Parents' Guide to

The Last Holiday Concert

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

The kids are in charge of the holiday concert.

The Last Holiday Concert Poster Image

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Right now Andrew Clements is the king of the middle-grade novel, for four reasons. Nobody knows the ins and outs of elementary school life, and the workings of gifted students and teachers, as well as he does. Nobody writes endings so purely satisfying. Few are writing with this kind of depth and emotional complexity for this age group. And Clements is the leading, perhaps even the only, writer for kids of a genre one might call Realistic Fantasy (think "The West Wing"), in which things happen not as they do in real life, but as they should.

Readers won't be able to put this book down, not because it is filled with action and suspense (it isn't), or to find out if the villain will win (there are no villains), but because it is, from beginning to end, so completely delightful, so satisfying, so right. It's the kind of book that makes the reader sigh happily after finishing it, then turn back to the beginning and read it again, just for the pleasure of it. It's a book that thousands of music teachers all over the country will be given as a holiday present by grateful students, a book that may inspire both teachers and students to new ideas and new understandings of each other. And, in a time when both movies and books seem to take delight in trashing the holidays and making fun of traditions, it's a book that will surely become a holiday classic because it does neither.

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