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Fair Has Nothing to Do With It by Cynthia…
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Fair Has Nothing to Do With It

by Cynthia Cotten

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Reviewed by Grandma Bev for TeensReadToo.com

Michael always spends the summer at his grandparents' farm, and he is really looking forward to this summer. He and Grandpa always go fishing on the first day, and this year he will be allowed to drive the tractor. They pack up and drive to the farm, but when they arrive, an ambulance is just leaving with Grandpa, who has had a fatal heart attack. Michael is devastated...how can this happen? Michael's uncle and cousin decide to put up the hay that Grandpa had cut so that it wouldn't spoil, but they refuse to let Michael drive the tractor -- they are afraid that he can't handle it.

Back in the city, Michael feels truly alone since Dad is always busy with his schooling and working on the dissertation for his P.H.D. Dad suggests that Michael might like to take some individual art lessons from his good friend, Charlie, since Michael always seems to have a pencil and paper at hand and is very good at art. Michael decides to do that, and trades doing some summer yard work for art lessons, and he and Charlie become friends.

Michael chooses a portrait of Grandpa for his art project at school, but he just can't seem to get the eyes right, even though Charlie works with him every week to improve his skills. This is a very emotional story, as Michael swings from denial to anger to sorrow, and feels that the whole world is against him. He feels that his math teacher hates him and his best friends have distanced themselves from him. They just seem to have other interests this year that don't include Michael. He does make a new friend in Melanie, the cute new girl across the aisle from him in math class. Then Michael learns that his new friend and art mentor, Charlie, might be dying from cancer.

Cynthia Cotten writes with great sensitivity about a difficult subject in this story with compelling characters and a well-developed plot. The title, FAIR HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, is right on. Life is not fair, but learning to cope with what life hands out is crucial to our children's mental health. This book should be in every library and on your child's summer reading list. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 10, 2009 |
Cotten, C. (2007). Fair has nothing to do with it (No illustrations). New
York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Michael, 12, is having difficultly dealing with his grandfather’s sudden death. The reader goes through the different stages of grief with Michael as he deals with all the different emotions. Two new people enter his life and Michael has to decide if he should ever allow himself to get close to someone again. The book is well written and valuable especially to ant pre-teen or teen that has lost someone.

This book is suitable for ages 4-8 since at this age children are less egocentric and are developing empathy for others. Also, they are beginning to question death. Discussions will help children at this age to explore their own feelings and their feelings for others.

Fair Has Nothing To Do With It can be used in a few ways. It can be used as a read aloud and discussed or the children can be assigned pages to read and then discuss it in class. Another way would be a combination of those two methods.
  cdl | Sep 10, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374399352, Hardcover)

Every year, twelve-year-old Michael looks forward to his summer visit to his grandparents' farm, to the sights and sounds of the country that always make him feel so alive, and especially to spending time with his grandfather. When Grandpa dies suddenly right before Michael's visit, the loss hits Michael hard. It seems as if nothing is going right in his life right now: his dad is always working on his dissertation and has no time for Michael, and, when school starts, his math teacher seems to hate him and his best friends are never around. About the only thing that makes him feel better is picking up his sketchbook and pencil and drawing. Michael begins taking private art lessons with Charlie Andrews, a retired art teacher, and the two become friends. But then Michael learns that Charlie might be dying, too.
 
This is a touching first novel about a sensitive boy's struggle to work through his grief and let people into his life again. As Graham Salisbury pointed out, it provides "excellent comfort to any young reader dealing with the frailty of life."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:48 -0400)

When Michael's beloved grandfather dies, he has a hard time admitting how much it hurts and allowing himself to trust anyone again.

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