Friday 7 July 2023

The Jacket - Andrew Clements

The Jacket
Andrew Clements
ISBN 9780689860102
eISBN 9780689848308

The Jacket - Andre Clements Cover 3

Seven years ago, I discovered the works of Andrew Clements. I was instantly hooked and have now read almost 29 books from his masterful pen. Many consider him the ‘master of school stories’, and I would agree. I have a dual form of dyslexia and did not learn to read until after grade 7. So I never read ‘school stories’ when I was young. That combined with having my own school aged children has instilled a great appreciation for the genre and specifically for the works of Andrew Clements. Clements passed away in 2019 his last novel was The Friendship War, which is an excellent volume. He wrote amazing stories for children, but they are also stories that any of us can learn from. Back then I set the goal of reading all of his works, but as my own children have outgrown these books and they had slid by the wayside. I have now returned to them yet again. 

This story is a little different. With race relations what they are in 2023 I doubt this book would have been published if it had gone to editors this year or last year. And yet it really does have a good message even if a little overly simplified, and the resolution comes too quick. In many ways the story feels unfinished, or at least that the ending was rushed. The description of the story states:

“Phil is on a mission. His absentminded little brother forgot his lunch money. All kinds of thoughts are running through Phil's mind as he searches for Jimmy in the throngs of fourth and fifth graders crowding the school hallway:...if I'm late for math today, then I might not be allowed to take the test -- and then I could flunk math! I might even flunk sixth grade and get left back!

Then Phil spots Jimmy's one-of-a-kind jacket and rushes to the corner of the hallway. Except the person wearing it isn't his brother; it's some black kid Phil's never seen before -- wearing Jimmy's jacket! Phil makes an accusation, tempers flare, and both kids wind up in the principal's office.

How will Phil react when he finds out how Daniel came to be the owner of this unique jacket? Will Daniel be able to forgive Phil for an accusation that was based on racial prejudice? What will each boy learn about the other, and most important, about himself?”

When Phil finds out how the jacket ended up on Daniel got the jacket he begins to question a lot of things. He soon notices the color of people more, who lives where, who works where and when jogging just 2 miles the difference in some neighbourhoods he passes through. But he also realized that he never notices or thought about it before. But how can he find a way to undo the mess he has made? 

It is a good read, and it does have a great message from both sides. The ending felt rushed. And compared too many of Clements other volumes, overly simplified. There are 19 editions of this book that I have found with a variety of covers, I like the one that is traditionally illustrated and matches his other works best. On Goodreads it has  3.5 rating when I wrote this review and on Amazon 4.6 if you could actually give half stars I would give it a 5 for the concept, a 3.5 for the execution and a 2 for the ending. Thus rounding to 3.5. It is a good read but far from Clements best.

The Jacket - Andre Clements Cover 2

The Jacket - Andre Clements Cover 3

Books by Andrew Clements:
Bird Adalbert
Noah and the Ark and the Animals
Santa's Secret Helper
Temple Cat
Mother Earth's Counting Book
Billy and the Bad Teacher
Who Owns the Cow
Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers
(Adapter)Philipp's Birthday Book
Riff's BeBop Book
Real Monsters Go for the Mold
Things That Go EEK on Halloween
Real Monsters Stage Fright
Music Time, Any Time
Double Trouble in Walla Walla
Gromble's Haunted Halloween
Hey Dad, Could I Borrow Your Hammer
The Landry News
Look Who's in the Thanksgiving Play
The Mouse Family
The Janitor's Boy
Circus Family Dog
The Christmas Kitten
The School Story
Things Not Seen 
The Jacket 
A Week in the Woods
Slippers at Home
Naptime for Slippers
The Report Card
The Last Holiday Concert
Slippers at School
Slippers Loves to Run
A Million Is a Lot of Dots
Lunch Money
Things Hoped For
Room One: A Mystery or Two
No Talking
Things That Are
Lost and Found
Extra Credit
About Average
The Map Trap
The Friendship War
The Losers Club

Pets to the Rescue Series
Ringo Saves the Day!
Brave Norman
Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends
Delores and the Big Fire

Jake Drake Series
Jake Drake Know-It-All
Jake Drake, Bully Buster
Jake Drake, Teacher's Pet
Jake Drake, Class Clown

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School Series
We the Children
Fear Itself
The Whites of Their Eyes
In Harm's Way
We Hold These Truths

Reading Program Books
Karen's Island
Three Wishes for Buster
Bill Picket: An American Original, Texas Style
Hurricane Andrew
Ham and Eggs for Jack
Life in the Desert
Desert Treasure
Inventors: Making Things Better, Steck-Vaughn
Milo's Great Invention

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