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The Best Man
Cover of The Best Man
The Best Man
Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack Gantos
Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth—Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.
But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn't see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he's the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.
In pages that ripple with laughter, there's a teardrop here and there. And more than a few insights about the bewildering world of adults, made by a boy on his way to being the best man he can be.
From the Hardcover edition.
Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack Gantos
Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth—Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.
But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn't see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he's the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.
In pages that ripple with laughter, there's a teardrop here and there. And more than a few insights about the bewildering world of adults, made by a boy on his way to being the best man he can be.
From the Hardcover edition.
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About the Author-
  • Richard Peck has won almost every children's fiction award, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Newbery Medal, the Scott O'Dell Award, and the Edgar, and he has twice been nominated for a National Book Award. He was the first children's author ever to have been awarded a National Humanities Medal. He lives in New York City.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 30, 2016
    Markedly more contemporary than many of Peck’s previous novels, this drolly narrated coming-of-age story traces milestones in Archer Magill’s life from first to sixth grade while deftly addressing a variety of social issues. The first scene—depicting a “train wreck” of a wedding in which six-year-old Archer performs ring bearer duties in a pair of muddy, too-tight shorts that have split open in the back—sets the stage for other hilarious mishaps. Whenever Archer flounders, there are people (usually the influential men he “wanted to be”) ready to help: his father, as good at fixing problems as he is at restoring vintage cars; his stylish Uncle Paul; and his dignified grandfather Magill. In fifth grade, Archer finds he can depend on someone new: his student-teacher Mr. McLeod, who accidentally causes a lockdown when he shows up at school in his National Guard uniform. Archer gains some wisdom on his own (after befriending a visiting student from England, he concludes: “We thought he was weird. He thought we were weird. It was great. It was what multiculturalism ought to be”), but the most profound lessons about prejudice, conflict resolution, and gay rights are taught by his mentors, all-too-human heroes, whom readers will come to admire as much as Archer does. It’s an indelible portrait of what it looks like to grow up in an age of viral videos and media frenzies, undergirded by the same powerful sense of family that characterizes so much of Peck’s work. Ages 9–12.

  • AudioFile Magazine There are four men Archer Magill wants to be like when he grows up: his dad, his grandpa, his Uncle Paul, and his teacher, Mr. McLeod. Narrator Michael Crouch is a natural with kid voices, and Archer sounds exactly like the sixth-grader he is. Crouch differentiates clearly between the kid and adult characters as the plot veers from touching to zany and back again. Peck's middle-grade novel feels old-fashioned and contemporary at the same time, and nostalgic in the best way. The road trip Archer takes with his dad is just one of the scenes that perfectly capture the heart-squeezy magic of finding a real moment of connection with someone you love. Listeners will relate, whether they're all grown up or still growing. J.M.D. � AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
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