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WHAT MR. MATTERO DID by Priscilla Cummings


by Priscilla Cummings

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-525-47621-0
Publisher: Dutton

Dual narrators relate the story of a middle-school music teacher accused of improperly touching three of his students. Claire, one of the accusers, describes the result of their accusations: Mr. Mattero is placed on administrative leave and a police investigation is launched. Melody, the teacher’s daughter, reveals the impact of the accusation on her family, especially her father, a dedicated musician and recovering alcoholic. Unfortunately, although Cummings alludes to several serious subjects, including eating disorders and the difficulty of coping with physical and mental challenges (Claire’s younger brother is autistic), her characters don’t come alive enough to engage the emotions. Coincidences weaken the plot, further distancing readers. The climax won’t come as a shock to most readers, though the notion that middle-school students could be naïve enough to be surprised by the results of their accusations may raise a few eyebrows. Claire’s eventual confession feels equally unlikely, despite being inspired by her discovery that a new friend is actually being sexually abused. Too much content, not enough style. (Fiction. 10-14)