14 January 2011

Because of Mr. Terupt

The kids starting fifth grade at Snow Hill School are a lot like kids everywhere in Rob Buyea's debut novel, Because of Mr. Terupt. There's Jessica, the new girl; Peter is the class clown; Luke's the brain; Danielle is the nice girl who never stands up for herself; Jeffrey who hates school and keeps to himself; Anna, the outcast; and Lexie, the mean girl.

What makes this class special is their teacher. Mr. Terupt is young and energetic and seems to know just how to deal with each child. Slowly, the class begins to relate to one another and to come together - until a snowy day and the accident that threatens to tear them all apart.

Divided into a section for each month of the school year, the story is told in alternating chapters, each narrated by a different student. Their distinctive voices develop depth of the characters until their personalities - and the circumstances that form them - come clear.

Brief chapters make this an easy read for reluctant readers; most kids will recognize a part of themselves in one or another of the characters, giving this definite kid appeal. While some events unwrap a bit ideally, overall this is a compelling novel that will have readers rooting for the characters.

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