From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7–Sixth-grader Hart Evans's least-favorite class is chorus, where uptight Mr. Meinert makes them sing boring songs. When Hart shoots a couple of rubber bands at the teacher, the man overreacts and is angry when the smooth-talking boy gets off relatively unscathed. Although the class is not told, readers learn that Mr. Meinert will lose his job after January 1 because of budget cuts. When the students act up the next day, he snaps and decides to place the responsibility for the holiday concert in their hands. This sets in motion a series of events that leaves Hart running the show with the teacher watching, learning, and eventually helping out. The plot unfolds to encompass control issues, democratic procedures, and an end product that wows the crowd. Clements is a master at taking elements of relatively common school situations and turning them into masterful stories with truly engaging characters. Foreshadowing provides glimpses of the program during the chapters leading up to the conclusion, but the climactic description of the event will leave youngsters teeming with emotion. The book's accessible language and quick pace will also appeal to reluctant readers.–Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI
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Gr. 4-6. After Hart shoots a rubber band at Mr. Meinert, he finds that the chorus teacher is not just annoyed but furious. Unbeknownst to Hart, all the faculty art and music positions have been eliminated, and Mr. Meinert will not be returning after the winter holiday concert. When the teacher unexpectedly turns the concert planning and preparation over to the students, they vote to make Hart their leader. This entertaining novel relates Hart's ups and downs in his challenging new role. The story also delves into the problems and emotions of Mr. Meinert and, to a lesser extent, Hart's younger sister. These shifts in viewpoints and sympathies are unusual and to some extent enlightening, but the narrative always reverts to Hart's thread of the story, which children will probably find most involving. Many school stories focus on underdogs; this one expresses the concerns of a boy who is popular, yet still under stress. Convincing in its portrayal of middle-school life, this accessible novel will find a ready audience. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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