The Landry News
Cara Landry is the new girl at school. Mr. Larson reads his newspaper instead of teaching. So, Cara creates her own newspaper, The Landry News, to give him something else to read. She gets the whole class involved--and into trouble!
Final word: B-. A great read for kids and a good chance to talk about the press and journalism ethics. If you're new to Clements' books, I'd read Frindle (my all-time fave!) or A School Story (review below) first.
The Last Holiday Concert
Hart Evans is the most popular kid in sixth grade. Mr. Meinert is a young chorus teacher who just found out that he's out of a job come January due to budget cuts. So when Hart zings a rubber band at Mr. Meinert, the show is over. But really it's just beginning--Mr. Meinert turns over production of the holiday concert to the class and Winterhope is born.
Final word: B. The characters are all very likeable and real, especially in these days of budget cuts. Like most of Clements' books, it's a bit too idealistic to believe that it would really happen in a classroom, but it's a fun read nonetheless. I would have like a bit more resolution at the end, though.
The School Story
Natalie has written a great book that her best friend, Zoe, is sure should be published. The only problem: they're just 12 years old. Natalie doesn't want to ask her editor-mom for any favors, so Zoe comes up with a plan: Natalie will submit her manuscript under a pen name and Zoe will act as her agent. The quest for publication begins...
Final word: A-. One of my favorite Clements novels. It's a stretch to believe that two 12-year-old girls could do all of this, but it's rooted enough in reality that it's just believable enough to make it entertaining. The plot is fresher than many of his school-based novels, and I'd definitely recommend it.
A parting note about Andrew Clements' novels: I have read at least 10 of Clements' novels, and I have enjoyed all of them. The kids in his books are believable as kids, but not so childish that grown-ups can't learn something from them as well, since they all have bigger life lessons involved. Some of the plot lines become a bit stale, however, after reading a few of them. My top 3 Clements:
- Frindle -- how language develops and evolves
- No Talking -- a fun read about the value of the spoken word and thinking before you speak
- The School Story -- reviewed above :)