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Mrs. Ravenbach's Way: A Novel (The Amazing Escapades of Toby Wilcox) Hardcover – March 8, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-This first in a planned series introduces Toby Wilcox as he starts fourth grade at the McKegway School for Clever & Gifted Children and immediately clashes with Mrs. Ravenbach, a teacher in the vein of Matilda's Miss Trunchbull. Mrs. Ravenbach, a self-described "wonderfully German woman," values "order and discipline" above all else. Now striving for her fifth Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, she isn't about to let Toby, a "sweaty tub of sass," get in her way. Of course her plot to get him expelled backfires, and Toby's own clever plan exposes her in front of the whole school. The story is told mostly from Mrs. Ravenbach's point of view, with Toby's journal entries interspersed. A decidedly mean-spirited tale (Mrs. Ravenbach gleefully frightens Toby into wetting himself in front of the class; Toby's journal entries detail all the violent ways he would like to get revenge). VERDICT This may be more appealing to adults who still have revenge fantasies about their childhood teachers.-Laurie Slagenwhite Walters, Brighton District Library, Brighton, MIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
“An edgy, subversive revenge fantasy in which kids speak truth to power . . . The order-and-discipline-obsessed Mrs. Ravenbach . . . is also reminiscent of Roald Dahl's evil Miss Trunchbull from Matilda and Professor Umbridge of Harry Potter fame.”
— Kirkus Reviews
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(Of course, that's quite alright by us- for a few more years.) This would be a fun book to read during summer camp while attempting to recreate some of the projects and activities- building the sub, writing poetry (especially about a mean teacher they may have had) running a few laps before class to work off some nervous energy, making Mrs. Button's brownies and the Wilcox bread- keeping a [really] private journal, writing a haiku, learning a little about Van Gogh and Beethoven (again the boys were enthralled by both men's character flaws much more than their art- and a poetry contest.
So my only criticism of this first effort is that the reading level in the book isn't consistent therefore from an educator's POV it would be a little difficult to pick a solid demographic for the book. For 6 bored kids and 8 rainy days of mostly BadNana reading to them - (I let them read the handwritten journal entries) it was pretty awesome. Almost a 5- 4.85 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Everyone has had deplorable teachers. Mrs Ravenbach is a caricature and borderline deranged.
That Toby's parents are wimps is something I was not expecting. Would like to know more about "Fast Eddie."
He was more interesting than the title character.
As energy is "eternal delight" Mrs Button is someone worth exploring also. The "villains" definitely propel this narrative
and are not developed.
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Toby’s nemesis is a self-satisfied teacher who is long overdue for a dressing down. Almost everyone has had a teacher like this somewhere along the way, making this a book you can enjoy along with your kids.
One of the coolest things about this story is that it’s told from the villain’s point of view (POV), written in a “dear diary” tone. But we also get Toby’s version of things through the illustrations, which he has been allowed to take over for his own private musings.
This gives the book an unexpected double POV, with Mrs. Ravenbach’s version dominating the official text and Toby’s version sneaking in through the visuals, a split that perfectly mirrors the power structure of the teacher/pupil relationship.
This makes us privy to these rivals’ darkest thoughts, wildest schemes and surprisingly, their soft spots, as well. This is how we see that Toby, in spite of his teacher’s low opinion, is resourceful and good hearted- a underdog worth rooting for, while also daring young readers to consider that teachers, even tough ones, might be human, too.
All this works because the scale of the story is kid-sized, helping us really feel how much havoc a crazed teacher can wreak on a pupil’s life. And, of course, it works simply because it’s funny. Enjoy!
The story line was great and the lead in the story Toby seemed like the trouble maker the whole time but in fact he wasn't.
I like how the teacher wasn't what she seemed to be and in fact in the end she got what she deserved.
It took about three days of reading but it was worth reading.
I can't wait to read more by this author.
I really liked the book.
Thank you to my 11 year old for the review.
Akers' imagery is hilarious and indelible: "I cracked my knuckles. It sounded like a bamboo forest breaking in two." The illustrations and hand-written journal entries are priceless. When I put down the book, I wanted more. Fortunately, this is the first novel in a series!
Most recent customer reviews
The characters felt very real and I was into them immediately from chapter one.
Highly recommend it!