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The Losers Club (edition 2017)
by Andrew Clements (Author)
The Losers Club by Andrew Clements
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This is the story of a kid who begins to dare to live outside of the pages of his beloved books, and finds that his personal story can be pretty interesting. It's a classic school story, and it relies on some stereotypes. The kids themselves help break down some of them, and in the end I really enjoyed the story, although I did feel some of characterizations of the kids and teachers might be a little overused or outdated. ( )
While I'm not in the demographic for this book, I loved listening to it with my son. It's a good story and deals well with some social situations, as well as encouraging reading and providing lots of book recommendations! Highly recommend for any middle-grader.
Recommended Ages: Gr. 3-6
Plot Summary: Alec just started 6th grade at his school, and on the first day he gets in trouble yet again for reading during class. The principal informs him if he doesn't pay more attention in class, she's going to tell his parents he needs to attend summer school. That means six weeks of school instead of water skiing. Determined to make sure that doesn't happen, Alec tries. But at the extended day program for the first time, he learns he must join a club. All he wants to do is read, but that isn't an option. Can he start a club? He just needs one other person to join him. He doesn't want a big club, just enough so that he can sit for hours after school and do nothing but read.
Setting: Bald Ridge Elementary School
Alec Spencer - 6th grader, can't stop thinking about Nina
Kent Blair - Alec's former friend, superb athlete
Mrs. Vance - principal
Luke - 3rd grader, Alec's brother, takes care of Alec sometimes when Alec is too focused on books and ignores directions
Mrs. Case - head of the extended day program
Nina Warner - was in origami club just reading, plays a little basketball, has an older brother, lives near Kent
Recurring Themes: friendship, reading, first crush, bully, athletics, identity, confidence, school work, bravery
Controversial Issues: none
Personal Thoughts: Perfect for smart kids who want a good school story. It's nothing too deep and it references a LOT of books, many of which are for older kids.
Genre: realistic fiction
Characters: well developed, not too many
I'm absolutely in love with this book! Call me a "loser" any day!
It truly is a celebration of reading... all the feels, the adventures, the lessons, the characters, the EVERYTHING... but also, so much more. It reminds us that there's a reader in all of us, if only we find the right selection... but also that life was meant for living, so excluding those experiences entirely for the stacks, though heavenly, won't serve us as well as finding our balance.
In closing, I only have one thing to add... Bookhawks FTW! 😀
Alec LOVES reading, so much so that it affects his schoolwork. When threatened to pay attention in class or face summer school, Alec decides to buckle down. As a result, he turns to his aftercare program to be his reading time, forming a group he dubs "The Losers Club," thinking the name will turn off anyone else from joining and allow him hours of uninterrupted reading time. But as time goes on, more and more kids show up at Alec's table wanting to read, including a girl named Nina who Alec thinks he might like as more than a friend. Meanwhile, Alec's former playmate Kent has been teasing him about his bookish ways -- and also seems to be flirting Nina.
There's a lot going on in this book but it all feels very organic and quite familiar to anyone who's been through middle school. (Technically the book places Alec in elementary school, but he is a sixth grader, which is considered as intermediate or middle school in most districts that I know). Clements handles everything quite smoothly, managing to portray Alec as a positive role model without ever sounding didactic or preachy. I was particularly proud of how he made note that while Alec and Kent are both romantically interested in Nina, she is not a prize to be fought over and will make her own decisions regarding who to date and when. Clements also makes sure to remind kids that not all bullying is physical -- Kent primarily uses words to put down others.
With reading being a central theme and plot point, the text is scattered with references to popular books for middle schoolers. Clements's one misstep is here when he uses the word "Eskimo" (not politically correct) when talking about the book Julie of the Wolves. (To be fair though, that is the terminology used in that book.) The Losers Club concludes with a checklist of all the books mentioned in the text, which is great for kids finishing this book and looking for a new book to read next.
The beloved New York Times bestselling author of the modern classic Frindle celebrates books and the joy of reading with a new school story to love! Sixth grader Alec can't put a good book down. So when Principal Vance lays down the law--pay attention in class, or else--Alec takes action. He can't lose all his reading time, so he starts a club. A club he intends to be the only member of. After all, reading isn't a team sport, and no one would want to join something called the Losers Club, right? But as more and more kids find their way to Alec's club--including his ex-friend turned bully and the girl Alec is maybe starting to like--Alec notices something. Real life might be messier than his favorite books, but it's just as interesting. With The Losers Club, Andrew Clements brings us a new school story that's a love letter to books and to reading and that reminds us that sometimes the best stories are the ones that happen off the page--our own! Praise for The Losers Club!* "Clements's latest is engaging and funny. A laugh-out-loud first purchase for all middle grade collections, and a solid read-aloud choice for classrooms."--School Library Journal, Starred Review "Clements is out to celebrate reading in all its obsessiveness, and...tosses in shout-outs to a passel of other writers. [The Losers Club] gives fried bookworms everywhere the satisfaction of knowing that friends may desert them (if only temporarily) but books never will. "--The New York Times Praise for Andrew Clements! "Clements is a genius." --The New York Times "We have never read an Andrew Clements book that we haven't loved." --The Washington Post
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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