From Publishers Weekly
Like Ethan Allen, the subject of her oral school report, the narrator of Gauthier's (A Year with Butch and Spike) amusing and affecting novel, set in 1966 Vermont, is sassy, shrewd and outspoken. Tessy's voice crackles with razor-sharp insight and comedic one-liners from the very start, as she tries to decide where to begin her story. When her humorless sixth-grade teacher takes a leave of absence, the substitute scraps the longstanding plan to award the most coveted oral report subject Ethan Allen to the best student in class and instead picks a name randomly. A mediocre student at best, Tessy unwittingly lands the plum assignment. After an initial presentation in which she reports on only several saucy anecdotes from Allen's life, she delivers in installments a detailed chronicle of the life of this pugnacious Revolutionary leader who was instrumental in the founding of Vermont. In between these diverting passages, which balance Tessy's refreshingly quirky interpretation of history with Allen's own words, the girl grapples with some credible issues, among them her embarrassment by her simple, big-hearted parents, who are farmers of French Canadian descent, and her relationship with a stuffy, wealthy classmate. Gauthier sustains her tale's rapid pace and surefire humor throughout, while delivering a history lesson that readers will absorb effortlessly. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-A nonconformist substitute refuses to follow the rules of the rigid teacher he is temporarily replacing and gives a reluctant underdog a chance to play an important role in the classroom. Therese, a sixth-grade "C" student and nonmember of the "elite" clique, wins a drawing to do the "Ethan Allen" oral report, an honor that had always been given to the smartest student in the class. She delivers this report over several days-including a segment told during a class trip to Ft. Ticonderoga. She draws in her classmates (as well as readers) with her storytelling abilities and her wit. In addition to giving a lot of information about an American hero, the author addresses important issues with humor and sensitivity: school and community prejudices, alienation, and peer acceptance. This story takes place in rural Vermont in 1966, but the dynamics are contemporary and universal.-Sharon McNeil, Los Angeles County Office of Education
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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