Patricia Reilly Giff
Inspired through elementary teaching
Author Patricia Reilly Giff is a former teacher who now incorporates the lessons that she learned about children through her occupation into her writing. Giff spent more than two decades as a full time teacher, mostly in elementary schools, and so it is not at all surprising that the majority of her written texts have to do with life at school, the many difficulties of children, and the problems that many adults have in trying to communicate with a population in which they no longer take part. According to Giff, she did not even begin writing until the year 1975, when she had reached the age of 40 (La Gorce). Many people would consider this rather late in life to set about on a whole new career, particularly one like novel writing where so few people are able to be successful and to make a living with it, but Giff believed in herself and she had a supportive family to encourage her, a factor which would contribute heavily to her literary perspective.
She is most famous for having written a series of texts called the Polk Street School Series. Second grade teacher Ms. Rooney leads a classroom full of characters starring pupils Richard Best and Emily Arrow. Both of these students have characteristics which make them appealing and problems which make them relatable to children who may be reading the stories. The first volume of the series was published in 1984 with the novel The Beast in Ms. Rooney’s Room. The story deals with Richard “Beast” Best having to repeat the second grade and
experiencing ridicule from the other students in his class. He also has to deal with the guilt and shame of not being as quick to learn as the children his own age. The other volumes of the series deal with other mundane problems that many children would likely face, such as having an item stolen at school, having trouble with an assignment, trouble in physical education class, having to attend Summer...