What You Need to Know:|
• This book has all the elements of great literature for children and adults alike. It has dramedy, life-changing
situations, characters you root for, characters that you see yourself in, the list goes on…
• Children will discover parts of themselves and their friends in these characters.
• This book is appropriate for many age levels. However, there is an accident with an uncertain outcome for much
of the story. You need to make sure that your reader can handle that sort of worry and anxiousness.
It was hard for me, as an adult, not to skip ahead to see what happens.
• This is a debut novelist. I look forward to seeing what else this gifted author has in store for us in the future.
I know I am reading a terrific book when I crave information about the author. Halfway through this book I wanted to know all about this author. I think he must be a very special human being in order to draw such rich, deep characters in the students he writes about; he has to really "get" kids. As a teacher, I want to be his colleague and as a parent, I would very much like him to teach my children.
Mr. Terupt is the new teacher in fifth grade and he is not your typical rookie teacher. He is clearly a special guy. The story is told from the point of view of seven of his students, with each chapter narrated by a different child. There is Jessica, the new girl; Alexia, the frenemy; Luke, the brain; Danielle, the pushover; Anna, the quiet one; Peter, the class clown; and Jeffrey, who just hates school. The story is propelled towards one single incident, an accident involving the teacher and his students.
This book is so special, I fear my review will not do it justice. This is one of those books that should be read by all, parents and students alike. Which is why I won't be giving you a plot summary, I don't want to spoil it for those who are going to read it. I won't be responsible for that!
This story is largely about empathy and compassion. The "incident" is right in the middle of the book. Part One of the book introduces the reader to each of these students and in so doing, with the structure of the multiple narrators, it enables the reader to see how the characters view themselves and each other. Part Two is the aftermath of the incident, exploring how each child reacts to it and how the group learns from it.
The conclusion is satisfying and safe, but the journey is perilous and not always neat and tidy. But life isn't neat and tidy, right? What is "unsafe" in this book is not gratuitous; it is not for shock value. This is a real life story with real life consequences. I cannot recommend this book enough, it is not to be missed. If it doesn't win some awards, then there is something wrong with the awards committees!!!!
2010, 288 pages
Friendship, Self-Awareness/Discovery, Compassion/Empathy, School, Tolerance, Illness, Growing Up, Good Book Club Selection, Books for Boys
• Would you like to have a teacher like Mr. Terupt?
• Do you or have you had a teacher like him? If so, how is/was your teacher similar?
• Do you think the accident was anybody's fault? If so, whose fault do you think it was?
• Does the accident have to be someones fault?
• Do you think Jeffrey's family is going to heal?
• Do you think it was ok that Danielle's family would not let her play with Anna?
• Do you have something like the collaborative classroom in your school?
• Can you think of ways of involving students from a "collaborative" type situation into your own classroom?
(Note: In the story the collaborative classroom is what the special education classroom is called.)
• Do you know anyone like James?
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