An eccentric work that uses case histories of two fictional teachers to describe classroom life at its potential best. Apparently aimed at teachers, this book might interest parents as well. Kobrin (Education/Brown Univ.) introduces us to the mythical Hilary Coles, an enthusiastic young woman who teaches tenth grade, and her counterpart, Mel Stainko, an experienced fourth-grade teacher. We also meet students in their classrooms and watch the multiple interactions through the course of a number of projects. Kobrin's point is that for teachers and students, every school day, from opening bell to closing conference, is a series of sometimes intense psychological encounters. Lesson plans notwithstanding, how the teacher views and manages these encounters determines whether students and teacher ""change and grow or wither and die."" Kobrin's point is laudable, and not so difficult to enact if there are 15 students or fewer in each class, as seems to be the case here. Hilary and Mel are intelligent, well educated, imaginative, patient, understanding, and sympathetic to their students--virtually perfect. It all smacks of Dick and Jane in the classroom. Very readable, but an ornament rather than a tool for teachers.