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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
You Even Make My Dog Smile: A Teacher Remembers is non-fiction collection of memoirs written by Janis Boyd. Boyd was a grammar school teacher for 39 years. She recalls her shock as a new teacher when hearing another teacher say that she had been teaching for 10 years. Boyd did, however, find that her interactions with her students, and the things she learned from being in the classroom with them, kept her engaged and involved throughout her career in education -- there was indeed never a dull moment. As she indicates in her introduction, teaching was in her genetic makeup. Two of her grandparents were teachers, educators who had been so inspirational and beloved that their students would continue reaching out to them and, after they passed, telling Boyd’s mother how much they had meant to them. Both were committed to education and continued learning throughout their lives. Of their offspring, many became professionals, but Boyd and her cousin, David, carried on with the teaching tradition.
Boyd shares her classroom experiences, including humorous Memos to Teachers from the Principal exhorting meticulous attention to the positioning of classroom shades and indicating who is to decide if it’s too rainy to allow the students to stay outside during their recess break. She also includes letters to her cousin David about their shared teaching experiences, as well as letters to her from her students. Boyd also charts the evolution of primary school education from her earlier years to the current emphasis on testing and student success as a marker of teacher success. This book is also filled with marvelous drawings and letters written by her students, one of whom gave her the compliment which is the title of the book.
Janis Boyd’s non-fiction collection of memoirs, You Even Make My Dog Smile: A Teacher Remembers, makes me smile even as I sit here writing this review. Each of us has had a teacher who was particularly inspiring or just made you feel good. I was fortunate enough to have had a few and, reading this book, could easily see how Janis Boyd would fit that description for a number of her students -- even after 39 years. Anyone who’s considering a change in occupation, or has ever wondered what it would be like to teach, has to read this book. Yes, things have changed, as Boyd discusses in her memoirs, but the opportunities to grow and learn and enjoy your profession are still there. I especially enjoyed her memoir about her class’s yearly Monarch butterfly project -- even that story about Charlie, the Monarch whose inaugural flight came to an abrupt end. And then there’s the ballad of Mrs. Boyd! You Even Make My Dog Smile: A Teacher Remembers is a joy and a delight to read, and it’s most highly recommended.