The Last Holiday Concert

Overview

Winterhope.

It didn't sound like much, but it was a big idea. A very big idea.

It all started when Hart Evans zinged a rubber band that hit Mr. Meinert, the chorus director. Actually, it started before that, when Mr. Meinert learned he was out of a job because the town budget couldn't afford music and art teachers. Mr. Meinert got so mad at Hart that he told the sixth graders he'd had it -- they could produce ...

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2005 Audio Cassettes Good Audio Book 2 AUDIO CASSETTES tested for your satisfaction for a worthwhile set, withdrawn from the library collection. Some shelf wear and library ... marking to the box and the cassettes. The audio cassettes are in individual slots, protected and clear sounding. Enjoy this audio cassette performance. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Winterhope.

It didn't sound like much, but it was a big idea. A very big idea.

It all started when Hart Evans zinged a rubber band that hit Mr. Meinert, the chorus director. Actually, it started before that, when Mr. Meinert learned he was out of a job because the town budget couldn't afford music and art teachers. Mr. Meinert got so mad at Hart that he told the sixth graders he'd had it -- they could produce the big holiday concert on their own. Or not. It was all up to them.

What happens when a teacher steps aside and lets the kids run the show? Not what Mr. Meinert would have predicted. And not what Hart Evans would have guessed, not at all.

Out of chaos, infighting, compromise, idealism, and finally, a fragile peace, the sixth grade choral concert was born. And they called it Winterhope.

But would it be the last holiday concert of them all?

Life is usually easy for popular fifth grader Hart Evans, but when his music teacher puts him in charge of the holiday concert, Hart must use all of his leadership skills to unite the other students.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Clements's (The Report Card) latest school-centered novel introduces Hart Evans, the most popular boy in school ("Hart could have charmed the hairnet off a cafeteria lady"). He hates sixth-grade chorus; while the chorus practices for the upcoming holiday concert, the bored boy shoots two elastic bands that hit the teacher, Mr. Meinert. The man hustles Hart to the principal's office, and readers then discover something that Hart does not know: because of budget cuts, the chorus director's job is being terminated at semester's end. His patience strained by this and by his class's lack of interest, the teacher snaps and hands responsibility for the concert to the students ("It's not my concert. It's your concert. You don't like the songs I've picked? Fine. Pick your own"). After the students elect Hart as director, the teacher looks on with understandably mixed feelings. Meanwhile, as the boy panics about the approaching concert, his diplomacy gives way to bossiness that lands him in trouble with his peers. The third-person narrative focuses on both boy and teacher, and some readers may grow impatient with the sections that reveal Mr. Meinert's feelings. It comes as no surprise that-with Meinert's help-the concert is an unparalleled success. Though the account of the culminating event and of Hart's farewell to the teacher are affecting, Clements's fans may find that this belabored tale does not live up to his best performances. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This tale of popular sixth grader, Hart Evans, and his leadership role in the holiday concert has great premise, but suffers somewhat from wordy descriptions and long passages of narration in lieu of dialog. The author obviously understands young people and the story would have been more engaging if told completely from the child's perspective. Extensive explanation of the thinking of the music teacher and of other adults, indeed, too much adult intervention in general, detracts from the story. Young readers might have preferred to see Hart engage peer support to solve his problems rather than receive assistance and advice from his father and music teacher. The character of Hart's sister, the pesky sibling, could have been developed to a greater extent. The final scene of the holiday concert is both humorous and charming. Unfortunately, it may be too slow of a read to reach that point, particularly for reluctant readers. 2004, Simon & Schuster, Ages 8 to 12.
—Kathryn Erskine
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Sixth-grader Hart Evans's least-favorite class is chorus, where uptight Mr. Meinert makes them sing boring songs. When Hart shoots a couple of rubber bands at the teacher, the man overreacts and is angry when the smooth-talking boy gets off relatively unscathed. Although the class is not told, readers learn that Mr. Meinert will lose his job after January 1 because of budget cuts. When the students act up the next day, he snaps and decides to place the responsibility for the holiday concert in their hands. This sets in motion a series of events that leaves Hart running the show with the teacher watching, learning, and eventually helping out. The plot unfolds to encompass control issues, democratic procedures, and an end product that wows the crowd. Clements is a master at taking elements of relatively common school situations and turning them into masterful stories with truly engaging characters. Foreshadowing provides glimpses of the program during the chapters leading up to the conclusion, but the climactic description of the event will leave youngsters teeming with emotion. The book's accessible language and quick pace will also appeal to reluctant readers.-Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A sixth-grader and an inexperienced teacher both learn something from each other in Clements's newest teachable-moment-driven school tale. Hart Evans has always, and effortlessly, been Cool-a talent that backfires when his control-freak music teacher, Mr. Meinert, throws up his hands and leaves it to the unruly school chorus to elect its own director for the upcoming Holiday Concert. Hart surprises both Mr. Meinert and himself by rising brilliantly to the occasion. Clements stirs a few side issues into the pot-for one, Meinert and the other arts teachers are being laid off on January first-but his focus being Hart's introduction to group dynamics and the management thereof, complications of plot or character cause only minor ripples. Having learned the value of listening, of running things democratically, and of knowing when to seek help, Hart and Meinert engineer a quirky, rousing triumph-that, no, doesn't save Meinert's job, but does leave everyone involved, readers included, with both good feelings and the idea that both young people and adults are sometimes guilty of underestimating each other. (Fiction. 10-12)
From the Publisher
Ôªø
"Clements is a master at taking elements of relatively common school situations and turning them into masterful stories with truly engaging characters....[’ÄäThis story] will leave youngsters teeming with emotion."
School Library Journal

"[A] lively crowd-pleaser."
Horn Book

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400094707
  • Publisher: Listening Library, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Format: Cassette
  • Age range: 8 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Katherine Hannigan

Andrew Clements is the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he has been nominated for a multitude of state awards, including two Christopher Awards and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He is also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. He lives with his wife in Maine and has four grown children. Visit him at AndrewClements.com.

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Read an Excerpt

The Last Holiday Concert


By Andrew Clements

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Copyright © 2004 Andrew Clements
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-689-84516-2


Chapter One

Snap

It was quieter than usual as Mr. Meinert walked into the chorus room on Thursday afternoon. The kids seemed a little tense, a little uncertain.

Mr. Meinert liked it. It was a nice change. As a young man starting his second year of teaching, he was the one who usually felt tense and uncertain. He thought, Maybe I should explode more often.

As he took attendance he avoided looking at Hart Evans. Even if he had, their eyes would not have met. Hart was also being careful not to look at Mr. Meinert. He had decided it was a good day to keep a low profile.

The teacher tossed his grade book back onto his desk and said, "Let's start off today with our new Hanukkah song."

A low groan rumbled through the room. Mr. Meinert ignored it. "We're going to have to work on some Hebrew words. Everyone please stand up in front of your desks."

There was more grumbling as the kids stood up. Again, Mr. Meinert ignored it. "We'll start with an easy one - I'm sure you already know it. Take a deep breath, and let me hear everyone say 'Shalom.'"

The word that came back at him sounded a little like "salami."

Mr. Meinert shook his head. "No. No. Listen: Sha-lom. Say it."

Again the class made a sound.

Again Mr. Meinert shook hishead. "No. Not 'Shiloom.' Sha-lom. That's a long o sound, like 'home.' Say it clearly with me. One, two, three: Sh -"

Halfway into the first syllable Karen Baker pointed at the windows and yelped, "Look! It's snowing!"

The Hebrew lesson screeched to a stop. Everyone turned to look. "Hey! Snow! Look! It is - it's snowing!"

Tim Miller shouted, "Maybe tomorrow will be a snow day!"

A spontaneous cheer burst out, and the kids rushed toward the long wall of windows.

The music teacher felt the anger rise up in his chest, just as it had yesterday. He wanted to scream and shake his fist at the class. But he resisted.

He walked slowly over to his desk. On his way Mr. Meinert noticed with some satisfaction that one kid had stayed at his seat: Hart Evans.

Mr. Meinert forced himself to sit down behind his desk. He opened a copy of Music Educator magazine. He flipped to an article about teaching the music of Bach to high school students. He made himself sit still and stare at the page.

He read the first sentence of the article, and then he read it again, and then a third time. He clenched his teeth and felt his jaw muscles getting tighter and tighter. He said to himself, I'm not going to yell. I will not lose my temper. The kids know that what they're doing isn't right, and they will stop it. Then we'll begin again. I will sit here and read until everyone sits down and the room is quiet.

It didn't happen. The kids at the windows stayed there. Ed Kenner opened one and stuck his hand out to try to catch snowflakes. In five seconds all the windows were open.

Around the room small groups of children formed, and kids started talking and laughing. Some of them leaned against the folding desks, and some sat down in clusters on the floor.

Even though he didn't look up from his magazine, Mr. Meinert could tell kids were sneaking quick looks at him. As three minutes crawled by, Mr. Meinert realized that since he didn't look mad, didn't look like a threat, the kids were perfectly happy to pretend he wasn't there. He had ceased to exist. Everyone was perfectly happy to do nothing. Apparently, doing nothing was a lot more fun than singing in the sixth grade chorus.

Mr. Meinert did not normally do things on the spur of the moment. He liked to plan. He liked to make lists. He liked to organize his thoughts. He liked to think, and then think again.

Not this time.

It was partly because of what had happened the day before - the rubber band incident. It was partly because of everything his wife had said to him at dinner yesterday. It was partly because he hadn't slept well last night and had been feeling lousy all day. And it was partly because Mr. Meinert was sick and tired of trying to make this mob of kids sing when most of them clearly did not want to.

For a dozen different reasons, in Mr. Meinert's mind something snapped. He jumped to his feet, grabbed a piece of chalk, and began writing on the board.

Kids turned to watch.

In tall letters he wrote HOL - but he pressed so hard and wrote so fast that the chalk broke. Mr. Meinert threw the yellow stub to the floor, snatched another piece, and kept pushing until he had written these words on the chalkboard:

HOLIDAY CONCERT December 22, 7 PM

Quiet spread across the room like an oil spill. Kids began tiptoeing back to their seats. His shoulders tense and his jaw still clenched, Mr. Meinert kept writing.

Sixth Grade Orchestra - 20 minutes

Sixth Grade Band - 20 minutes

Sixth Grade Chorus - 30 minutes

Mr. Meinert underlined the bottom words three times, and each time the chalk made a sound that would have made a dog run out of the room.

Then he turned to look at the class. Each child was seated, every eye was on his face.

Mr. Meinert spoke slowly, pronouncing each word carefully. "Thirty minutes. That's how long the chorus will perform during the holiday concert. All your parents will be there. Grandparents will be there. Probably brothers and sisters. It's the biggest concert of the year. Well, guess what?" He slowly raised his right arm and with his fingers stretched out, palm down, he swept his hand from side to side, pointing at the whole chorus. "This holiday concert, this thirty-minute performance? It's all yours."

Someone let out a nervous laugh.

Mr. Meinert spun toward the sound. "Think this is funny? Well, just wait until December twenty-second, a little after seven thirty. That's when the real fun begins. You see, no one's coming to that concert to see me. I'm just the music teacher. Everyone is coming to see you, to listen to you. To watch the wonderful program. So that's when things will start to get fun. Because from this moment on, the holiday concert is all up to you. To you. Not me. It's not my concert. It's your concert. You don't like the songs I've picked? Fine. Pick your own. You don't like the way I run the rehearsals? No problem. Run them yourselves. You don't want to sing at all? Then you can just stand up in front of your parents and the rest of the school for half an hour and do nothing. Who knows what will happen on December twenty-second? Not me. Right now, there is only one thing that I'm sure of. On December twenty-second a little after seven thirty in the evening, I will make sure that all of you are on that stage in the auditorium. What happens once you're there ... that's all up to you."

Mr. Meinert turned around, looked at the wall calendar, then picked up a piece of chalk and wrote on the board:

23 DAYS

"Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. Counting today, there are twenty-three class periods left before the day of your concert. There won't be any after-school rehearsals like we had for the Halloween concert, no dress rehearsal the night before. You have only these twenty-three class periods. You've learned four songs so far. But of course, you might want to toss them out and choose different songs. All that is now up to you. So. Have a nice concert."

Mr. Meinert turned and took three quick steps to his desk. He leaned over and pushed. The metal legs screeched on the floor as he slid the desk to the far right side of the room and then spun it around to face the wall. He walked back, rolled his chair over to the desk and sat down, his back to the class. He picked up his Music Educator magazine and began to read the article about teaching Bach.

For the first time in more than a month, Mr. Meinert felt great.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements Copyright © 2004 by Andrew Clements. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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