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The Most Important Thing: Stories about Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers
     

The Most Important Thing: Stories about Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers

4.0 1
by Avi
 

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One of the most beloved writers of our time presents seven short stories exploring the vital ties between fathers and sons.

Luke sees the ghost of his father but can’t figure out what Dad wants him to do. Paul takes a camping trip with the grandfather he’s just met and discovers what lies behind the man’s erratic behavior. Ryan has some

Overview

One of the most beloved writers of our time presents seven short stories exploring the vital ties between fathers and sons.

Luke sees the ghost of his father but can’t figure out what Dad wants him to do. Paul takes a camping trip with the grandfather he’s just met and discovers what lies behind the man’s erratic behavior. Ryan has some surprising questions when he interviews his prospective stepfather for the job. In a compellingly honest collection of stories, multiple-award-winning author Avi introduces seven boys — boys with fathers at home and boys whose fathers have left, boys who spend most of their time with their grandfathers and boys who would rather spend time with anyone but the men in their lives. By turns heartbreaking, hopeful, and funny, the stories show us boys seeking acceptance, guidance, or just someone to look up to. Each one shines a different light on the question "What is the most important thing a father can do for his son?"

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 02/01/2016
In these seven short stories from Avi (Catch You Later, Traitor), the relationships among fathers, grandfathers, and sons are as varied as the clearly delineated characters themselves. There’s eighth-grader Paul, who is a virtual stranger to his war-veteran grandfather until they are unexpectedly thrown together for a week. In contrast, Luke, 12, is so connected to his father that they are able to communicate even after an accident physically tears them apart. Then there’s 11-year-old Ryan, who insists on interviewing his mother’s boyfriend for “the job of being my father” (“Two written references must be provided, one from kid,” reads the job description Ryan puts together). Whether good, bad, or indifferent, the feelings and outlooks of Avi’s young protagonists are deeply influenced by the men in their lives. Endings are not always happy or neat, but moments of discovery and recognition point the way to change. Avi’s deft incorporation of humor, heartache, and the occasional touch of the supernatural will draw readers in as they ponder how family ties bind in both positive and negative ways. Ages 10–up. Author’s agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
In this collection of seven heartfelt stories, the indefatigable Avi breathes new life into an old theme: the relationship between sons and fathers (and the occasional grandfather). Ranging in tone from the somber ("Departed") to the sprightly ("Tighty-Whities or Boxers?"), the stories have in common a psychological acuity, the presence of inevitable change, and the grace of Avi's simile-rich style.
—Booklist (starred review)

Avi's septuplet of stories suggests that the best thing you can do for your son might just be to hope you've somehow given him the tools to evolve into an adult who will love and understand you on the other side. Though this is tuned to the XY frequency, don't discount it as a book for daughters who value such beautiful prose as "Now, snow drifting down, slowly, steadily, each flake the ghost of a leaf." What Oedipus didn't know about the intricacies of father/son kinship could fill a book—and has.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Avi’s deft incorporation of humor, heartache, and the occasional touch of the supernatural will draw readers in as they ponder how family ties bind in both positive and negative ways.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Seven short stories, some written in first person, some in third, offer glimpses into the lives of seven middle-school boys as they navigate complicated relationships with fathers and grandfathers..."What is the most important thing a father can do for his son?" The stories don’t directly answer the question, but they do show the consequences of a father’s absence, either physically or emotionally, and the varied ways boys find to compensate for the loss. "Be there," the stories seem to say to fathers and grandfathers.
—The Horn Book

Together, these offerings weave a picture of the relationships that can develop between teenage boys and their fathers and grandfathers—or the lack thereof...readers who take a chance on this collection will be rewarded.
—School Library Journal

Avi offers a multifaceted view of the way boys and men relate to each other, painting neither a perfectly rosy nor dreadfully bleak picture, and he gives space for each character’s personality, making it clear that the relationships are weighted both with history and the boys’ and men’s temperaments. Few of the stories offer complete resolution, instead of- fering a snapshot of an ongoing and shifting connection.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Avi is a master of just about anything he writes, and this collection is superbly crafted and ideal for discussions.
—BookPage

Avi’s latest short story collection introduces the intricate, dynamic, and complicated relationships of sons, fathers, and grandfathers. Readers will find seven distinctive stories, each packed with varying and multifaceted levels of emotional intensity, humor, and personal discovery that invite further conversation.
—Literacy Daily

In true Avi form, in what his fans have come to expect, the stories are page turners. Each story keeps the reader glued to the book, curious to find out how the clever kids are going to come to terms with their experiences and carry on with their lives with a better understanding of who they are and what their family is all about.
—New York Journal of Books

Through these and other powerful stories, readers will emerge with a heightened awareness of what boys really need and identify with the struggles and voices of these seven distinct characters. Equally important for fathers as it is for sons, this is a must-read.
—Books to Borrow...Books to Buy (Kendal A. Rautzhan column)

School librarians would do well to include this in their lists for reluctant readers because of its large font, short stories, and because of the possibility of further discussion and interest.
—School Library Connection

Children's Literature - Cathi I. White
Fathers and grandfathers play an important part in a boy’s life. This wonderful book gives the reader seven different stories about sons, fathers, and grandfathers in different scenarios. The boys are all searching for love, acceptance, guidance, or someone to look up to and just be there. One boy, Paul, does not always get along with his father but is sent to visit his grandfather, whom he has never met. Through his visit, Paul uncovers the truth about his grandfather and gets love and acceptance from him. In another story, Billy wants to win a bike race with the bike his mom bought him for his birthday. But the bike is stolen while he is in school. He needs to find the bike before the upcoming race and searches everywhere, including the police department where he becomes friends with one of the policemen. He finally discovers who has stolen the bike, but the boy refuses to give it back to Billy. With the help of his policeman friend, the thief is caught at the race and Billy gets a surprise. An additional story is about a teenager named Charlie who is looking for his dad’s approval. His dad thinks that Charlie should be tough and stand up for himself like his dad, the ex-boxer. When a gang attacks Charlie is attacked after a dance, he is afraid to tell his dad that he was too scared to fight back. When his dad finds out, he is ashamed and thinks his son is a coward. However, during a neighborhood meeting about gang fights, Charlie stands up for himself, against his dad. These and the other stories offer enjoyable reading about the different relationships and adventures the boys have with the fathers or grandfathers. Reviewer: Cathi I. White; Ages 10 to 15.
School Library Journal
03/01/2016
Gr 4–6—In a collection of seven short stories, Avi brings to life the complicated relationships between fathers and sons, grandfathers and grandsons, and stepfathers and stepsons and explores those sons without a father figure at all. In one tale, a teenager is shipped off for a week with a grandfather he never met and who never speaks to his own son, only to find understanding and a new, albeit complicated, relationship. In another, a son arrives at his father's for the weekend only to discover that he has gained a new stepmother since his last visit. In a different story, a boy interviews his mother's boyfriend for the position of stepfather. Another selection highlights the complicated relationship between a son who struggles to connect with his father, whose interests are much different than his own. Avi also tackles the impact that the loss of a father can have on his young son, the emptiness that a boy who has never known his father feels, and a grandfather who lives with his son's family. The son or grandson in each entry is either a young teen or a boy on the edge of his teenage years, which adds to the poignancy and emotional ties. Together, these offerings weave a picture of the relationships that can develop between teenage boys and their fathers and grandfathers—or the lack thereof. The pieces could be read separately in a classroom setting. Though short stories can be a hard sell in a library setting, readers who take a chance on this collection will be rewarded. VERDICT Purchase where short story collections or realistic fiction featuring male characters is needed.—Carli Worthman, Carmel Middle School, Carmel, IN
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-01-20
Multiaward-winning author Avi asks as an epigraph, "What's the most important thing you can do for your son?" Through seven short stories, he examines the troubled, touching, fractured, burgeoning, and beautiful relationships of seven different young men and their fathers, grandfathers, and, on the periphery, their mothers. There's Paul, who begins to understand his distant father only after being forced into a weekend with an estranged (and strange) grandfather. There's the paranormal insistence of Luke's dead father on spending one last moment with his mourning son. There's the heartfelt involvement of Ryan in his mother's acceptance of a marriage proposal. But this isn't a collection of golden-delicious Norman Rockwell-style optimism. A macho father is ashamed of his passive son, a know-it-all annoying grandfather frustrates his grandson, and an absent father has abandoned his family completely. Avi's septuplet of stories suggests that the best thing you can do for your son might just be to hope you've somehow given him the tools to evolve into an adult who will love and understand you on the other side. Though this is tuned to the XY frequency, don't discount it as a book for daughters who value such beautiful prose as "Now, snow drifting down, slowly, steadily, each flake the ghost of a leaf." What Oedipus didn't know about the intricacies of father/son kinship could fill a book—and has. (Short stories. 10 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763681111
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
04/26/2016
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
181,977
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
HL560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Avi is one of the most celebrated authors writing for children today, having received the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the Scott O’Dell Award, the Christopher Award, the Newbery Medal, and two Newbery Honors. He lives in Colorado.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
Website:
http://www.avi-writer.com

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The Most Important Thing: Stories about Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars I was hoping for some heartfelt moments within these stories, some ahh moments that would leave smiling as these stories capture the relationship between sons and their fathers/grandfathers. After reading all seven short stories, about half of them were what I expected and the other half were something totally different. There is something about Avi stories that I love and this has always been the case since I started reading them to my son. My son is in college now but I remember reading Avi’s stories to him at night and on family vacations. I don’t know who liked him better I still feel vigorous when I hold one of his novels in my hands, as his words zip me off into another world. I was surprised at the variety of stories contained within this novel. They all centered upon sons and their fathers and/or grandfathers but the storylines were all very different. These are not deep stories but stories that make you think. I really enjoyed three of the stories. • My favorite was Tighy Whites or Boxers. In this story, a mother has found a new husband and she wants to make sure that her son Ryan will be fine with the new arrangement. Ryan decides that this new person should have to go through an interview process to get the job as his new father. This is a delightful story as Ryan has the gentleman do a complete interview with references, resume and a one-on-one interview with pages of specific questions. Will he be hired or will his mother need to find another boyfriend? • In Going Home, I enjoyed this story as it dealt with a boy who felt that his life would have better had he been given a choice when his parents got divorced. Residing with his mother, he wants to go live with his father and he fights his mother on this issue. He decides to make his own decision and live with his father. Acting on his decision, he realizes that perhaps the choice that was made for him was the best. The emotions that were inside this story were superb and the energy coming off the characters were outstanding. As he saw his life, I was heartbroken for him and I wondered what he was going to do next. This was a great story. • Dream Catcher was a story about a grandson who spent a week with a grandfather who he didn’t know. Paul knew that his father didn’t like the man so why did he have to spend the week with him? I really enjoyed this story. Paul is out of his element and without noise, he is listening. I liked how Roads was in his element with Paul and he was able to open up with him. At the end of the week, they are both different individuals. • Beat Up was a great story and I really saw wonderful things happening with it but the ending was not as I expected. The father and son saw differently on why the son did not fight back after being beat up by a gang of boys. They choose then to just not deal with the issue until the day dad asked others in the community for help. Why is it so hard to communicate? I could see why Avi choose the ending he did for it but it ended too abruptly for me. • In Departed, this was a sad story with a supernatural element to it. Father and son were planning a camping a trip but an accident stops the trip from happening. I could tell where the story was headed immediately and the ending brought closure to the characters. It was not a frightening tale but showed a loving, tender relationship. Ok story • The story Kitchen Table was okay as it showed determination and