Justin Fisher Declares War!


Fifth grade is no joke! James Preller takes on the class clown in this new school story, full of humor, hijinks, and heart.

At Spiro Agnew Elementary, the fifth graders rule the school. And class clown Justin Fisher rules them all.

Or, at least, he did.

Justin has always been the funniest kid in school. But this year, his new teacher isn't amused. And when Justin gets in ...

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Fifth grade is no joke! James Preller takes on the class clown in this new school story, full of humor, hijinks, and heart.

At Spiro Agnew Elementary, the fifth graders rule the school. And class clown Justin Fisher rules them all.

Or, at least, he did.

Justin has always been the funniest kid in school. But this year, his new teacher isn't amused. And when Justin gets in trouble with Mr. Tripp over and over, the other kids turn on him, too. No one wants to be friends with the class troublemaker.

But Justin Fisher isn't going down without a fight.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Preller revisits the fifth grade at Spiro Agnew Elementary (the setting of Along Came Spider), this time focusing on Justin Fisher, a class clown whose antics have worn exceedingly thin. Recurrent clashes with the teacher and the increasing alienation of kids he once considered friends force Justin to reconsider his habit of taking nothing seriously (“He was trying to bug his teacher, to make the painfully boring day only kind of boring. But he had been annoying his friends and classmates without even knowing it”). A stint as emcee of the school talent show provides a forum for him to mend relationships and prove he can use his time in the spotlight effectively. Though middle-grade readers will likely recognize boys like Justin in their own lives, his need for attention is never explained, and the resolution comes too easily--he’s Jack Gantos’s Joey Pigza without the problematic home life, medication, and hard-won peace. Preller adeptly captures the frustrating dynamics of a classroom held hostage by a kid determined not to learn, but Justin himself is not especially memorable. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Beverly Melasi
Justin Fisher is the funniest kid in fifth grade, until his parents decide to move in the middle of the school year. His silly antics don't seem to amuse either his new classmates or his new teacher, Mr. Tripp. He even swallows his sister's goldfish to make the other kids laugh, but that doesn't work either. His whole fifth grade year seems to be quickly going down the toilet. Then one day, Justin sees a poster advertisement for the school talent show. He decides that he wants to be Master of Ceremonies (MC). Unfortunately, Mr. Tripp is already slated for the task. Justin has to come to terms with the challenge of asking Mr. Tripp to let him be the MC. Surprisingly, in a total reversal of what Justin expects, Mr. Tripp says yes. This story shows how difficult it can be to be the new kid at school, and it has the added twist of the "mean" teacher being new to the school, too. Reviewer: Beverly Melasi
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Justin Fisher is lonely. Last year, he was the class clown; now, in fifth grade, he's somehow turned into the class jerk. His antics in school and out are not getting him laughs—they're getting him in trouble. As he is sent to the principal again and again, he becomes more and more desperate to fit in. Fortunately, with the help of an understanding teacher and a new friend, the boy learns how to be funny without being mean and saves the day at the school talent show. This quiet, universal story about a regular kid acting out who just needs a hand will make a good classroom read. Preller handles sensitive issues with dignity, and kids will identify with Justin's eagerness to be liked and his snarky jokes. The book will be a particular hit with fans of Lenore Look's Alvin Ho and Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee.—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545033015
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2010
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 822,060
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 11.14 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

James Preller

James Preller is the author of many books for young children, including the popular JIGSAW JONES series and his middle-grade novels, ALONG CAME SPIDER and JUSTIN FISHER DECLARES WAR! He lives in Delmar, New York, with his wife, Lisa; three children — Nicholas, Maggie, and Gavin; two cats; and a goldendoodle named Daisy.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readinjunky" for Teens Read Too

    Fifth grade is turning out to be a lot different than fourth grade. Justin Fisher is used to being the class clown, but his new teacher is treating him like a troublemaker. What was once funny and earned him a round of laughter, now is getting him sent to the Principal's office. Justin is determined to come out the winner in his self-declared war against Mr. Tripp. How can a guy with a goofy mustache really expect kids to take him seriously? Justin vows to break him one way or another. Unfortunately, Justin's classmates have turned on him. They are acting like he's more of a disruption than a distraction. When a school talent show is announced, they discourage him from entering because he will just "ruin everything." That reaction just makes him more interested in scoring a spot in the program. Author James Preller describes fifth grade to a tee in JUSTIN FISHER DECLARES WAR! Every class has a Justin, and at some point, every class begins to object to the disruption caused by a chronic goof-off. Preller's novel offers excellent read-a-loud potential with ample opportunity for discussion about behavior and its consequences. I'll definitely be recommending this one to both students and teachers in middle grade classrooms.

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  • Posted September 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    My daughter thought it was gross!

    My 9 year-old daughter looked at the cover of this book and told me she did not like it. (Neither did my 6 year-old son.) She wasn't eager to read it either, but I convinced her to give it a try. We read about half-way and although I poured enthusiasm into the reading, when we got to the part where Justin, the main character, decides to swallow a live goldfish for money (it wasn't even a dare) she told me to stop reading. I finished reading it later. Of course, I understood why this book didn't interest her. "It's gross, Mom! This is a boy's book." But it was more than that because we've read "boy" books before and enjoyed them. This book wasn't as funny as I think it was meant to be mainly because I felt it contained adult humour. (Sarcasm, one-liners, jaded point-of-view) Justin Fisher did not think like a fifth grader but more like an older teenager who'd "been there, done that". The characters seemed superficial. Justin had no friends, his teacher was tired of his antics and so were his classmates and how did Justin feel about all this? I'm not sure! He cared little about anything in particular, except to make sure he was making others laugh rather than have them laugh at him. (Now do you see why it did not appeal to my daughter?) I felt there was potential to explore some good themes, such as the need for attention and how to cope with being laughed at when in school. To be fair, I think this story would appeal to boys, especially those who like goofy antics and grossology. It's a quick read with a story that takes place over a couple of weeks at school. Not much parental interaction or deep character development-but some comic scenes to entice even the most reluctant boy reader.

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