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Troublemaker Hardcover – July 26, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Clements is a genius of gentle, high-concept tales set in suburban middle schools."--The New York Times

"Another rock-solid school story that will resonate with middle graders."--Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Andrew Clements is the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he has been nominated for a multitude of state awards, including two Christopher Awards and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He is also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. He lives with his wife in Maine and has four grown children. Visit him at

Mark Elliott has a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts. He has illustrated a number of book covers, and his work has been exhibited at the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors Guild. Mark lives on a sheep farm in the Hudson Valley region of New York.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; English Language edition (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416949305
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416949305
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Most of my characters are fairly normal people who are dealing with the basics of everyday life--getting along with others, finding a place in the world, discovering talents, overcoming challenges, trying to have some wholesome fun along the way, and getting into some scrapes and a little mischief now and then, too. I guess I hope my readers will be able to see bits and pieces of themselves in the stories, particularly the novels that take place in and around school. School is a rich setting because schools and education are at the heart of every community. The stories that are set in school seem to resonate with kids, teachers, parents, librarians--readers of all ages. Everyone's life has been touched by school experiences. And I also hope, of course, that kids and others will enjoy reading, enjoy the use of language, enjoy my storytelling.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Clayton Hensley loves getting in trouble and even has a growing folder of misconduct in the principal's office. In art class he is sent there for showing his fellow students a drawing he made of Principal Kelling looking like a donkey.

Clay can't wait to share the story with his big brother, Mitchell, who is returning from prison. Clay idolizes Mitchell and hopes his latest run-in with school authorities will make him laugh. To his dismay, Mitchell reprimands him for his behavior. Even more surprising is Mitchell's admission that Clay needs to change, because he does not want Clay to follow in his footsteps.

Change doesn't come easy for Clay, as he has spent his entire academic career getting into trouble. First he has to deal with the short haircut and clothes that Mitchell gets him. Then there's his friend, Hank, with whom he did most of his pranks. He needs to figure out how he will handle this friendship and wonders if Hank will still accept him.

Clay also discovers that a bad reputation sticks with you. The police come to his door on Halloween night, wanting to know if he threw eggs on a house and car and if he sprayed graffiti on a door. Apparently the spray paint job is a picture of a donkey that looks like the principal, which is why fingers are pointing at Clay.

After all this time toeing the line, it seems unfair that he is accused, and he wants to prove his innocence to Principal Kelling. In the past, Clay would have rebelled. Punishment didn't bother him back then, but now he wants to change his reputation for the better. Will the principal believe him?

Andrew Clements has written a very relatable book, as it's easy for people to get pigeon-holed.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I encouraged my 9-year-old to buy this book via Scholastic Book Fair at his school and was willing to pay for the hardcover version based on the reviews and Scholastic's reputation for bringing quality reading to appropriate ages.
Imagine my surprise when my son told me there were bad words in the book. Furthermore that the book brought to life a family that is riddled with a son recently released from jail and school children making fun of the adults and the learning system. Now I get the underlying message, but a 9 year-old takes away the immediate impression that it's okay to call authority figures a "jackass" and to look for ways to gain popularity through revenge -- the greater message is easily lost.
My suggestion: either write the book for 9-12 age group by toning down the negative and emphasizing the positive or write and market it for a more mature audience.
This book misses it's target.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lori Katz on August 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Clay is a troublemaker and a frequent visitor to the principal's office. His file is so thick with incident reports that the school secretary calls it her masterpiece. However, when Clay's brother Mitch is released from jail after serving a month for contempt of court, Mitch sets out to change Clay's ways. While it's not easy giving up throwing food at lunch, Halloween and hanging with his troublemaker friends Clay learns to trust his brother's words of wisdom.

Andrew Clements has written another terrific story for middle graders. Readers will get a glimpse as to why someone might bully and make fun of others. The secondary characters are well drawn and Mrs. Ormin the school secretary is my favorite. Mitch is believable as the reformed troublemaker older brother and we can see why Clay idolized him both before and after his jail sentence. The writing is smooth and the illustrations (although not final when I read the arc) work well with the story. Recommended for 3-6 graders.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Brookman on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Clayton Hensley has been a trouble maker since 1st grade, so it's no surprise he starts off his sixth grade year with a big joke. He draws a picture of the principal as a donkey, which he gladly shows off to his art class and teacher. After getting sent to the principal's office we soon discover Clay has a massive folder filled with misconducts.

That same day Clay's brother Mitchell comes home after being in jail for a month and Clay is excited to tell Mitch all about the prank he pulled. However, Mitch doesn't find it funny at all. He tells Clayton to straighten up fast because he doesn't want Clay to end up like he did.

If sixth grade wasn't hard enough now he has to keep in line and stay out of trouble. This causes others to start making fun of Clay and at one point ruin his art project. Instead of getting back at them, we see that Clay realizes all the times he was mean to them just for a good laugh and proves to us and his brother that he can stay on the right track.

However, this new Clayton Hensley doesn't stop the police from coming to his door on Halloween night blaming him for egging and spray painting a donkey on the principal's front door. Before he would have gotten back at whoever did this, but now he wants to change. What will Clay do now? Can he convince the principal he didn't do it, or will it not matter after all he has done and will continue to be seen as only a trouble maker?

One message I found in Andrew Clements's book is that we must remember that people can change for the better over time. We must remember that we can't base all our judgments of others on the actions of their pasts. We have to let go of this and look at what they are doing now.
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