Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

‘because of mr. terupt”: extradordinary (“dollar word”?)

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Lisa was right.  Our intrepid Children/Youth Services Librarian usually is.

Roaming the stacks of my local library the other day, I couldn’t quite find “It.”  You know, a title that leapt off the stacks, grabbed me by the throat and hollered, “Read me!”  (Some do, you know.)  So I moseyed over to Lisa’s desk for a recommendation.  She understands my conviction that some of the finest writing and best literature on the planet can be found in Children’s or Young Adult sections because frankly, any author that can catch and keep a kid’s attention for an entire book must be doing something right!

Anyway, Lisa steered me toward because of mr. terupt (Random House, 2010), Rob Buyea’s debut novel.  “You will absolutely love this!” she chirped.

Lisa was right.  I finish a book a week on average.  Terupt is quite possibly the best thing I’ve read all year.

This clever, engaging story is narrated by seven kids in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class at Snow Hill School, Connecticut.  Each has a unique “signature” headlining their own chapter – and perspective.  There’s portly, sensitive Danielle; conniving, manipulative Alexia; bookish Jessica, newly re-located from California; Jeffrey, who detests school; Anna, who’s ostracized because of her home life; Peter, the class clown and mischief-maker, and Luke, the brain.

A first-year teacher who is much more than a classroom instructor, Mr. terupt teaches each kid not only how to calculate “dollar words,” the number of blades of grass in the school soccer field or what not to feed a plant experiment, but also about cooperation, compassion, loyalty, faith, forgiveness and courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

mr. terupt is packed with enough plot twists and turns to rival a ride down Disneyland’s Space Mountain.  Whizzing down the slopes from chapter one, the story snowballs into an avalanche of real emotion: fear, guilt, anger, love, courage and hope. The characters are so genuine and three-dimensional, you may feel like you sat next to some of them in your own fifth grade class.  Engrossing and brisk, the story has you ready to spit or pump both fists in the air one minute, then tearing up the next.  I finished all 268 pages in a day and a half.

Lisa was right: I loved because of mr. terupt.  I bet you will, too.  (Bring Kleenex.)

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