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The Janitor's Boy

by Andrew Clements

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1,0802013,403 (3.73)1
Fifth grader Jack finds himself the target of ridicule at school when it becomes known that his father is one of the janitors, and he turns his anger onto his father.

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  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
Normally, Jack Rankin is something of a model kid–polite, hard-working, good grades. Life isn’t exactly normal right now, though. The entire middle school has been dumped in the ancient high-school building for the year until their new building is ready to use . . . the high-school building where Jack’s dad works as the janitor. Not a big deal, except let’s be honest, when the other kids find out, it’s totally a big deal. Let the teasing begin. And wondering why his dad so desperately wants to ruin his life, Jack begins to get angry. That’s when he comes up with the perfect revenge.

Although I’ve been vaguely aware of Andrew Clements’ writings for some time, this is the first time I’ve actually read one of his books, and I must say, I’m impressed. This middle-grade/coming-of-age story is warm, humorous, accessible, and engaging. Moreover, it delves deep into the complexities of the parent-child relationship at a challenging age and stage of life, opening some interesting discussions on the topic from both the child’s and the parent’s point of view. I love, love, love that the story actually carries Jack through the transformation of perspective from seeing his dad as someone who provides for him and tells him what to do to seeing his dad as an actual whole person with his own problems and stories and personality. It’s something I’ve experienced personally, but I’ve never seen a book actually develop this phenomenon before. I think this is what truly raises the bar in this book, transforming it from an amusing middle-grade story to a beautiful, moving coming-of-age story. I also really enjoyed how much individual personality each of the characters had and the way in which that personality affected the flow of the plot. In short, The Janitor’s Boy was an impressive surprise for me, and I would highly recommend this book. ( )
  Honyasbookshelf | Jan 29, 2020 |
A poignant story about a boy ashamed of his dad who is a janitor. It turns out, of couse, that his dad is a hero, and is only a janitor because it's where he landed after Vietnam. I enjoyed reading the story but I don't think I'll remember much about it a year from now. It fits right in with the author's other stories in which school employees are heroes. The aughor uses a very light and accurate touch in rendering dialogue between the fifth-grade protagonist and the adults around him. One good thing about it is that it was short, only a hundred pages or so. ( )
  aprille | Dec 14, 2019 |
What I liked most about the Janitor's Boy was the plot and the fact the it pushes readers to think about tough issues. In the beginning of the book Jack hates the fact the his dad is the janitor of his middle school and hates that the rich students make fun of him constantly. But by the end of the book, after having to work alongside his father (because Jack defaced a school desk with gum) he learns a lot about his dad and gains a newfound respect for him. The plot teaches readers not to take people for face value and to respect anyone despite their occupation. No one should be judged because they have a "lowly" job like a janitor and it's nice that the readers sees that Jack has to learn that lesson as well, even though the janitor is his own father. The book also pushes readers to think about tough issues and is perfect for classroom discussions. Why do the boys make fun of Jack and his dad? What are some stereotypes about janitors? Can you relate to Jack? Have you ever been embarrassed to tell others about your parents' jobs and why? Jack had nothing to be embarrassed about, but he had to learn that lesson on his own. ( )
  cmcdon13 | Oct 6, 2016 |
Another funny, insightful school & family story by the author of Frindle. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
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Fifth grader Jack finds himself the target of ridicule at school when it becomes known that his father is one of the janitors, and he turns his anger onto his father.

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