When Russell Cooper moves into a new town, he isn't expecting to become friends with anyone like Joey. Joey Banks knows how to have fun and is constantly pushing Rusty to the boarders of his comfort zone for the sake of a laugh. Joey and Rusty have the time of their lives, playing in mud, catching frogs and playing practical jokes. Then one day one of their jokes goes terribly wrong, and Russell has to decide what it means to be a true friend.
I got about halfway through this book and remembered that I had read it before. That's Ok. It is worth a re-read. VanDraanan is a great writer, and this book got a lot of Newbery chatter when it came out almost a decade ago. I love the portrayal of the families in this book. Russell's has both parents who are happily married to each other. The parents actually use good parenting skills when Rusty does stuff that requires disciplining. His family contrasts to Joey's family. They are alike in may ways, but Joey's dad is harsh, sometimes abusive. Is Joey's dad's harshness the source of Joey's reckless behavior? Good discussion question for a reading group. This book has a lot of potentially good discussion points. I might decide to do it for Mother/Son book club, except I am not in charge of the book club this year. :( (144 p)