A Year with Butch and Spike

Overview

Straight-A student Jasper Gordon has always loved his teachers, and they have always loved him. Then he meets his sixth grade teacher, Mrs. McNulty (a.k.a. the McNutt). She seats him between the two most notorious bad kids in school, cousins Butch and Spike Couture, in the hopes that some of his goodness will rub off on them. She never dreamed that the opposite could happen....

"Spike and Butch are the most hilariously annoying classroom ...
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Overview

Straight-A student Jasper Gordon has always loved his teachers, and they have always loved him. Then he meets his sixth grade teacher, Mrs. McNulty (a.k.a. the McNutt). She seats him between the two most notorious bad kids in school, cousins Butch and Spike Couture, in the hopes that some of his goodness will rub off on them. She never dreamed that the opposite could happen....

"Spike and Butch are the most hilariously annoying classroom cut-ups since Barbara Robinson's Herdmans in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (1972) and The Best School Year Ever (1994)."—Kirkus Reviews

Upon entering the sixth grade, straight-A student Jasper falls under the spell of the dreaded, irrepressible Cootch cousins.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Jasper is a perfect student and he loves school. Sixth grade should be wonderful, but something happens that dims his enthusiasm-he is sandwiched between the Cootches in the front row. The Cootches are Butch and Spike, cousins who are constantly being sent out in the hall or to the principal's office. Jasper feels bad enough having to sit near them, but now he is also assigned to work with them on group projects! Gradually, Jasper learns that the Cootches can be fun, and that they aren't stupid despite their bad grades. When it is announced that one will not be advanced to middle school next year, Jasper launches a plan to keep the group together. The text is fluidly written and enjoyable with lots of humor. Parents and teachers need to understand, however, that the basic theme of this novel is "question authority." By the end of the book, Jasper realizes that his beloved teacher did not have his best interests at heart. The students "win" by ousting the teacher, who in this case deserved to be ousted. The book is worth reading, but should definitely be discussed once read.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7Jasper Gordon, every teacher's dream student (and the book's narrator), begins sixth grade facing two hardships: his school's toughest teacher and a seating assignment between cousins Butch and Spike Couture, Ervin Elementary's most notorious bad boys. Jasper aims to please every adult within several thousand miles and aims to survive the Couture menace with his scholastic and behavioral integrity intact. However, when he and another impeccable student are assigned (as role models) to do group work with the Coutures and two other "lesser" students for the entire year, the teacher unwittingly creates the possibility for a kind of group solidarity that allows all six kids to mature in humanity, understanding, andwhen necessaryeven a rather moral sort of deviousness. Constant contact with the cousins opens Jasper's eyes to broader horizons. As he begins to be (somewhat) charmed by their audacities, he also learns that Mrs. McNulty is more than just a strict taskmaster: she is an expert at psychological abuse and humiliation. Gauthier's characterizations and free-flowing humor, including a very funny skinny-dipping episode, are as on target and insightful as Betsy Byars's "Bingo Brown" series.Coop Renner, Coldwell Elementary-Intermediate School, El Paso, TX
Kirkus Reviews
A sixth-grade overachiever discovers that there are worse things than being forced to sit between two underachievers in this wickedly barbed tale of a teacher gone bad. Perennial teacher's pet Jasper Gordon has a ringside seat, between cousins Spike and Butch Couture, the banes of Theodore Ervin Elementary for five years, as they square off against tough, feared Mrs. McNulty. At first, the two sides are nearly equal, but after the Coutures are caught skinny-dipping on a field trip, McNulty stops playing fair, discarding the boys' contributions to the student literary magazine out of hand, then formally recommending that Spike be left back and Butch be enrolled in remedial classes when he reaches junior high. Meanwhile, she keeps the rest of the class under her thumb with threats, intimidation, and belittlement. Fair-minded Jasper appeals to the sympathetic but powerless principal, then helps Spike and Butch put together a science project, sabotaging his own to give them a better chance of winning. When she finds out, McNulty cracks, attacking Jasper before a crowd of parents and engineering her own downfall. The characters are all slightly larger than life: McNulty is just plausible enough to be scary, the Coutures are driven not so much by malice as by a free-spirited rejection of the idea of structured learning, and Jasperþhis performance anxiety well establishedþmakes a meaningful sacrifice. That's two-for-two for Gauthier (My Life Among the Aliens, 1996); Spike and Butch are the most hilariously annoying classroom cut-ups since Barbara Robinson's Herdmans in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (1972) and The Best School Year Ever (1994). (Fiction. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399232169
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/1998
  • Pages: 216
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.81 (d)

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