Wednesday, July 27, 2011


by Andrew Clements
Atheneum, 2011. 160 pgs. Fiction.

When Clay Hensley uses art class free expression time to draw a picture of Principal Kelling as a donkey, he gets in trouble. Clay is no stranger to the principal's office, but this time he gets in trouble on purpose to impress his older brother Mitchell who is coming home from jail after a contempt of court sentence. Clay is hurt and surprised when Mitchell is not only not impressed but tells Clay he needs to straighten out his life and quit being such a goof-off. Clay agrees to try, but is then surprised by how his old friends turn against the new and improved Clay. Clay is not a likeable kid as the book begins, but as he learns to control his temper, and begins to feel ashamed for his seeming need to humiliate others, he becomes an admirable young man. Troublemaker is a fine, readable story about the transformation of a class clown under the tutelage of a wised-up older brother. Kids should enjoy--and perhaps be chastened by--Clay's experiences as he moves from sixth grade to junior high.

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