The Best Man by Richard Peck [in School Library Journal]
The latest from Newbery Medal-winning author Richard Peck takes on important and timely topics – marriage, sexuality, manhood, nontraditional families –and alchemizes them into an affecting story full of warmth, acceptance, and understanding. Sixth grader Archer Magill narrates what he calls “A Tale of Two Weddings.” At the first, “a train wreck” of an event, Archer, age 6, was the ring bearer and met his best friend; at the second, he is promoted to best man for his uncle and his new husband.
Between weddings, Archer absorbs life lessons from his heroes: his architect grandfather, his car restoration specialist father, his favorite uncle Paul, and the new teacher Mr. McLeod, who is the first guy teacher in the history of the school. Archer isn’t lacking in strong female role models, either. His mother, sister, and best friend Lynnette are certainly examples of strength (opinion, sass, and fortitude) times three.
Narrator Michael Crouch, with his could-crack-at-any-moment, fittingly adolescent-tuned voice, is ideal as Archer’s aural incarnation – equal parts excitable, thoughtful, and gentle. With panache and charm, plus a few tears and guffaws, Peck proves (again) he’s the best man to create one of 2016’s best reads.
Readers: Middle Grade