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Grades: Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8

A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius

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“I, Arthur A. Bean, am going to be famous. It’s not going to be easy….My true love Kennedy barely notices me, and Ms. Whitehead doesn’t understand my creative genius. I am going to be famous.  I just need to win the story-writing contest this year…”
Arthur, a nerdy underachiever, sets out to write the next great Canadian novel (title to be announced) amid junior high pressures of a bully,a first love, and demanding teachers while he is recovering from the death of his mother. Arthur is full of wit, humour and bravado, as he attempts to find his way in life.  Writing, though not the actual writing contest, provides a window into his world. As pressure mounts towards the climax of producing an authentic story, Arthur loses his way and things definitely unravel.  The characters of Robbie, his bully and Kennedy, his ‘first love’ are well developed, as is Arthur himself throughout the book. His story is not unlike many young adults who are trying to hold life together while not actually succeeding all that well.
The format of this book is genius in itself, which will appeal to reluctant readers, as it told using journal, emails, classroom assignments and letters. This is the true brilliance of the book and of the main character, Arthur.  Though the use of email seems dated in this day of varied social media, it is still a believable story.  No piece of writing is too long for readers to digest.
This is a great alternative to students who enjoy the Wimpy Kid series. It is far more witty and the characters have more depth to them. Readers will want to watch for more by this new Canadian author.

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