8 Plus 1

Book review by
Monica Wyatt, Common Sense Media
8 Plus 1 Book Poster Image
Sensitive portraits of kids growing up.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

In one story, boys use a racial epithet to refer to a family of African-Americans, and throw vegetables at their house, to the great distress of the main character, who has befriended the family's son.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the author introduces each story with an explanation of how he wrote it. The tales portray family life with teenagers, and how young people make good and bad decisions.

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What's the story?

In nine short stories about family love, Robert Cormier presents both warm and melancholy portraits of kids growing up. One boy sacrifices his dream for his brother; another can't protect his black friend from prejudice. A father laments as his daughter leaves home, and two others betray their families. Together, the stories portray the drama inherent in family life.


Is it any good?

Short stories are a great way to get teens reading; while this collection may not appeal to reluctant readers, its sensitive views about growing up do appeal to more avid readers. In two of the stories, "The Moustache" and "Guess What? I Almost Kissed My Father Goodnight," boys realize that their parents are individual people just as the boys are. Two stories deal with prejudice, religious and racial.

Perhaps the most heartwarming of the stories is "President Cleveland, Where Are You?" in which a boy and his friends become obsessed with collecting trading cards of presidents during the Depression. His older brother wants to take a girl to the dance, but has no money for shoes and a corsage for his girl. The boy sells his cherished President Cleveland card, and his brother goes to the dance. Readers must infer what has happened.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the kinds of decisions each of the young characters makes. Choose a favorite story or two, and put yourself in the main character's shoes. Would you behave the same way, or would you make different choices?

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