Clements (Extra Credit) delivers another rock-solid school story that will resonate with middle graders. Like his older brother, Mitch, sixth-grader Clay is habitually in trouble, and he can't wait to tell Mitch about his latest coup--a realistic portrait of Principal Kelling as a donkey. But his 19-year-old brother, who's just finished a 30-day jail sentence after losing his temper in court, is not amused, and he orders Clay to straighten out ("You're gonna do all the stuff that I never did--and do things right, the smart way"). Clay promises to do so, but learns that his well-established reputation is hard to shake, backsliding is easy, and taking his life in a new direction might mean leaving old friends behind--or being pranked himself. Though the story is largely Clay's, Clements offers the perspectives of other characters, demonstrating how Clay's tussles with his conscience have an impact on the environment around him. Clements's empathy for Clay is clear--he's not a bad kid, just someone whose mischievous tendencies have always been encouraged. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (July)Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 4-6--Clayton Hensley wants to be exactly like his older brother, who just got out of jail for wielding his own brand of trouble. When he uses his free art period to draw the principal as a donkey, he makes sure he's the talk of the school, showing off on the way to the office. But, when Clay reveals the drawing to Mitch, he's in for a surprise. Not only is his brother not proud, but he's also disappointed. Mitch wants Clay to turn his life around. The problem is, Clay isn't sure he can do it, or if he even wants to. Being good isn't any fun at all. Or is it? Clements forms interesting parallels between choice, habit, and repute, asking the questions: Can people change their reputations? And, is having fun at the expense of someone else really fun? Occasional pencil drawings of Clay's antics highlight the best parts of the story. Clay will encourage kids who want to forge a new path, placing their own brand on doing the right thing. An inspiring and comical read.--Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZCopyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.