The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle Book Poster Image
Riveting, poignant drama explores kindness, friendship.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Discusses details of Lascaux cave paintings, explains the conditions diaphoresis and synesthesia, shows that learning challenges don't reflect on a person's character, demonstrates benefits of dictation software.

Positive Messages

Judging people by appearance, abilities, or rumors prejudices you against discovering their true nature and sets you up to underestimate them. Awful experiences may help prepare you for much better experiences in the future. Finding the right tool can help unlock creativity and self-expression. One person's kindness can have tremendous impact.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mason is honest, loyal, and deeply considerate of others; he helps and protects others from suffering. He's a smart problem solver and strives to do the right thing, even when it causes him discomfort. Calvin is friendly, openhearted, and creative. His family cares for him, despite their dysfunction, and tries to help others. Ms. Blinny is a firm advocate for students, finding creative ways to nurture their self-respect. Adults try to make amends for behavior that causes children stress and harm.

Violence & Scariness

Child injured in accident; references to child's death from a fall, and the deaths of parents. Bullies chase kids, throw things at them, and contribute to serious injuries. A child is mean to a pet.

Language

Name-calling including "butt-face," "butthead," "meathead," "jerks," and "fetus-face," and some crude terms ("pee," "turds").

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle is narrated by a boy who's suspected of being involved in the death of his best friend and has lost both of his parents. Written by Leslie Connor (All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook), the story is told from the perspective of Mason, who struggles to read. Mason and Calvin are verbally and physically attacked by classmates, and adults are ineffective in stopping the cycle of harassment. Most adults remain emotionally distant from Mason after his friend's death -- many are struggling themselves to find their way through grief and loss.

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What's the story?

THE TRUTH AS TOLD BY MASON BUTTLE introduces 12-year-old Mason just over a year after he found his best friend dead in his family's orchard. The police lieutenant suspects Mason hasn't told the whole story, and Mason -- who's huge, sweaty, and barely literate -- spends his lonely days trying to avoid neighborhood bullies. He finds a new friend in Calvin, who also hangs out in the school social worker's office. The two create a hideaway where they can build, create, and feel safe. But all that is threatened when Calvin disappears and Mason finds himself the focus of the police lieutenant's attention -- again.

Is it any good?

Leslie Connor has created another unforgettable, unlikely hero in Mason, a large, lonely seventh-grader whose grieving heart aches for just the simplest moments of connection with the people he loves. The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle unfolds in his remarkable voice: straightforward, frank, and full of sweet surprises. Connor (Waiting for Normal) surrounds Mason with well-meaning adults struggling to wade through their own grief and regret. Though he's steeped in loneliness, Mason is an optimist: He takes everyday miseries in stride and seeks out people and places that show him kindness and warmth. Sad but never bleak, the story offers a gentle lesson on what a difference a little kindness and patience can make.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Mason's narration in The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle. Do you enjoy reading stories told in such unique voices? How does this approach shape the way you understand the story?

  • What do you think of how the adults in this story treat Mason and the other children?

  • Do you have a safe refuge of your own?

Book details

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