The collection of short stories in “Parent Plots, Teacher Tales & Student Stories” by Edward M. Baldwin will entertain you, make you smile and sometimes surprise you. The delight starts with the very first story, The Old Salesman. As I was reading, I was reminded of the wrinkled old guys from one of the Pixar shorts where they were playing chess. In this story, the character is running late to work. The author painstakingly paints a picture of this elderly gentleman preparing for his day and kissing his wife goodbye. In just a few pages, my fondness for the character grew. I could see him clearly and felt sad for how his life had ended up. Then, just as quickly, Baldwin surprised me, and a great twist had me looking at the character in a whole new light. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but as a teacher I loved seeing an example of a different way kids can learn outside of the classroom.
Although these are short stories, they vary in length. Drop Quiz is only three and a half pages. Straight to the point and with lots of dialogue, it is a surprising piece that will grab you from different places depending on your background. In Text Booked, five and a half pages are covered as if they are text messages. But Dumb Assignment wins at a page and a half! I can picture my students enjoying the silliness of it, and comparing it to some of the classroom assignments they’ve had in the past.
The last story, Winning, takes place during an awards ceremony at a crowded school cafeteria. The main character is a dad who is obsessed with gambling. He carries on a non-stop rambling in his head throughout the evening, revealing his faults and his deficiencies as a parent and a husband. Referring to your wife as a gargoyle is not going to get you very far, but as with other stories, this one has a twist and we see this loser dad come to his senses!
I highly recommend “Parent Plots, Teacher Tales & Student Stories” by Edward M. Baldwin. His background as an English teacher is evident in his work, and you can tell he worked in a classroom environment. Visit his websitehttp://www.edwardmbaldwin.com/home.html for great information about his other work and to access his three blogs.