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On My Honor Paperback – September 1, 1987

4.1 out of 5 stars 226 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a devastating but beautifully written story of a boy's all-consuming guilt over the role he plays in the death of his best friend. Joel and Tony have been together since they were babies. Although Tony's crazy jokes and wildness sometimes make Joel feel as if he were much older, and even make Joel angry, no one is as exciting as Tony. But when Tony suggests they climb the bluffs at Starved Rock, Joel is frightened, knowing how dangerous the bluffs are. He's also afraid of Tony's sharp tongue, though, so he asks his father for permission to ride his bike to Starved Rock, certain that his father will say no. When his father says yes, Joel finds himself riding Tony's old, beat-up bikewhile Tony coasts along on Joel's 10-speedout to the state park. Halfway there the boys cross the Vermillion River, and Tony, who earlier had refused to go swimming at the pool with Joel, decides to swim in the river instead. Angry at Tony's lack of sensethe river is both dangerous and dirty Joel dares Tony to race out to a distant sandbar with him. Then the unthinkable occurs: Joel reaches the sandbar; Tony disappears. The realization slams into Joel with its hideous finality. Tony is dead, and it is all his fault. Joel's efforts to cope with his staggering sense of guilt are handled with stark reality, so that the reader shares his sense of the enormity of life's unfairness. Yet within Joel's first perception of the total uncertainties of life, there is also the steadfastness of his father's love. While there is death, there is also love, and Bauer's honest and gripping novel joins the ranks of such as Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia in its handling of these issues.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6 Twelve-year-old Joel has unwillingly agreed to bike out to the state park with his daredevil friend Tony. "On his honor," he promises his father to be careful, knowing that Tony wants them to climb the dangerous park bluffs. When they arrive, however, Tony abruptly changes his mind and heads for the river. With his promise jangling in his mind, Joel follows Tony in for a swim. Tony drowns in the dirty, turbulent water, leaving Joel to face his guilty conscience, and his father, alone. In this short but solid novel, Bauer effectively portrays the dilemma of pre-adolescents, old enough to want to meet their own challenges without adult interference, young enough to want grownup protection and reassurance. Joel understands only too well the moral dilemma he faces, but he is so bound by peer pressure that wrong choices and tragedy are almost inevitable. Bauer's association of Joel's guilt with the smell of the polluted river on his skin is particularly noteworthy. Its miasma almost rises off the pages. Descriptions are vivid, characterization and dialogue natural, and the style taut but unforced. A powerful, moving book. Barbara Hutcheson, Greater Victoria Public Library, Canada
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (September 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440466334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440466338
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is going to be read to my son's 5th grade class, so I thought I'd read it before I gave the ok for my son to sit in. It is quite an emotional read, but I think, for ages around 9 or 10 and up (pre-adolescent), it's absolutely appropriate! It deals with peer pressure, lying, and guilt among other things, and hopefully will make these indestructible-thinking kids realize that "it CAN happen to me" and not give in to the pressures that go along with these ages, especially among boys. You don't have to do something just because "I DARE YOU!".

Except for the use of the word he**, there was no inappropriate language and, no, the re was *NOT* a detailed account of the boy's drowning. I'm not quite sure where that came from. The "beat his friend to a bloody pulp if he was hiding somewhere", put into context, is a boy feeling nervous/scared/angry when he can't find his friend, suspects the worst and would be furious if he's (the friend) actually just hiding and trying to pull a prank. Given the fact these boys are 12, the words used are quite mild.

I'm sure this subject matter is uncomfortable for some kids (and, obviously adults as well). Unfortunately, peer pressure is a FACT OF LIFE that has to be dealt with. Overall, I'd recommend this book. Read it first before you read it (or allow your child to read it) and then decide.
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By A Customer on October 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
On My Honor , by Marion Dane Bauer, is one of the best stories I have ever read! Even though it was sad, it was still perfect. It's a good story for people who like exciting stories. The characters in this story are Joel and Tony. They are living in a small town in Illinois. The story all starts when Joel's father allows Joel and Tony to go cycling, but not too far. Joel and Tony disobey Joel's father and go to the river. They were told never to go near the river, but they do. They start swimming to a sandbar. When Joel gets to the sandbar he realizes Tony has vanished. TONY WAS DEAD! How can Joel tell his parents what has happened? How can he tell everyone the terrible truth? It was a great story. It didn't have too many difficult vocabulary words. I am now in 6th grade and I found this book very easy to read. Over the past few months I have been reading GOOSBUMPS, but this story is different. It taught a valuable lesson: Never do something you were told not to. Your parents always tell you things to help you avoid trouble and danger.
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Format: Paperback
Before I start this review let me say that I am the mother of two (11 and 9), and a grade school teacher.
This book covers a subject that is every parent's nightmare! (Your child fights for their life, and you are not able to help them.) All kids believe that they are immortal, and because of this, they are fearless. But we, parent's, know better. We try to protect them, and teach them right from wrong. We pray that they will make the right choices in life, but know that sometimes they won't.
It is this fearlessness, and the possibility that things just may go terribly wrong, that is discussed in this book. Not in a preachy parent style, but rather from the viewpoint of a scared and helpless child. As I read this (and by the way, I read it in one seating-not able to put it down--not able to catch my breath),I realized that this is a book that my children must read. Every child should read it!! But not without adult guidance. The book and it's subject matter call for discussion. Your child may need comforting after this book, but it also will wake them up to the fact that there are dangers out there, and they must be careful.
Decisions made in the blink of an eye can change an entire lifetime, or in this case, end a life.
PLEASE, read this one and then discuss it!!!!!
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Format: Paperback
I read this book in fifth or sixth grade and I can honestly say it's the most touching thing I have ever read. I sobbed when it was finished and every time I reread it I can't get to the end without crying at least a little.

Simply put, it deals with guilt and death in adolescence. This is something I will no doubt mention in my college entrance essays and I highly recommend it. It is short, an easy and good read, and something you will remember for the rest of your life.
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Format: Paperback
This short novel details a very traumatic day in the life of our main character, Joel. Joel has just finished the sixth grade and is spending his summer with his best friend and across the street neighbor, Tony. All of the summaries and reviews tell the main conflict which is the death of his good friend. The reader wonders when it will happen as they get to know each boy better as the story begins. With a character such as Tony, there are many instances where you are sure the awful act will occur. Joel's dealing with Tony's death is very detailed throughout the remainder of the story. While he doesn't respond in exactly the way adults would have wanted him to, his response if very believable and applicable to his age. Tony's death has a huge impact on Joel and feelings of responsibility are overwhelming yet not altogether realized until near the end of the story. The way Joel continues to smell the scent of the river on himself is evidence to the deeply rooted guilt he is feeling. Joel's parents are excellent role models that don't waltz in with a simple solution or easy answers but simply reassure him hat this will be a tough thing for those involved but that they'll be there for Joel. The father even takes some blame since he is the one that allowed the boys to take their day trip. This is a wonderful book to read to a class or to recommend to any child.
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