel Case Agitator threshing machine down from Wisconsin on its once-yearly exhibit, or the Overland Automobile Company's Bullet No. 2 racing car that can travel a mile in an unheard-of 43 seconds. Another gem from Peck-and a fabulous lead-in to titles such as Olive Burns's Cold Sassy Tree (Houghton, 1984).-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of year for it," 15-year-old Russell Culver says, hoping the miracle of his teacher's death will mean his one-room school will close. Unfortunately, his great big, looming sister Tansy fills the teacher vacancy, and nothing-not a fire in the boys' privy, an adder in her desk, an exploding stove, or a fat lady stuck in a ditch-will deter her from bringing her charges to "the trough of education." It's 1904, and as Tansy sets about transforming the students, modern technology is transforming America. Motorcars, telephones, all-steel threshing machines, Edison Victrolas, and the Monkey Ward catalogue all figure in this story that richly evokes a time and place. Tansy, akin to Grandma Dowdel in A Year Down Yonder (2000) and A Long Way from Chicago (1998), is the elder who makes Russell grow up, able to go out into the world and seek his fortune. Laugh-out-loud scenes beg to be read aloud in this masterfully crafted ode to a strong teacher and a bygone era. (Fiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142405079
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/20/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 133,326
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.07 (w) x 7.67 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Peck

RICHARD PECK was recently hailed as "America's best living author for young adults" by the Washington Post. with 27 previous YA novels to his credit, he has won almost every children's book award. In 2002, he became the first children's author ever to have been awarded a National Humanities Medal.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2008

    Amazing Book

    This book is AMAZING!! I love how it is. I would like for someone to write a second on of these books and make it a seres.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2008

    Review from a former Hoosier

    This book was so funny, I ended up reading the first few chapters to my mother over the telephone. If you understand the dry wit of Mark Twain, this book will have you rolling on the floor.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    We are reading this for school

    I read a few of his books before my teacher decided to read it to us. I guess it would pass as a book . It is sometimes funny but not really in the way i like it (rick riordan style). I do not agree with how people are saying that it is a lot like tom sawyer. That book was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BORING but the teachers funeral is just MILDLY BORING AND I LIKE IT FOR THE MOST PART.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    Lol

    Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo BORING.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Half and half

    Liked it but sooooo boring

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2011

    oh no

    this book SOOOOO bored me to death, i had to ead it for summerreading, its a massachusetts thing, and i got so bored that i went online and used a summary to write my report! i love reading but, this book, it was increadibly boring, i always say give it until halfway at least, then if its bad, ditch it. honestly i almost broke my #1 rule it was that bad. all of my friends who read the book, about 27 of them, said they were bored to tears! not funny, not creative, a little similar to tom sawyer i think, i had to force myself to turn the pages. save yourself the torture, unless you're into something like that...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 22, 2011

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 16 Customer Reviews

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