THE LANDRY NEWS by Andrew Clements Simon & Schuster 123 pp., $15 Ages 8-12
Stop the presses!
Andrew Clements's "The Landry News" is just the book for refreshing summer fun. This great new school story follows his earlier, award-winning book, "Frindle" (1996).
Sometimes, it's possible to tell a lot about a book - and its author - by reading the dedication. Here's what Clements writes: "For my brother Denney - a good writer, a good journalist, a good man." That's exactly what this story is about: good writing, good truth-telling, and good motives.
A burned-out teacher - or rather his lack of teaching - becomes the target of a pointed editorial by fifth-grader Clara Landry. That little column in the corner of a hand-written newspaper sets events in motion that even the domineering principal, Dr. Barnes, can't control.
Clara's paper becomes a popular classroom project that infuses the teacher, Mr. Larson, with renewed enthusiasm for his job. Students gain an appreciation for journalism as they learn about editorials, news standards, and simple kindness.
Alas, all does not go well in the newsroom. Mr. Larson is charged with publishing an inappropriate story, and a school-board hearing is called. Seizing the opportunity to teach his students about First Amendment rights, Mr. Larson proves that newspapers are like people - the best have the most heart.
Newspaper-like chapter designs and Salvatore Murdocca's black-and-white cartoon illustrations fit the journalistic theme. This book just might introduce young readers to their local papers.