School’s Out! – Jack Sheffield

This is the seventh book in the series which Jack Sheffield started with Teacher Teacher, then it was 1977, it is now 1983 and to be honest I felt that perhaps with this book we are going over old ground.  The structure is of course in line with the school year as you would expect and that is fine. However I felt that the majority of the book was full of anecdotes piled into each chapter and the references to what was going on in the world; the Miners Strike, Boy George, halfpenny pieces and the price of stamps, were in a lot of cases contrived and rather forced.

Jack is settled with his wife, Beth and they have a new baby to now factor into their lives. Beth though is not settled, despite wanting to spend time with her new son, she knows that she wants to go back to work eventually and that perhaps she needs some fresh challenges. Jack seems too settled at Ragley-on-the-Forest Village School as headmaster and is not willing to change or move. Jack is becoming a weak character for me and I was finding it a bit of a bore.

Regular characters are obviously featured in the book, Vera the school secretary, her brother Joseph the vicar, Sally still trying to fight the flab and get her husband to become interested in something other than woodwork. Of course there is the delightful Ruby who for me in this book far outshone any of the others. Life changes for her in an instant and we see how she copes. This is handled beautifully and really gives a sense of community to the place of Ragley.

Of course there are changes which is what is moving these books forward, and the reason I have concluded that I keep returning to these books to read is that I remember so much of the nostalgia of the time. This series of books is of my time, therefore it feels like I am reading about growing up. However, I am not sure how much longer these books are sustainable for?

This wishy-washy review reflects that I found the book a bit wishy-washy.

I have really struggled with this review, because I just found I was reading a lot of little stories that someone has told someone else and they have been passed on to the author and they have been packed into the book to give it some substance. I admit to being disappointed, especially as I picked up the book because I needed to read something comforting and familiar. 

I am trying to reconcile myself into whether I now read the 8th book which is already out Silent Night. I want to for the nostalgic purposes but if it is more of the same I am a bit worried. I know that I will not buy the book, but if I come across it in the library or a charity shop then well if the mood takes me. The books are fairly easy and quick to read. But right now I would not recommend Jack Sheffield’s later books in this ‘Teacher’ series.