Synopsis: On the first day of fourth grade, Hank's teacher assigns a five-paragraph essay, "What I did on my summer vacation," and he knows he's in trouble. It has always been difficult for him to read, write, and spell so he decides to "build" his assignment instead-to "-bring Niagara Falls into the classroom, water and all." With the help of his friends, he creates a working model, complete with water pump, Saran-wrapped tubing, and a paper-mech‚ mountain. Predictably, his "living essay" comes to an unfortunate end when a leak leads to a flood and chaos in the classroom. Hank's creativity is rewarded with two weeks' detention and grounding, but his friends are counting on his help for their upcoming magic show. Just when the boy's self-esteem is at its lowest, the new music teacher suspects that he has "learning differences" and suggests that he be tested. Eventually, the misunderstood protagonist convinces his parents to let him perform in the show, which is a big hit, largely thanks to Hank's ingenuity. (From the back of the book)
Review: This was recommended to me by a friend who has excellent taste in books. And she once again, proved correct. I found Hank's observations on school, family and adults to be humorous and close-to-my-heart. I understood how it's frustrating when adults "punish you for trying your best" as Hank put it. This is an excellent book for kids who have trouble learning in conventional ways, who struggle in school or who feel stupid for reasons they can't understand. This is the first in a series and I will be on the lookout for more.
Bookmarks: 7 of 10
Date Finished: 2-19-2011