Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trouble-Maker by Andrew Clements

I am a fan of Andrew Clements.  I read just about everything I find that was written by him.  His books are short, and very readable.  They are all about young people, usually in 6th grade, who somehow realize they can do something extraordinary or change their life in some way.  There is always an adult involved, who ends up either mentoring the kid, or changing their own bad personality trait because of the child's example.  That basic plot summary fits Frindle, The School Story, The Landry News, and many others. It is a basic plot summary of this one as well.  Clay has been a troublemaker throughout grade school.  His pranks are mostly harmless, but earn him frequent visits to the principal's office.  Then one day Clay's brother, Matt, gets out of jail, and informs Clay that he is going to turn around his life, so that he never has to go through what he just went through.  Matt gets him to cut his hair, and buys him a new wardrobe.  Clay admires his brother enough that he promises to try to stop causing trouble at school.  It isn't easy.  His best friend has always been his willing accomplice in his pranks, and is not sure he likes the new, straight-laced Clay. Even though this is so much like Clements' other books, his character writing is such that the reader soon finds himself cheering for Clay, and hoping that the principal with give him the break he needs to go forward with his new resolve. Where as the last review, The Swallows and the Amazons, was a low/high book, this one is a good high/low (high age, low reading level) option.  A fifth or sixth grader could read and enjoy the story, even though it is closer to a 3rd or 4th grade reading level. (140 p.)

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