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Troublemaker Hardcover – July 26, 2011
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"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 AndrewClements.com.
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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. I've heard parents say that their child is the "shy one" or the "smart one" or the "tough one." Those labels follow him or her around, and soon teachers use those terms, too. Thus, the child takes the label to heart, thinking that if everyone calls him or her that, then surely he or she must be that person. It takes a very determined individual to change a reputation. You are creating a new self-image --- an image that isn't given to you, but rather one that you choose.
--- Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell
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.
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.
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.