The Children’s Book Review | December 7, 2016
The Best Man
Written by Richard Peck
Hardcover: 240 pages
Age Range: 12 and up
Publisher: Penguin Random House
What to expect: Contemporary, Issue-driven, Middle-grade comedy
Archer Magill looks up to three people in his young life: His dad, his grandfather, and his super cool Uncle Paul. Uncle Paul has a fancy job and has an in with the Cubs. He always seems to know exactly how to get the bullies to stand down, and how to drive a perfectly sporty car and bring pizza over on Friday nights.
When Mr. Mcleod, the school’s first male teacher, comes to town, Archer’s young mind stretches to include a fourth role model. Mr. Mcleod is smart, he’s a military man, and he’s about the best teacher Archer has ever had. He also draws a crowd of hot nannies who wait for him outside of the school with strollers, but that’s more of a nuisance to Archer than anything. Can there be room for another role model in Archer’s little world? Archer finally realizes the truth (after just about everyone else) – that his uncle and Mr. Mcleod are gay, and perhaps in love. Will they live happily ever after, or are they too different? Maybe Archer can lend a helping hand to two of his favorite people.
THE BEST MAN is a sometimes hilarious but always heartfelt book about growing up. We follow Archer through elementary school and in to middle school. He has the same challenges as any quasi-geeky kid – he has to learn where to sit at lunch, navigate new kids and bullies, and hopefully grow up enough to start seeing the writing on the wall. He has to learn to deal with the death of a hero and his own hand in the relationship of two of his favorite people. Archer matures and finds his voice to help his uncle realize what a great catch Mr. Mcleod is. What an inspiring story about helping those you care about, even in very adult situations of love and marriage! Archer is brave, and his family is hilariously kooky and on point with wry observations about the neighbors and the flurry of unrequited love. Archer is a lucky little boy who finds that in the end, we have room in our hearts for as many heroes as we meet.
Peck is an award-winning children’s author who has a firm grasp on the young mind. The book is pitch perfect, full of love and humor, and an absolute delight to read. I loved Archer from page one, and his brave family too. What a joy for young people to read this book. Highly recommended for older elementary school through middle school (and beyond!).
About Richard Peck
Richard Peck has won almost every children’s fiction award, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Newbery Medal, the Scott O’Dell Award, and the Edgar, and he has twice been nominated for a National Book Award. He was the first children’s author ever to have been awarded a National Humanities Medal. He lives in New York City.
The Best Man, by Richard Peck, was reviewed by Denise Mealy. Discover more books like The Best Man by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Contemporary Novels, Richard Peck, and Young Adult Fiction.