Seventh-graders Alexia, Anna, Danielle, Jessica, Jeffrey, Luke, and Peter struggle to hold on to the bonds formed in Mr. Terupt’s class in fifth and sixth grade and to their favorite teacher, whose job is in jeopardy.
Month by month, in alternating first-person accounts, these likable young people describe their first year in middle school. The English teacher loves words as much as Jessica does. Peter and Jeffrey join the wrestling team; Luke’s elected to student government. Anna and Danielle scheme to become half sisters in reality. Danielle develops diabetes, and Lexie’s mother has breast cancer. A spur-of-the-moment spin-the-bottle game goes awry, temporarily tearing the group apart. Even from a distance, Mr. Terupt seems to know what’s happening and devises a project to keep them talking. But it’s the threat to the sixth-grade teacher’s job, likely to be eliminated in the wake of tax protests and school budget cuts, that really brings them back together for a series of campaigns that seem to lose the battle but win the war. “Hard times like these make you better…as long as you have the right attitude about things,” this perceptive teacher says. Necessary background is deftly woven in, making this third in the series as easy for new readers to pick up as it is for returning fans.
A warmly gracious invitation to a convincing middle school world. (Fiction. 10-14)