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Book of the week: Cooked, but still hot stuff

Educating Esm: diary of a teacher's first year
By Esm Raji Codell
Workman pound;7.99

Esm Raji Codell stares out of the front covers of her books like someone you want to slap. It's something about the Pre-Raphaelite hair and the irritating smirk. And one suspects that some of the teachers she worked alongside may have shared the urge. This girl is not a team player. She is young, sassy, loud-mouthed, confident and confrontational. She demands to be known as "Madame Esm" and arrives at her first teaching job determined to "kick pedagogical ass".

Yet she is also passionate, energetic, imaginative and compassionate. You only have to read a page or two of Educating Esm to realise this is a special teacher - one you would pay good money to sit your own children in front of. Luckily then, as well as writing this short memoir, she has also poured her passion for reading into a big, beefy manual of activities, ideas and inspiration for exploring everything in the world through books.

But first things first. Madame Esm spent a year teaching 10-year-olds in a poor school in Chicago, and her diary of that year has won several awards and become a bestseller in the United States.
It is not a pretty or sentimental book. Things are awful at this school.

Read more in this week's TES Friday magazine

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