9780689858024 / 0689858027

A Week in the Woods


Publisher:Atheneum Books for Young Readers



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About the book:

Rich kids are snobs and slackers. They think they're too good for anyone else, and that they don't have to work hard at anything. That, at least, is the opinion of fifth-grade science teacher Mr. Maxwell, and the super-rich new kid, Mark Chelmsley, is showing no signs of transcending the stereotype. Or is Mr. Maxwell just too anti-elitist or ego-driven to notice? Once again, the talented Andrew Clements (Frindle, The Janitor's Boy) allows adult characters to "come of age" right along with his adolescent characters in the most refreshing and insightful of ways.

Mark has low expectations of his new school in rural New Hampshire, and he'll be there for less than four months anyway, so he can't let himself get attached. It's the glory of the countryside around him that shakes him awake--and the urban boy's first trek on snowshoes, discovery of an old barn, and rediscovery of Jack London are exciting to behold. For the first time in his busy, absentee parent-controlled life, Mark discovers "his own sense of time--time present--and he had discovered how much this time was worth."

As the reader starts to like this curious, resourceful, clearly not lazy kid, Mr. Maxwell's preconceptions start to seem all the worse. It all comes to a head at the school's annual camp out (called A Week in the Woods), where Mr. Maxwell accuses Mark of breaking a rule--without getting all the facts that would have proven his innocence. Mark escapes into the woods before he can be driven home: "If Mr. Maxwell wants to get rid of me so bad, then he's gonna have to find me first!" Will Mark survive on his own in the woods overnight? What will Mr. Maxwell do when he learns his own prejudices have colored his judgment? What starts out as a school camp out turns into a terrifically suspenseful survival story of a man and boy who come head-to-head, and learn a few lessons while they're at it. Readers will be on the edges of their seats! (Ages 9 to 13) --Karin Snelson

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