Showing posts with label Andrew Clements. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andrew Clements. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lost and Found by Andrew Clements

It’s only the end of July, but it’s back to school time anyway with the next book from Andrew Clements. Lost and Found continues what was begun so masterfully in Frindle: telling readers a school story about school kids that quite easily, and with very little imagination, could happen in the very school readers attend.

Everyone knows a kid like Nick in Frindle. Most kids could imagine a class newspaper like in The Landry News. Most kids can relate to, or at least imagine, a new rich kid in school (A Week in the Woods) or a genius classmate (The Report Card) or life in a one room school house (Room One). But Lost and Found covers a subject that every single kid daydreams about at one point or another: What if I had an identical twin?

Yep, every single kid. Except the twins.

Jay Ray and Ray Jay are identical twins, save for the freckle on Ray’s right ankle. All their life they’ve been known as the twins. “Look at the twins!” and “Aren’t they cute?” They’ve had matching sailor suits and cowboy outfits and Superman pajamas and pictures, pictures, pictures. Of them both. Always both of them. The twins.

Other kids found it hard to make friends with one of them since, well, there were two of them. How would you pick? As they got older the frustrations grew worse – switched grades, love notes to the wrong brother, revenge paid back to the innocent twin. How can you avoid comparisons to your brother when the two of you are exactly the same?

So when the Grayson family moves to a new town and Ray stays home sick from school on the first day, Jay realizes that school officials aren’t expecting two brothers. Ray’s file has been mistakenly stuck inside Jay’s. He lives a full day as Jay. Just that…Jay. Not Jay and Ray, Ray and Jay, the twins. And it’s great! After Ray’s second day home sick, they both realize how cool it is to be twinless.

They also realize that if nobody expects two kids, only one needs to arrive at school. What if they shared the load, rotated days, did half the work?!?! After all, they’re identical. Nobody could tell the difference! So they put their plan into action. Two boys, one person. Easy.

But then Ray has to go to soccer practice when Jay is the better athlete. And then Jay has to talk to lab partner Melissa when Ray’s much smoother with the ladies. How can Ray get extra help in math when Jay is doing problems on the board? How can Jay get to know Julie Parkman when Ray has his eye on Melissa?

When Ray secretly confesses the ruse to Melissa and Jay confesses to soccer teammate James, who has twin brothers of his own, the secret slowly seeps out. And when the school nurse discovers the missing file, Jay and Ray’s plan becomes the secret everyone knows.

Eventually Jay and Ray – and everyone else – realize an important truth: Just because two people are identical doesn’t mean they’re the exactly same.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements

Mark is moving. Not moving, really, just "transfering" to another house. His family has plenty to choose from. He's leaving the house in Scarsdale, New York (it'll be nice to have a home so close to New York City, his parents believe) and going to the new house in Whitson, New Hampshire - purchased and remodeled to the tune of $3.5 million. His parents, on business in San Francisco, won't be there of course. Business is business. But Leon and Anya, the Russian couple hired five years ago as handyman and housekeeper (and babysitter, thinks Mark), will move with Mark.

Mark's also leaving Lawton Country Day School to attend Runyon Acadamy, a private boarding school. But for the end of fifth grade he'll attend Hardy Elementary, the local public school in Whitson.

Where he meets Mr. Maxwell. Who cuts and splits his own fire wood. Who built his own log cabin and installed solar panels and a generator that made electricity from the stream on his property. Who installed a filter to cut down the pollution from his wood burning furnace. Who has worked hard for everything. THAT Mr. Maxwell.

Can you see the collision coming? Mr. Maxwell puts 100% into everything and Mark, uninterested in his temporary public school, is a major slacker. Mr. Maxwell has planned A Week in the Woods, a five day camping trip for the entire fifth grade, for 16 years, and this year Mark is going. Just when their relationship starts to improve, Mark is busted on the trip for something that's not his fault, and he loses any respect he's earned from Mr. Maxwell.

Despite being a slacker, Mark has really gotten into "the woods." So out of anger and the injustice of being sent home as punishment, he runs away. To the woods. He disappears. And Mr. Maxwell heads out to find him. The events that follow test both Mark and Mr. Maxwell's knowledge of the woods, and all their knowledge will be needed for them to return in one piece.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Frindle by Andrew Clements

Imagine that by following a teacher's lesson exactly as she taught it, you could annoy that teacher to no end. Add in the fact that the teacher is exactly the kind of teacher - in students' minds - that needs a little annoying and you've got the situation that Nick has fallen into. Mrs. Granger has told Nick's class that they are the ones who decide what goes in the dictionary. Since they are the ones, along with all other people, who call a dog a d-o-g, then that's what goes in the dictionary.

So Nick gives it a try. He invents the word frindle. Problem is, there already is a word, pen, that describes a frindle. Mrs. Granger is not amused. It's not necessary to invent a word when there already is a perfectly acceptable and usable word, according to "The Lone Granger." So she bans it. Forbids its use. Suddenly fifth graders are staying after school because of the word. Then the rest of the school catches on. (A forbidden word...and it's not naughty? Let me at it!) The students at the local high school hear about frindle. But when a phone call is placed to the local newspaper and a fifth grade class photo - with all fifth graders holding a pen, lips forming the "ffffff" of frindle - mysteriously turns up at the local newspaper, that's when this snowball hits the really steep part of the hill.

Students who stand up for what they think is right even if it's unpopular with teachers, character secrets, a satisfying ending, and a surprise or two along the way make Frindle a winner. Teachers, this is a great one for you if you need a little reassurance that all your hard work does make a difference.