ARC (NetGalley) Review: Mr.s Ravenbach’s Way

Product Details (Amazon): 

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Series: The Amazing Escapades of Toby Wilcox (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Regan Arts. (March 8, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1941393586
  • ISBN-13: 978-1941393581

Synopsis:

Tobias Wilcox who prefers to be called Toby has just moved into town, leaving his doting teachers and childhood comrade Carlton behind. Quite naturally he is not exactly eager to start the year at McKegway School For Clever And Gifted Children, seeing as that the environment is altogether new for him. Little did young Toby know that a lot more than fitting in would soon occupy his mind. In fact his mind would become the very root of his misery. Under the stringent tutelage of the unyielding and vainglorious Mr.s Ravenbach, young Toby’s freeminded opinions are not tolerated. This is a story about how a boy who wasn’t strong enough, fast enough, or even agile enough. It serves as a testament to how being smart and determined can go a long way. Friendship, forgiveness and family all have a part to play in young Toby’s playground. Now the question remains: will Toby rise to the occasion or be destined to repeat Fourth grade?

Review:

What immediately caught my eye is that William M. Akers (the author) had dedicated  the book to first-rate educators such as Sir Ken Robinson. Coincidentally, just two days before I read ‘Mr.s Ravenbach’s Way’, I happened to have watched a Ted video featuring Sir Robinson’s speech about how schools kill creativity. The speech was punctuated with humor and that too in good taste. It opened the door to intellectual discourse for the masses who were able to identify with Sir Robinson’s presentation style.

Similarly, in ‘Mr.s Ravenbach’s Way’ I found that William M. Akers offers a keen insight into the life of an ordinary fourth grader, a life that was made miserable for the pettiest of reasons. Undoubtedly, empathy plays a key role when reading the book. As I perused the pages, I was enamored of the story and became moved to the verge of tears, for Toby’s plight brought back many of my own miserable memories.

The narrative, for the most part, is done through Mr.s Ravenbach, however, the reader does get a glimpse into Toby’s thoughts through his private journal which ironically isn’t as private as it should be. On that note, Aker’s own sixth grade English teacher Mr.s Mason had betrayed his confidence, safe to say, he used his own experiences to add depth and realism to the story. This is a clear use of verisimilitude considering that many readers, including myself, will be able to relate to such incidents of betrayal. Almost comically the author has dedicated an undedication page to “awful teachers” & “Ghastly school adminstrators” which highlights the satirical side of the novel.

Further adding to the novel is the way Mr.s Ravenbach is portrayed. There is more to her character than meets the eye, and gradually, plot twist after plot twist, we begin to piece together what drives this teacher who is ever so thirsty for success and a fifth taste of the esteemed Golden Apple Award For Excellence In Teaching. In fact, though it kills me to say this, sometimes it is quite impossible not to feel sorry for her.

What struck me the most about this novel is how it broached the age old adage, “Honesty is the best policy.” If that is indeed true, then why do our teachers teach us to tell the truth and then go on to administer all manners of rules and regulations to silence us when we speak the truth, and nothing but the truth? The answer I gleaned is that hypocrisy is ingrained into our minds from a young age, and to be politically correct is more important than to be truthful.

Rating: 5/5 (Stars)

Justification: Had I read this instead of Enid Blyton, Dr. Suess, or Ronald Dahl when I was Toby’s age, it would have soothed my rebellious heart and taught me patience in the face of unassailable barriers. I only hope the future generation utilize this opportunity well.

Sir Ted Robinson’s keynote speech about Schools killing creativity. (it has more than 35 million+ views)

Click on this link to be redirected to TED’s video

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