The Best Man by Richard Peck | SLJ Review

redstarPeck, Richard. The Best Man. 240p. Dial. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803738393. MG-Peck-The Best Man

Gr 4-6 –The inimitable Peck frames his latest novel with weddings. Opening with a flashback to a hilariously disastrous wedding when Archer Magill was in first grade, the book closes with a significantly more staid one that occurs when he is in sixth grade. Most of the story, though, takes place between these two events, during Archer’s fifth grade year. A military-based student teacher both disrupts Archer’s class and enriches it, as does a new student who uses a wheelchair and comes from a British aristocratic background. High jinks abound, but so does serious content; in response to antigay bullying, Mr. McLeod gives the students a lecture in which he publicly outs himself, a particularly poignant moment. Outside school, Archer also shares daily adventures with his car-loving father, his grandfather (an elderly architect whose work is all over town), and his uncle Paul, whose romantic interest in Mr. McLeod might just well lead to another wedding. Here, the Newbery Award–winning author explores what it means to love and what it means to be a man. VERDICT A modern, funny, and realistic tale featuring strong, nuanced, and unforgettable characters. An essential addition for middle grade collections.–Jill Ratzan, Congregation Kol Emet, Yardley, PA

This review was published in the School Library Journal July 2016 issue.

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