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Dexter the Tough Hardcover – January 23, 2007

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dexter hated his new school already," opens Haddix's (the Shadow Children series) poignant if plodding novel about a fourth-grader who, on his first day at school, gets laughed at by other kids when he slips and falls on the newly polished floor. In class, his "sparkly, enthusiastic" teacher ("He hated that kind of teacher") tells her students that she wants them to write a story that lets her know more about who they are. Dexter writes, "I'm the new kid. I am tuf. This morning I beat up a kid." The author gradually reveals the details behind the incident (mortified by his peers' laughter, Dexter impulsively punches Robin, a boy he encounters in the bathroom) as well as the true source of his anger. While his father receives cancer treatments in Seattle, Dexter must live with his grandmother in Kentucky. In several rather repetitious meetings, his patient teacher encourages him to flesh out his story, asking Dexter questions that help him acknowledge his feelings, including his resentment at being left behind by his parents, his concern about his father and his guilt about hitting Robin. As he comes to terms with his emotions, Dexter accepts the friendship that kind Robin offers, which (along with the news that a bone marrow donor for his father has finally been found) brings the tale to an upbeat close. Though Haddix creates some realistic scenes and shapes a sympathetic protagonist, readers may find the narrative's pace frustratingly poky. Ages 7-10. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–5—When Dexter presents his perky teacher with his first assignment, it reads, "This morning I beat up a kid. I am tuf." Ms. Abbott pushes him to add details and much more to his story. With each revision readers learn more about why Dexter is angry, confused, worried, lonely, sorry, and why he hit Robin in the bathroom, and they see the developing friendship between the two boys. They discover that on Dexter's first day at his new school, he is left abruptly in a hallway by the school secretary and is laughed at when he falls on a slippery floor. They find out about his father's cancer and that he is living with his grandmother in Kentucky because his parents are at a hospital in Seattle. Slowly, they learn, along with Dexter, that the incident didn't happen exactly as he remembers it. An appropriately happy ending wraps up all of the loose ends. Haddix does an excellent job of capturing the voice of a fourth-grade boy. Dexter is a multifaceted character who thinks about his actions and emotions like a smart, confused kid, never like an adult. Occasional full-page drawings nicely portray the actions and feelings of the characters in this easy chapter book.—Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Repackage edition (January 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416911596
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416911593
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,203,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up on a farm outside Washington Court House, Ohio. As a kid, I liked to read a lot, and was also involved in 4-H, various bands and choirs (I played flute and piano), church youth group, the school newspaper, and a quiz-bowl type team. I was pretty disastrous as an athlete, although I did run track one year in high school. After graduating from Miami University (of Ohio), I worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a part-time community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois, before my first book was published. I've moved around a lot as an adult, having also lived in Luxembourg (during a college semester abroad) and in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. Several years ago, I moved back to Ohio with my husband and kids; we now live in Columbus, Ohio. My husband trains investigative journalists, and my kids are in high school, so there's always a lot going on around our house.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mshap on January 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
My 12 year old son (6th grader) is a reluctant reader. I usually set a number of pages that he must read and he actually went beyond the goal at the first sitting. I know this book is geared for ages 7-10 but it held his interest and he enjoyed it so don't let the age range be your guide. It's a good read for boys who seem to be more interested in...well other things besides reading books--Mission Accomplished.
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Format: Hardcover
Margaret Peterson Haddix's DEXTER THE TOUGH tells of new kid Dexter, whose defense against being new is to assume a tough exterior confronting principal, janitor, and kids who laugh at him. His determination to handle family and school problems with a tough display will lead to trouble unless he modifies his approach in DEXTER THE TOUGH.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By slholco1 on August 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
Dexter is mad. He hates his new school, living with his grandma, the principal, the secretary, and even the custodian. That's why he hit Robin on the first day at his new school. Now, his teacher wants him to write a story. Dexter decides to write about punching Robin. As he writes he realizes that things aren't always as they seem.

I loved this book! As I read I really started to care about Dexter and found his character very interesting. I think this would be a great book for any kid who ever felt misunderstood.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
Dexter the Tough is a good book. First, the book teaches you large vocabulary words like imitation. Next, the characters are believable. Dexter, the main character, seemed like he was a real fourth grader that was in my class. Third, the author teaches to give up because it might turn out for happy. For example, Dexter's dad was sick through most of the book, and then at the end he was alright. If you're look for a good book to read, that will have you cheering for the changes the main character makes in his life, then this is the book to read.
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By L. Boyles on October 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Dexter the Tough

I think Dexter the Tough was a good book because it is full of emotion. The story is about a boy who moved from Cincinnati to a different school. His teacher asked write a story about himself or things he had done.
Dexter wrote about how tough he is and how he beat up a kid. She asked him if it was true. He exclaimed it was not, but he lied his teacher also asked the kid Dexter beat up but he also exclaimed no and lied. His teacher asked him to get more information, like what was the boy's name that he had beaten up, where it happened and questions like that. She assigned that for his homework.
When he got home his grandma asked if he wanted something to eat, or if he wanted help with his homework. He said no thanks. Then he waited for her to start watching TV before he started his homework.
The next day his teacher assigned more homework on his story. After he had finished his homework, he went bicycling and saw the kid he had beaten up. He found out the kid's name was Robin. Robin was a very nice boy and had been home schooled most of his life. Dexter hopes to become Robin's friend, and they do become friends Dexter's dad finally gets out of the hospital and Dexter's mom can get Dexter back to Cincinnati.
I think that this book should be an assigned book that we have to read in class. What I liked about the book was that Dexter thinks he is tough. I also think that there is a lot of emotion in the story. The book also has a lot of funny things like marshmallow transplant instead of bone marrow transplant. His teacher seems really nice she has a twinkle in her eye until she finds out about the fight.
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By kitten on March 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my 8 yr old son who is seldom entertained by books. At first he seemed to be bored with it but after the second chapter, kept him hooked. This has become one of his favorites and has a wonderful story. When the book was completed, his response to it was, "that was a really good book!" Apparently, he would recommend this one.
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