The Last Holiday Concert

by Andrew Clements (Author)

The Last Holiday Concert
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
It didn't sound like much, but it was a big idea. A very big idea.
It all started when Hart Evans zinged a rubber band that hit Mr. Meinert, the chorus director. Actually, it started before that, when Mr. Meinert learned he was out of a job because the town budget couldn't afford music and art teachers. Mr. Meinert got so mad at Hart that he told the sixth graders he'd had it -- they could produce the big holiday concert on their own. Or not. It was all up to them.
What happens when a teacher steps aside and lets the kids run the show? Not what Mr. Meinert would have predicted. And not what Hart Evans would have guessed, not at all.
Out of chaos, infighting, compromise, idealism, and finally, a fragile peace, the sixth grade choral concert was born. And they called it Winterhope.
But would it be the last holiday concert of them all?

Publishers Weekly

Clements's (The Report Card) latest school-centered novel introduces Hart Evans, the most popular boy in school ("Hart could have charmed the hairnet off a cafeteria lady"). He hates sixth-grade chorus; while the chorus practices for the upcoming holiday concert, the bored boy shoots two elastic bands that hit the teacher, Mr. Meinert. The man hustles Hart to the principal's office, and readers then discover something that Hart does not know: because of budget cuts, the chorus director's job is being terminated at semester's end. His patience strained by this and by his class's lack of interest, the teacher snaps and hands responsibility for the concert to the students ("It's not my concert. It's your concert. You don't like the songs I've picked? Fine. Pick your own"). After the students elect Hart as director, the teacher looks on with understandably mixed feelings. Meanwhile, as the boy panics about the approaching concert, his diplomacy gives way to bossiness that lands him in trouble with his peers. The third-person narrative focuses on both boy and teacher, and some readers may grow impatient with the sections that reveal Mr. Meinert's feelings. It comes as no surprise that-with Meinert's help-the concert is an unparalleled success. Though the account of the culminating event and of Hart's farewell to the teacher are affecting, Clements's fans may find that this belabored tale does not live up to his best performances. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 4-7 -Sixth-grader Hart Evans's least-favorite class is chorus, where uptight Mr. Meinert makes them sing boring songs. When Hart shoots a couple of rubber bands at the teacher, the man overreacts and is angry when the smooth-talking boy gets off relatively unscathed. Although the class is not told, readers learn that Mr. Meinert will lose his job after January 1 because of budget cuts. When the students act up the next day, he snaps and decides to place the responsibility for the holiday concert in their hands. This sets in motion a series of events that leaves Hart running the show with the teacher watching, learning, and eventually helping out. The plot unfolds to encompass control issues, democratic procedures, and an end product that wows the crowd. Clements is a master at taking elements of relatively common school situations and turning them into masterful stories with truly engaging characters. Foreshadowing provides glimpses of the program during the chapters leading up to the conclusion, but the climactic description of the event will leave youngsters teeming with emotion. The book's accessible language and quick pace will also appeal to reluctant readers.-Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI Copyright 2004 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes


"Clements is a master at taking elements of relatively common school situations and turning them into masterful stories with truly engaging characters....['aaThis story] will leave youngsters teeming with emotion."

— "School Library Journal"

Andrew Clements
Andrew Clements (1949-2019) was the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he was nominated for a multitude of state awards, including a Christopher Award and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He was also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. Find out more at

Adam Stower has a rich imagination and loves fantasy and adventure stories. He studied illustration at the Norwich School of Art and Design and at the University of Brighton, and lives with his daughter in Brighton, England.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date
October 20, 2004
Volunteer State Book Awards
Nominee 2006 - 2007
Virginia Readers Choice Award
Winner 2007 - 2007
Great Stone Face Book Award
Nominee 2005 - 2006
North Carolina Children's Book Award
Nominee 2006 - 2006
Charlie May Simon Children's Book Award
Nominee 2006 - 2007
Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award
Nominee 2007 - 2007
Garden State Children's Book Awards
Winner 2007 - 2007
Nevada Young Readers' Award
Nominee 2006 - 2006
Massachusetts Children's Book Award
Nominee 2007 - 2008
William Allen White Childens Book Award
Nominee 2007 - 2007
Young Hoosier Book Award
Nominee 2007 - 2007
Rhode Island Children's Book Awards
Nominee 2007 - 2007

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