During a school year in which a gifted teacher who emphasizes personal responsibility among his fifth graders ends up in a coma from a thrown snowball, his students come to terms with their own issues and learn to be forgiving. Told in short chapters organized month-by-month in the voices of seven students, often describing the same incident from different viewpoints, this weaves together a variety of not-uncommon classroom characters and situations: the new kid, the trickster, the social bully, the super-bright and the disaffected; family clashes, divorce and death; an unwed mother whose long-ago actions haven't been forgotten in the small-town setting; class and experiential differences. Mr. Terupt engineers regular visits to the school's special-needs classroom, changing some lives on both sides. A "Dollar Word" activity so appeals to Luke that he sprinkles them throughout his narrative all year. Danielle includes her regular prayers, and Anna never stops her hopeful matchmaking. No one is perfect in this feel-good story, but everyone benefits, including sentimentally inclined readers. (Fiction. 9-12)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
In this skillfully constructed first novel, Buyea conveys the impact that an inspiring new teacher has on his fifth-grade class through the alternating voices of seven complex students, including class clown Peter, thoughtful new student Jessica, relentlessly teased Danielle, and mean-girl Alexia ("Mom told me... ‘Alexia, don't let people push you around like your father did to us. You take charge and fight back.' So there's no way I'm going back to being nice"). For the most part, Mr. Terupt's unconventional teaching style proves capable of reaching even his most difficult students as the year progresses; his gentle guidance leads to some potent lessons about tolerance, self-advocacy, and responsibility. However, some in the community disapprove of his lax disciplinary measures and hands-on educational methods. When an accident during a snowball fight lands Mr. Terupt in the hospital, readers--like students in the class--are left to decide who, if anyone, is to blame. Introducing characters and conflicts that will be familiar to any middle-school student, this powerful and emotional story is likely to spur discussion. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 4-6--Seven fifth graders at Snow Hill School in Vermont learn a variety of life lessons, not necessarily from their textbooks, when they start the school year off with their new teacher. Short chapters are actually brief narratives by individual students and sectioned off by each month of the school year, beginning with September. From the students' distinct voices readers come to understand the different personalities and backgrounds that define them. Peter, the prankster; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; and Jessica, the new girl in town who hides behind her favorite books, are just a few of the characters who shape readers' vision of the classroom. As their narrative continues, readers realize that each child has a story that only begins in school; it's the problems and conflicts that make up their home lives that come full circle because of a prank that results in tragedy. Mr. Terupt is that one teacher who really understands them, who always seems to be on their side, and who teaches them a valuable lesson no matter how much some of them try to shut him out. If the school year is a series of events, then Mr. Terupt is the catalyst that starts the chain reaction. The characters are authentic and the short chapters, some less than a page, are skillfully arranged to keep readers moving headlong toward the satisfying conclusion.--Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH[Page 104]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.