Mr. Terupt follows in the footsteps of those inspiring teachers who encourage their students to think for themselves, question the conventions they understand about school, and become better people. The narration here is shared by so many that it is hard for readers to feel similarly inspired, but what they'll get instead is the school-year-long unfolding of each of seven fifth-graders as they face their own flaws, come to terms with their home lives, and reconcile their roles in a tragic accident that nearly takes the life of their beloved teacher, hinted at with the innocuous-looking snowball on the front cover. Some voices ring less true than others, which is a shame, since all of the characters have something important to say. Despite its flaws, this is a compelling novel with brief sometimes very brief chapters, which keep the story moving. Readers will find much to ponder on the power of forgiveness in Buyea's meditative first novel.--Booth, Heather Copyright 2010 Booklist
In this skillfully constructed first novel, Buyea conveys the impact that an inspiring new teacher has on his fifth-grade class through the alternating voices of seven complex students, including class clown Peter, thoughtful new student Jessica, relentlessly teased Danielle, and mean-girl Alexia ("Mom told me... Alexia, don't let people push you around like your father did to us. You take charge and fight back.' So there's no way I'm going back to being nice"). For the most part, Mr. Terupt's unconventional teaching style proves capable of reaching even his most difficult students as the year progresses; his gentle guidance leads to some potent lessons about tolerance, self-advocacy, and responsibility. However, some in the community disapprove of his lax disciplinary measures and hands-on educational methods. When an accident during a snowball fight lands Mr. Terupt in the hospital, readers-like students in the class-are left to decide who, if anyone, is to blame. Introducing characters and conflicts that will be familiar to any middle-school student, this powerful and emotional story is likely to spur discussion. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 4-6-Seven fifth graders at Snow Hill School in Vermont learn a variety of life lessons, not necessarily from their textbooks, when they start the school year off with their new teacher. Short chapters are actually brief narratives by individual students and sectioned off by each month of the school year, beginning with September. From the students' distinct voices readers come to understand the different personalities and backgrounds that define them. Peter, the prankster; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; and Jessica, the new girl in town who hides behind her favorite books, are just a few of the characters who shape readers' vision of the classroom. As their narrative continues, readers realize that each child has a story that only begins in school; it's the problems and conflicts that make up their home lives that come full circle because of a prank that results in tragedy. Mr. Terupt is that one teacher who really understands them, who always seems to be on their side, and who teaches them a valuable lesson no matter how much some of them try to shut him out. If the school year is a series of events, then Mr. Terupt is the catalyst that starts the chain reaction. The characters are authentic and the short chapters, some less than a page, are skillfully arranged to keep readers moving headlong toward the satisfying conclusion.-Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.