December 12, 2017

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The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor | SLJ Review

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redstarCONNOR, Leslie. The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle. 336p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Jan. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062491435.

Gr 5-7 –Calvin Chumsky, a brilliant seventh grader and the only friend of Mason Buttle, says, “The Universe is amazing. It knows what we want. And sometimes… it hands it over like a gift.” Maybe so, but the Universe isn’t kind to Mason Buttle. He is a large boy who has severe dyslexia and overactive sweat glands. He is plagued by two neighborhood boys who call Mason stupid and pelt him with lacrosse balls and mushy apples. One boy, Matt, not only mistreats Mason but beats up his own dog, who prefers Mason. Worse than the constant ragging is the memory of a tragedy that happened two years ago: Mason’s best friend fell off a broken ladder to his death. Lieutenant Laird has hounded Mason ever since to remember more about the accident. Mason finds his comfort in his broken-down house, the secret hideout he and Calvin create, and a school room monitored by a caring social worker. Mason’s family and friends have their own misdeeds and insecurities. Uncle Drum has sold off many acres of the family’s apple orchards. Instead of working, he spends his days in a diner. Shayleen, a runaway, tries to fill her life with stuff bought on a shopping network. Connor expertly captures the camaraderie of Calvin and Mason, the overly permissive parenting of Matt’s mother, and the suspicious attitudes of the townspeople toward Matt after the accident. The final line in the books says it all: “Knowing what you love is smart.” VERDICT A poignant underdog tale that will resonate with many young readers.–Lillian Hecker, Town of ­Pelham Public Library, NY

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

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