DeClements's characterizations and plot are equally strong in this poignant novel about a sixth grader and his relationships with his parents and friends. As in Five-Finger Discount , the author focuses on Jerry Johnson, whose father has served time in prison for a number of offenses. As the story opens, Jerry's dad is out on parole, and appears to be trying to hold down a job. But the boy's heart sinks when Rattler, his father's partner in crime, appears at their house: associating with Rattler violates the terms of parole, and Jerry fears that the pair is headed for more trouble. He is especially upset since--after Jerry stole a pair of sandals to give to his mother--he and his dad made a pact that neither one would ever steal again. Jerry has held up his part of the bargain, and feels betrayed when his dad seems unable to do the same. To make matters worse, Mr. Johnson steals a carton of cigarettes in the presence of Jerry and his friends, and is arrested on the spot. With subtlety and style, DeClements delivers an important message. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990 Release date: 09/01/1990 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.