Andrew Clements’s latest novel, about mentors, role models, and choosing friends, examines the fine line between good-humored mischief and dangerous behavior—and how everyday choices can close or open doors.
There’s a folder in Principal Kelling’s office that’s as thick as a phonebook and it’s growing daily. It’s filled with the incident reports of every time Clayton Hensley broke the rules. There’s the minor stuff like running in the hallways and not being where he was suppose to be when he was supposed to be there. But then there are also reports that show Clay’s own brand of troublemaking, like the most recent addition: the art teacher has said that the class should spend the period drawing anything they want and Clay decides to be extra “creative” and draw a spot-on portrait of Principal Kellings…as a donkey.
It’s a pretty funny joke, but really, Clay is coming to realize that the biggest joke of all may be on him. When his big brother, Mitchell, gets in some serious trouble, Clay decides to change his own mischief making ways…but he can’t seem to shake his reputation as a troublemaker.
From the master of the school story comes a book about the fine line between good-humored mischief and dangerous behavior and how everyday choices can close or open doors.
Clements (Extra Credit) delivers another rock-solid school story that will resonate with middle graders. Like his older brother, Mitch, sixth-grader Clay is habitually in trouble, and he can't wait to tell Mitch about his latest coup a realistic portrait of Principal Kelling as a donkey. But his 19-year-old brother, who's just finished a 30-day jail sentence after losing his temper in court, is not amused, and he orders Clay to straighten out ("You're gonna do all the stuff that I never did and do things right, the smart way"). Clay promises to do so, but learns that his well-established reputation is hard to shake, backsliding is easy, and taking his life in a new direction might mean leaving old friends behind or being pranked himself. Though the story is largely Clay's, Clements offers the perspectives of other characters, demonstrating how Clay's tussles with his conscience have an impact on the environment around him. Clements's empathy for Clay is clear he's not a bad kid, just someone whose mischievous tendencies have always been encouraged. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8 12.