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NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH by Avi Kirkus Star

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

By Avi

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-531-05959-6
Publisher: Orchard

Ninth-grader Philip has never been in trouble, but he's upset because his English grade is keeping him off the track team. Meanwhile, though the rule is "respectful, silent attention," he hums along with the daily playing of the national anthem--a habit ignored by his jocular homeroom teacher. Then he's moved to the homeroom of Miss Narwin, his English teacher--well-liked because she's fair but rigid, humorless, and out of touch with modern kids. When she tries to enforce the silence rule, Philip responds with offhand rudeness borne of his distress about track plus his chronic tongue-tied style; the ensuing confrontation escalates into a two-day suspension followed by national media attention based on the erroneous belief that Philip has been denied the right to express his patriotism. Skillfully composing his story from school memos, news clips, dialogues, and Philip's diary, Avi shows how well-meaning people can generate misinformation through a combination of interrupting or simply not listening, shaping facts to suit their own goals, letting preconceptions muddy thought, or just lacking the will and the skill to get things straight. The garbled conversations here are all too believable; only one reporter makes an intelligent effort to find out what really happened, and his story is never printed. Nobody wins: Philip transfers to a school that doesn't have track, and Miss Narwin is forced to take leave. Wryly satirical: nothing but the deplorable truth about our increasingly inarticulate, media-driven society. (Fiction. 11+)