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  Library Journal Review

The phenomenally best-selling author on the value of teaching-and the value of storytelling in teaching. With a big tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

In another easily embraceable memoir by the best-selling (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) author of Angela's Ashes (1996) and 'Tis (1999), McCourt now concentrates on his career as a teacher for many years in the New York City public school system, where he worked in four different high schools. His trademark charm, wit, and unself-conscious self-effacement ensure that the flashbacks of his dreadful days growing up in extreme deprivation in Ireland don't sink the narrative in self-pity. Remembrances of his struggling days in college in New York (dozing years ) provide informative foundation for the real point of the book: relating his development into the kind of teacher he became--namely, one who shares his life stories not only to establish bridges of experience with his students but also to get them to open up. His new book is hardly a teaching manual; however, what it is on one level is a tough but poignant and certainly eloquent defense of the sacrifices and honorableness of those in the teaching profession (Teaching is the downtown maid of professions. Teachers are told to use the service door or go round the back ) and a lesson itself in taking yourself seriously--but not too. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2005 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

McCourt's latest memoir focuses on what 'Tis (1999) gave short shrift to: his life as a teacher. The same dark humor, lyric voice and gift for dialogue are apparent here as McCourt tells the tale of a 30-year career teaching English in New York City high schools. He begins with his scary first day facing a roomful of 16-year-olds at McKee Vocational and Technical High School on Staten Island, where his job was to teach five English classes per day to teenagers preparing for futures as plumbers, carpenters and auto mechanics. The year was 1958 and McCourt was 27, just out of New York University. One doesn't have to be a teacher to relish his account of how reading the students' obviously self-authored absence excuses inspired him to create a composition assignment they couldn't resist: write a note of excuse from Adam to God. After eight years of stifling bureaucracy at McKee, McCourt taught briefly at New York Community College in Brooklyn, Fashion Industries High School and Seward Park on the Lower East Side. At 38, he left for a doctoral program at Dublin's Trinity College, returning two years later without a degree. (That misadventure could fill another book.) After drifting as a substitute teacher for a year, he landed a job at prestigious Stuyvesant High School, where thousands of the city's top students compete for a few hundred spots. McCourt's self-deprecating tone diminishes in this section, for now this innovative teacher is given free rein, and it is clear that he's having a grand time. He recalls an unforgettable vocabulary lesson involving a picnic in the park with ethnic foods brought by students in his creative-writing class, and a recipe-as-poetry class in which students read recipes aloud to the accompaniment of assorted musical instruments. The teaching profession's loss is the reading public's gain, entirely. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Nearly a decade ago Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with Angela's Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize -- winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came 'Tis, his glorious account of his early years in New York.<br> <br> Now, here at last, is McCourt's long-awaited book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. Teacher Man is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faces in public high schools around New York City. His methods anything but conventional, McCourt creates a lasting impact on his students through imaginative assignments (he instructs one class to write "An Excuse Note from Adam or Eve to God"), singalongs (featuring recipe ingredients as lyrics), and field trips (imagine taking twenty-nine rowdy girls to a movie in Times Square!).<br> <br> McCourt struggles to find his way in the classroom and spends his evenings drinking with writers and dreaming of one day putting his own story to paper. Teacher Man shows McCourt developing his unparalleled ability to tell a great story as, five days a week, five periods per day, he works to gain the attention and respect of unruly, hormonally charged or indifferent adolescents. McCourt's rocky marriage, his failed attempt to get a Ph.D. at Trinity College, Dublin, and his repeated firings due to his propensity to talk back to his superiors ironically lead him to New York's most prestigious school, Stuyvesant High School, where he finally finds a place and a voice. "Doggedness," he says, is "not as glamorous as ambition or talent or intellect or charm, but still the one thing that got me through the days and nights."<br> <br> For McCourt, storytelling itself is the source of salvation, and in Teacher Man the journey to redemption -- and literary fame -- is an exhilarating adventure.
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