release date: May 02, 2000
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The Janitor's Boy
approx. 2.5 hours         2 cassettes
read by B.D. Wong

Jack Rankin has always looked up to his father.  But when the middle school students are temporarily housed in the high school where his father works as a janitor, Jack is embarrassed.  He lashes out by covering the underside of a desk with gum, and his punishment is to perform janitorial duties after school for three weeks.  When Jack walks in his father's shoes for a while, he learns surprising secrets about the old building...and his old man. Review
Fifth-grader Jack Rankin's father is the janitor of the junior-high school. That wouldn't be so bad if nobody knew about it. But on October 5, disaster strikes when Lenny Trumbull throws up his cafeteria ravioli: Jack's dad appears on the scene with a mop and says, "Hi, son." Jack loves his father and is proud of him, but he knows a giant letter L for loser has just been branded on his forehead. To make matters worse, Jack, furious when the inevitable stream of ridicule begins, blindly crashes into his bucket-bearing dad in the hallway, unleashing laughter, clapping, and plenty of water all around. Jack's anger is now a firestorm, and as author Andrew Clements so vividly phrases it: "The sizzling chunks of Jack's burning rage stuck to his father--like gobs of well-chewed watermelon bubble gum."

Jack's fury manifests itself into the perfect crime--a carefully premeditated, 13-piece Bubblicious attack on an innocent music-room chair that results in a sticky, gooey, smelly web that only a janitor would have the skills to remove. The "sweet smell of victory" diffuses quickly, however, when Jack is condemned to after-school gum-removal duty for the next three weeks. Stickier still is how this is going to play out at home with his mom and dad.

The after-school hours Jack spends scraping gum off furniture prove to be eye-opening. He develops a scholarly interest in gum excavation, and has plenty of time to make a list of ways he is not like his dad the janitor. But one day--first in a forgotten underground tunnel and then on a long truck-ride home--he discovers that there is more to his good-hearted, strong, unassuming father than he had ever even thought to imagine. Clements, a former public-school teacher and author of the bestselling Frindle and The Landry News, has a knack for getting to the heart of things while keeping the story buoyant. Readers of all ages will think twice about what kind of people (outside of their parental or occupational roles) their own parents might be. (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson

Product details
BindingAudio Cassette
Sales rank8516740
ManufacturerListening Library
List price$18.00

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