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The Best Man
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The Best Man
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Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack GantosArcher Magill has spent a lively five years of...
Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack GantosArcher Magill has spent a lively five years of...
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  • Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack Gantos
    Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth—Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.
    But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn't see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he's the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.
    In pages that ripple with laughter, there's a teardrop here and there. And more than a few insights about the bewildering world of adults, made by a boy on his way to being the best man he can be.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Chapter 1

    Boys aren't too interested in weddings. Girls like them. Grown-ups like them. But my first-grade year started with one wedding, and my sixth ended with another. Call my story "A Tale of Two Weddings." I was in both of them.

    One of the weddings was great. In fact, it's just over. There's still some cake. And I got a fantastic new suit out of it. The pants are cuffed. The coat gives me shoulders, and I'll be sorry to outgrow it. I won't mind being taller, but I'll miss the suit.

    Also, a pair of gold cuff links are involved, but we'll come to them later.

    The other wedding, the first one, was a train wreck, so let's get that one out of the way. Besides, it happened when I was too little to know what was happening or to stand up for my rights. I didn't have any rights. I was six.

    Did I even know what weddings are? And this one wasn't even anybody in our family.

    "Archer, honey," said Mom one day. I was in her office for some reason I didn't see coming. Mom's maiden name was Archer. I'm named for her kid brother, Paul Archer.

    Mom was about to pull me onto her lap. But I held up both hands. They were red and black with touch-up paint. I was paint all over. I'd sat in some. Dad and I had been out in the garage detailing a vintage '56 Chevy Bel Air.

    Mom pulled back, but only a little. "There's going to be a wedding, and guess what? You get to be in it."

    "Get Holly," I said. Holly's my sister, seven years older, so she'd have been thirteen or so.

    "We already have Holly," Mom said. "She's going to be a junior bridesmaid. She's tickled pink."

    "What's left?"

    "Ring bearer," Mom said.

    "What's that?"

    "You carry the bride's ring down the aisle on a little satin pillow."

    "Whoa," I said.

    "You won't be alone," Mom said. "Don't worry about that. There'll be another ring bearer. She'll carry the groom's ring."

    She?

    "A darling little girl named Lynette Stanley."

    A girl?

    "Her mother and I went to college together. We were best buds in the Tri Delt House. The Stanleys have moved here for the schools, so you and Lynette will be starting first grade together, and you'll already be friends!" Mom beamed.

    How could I be friends with a girl? I stood there, waiting to wake up from this bad dream.

    "I can wear my regular clothes," I said. "Right?"

    "Archer, honey, you don't have regular clothes," Mom said. "And by the way, racing-stripe paint doesn't come out in the wash. I suppose your dad's in about the same condition."

    "Pretty much," I said.

    "We'll look at what you'll wear for the wedding a little later on." Mom glanced away. "A little closer to the event."

    I racked my six-year-old brain. There had to be a way out of this. There's always a way out when you're six, right? "Who are they, these people getting married?"

    Mom was looking away, far, far away. "The bride is Mrs. Ridgley's granddaughter," she said.

    "Who's Mrs. Ridgley?"

    "An old friend of your grandmother Magill."

    "Were they best buds in the Tri Delt House?"

    "No," Mom said. "They were best buds at the Salem witch trials."



    Chapter 2

    Every hot August day brought the wedding closer. My sister, Holly, came home from camp and pounded up to her room to try on her junior bridesmaid dress. She about wore it out before the day came. But the day came.

    So did my ring-bearer rig, my first FeEx delivery. Mrs. Addison Magill had sent for it—Grandma. I couldn't read it, but I knew that much. "Archer," Mom said, "whatever it is, you'll have to wear it. I do my best with your grandmother Magill, but it's never good...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 30, 2016
    Markedly more contemporary than many of Peck’s previous novels, this drolly narrated coming-of-age story traces milestones in Archer Magill’s life from first to sixth grade while deftly addressing a variety of social issues. The first scene—depicting a “train wreck” of a wedding in which six-year-old Archer performs ring bearer duties in a pair of muddy, too-tight shorts that have split open in the back—sets the stage for other hilarious mishaps. Whenever Archer flounders, there are people (usually the influential men he “wanted to be”) ready to help: his father, as good at fixing problems as he is at restoring vintage cars; his stylish Uncle Paul; and his dignified grandfather Magill. In fifth grade, Archer finds he can depend on someone new: his student-teacher Mr. McLeod, who accidentally causes a lockdown when he shows up at school in his National Guard uniform. Archer gains some wisdom on his own (after befriending a visiting student from England, he concludes: “We thought he was weird. He thought we were weird. It was great. It was what multiculturalism ought to be”), but the most profound lessons about prejudice, conflict resolution, and gay rights are taught by his mentors, all-too-human heroes, whom readers will come to admire as much as Archer does. It’s an indelible portrait of what it looks like to grow up in an age of viral videos and media frenzies, undergirded by the same powerful sense of family that characterizes so much of Peck’s work. Ages 9–12.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 1, 2016
    Male role models aren't a scarce commodity for Archer Magill, but when two of them fall in love, what does that mean for his comprehension of the weird world of adults? Then there's all that impending puberty stuff.Bookending his tale with two weddings (one a YouTube'd pants-splitting disaster and one a heartfelt finale with a fabulous new suit), Archer recounts his traverse from first grade to sixth, navigating family ties, school, bullies, death, marriage, and au courant political hot topics. He has a dedicated father, endearing grandfather, doting uncle, and awesome male student teacher, but that doesn't mean he's entirely sure-footed in following their confident strides. In fact, he's pretty clueless in general, something his fiery best friend, Lynette, reminds him of perpetually. It's this cluelessness that makes his journey so easy to empathize with. There's another layer to this lighthearted coming-of-age book that makes it special in the current sociopolitical climate. Said doting uncle is in love with aforementioned student teacher: it's Peck's intent to spark a discussion for young readers about same-sex marriages, a topic that standardized testing and textbooks haven't caught up with yet. Bravo. A middle-class white cast in the Midwest populates the pages, but the base of the story--navigating boyhood with positive reinforcement from friends, family, and faculty--is a broad one. A nostalgic slice of Rockwell Americana with a contemporary filling. Delicious--take a bite. (Fiction. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from July 1, 2016

    Gr 4-6-The inimitable Peck frames his latest novel with weddings. Opening with a flashback to a hilariously disastrous wedding when Archer Magill was in first grade, the book closes with a significantly more staid one that occurs when he is in sixth grade. Most of the story, though, takes place between these two events, during Archer's fifth grade year. A military-based student teacher both disrupts Archer's class and enriches it, as does a new student who uses a wheelchair and comes from a British aristocratic background. High jinks abound, but so does serious content; in response to antigay bullying, Mr. McLeod gives the students a lecture in which he publicly outs himself, a particularly poignant moment. Outside school, Archer also shares daily adventures with his car-loving father, his grandfather (an elderly architect whose work is all over town), and his uncle Paul, whose romantic interest in Mr. McLeod might just well lead to another wedding. Here, the Newbery Award-winning author explores what it means to love and what it means to be a man. VERDICT A modern, funny, and realistic tale featuring strong, nuanced, and unforgettable characters. An essential addition for middle grade collections.-Jill Ratzan, Congregation Kol Emet, Yardley, PA

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • DOGO Books sanper1617 - Have you Ever Wondered what it feels like being the Best Man? Well in this book you know, Richard Peck the Author of The Best Man The Protagonist is Archer is dealing with a lot of issues is Grandpa dies in towards the end of the book and his His teacher Mr. Mcleod reveals he's gay after bullies write on a kids head GAY, Uncle Paul and his Teacher Mr. Mcleod get married and are Same Sex Marriage that's what the book is about him being the best man of his Uncle's Wedding. The Setting takes place at the School and at Archer’s House. The Antagonist is A bully named Jackson when he threatens Archer in the first grade by pulling a knife on Archer in the Boys Bathroom because he wanted to cut the Chigago cubs logo on Archer's Jersey that day but never did after he got caught. The first conflict is When we find out that Grandpa died The Second Conflict is when Mr. Mcleod and Uncle Paul get Married. The Turning point in the Book is when Archer I recommend this book to People who are interested in gay marriage and people who like suspense I Like this book because it's really interesting and shocking especially when Grandpa dies and Mr. Mcleod and Uncle Paul get Married.
  • Booklist

    Starred review from July 1, 2016
    Grades 4-6 *Starred Review* Two weddings bracket this amusing and ultimately moving novel narrated by 12-year-old Archer. In the first ceremony, he's a 6-year-old ring bearer suffering from an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. In the second, he's the best man, resplendent in his first elegant suit. The episodic story covers all six years in between, though it focuses on the last two: fifth grade (featuring three different teachers and a lockdown with cops at school) and sixth, which brings a death and a wedding in the family. In two satisfying scenes, school bullies are brought low by adults. The novel's distinctive characters are so believable that their lives seem to go on beyond the book. Always two steps behind his friend Lynette in comprehending what's going on around him, Archer has a stout heart, an open mind, and good intentions. For years, he tends to parrot others' opinions, but when he finally puts his own ideas together and speaks from the heart, his words and his timing couldn't be better. This intergenerational story unfolds with a refreshing lack of sentimentality, and an emphasis on fathers and other male role models. Archer's dad, his grandfather, and his gay uncles are portrayed with particular affection and respect. A witty, engaging novel from a master storyteller. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Peck is one of the most celebrated living writers of kid lit, and he's even mounting a tour for this one.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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