On My Honor
On My Honor

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Annotation: When his best friend drowns while they are both swimming in a treacherous river that they had promised never to go near, Joel is devastated and terrified at having to tell both sets of parents the terrible consequences of their disobedience.
Catalog Number: #70791
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
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Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 1986
Edition Date: 1986
Pages: 90 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-547-72240-0 Perma-Bound: 0-605-71158-5
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-547-72240-5 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-71158-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 86002679
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Publishers Weekly
This is a devastating but beautifully written story of a boy's all-consuming guilt over the role he plays in the death of his best friend. Joel and Tony have been together since they were babies. Although Tony's crazy jokes and wildness sometimes make Joel feel as if he were much older, and even make Joel angry, no one is as exciting as Tony. But when Tony suggests they climb the bluffs at Starved Rock, Joel is frightened, knowing how dangerous the bluffs are. He's also afraid of Tony's sharp tongue, though, so he asks his father for permission to ride his bike to Starved Rock, certain that his father will say no. When his father says yes, Joel finds himself riding Tony's old, beat-up bikewhile Tony coasts along on Joel's 10-speedout to the state park. Halfway there the boys cross the Vermillion River, and Tony, who earlier had refused to go swimming at the pool with Joel, decides to swim in the river instead. Angry at Tony's lack of sensethe river is both dangerous and dirty Joel dares Tony to race out to a distant sandbar with him. Then the unthinkable occurs: Joel reaches the sandbar; Tony disappears. The realization slams into Joel with its hideous finality. Tony is dead, and it is all his fault. Joel's efforts to cope with his staggering sense of guilt are handled with stark reality, so that the reader shares his sense of the enormity of life's unfairness. Yet within Joel's first perception of the total uncertainties of life, there is also the steadfastness of his father's love. While there is death, there is also love, and Bauer's honest and gripping novel joins the ranks of such as Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia in its handling of these issues. (9-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6 Twelve-year-old Joel has unwillingly agreed to bike out to the state park with his daredevil friend Tony. ``On his honor,'' he promises his father to be careful, knowing that Tony wants them to climb the dangerous park bluffs. When they arrive, however, Tony abruptly changes his mind and heads for the river. With his promise jangling in his mind, Joel follows Tony in for a swim. Tony drowns in the dirty, turbulent water, leaving Joel to face his guilty conscience, and his father, alone. In this short but solid novel, Bauer effectively portrays the dilemma of pre-adolescents, old enough to want to meet their own challenges without adult interference, young enough to want grownup protection and reassurance. Joel understands only too well the moral dilemma he faces, but he is so bound by peer pressure that wrong choices and tragedy are almost inevitable. Bauer's association of Joel's guilt with the smell of the polluted river on his skin is particularly noteworthy. Its miasma almost rises off the pages. Descriptions are vivid, characterization and dialogue natural, and the style taut but unforced. A powerful, moving book. Barbara Hutcheson, Greater Victoria Public Library, Canada
Word Count: 16,709
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 128 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.6 / points:4.0 / quiz:Q08612
Lexile: 750L
Guided Reading Level: S
Fountas & Pinnell: S

Joel's best friend, Tony, is a daredevil. It was Tony's idea to make the long bike ride to the Starved Rock state park, and Tony's idea to stop for a swim in the dangerous Vermillion River. So why does Joel feel so much guilt when tragedy strikes? The paperback features a beautiful new cover and introduction by Katherine Paterson, author of the Newbery Medal-winning book Bridge to Terabithia.


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