By Edward M. Baldwin
Jazlo & Lossi Publishing, $16.95, 119 pages
An elderly man sits down to eat the breakfast his wife has prepared. When he’s done, he pecks her on the cheek as he leaves for the bus stop, briefcase in hand. He starts to read, but the school kids he sees every day waiting for their ride to school keep interrupting. Is he annoyed? Not one bit. He tells them what he is reading, listens to their tales and waves goodbye as the yellow bus takes them away. And then the story takes a wholly unexpected turn. In fact, the series of short stories and sketches all come with a surprise, paying tribute to teachers and parents whose love for their own children and for young students take the edge off their familiar challenges.
Edward M. Baldwin is an African American teacher and literacy coordinator. His stories and sketches highlight a single episode drawn from daily happenings and focus on African American kids along with the teachers and parents who share their lives. He captures the cadence of the dialogue as he writes perceptively and sensitively, helping his subjects deal with hardships by injecting a generous measure of humor.
While not every story is equally memorable, no reader will forget Mrs. Thurgood’s reaction to the show-and-tell tarantula, and how it radically improves her attitude to teaching.
Reviewed by Jane Manaster