The Perfect Secret
The Perfect Secret

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Series: The Perfect Score Series Vol. 2   

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Annotation: In this tale told from different viewpoints, five seventh-graders, who face their own personal challenges, are also determined as a group to help two very special people reconcile a long-standing dispute.
Catalog Number: #167620
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 364 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-524-76459-0 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-2256-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-524-76459-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-2256-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018004831
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Gavin, Randi, Scott, Trevor, and Natalie are back for seventh grade, and they have a big goal for the year: to get their teachers Mrs. Magenta and Mrs. Woods to mend their broken relationship. Although the five friends have discovered their teachers' secret, that they are mother and daughter, this won't be the only secret the kids find themselves keeping over the course of the school year. First-person narration switches among the five protagonists, effectively giving insight into their own personal challenges and struggles as they work together to help their teachers. Buyea has carved out a niche with sensitive and heartfelt stories, and this companion to The Perfect Score? (2017) has him tackling topics like racism, immigration, bullying, and family secrets, with a deft hand. Buyea's story always remains positive, and although the ending might be a bit too fairy tale ish for some readers, it could provide a nice escape for readers dealing with these issues of their own. Another winner from Buyea that is highly recommended for all middle-grade readers.
Kirkus Reviews
Are there secrets that shouldn't be revealed?In this sequel to The Perfect Score (2017), Randi, Natalie, Gavin, Trevor, and Scott are assigned community service for cheating on a standardized test. It's not really a punishment, as these good-natured students enjoy working in the senior center where they've established relationships, and besides, they want to reconcile two of their teachers, a mother and daughter, before it's too late. As before, narration alternates among the five, and while their characters are well-developed, the various issues are examined lightly. In this case, many are related to secrecy, from budding romance to absentee fathers, familial estrangement, parental marital problems, financial struggle, Alzheimer's, brain injury, adult illiteracy, immigration, and racism. The last three revolve around Gavin, whose Mexican-immigrant mother is undocumented and who becomes the target of the racist football coach. Aside from biracial Gavin and his mother, the book adheres to the white default. Though handled with kindness and compassion, the sheer abundance of topics results in oversimplification, and every story has a pat ending, which, cumulatively, seems unlikely. Still, the characters shine, the plots are engaging, and the issues are addressed in interesting ways that will provide readers with many perspectives and much to consider. Strong characters grapple with a multitude of issues (a few too many) in this celebration of friendship and the rewards of volunteer work. (Fiction. 9-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 58 The Lake View Middle School students return with a plan to reconcile their two teachers, Mrs. Magenta and Mrs. Woods. The top-secret project isn't the only thing that the friends keep hidden as they face bullying, racism, and familial discord. Gavin, the football star, experiences frequent verbal abuse and retaliation from the coach, Mr. Holmes, but doesn't share these incidents with his best friend. Randi, a gymnast, is also keeping the identity of her half-brother a secret from her mother after the two meet at a travel tournament. Things escalate until the Mr. Holmes is fired, setting off a chain of events which involves a serious accident with one of their cohort. Buyea is skilled at developing relatable characters for middle grade readers, and he continues to use alternating voices that allow the plot to unfold naturally. Despite some of the story lines being a bit predictable, the author introduces timely issues, such as immigration, in an engaging and empathetic manner. VERDICT This sequel shines a light on topics that many young readers are aware of and eager to discuss. The author provides a space where tweens can read about the social realities that impact themselves and their peers. Claire Moore, Manhattan Beach Library, CA
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (9/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (9/1/18)
Word Count: 74,029
Reading Level: 4.4
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.4 / points: 11.0 / quiz: 198623 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.8 / points:15.0 / quiz:Q76482
Lexile: 660L
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y

1

 

 

 

The Recruits

 

 

 

Gavin

 

Meggie had this new picture book she kept asking me to read, and I hated it 'cause tucked away inside those pages was the worst sentence any writer person had ever written. The worst! It was the sentence-that-must-not-be-read. I kept trying to steer Meggie toward the other books Mom had bought for her at a yard sale, but she kept going back to the one about the big red dog. I didn't mind Clifford or his girl owner, but if you asked me, there was more wrong with that one sentence than there was with us cheating on the Comprehensive Student Assessments last spring. This particular Clifford book was all about manners, saying things like "please" and "thank you." I was good with that stuff, having been raised to know that holding the door for the old lady behind you was important. But the sentence I couldn't read--especially out loud!--was the one that said He smiles when he loses.

 

I slammed that book shut after reading those words to Meggie the first time. "This is terrible!" I shouted. All the daydreaming and night dreaming I did about football never had me smiling after losing a game. I was gonna win, and if I didn't, I sure as heck wasn't gonna be happy about it.

 

"Gavvy, don't," Meggie whined. "Read it. Please."

 

I huffed. "Fine," I said. "As long as you know that what it says in there is wrong. You don't need to smile after losing in order to be a good sport."

 

"Okay," she agreed. "Just read it."

 

Meggie didn't care, but that sentence bothered me every time she had me open the book. So I started changing the words to what they shoulda said, like Clifford shook hands with his opponent after losing the match, but he wasn't smiling. Or Clifford hated losing, but he still shook hands after the contest. Meggie frowned when I made changes, so we finally agreed I would skip that part. The rest of the sentences about being a good sport--stuff like not boasting when you win--were good, so I was fine reading those pages.

 

When I told Dad about that terrible sentence and how wrong it was, he laughed. "I can tell you this," I said. "In my book it's gonna say, Gavin smiles when he wins. Gavin's happy winning."

 

"You know, it's not just a seventh-grade football team you're joinin'," Dad reminded me. "It's a seven-eight team, which means there might be an eighth grader already slotted for the quarterback position."

 

"I know. But once the coach sees me outworking everybody else and gunslinging the ball, he'll give me my shot, and that's all I need."

 

"You'll get your chance as long as you don't go and open your mouth or whine to the coach. You need to get his attention through--"

 

"Honest hard work, I know. Don't worry, Dad. I've been listening. I won't let you down. I'm gonna be the hardest-working kid."

 

Dad nodded. "Good. That's what I like to hear," he said. "And since there's no sense in you wastin' the summer, I brought somethin' home so you can get started outworkin' everybody now. It's in the back of my truck."

 

I ran over to check it out. "Can we put it up now?" I yelled.

 

"Yup. Grab ahold of it and follow me."

 

The tire was heavy, but I put my muscles into it and yanked it over the side of the truck. It bounced off the ground a few times and then fell down flat. I lifted it to my shoulder and marched out to the maple tree in our backyard. Dad met me there with his stepladder.

 

"Thanks," I said.

 

"You can thank me by makin' sure you use it."

 

"I will."

 

"Good," he said. "Now I need you to lift it up while I tie it in place."

 

"Is that a tire swing for me?" Meggie cried, leaping off the back porch steps.

 

"No, I'm afraid not, squirt," Dad said. "This is your brother's new target. He's gonna practice throwin' his football through the middle so he can become a more accurate passer."

 

"Oh," Meggie said. "So he can throw touchdowns?"

 

"That's right," Dad said. "So you can cheer for him."

 

"I'll cheer."

 

"Me too," Mom said, stepping out onto the porch. The two of them started doing some crazy cheerleader dance.

 

I smiled and shook my head.

 

"That should do it," Dad said, securing the last knot.

 

I stepped back and stood there, staring at my new wide receiver.

 

"Aren'tcha gonna show us how it works?" Meggie called.

 

"You've got about twenty minutes before supper's ready," Mom said.

 

That was all I needed to hear. I ran into the house and grabbed my football. Mom saw me fire a few passes through the tire and then went back inside to finish cooking. Dad and Meggie stayed for the next ten minutes, until Meggie finally got bored and they both headed into the house. But I threw pass after pass until Mom had everything on the table. Wherever the ball landed, that was where I picked it up and threw it from, which made some of the passes nearly impossible to get through the tire, but I knew that was what was gonna help me get better.

 

I was going to see Coach when Mrs. Magenta's community service program started up again after the Fourth of July. I'd already been looking forward to it, but now I was even more excited. Coach was a football genius. Once I told him about my new tire target, I knew he'd give me a few tips and maybe even some drills to do.

 

Principal Allen had made mandatory enrollment in Mrs. Magenta's program one of our consequences for cheating on the CSAs last spring, but it sure didn't feel like any sort of punishment. We were all eager to return to the Senior Center to see our friends, especially after Scott's birthday party, when we'd finally put the pieces together and figured out that Magenta was the daughter Coach had been talking about, and Woods was her mother and Coach's wife. It was a doozy to wrap our heads around. We didn't know why Woods and Magenta weren't speaking to each other. But we wanted to do our best to help make things right between them again--for their sake and for Coach's. Course, I also wondered what Coach would have to say about sportsmanship and smiling after losing. I knew he would agree with me. Randi had reluctantly agreed with me when I'd told her about it the day before.

 

"It's just a children's book, Gav. Let it go," she said.

 

"It's a children's book sending the wrong message," I argued. "You're telling me you'll smile if you don't do well at States this weekend?"

 

Randi caught my pass and stood there. "No," she finally admitted.

 

"Exactly. If Clifford the Big Red Dog put in half the amount of hours practicing gymnastics that you have, he wouldn't smile after losing--trust me."

 

Randi laughed. "You're ridiculous," she said.

 

Now, with the tire target in front of me, I grabbed my football and gripped the laces. I wasn't ridiculous. I was right. I dropped back five steps and rolled to my left. Then I fired a bullet on the run. The ball sailed straight through the tire. Fist pump.

 

"Gavvy, time to eat!" Meggie called.

 

"Be right in!" I yelled. I jogged over and scooped up my ball.

 

After supper I would come back out. If I wanted to be the best, I had a lot of practicing to do. Before things finished up this year, I'd find out I had a lot left to learn about winning and losing and what was truly important.



Excerpted from The Perfect Secret by Rob Buyea
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

From the beloved author of Because of Mr. Terupt comes the sequel to The Perfect Score, about a lovable group of students at Lake View Middle School and the rewards and challenges of seventh grade.

These students are in for a year of secrets, discoveries, and kid power!

GAVIN finally joins the football team--a dream come true!--but Coach Holmes refuses to play him for reasons that also threaten to tear Gavin's family apart. When RANDI attends an elite gymnastics camp, she uncovers a startling family connection. SCOTT starts researching an article for the school newspaper and stumbles right into a hornet's nest of lies. With his loser older brother, Brian, out of the house, TREVOR's life is loads better--until he realizes that only he can save Brian from getting into deep trouble. NATALIE's top goals: (1) find out why Mrs. Woods and Mrs. Magenta no longer speak to each other--a mission shared by all the kids--and (2) teach a certain someone an important life skill without anyone knowing.

It's tough keeping secrets. And tougher still to deal with the fallout when secrets spill out.


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