TROUT AND ME by Susan Shreve


Age Range: 10 - 12
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Ever since first grade, when he shoved a classmate’s teddy bear into the toilet, everyone at Stockton Elementary “expected trouble” from Benjamin Carter, “so that’s what they got.” Diagnosed with ADD, learning disabilities, eye-hand coordination problems and saddled with a lisp, Ben’s report cards are packed with “U’s for Unsatisfactory and D’s for Disrespectful, Disturbing, Difficult, Disorganized, Dumb, Dreadful, [and] Disgusting.” Ben, who despite his behavior problems is essentially a nice boy, has always felt alone at school, a condition that his solid and smartly characterized family can’t ameliorate. Then Trout, a tall, thin boy with a red question mark he claims was tattooed on his chin, moves to Ben’s town, and suddenly Ben has both a buddy and a partner in crime. After a prank in which he and Trout cause pandemonium by tossing a hundred Super Balls down the school stairs, local parents improbably band together, eventually demanding that Trout be transferred to a school for troubled children. In a poignant but rather far-fetched plot maneuver, Ben is able to save the day by showing up at a parents’ meeting at school to plead Trout’s case and to explain what living with learning disabilities is like. The interaction between Trout and Ben is boyishly authentic but unlike George Harrar’s Parents Wanted (2001) or the Joey Pigza series that give the reader a crazy, tilt-a-whirl feel of what it might be like to have ADD, Ben just seems like a regular kid who’s somewhat unaccountably always in trouble. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-81219-9
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2002


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