Parents' Guide to

The Janitor's Boy

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Gets to the heart of a father-son relationship.

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Kids say (4 ):

Andrew Clements deftly mines deep emotional territory here: the complex and difficult relationship between father and son. But this book contains a rare alchemy -- the author is able to have Jack find independent resolution of his problems without resorting to writer's stratagems to get the parents out of the way. He brings Jack through trials to a greater understanding of himself and his father, but he does it without villains. Jack grows, not in spite of stupid or venal adults, but hand in hand with caring, wise grown-ups who know when to step in and when to step back.

The author knows schools -- the student pecking order, the faculty politics, the brightly lit classrooms and dim dusty recesses of school geography. For young readers, the little details ring true and give them new insights into the world they inhabit. Most children's books have happy endings, but this ending will bring both a grin to the face and a lump to the throat. It may not be the way the world works, but it's the way it ought to.

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