Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: Mr. Terupt Falls Again

My stack of books checked out from the library is quite huge at the moment (almost 20), but I'm relegated to reading whichever book is due next. I really didn't think I was in the mood for a kid's book (since I'm in the process of reading two other ones to the boys) and thought about simply returning this one and checking it out again later. Like Rob Buyea's first book, Because of Mr. Terupt, this book, Mr. Terupt Falls Again, was a sweet, touching story narrated by seven different kids who are in Mr. Terupt's sixth grade class. It is full of contemporary issues kids face, while offering up hope and encouragement to readers.

Buyea does an excellent job of juggling the seven narrators and making each individual shine with their own personal side of the story. Peter is attempting to fail sixth grade so his parents won't be able to send him to the private boarding school they have selected for the following year. Lexie is drawn to a rough crowd of older kids in an attempt to be more grown-up. Danielle, whose faith sustains her, is fearful for a family secret they refuse to share. Jeffrey is wondering when his family will ever be whole again after the loss of his brother. Jessica uses her love of screenwriting to embellish her side of the tale. Anna is in search of information about her absent father and Luke is determined to be a detective and ferret out the truth about Mr. Terupt's strange behavior (dizziness and stuttering spells).

I think this would make an excellent read-aloud book for fifth and sixth grade students, with some qualifications. Teachers would have to realize that the book delves into subjects like bra-stuffing, periods, kissing, and drug use, which might be uncomfortable to present to the class as a whole. Still, it covers such a wide range of emotions that every reader will be able to draw connections to the tale (indeed Mr. Terupt encourages his own students to make connections with the books they read during the school year - I loved this inclusion of familiar titles and stories). I even cried in a few places.

I was especially grateful to the author for including the faith of one of the characters. He does so with grace, neither pounding a gavel or wandering into generalities. Danielle simply addresses each situation with a reliance upon the Lord to help her figure things out and learn lessons from her experiences.

I can't wait for more from this author. He displays a key ability to get inside the heads of kids and also to portray classroom situations with genuine understanding and creativity. I would love to have had Mr. Terupt as a teacher when I was growing up. I have enjoyed sneaking a peek into his classroom and getting to know his students and their classroom activities through these two books. Plus, it looks like there is a third book coming out in July called Saving Mr. Terupt.

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