6-321

Michael Laser, Author, Jerry O'Connell, Read by
Michael Laser, Author, Jerry O'Connell, Read by Listening Library $18 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8072-6206-1
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Hardcover - 131 pages - 978-0-689-83372-4
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-8072-8854-2
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Film actor O'Connell (Jerry Maguire; Scream 2) gives an excellent performance, slipping comfortably into the heart and soul of Marc Chaikin, the sixth-grade hero of Laser's coming-of-age novel set in 1960s Queens. The school year gets off to an ominous start as Marc finds himself facing bullies, tough teachers, his first serious crush and the impending breakup of his parents' marriage. In Laser's well-drawn tale, Marc looks back on how each of these circumstances unfolds throughout the year and leaves him profoundly changed. Things come to a head when the students in Marc's classroom, 6-321, decide to retaliate against the constant bullying of Nicky Raffetto and the other toughs in room 6-7. The two groups schedule a formal rumble one November afternoon after school. But a devastating event announced during the school day--President Kennedy is assassinated--puts the importance of the fight in a different light. With perfect pacing and an engaging tone, O'Connell gets the emotional barometer just right, adopting the subtle shades of confidence, self-doubt, fear and heartbreaking pain that are all part of Marc's experience. Ages 9-up. (Feb.)
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