Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Best Man by Richard Peck

Cover image for The best manArcher is having a complicated 5th grade year.  His best friend is a girl (which is always complicated once you are 10) and her recently divorced mother is his new school teacher. She is nice, but hasn't taught before and is struggling a little. In comes Mr. McLeod.  He is an Army Reservist, totally cool and handsome, and their new student teacher.  He makes the second half of 5th grade the best ever.  As sixth grade rolls around, things get even more confusing when Archer's best friend starts wearing makeup, he suddenly has five classes a day and a locker to worry about, and his student teacher starts dating his favorite uncle. When Mr. McLeod's and Uncle Paul's budding romance is on the rocks, Archer wants to step in and help his uncle see the Mr. McLeod is a "keeper." 

So here is another of the recent round of LGBT books for kids. This one is--no surprise considering the author*--really well written and readable.  Archer is never worried or freaked out that his favorite uncle and his favorite teacher are in love. None of the other kids even tease him about the fact. It is just a happy situation, and Archer is delighted to help it along. In a lot of ways this is  another kids-helping-adults-with-their-romance book, like Honey or The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, except in this book the romance is between two men. The question is, would this really happen?  Has gay marriage, in just a year since it became legal across the country, become a non-issue, even with middle school kids?  I am not sure we are really quite there yet as a society.  Maybe Peck is hoping books like this will help get us there. (232 p)

*Peck is a Newbery and Newbery Honor winner for The Year Down Yonder and A Long Way From Chicago.

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