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The Janitor's Boy


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About the Author

Andrew Clements (1949-2019) was the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he was nominated for a multitude of state awards, including two Christopher Awards and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He was also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. Find out more at Brian Selznick is the author and illustrator of the bestselling The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal and was a National Book Award finalist. He is also the illustrator of many books for children, including Frindle and Lunch Money by Andrew Clements, as well as the Doll People trilogy by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, which was a Caldecott Honor Book. Mr. Selznick divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California.


Gr 3-5-Jack Rankin could not be more miserable. He is being forced to spend fifth grade in the old high school where his father is the janitor. Jack does a good job of ignoring his dad until the day his dad says hello to him. After that, Jack is teased about being the janitor's son and, in an act of revenge, he vandalizes one of the school desks. His punishment could not be worse. He must spend three weeks working for his father, scraping the gum off of the underside of tables and chairs throughout the building. During this time, Jack learns a lot about his father and himself, and discovers that he is proud to be the janitor's boy. Andrew Clements' story (S&S, 2000) is wonderfully read by B. D. Wong whose various inflections brings to life a cast of supporting characters, while accurately capturing Jack's anger and confusion and the weariness and love of his father. A welcome addition to school and public library audio collections.-Veronica Schwartz, Des Plaines Public Library, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

As he did in Frindle and The Landry News, Clements here puts an intelligent and credible fifth-grader at the center of a memorable novel. As the book opens, Jack, after much careful planning, is executing the "perfect crime": he assembles the biggest, stickiest wad of gum imaginable and affixes it to the desk in the back row of the music room. Why? The novel then flashes back to the moment when Jack's father, John, the head janitor, comes into his classroom to clean up vomit and calls Jack "son." At that point, "Jack felt like a giant letter had been branded on his forehead--L, for Loser." When Jack gets caught and the vice principal assigns him to three weeks' duty of scraping gum from school property after school, Jack decides, "There was only one person to blame for the whole mess.... Thanks again, Dad." Clements slowly builds an even, affecting narrative to reveal how Jack comes to better know and appreciate John, effectively drawing a parallel between this father-son relationship and John's relationship with his own father. The author adds a mystery to the mix when the boy discovers keys in the janitor's closet, which unlock literal doors to his understanding of his father. The author's uncanny ability to capture the fragile transformation from child to adolescent and its impact on family relationships informs every aspect of the novel. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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