Screenshot 2018-04-12 17.43.40The award-winning Mr. Clark’s Big Band: A Year of Laughter, Tears and Jazz in a Middle School Band Room is a nonfictional account of the 2012-2013 Big Band, the Massachusetts middle school’s elite jazz band as they grieved the sudden loss of one of their own.

foreword finalistThe main focus is on Mr. Clark–Jamie Clark to the adults–a fortysomething, unorthodox, bear-hugging, T-shirt-wearing, adolescent humor possessing, frequently tearing up, overcaffeinated band director who leads his charges through a tumultuous several months. He guides his students, whose names have been changed, through not only melancholy as they mark the one-year anniversary of Eric’s passing, but through a period of violence (the Newtown shooting in nearby Connecticut and the bombing of the Boston Marathon, some 25 miles away), road-closing snowstorms, pressure to perform a challenging piece written for Eric at the June celebratory service, a student’s showtime appendectomy and a fire in the school’s music corridor.


Photo by Nancy Gould

Written by Meredith O’Brien, Mr. Clark’s Big Band was inspired by Tracy Kidder’s Among Schoolchildren, another book where a writer spent a year observing a classroom in action. It was published by Wyatt-MacKenzie in May 2017.

It won a 2018 Independent Publisher Award, a bronze in the Education category, and is a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Award also in the Education category.

To request an interview, a book reading/event (for book clubs too), a review copy or contact the author: mereditheobrien@gmail.com.

To contact Mr. Clark: Jclark11@charter.net.

Image credit: Nancy Gould Photography.