November 17, 2017

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The Best Man by Richard Peck | SLJ Audio Review

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redstarPECK, Richard. The Best Man. 4 CDs. 4:25 hrs. Listening Library. Sept. 2016. $30. ISBN 9780735288881. digital download.

au-peck-bestmanGr 4-6 –The latest from Newbery Medal–winning author Peck takes on important and timely topics—marriage, sexuality, manhood, nontraditional families—and alchemizes them into an affecting story full of warmth, acceptance, and understanding. Sixth grader Archer Magill narrates what he calls “A Tale of Two Weddings.” At the first, “a train wreck” of an event, Archer, age six, was the ring bearer and met his best friend; at the second, he is promoted to best man for his uncle and his new husband. Between weddings, Archer absorbs life lessons from his heroes: his architect grandfather, his car restoration specialist father, his favorite uncle Paul, and the new teacher Mr. McLeod, who is the first guy teacher in the history of the school. Archer isn’t lacking in strong female role models, either. His mother, sister, and best friend Lynnette are certainly models of strength (opinion, sass, and fortitude) times three. Michael Crouch, with his could-crack-at-any-moment, fittingly adolescent-tuned voice, is ideal as Archer’s aural incarnation—equal parts excitable, thoughtful, and gentle. VERDICT With panache and charm, plus a few tears and guffaws, Peck proves (again) he’s the best man to create one of this year’s best reads.–Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2017 issue.

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