Trout and Me

Trout and Me

5.0 2
by Susan Shreve

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When a new troublemaker, Trout, arrives at school, Ben is soon diagnosed with ADD–just like Trout.

Ever since first grade, Ben’s been in trouble, even though he’s really not a bad kid. He just can’t seem to stop doing things that get him sent to the principal’s office. His parents and wise older sister, Meg, swear he&See more details below


When a new troublemaker, Trout, arrives at school, Ben is soon diagnosed with ADD–just like Trout.

Ever since first grade, Ben’s been in trouble, even though he’s really not a bad kid. He just can’t seem to stop doing things that get him sent to the principal’s office. His parents and wise older sister, Meg, swear he’ll be fine in his own time, but when a new kid shows up in Ben’s fifth-grade class, he’s not so sure. Trout sticks to him like glue, and it’s clear from the start that Trout is a much bigger troublemaker than Ben ever was. So when Ben gets diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), just like Trout, and then has to take Ritalin, just like Trout, he’s not sure what to make of his friendship–especially when he starts to get a bad reputation. Is Trout’s badness rubbing off on him? Can Ben make people understand it’s the ADD, not Trout, causing the problems before it’s too late?

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With a lisp and a learning disability, an 11-year-old sets out to live up to his bad reputation alone... until a new boy, with a tattooed question mark on his chin attaches himself like Velcro. "Fusing humor and pathos, Shreve introduces characters of uncommon dimension and complexity and leaves readers with subtle issues to ponder," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-A sixth grader looks back to first grade, when he became known as "Ben Carter in Trouble." He tried with disastrous results to flush a classmate's purple teddy bear down the toilet after being teased about his lisp. His teacher was sure that his anger and frustration were directly related to his problems learning to read. Thus began Ben's difficult school career. His first-person narrative zeroes in on fifth grade, when a boy named Trout becomes his first-ever best friend and coconspirator, turning Stockton Elementary on its ear. Self-deprecating humor and excruciating honesty sustain the authenticity of the voice used. Both boys are diagnosed with ADD, but come from very different homes. Ben lives with both parents while Trout has only his dad, who travels a lot. Ben's family remains supportive throughout while Trout's is largely unseen. His dad's response to his often-troubling behavior is to move and change schools. This is a poignant, realistic portrait of the effects of labeling, "bad influences," and what it's like to be different. Characters are plausible as are the situations in which they are placed. While readers are left wondering about Trout's future as he and his dad make yet another move, they will be hopeful that Ben has found the inner strength he needs to succeed. A fast-paced, touching story told in the convincing and perceptive voice of the young protagonist.-Maria B. Salvadore, District of Columbia Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


This Monday, my last week of sixth grade, I was walking up the front steps of Stockton Elementary School and there was Trout. I was sure it was Trout. It had to be and my heart flipped over. He was standing at the top of the steps in front of the double green doors, looking around for me like he used to do every morning of the fifth grade. And my heart flipped over.

"So what's up?" he used to ask.

"Not much," I'd reply.

Then he'd throw his long arm around my shoulder and we'd go in the front door of school.

"Today I was thinking of pulling the fire alarm during sixth-grade lunch," he'd say. "Whaddya think?"

"Bad idea," I'd probably say, but I'd be laughing. I was happy almost every day that Trout was at Stockton Elementary, from the time he came until the end of fifth grade, and then I had to go to sixth grade without him.

I walked up to the top of the steps, hoping and hoping that I was right, but as I got closer to the boy I thought was Trout, I knew with a sinking feeling that it wasn't him at all. Just Billy Blister, who is as tall as Trout with soft blond hair, but with pimples and pink cheeks and no chin. And he is boring. Trout was never boring.

Long before Trout ever came to Stockton Elementary in Stockton, New Jersey, I'd been in trouble at school. I used to think I was an "amazing boy," like my mom said. "More or less perfect," my dad told his friends. I'd spend the days in play groups or at the petting zoo with my sister, Meg, or playing games at the park with my dad or at the circus with my mom or just hanging out kicking a ball on the blacktop behind our apartment, sometimes all by myself. And then I went to school.

I've hated school ever since first grade, when Ms. Percival got me sent home on Halloween for stuffing Mary Sue Briggs's purple teddy bear into the lower-school toilet. The toilet is located just outside the first-grade classroom because six-year-olds sometimes forget they have to pee until the last minute. The door to the toilet is usually kept closed, but on that day it happened to be open while I was pushing the bear headfirst down that long tunnel, and most of the class, including Mary Sue, were standing around the hall watching me. So it wasn't exactly a secret.

But Halloween, of all days in the year. I will never forgive Ms. Percival for that. I had my Lion King costume in my cubby to wear to the parade on the blacktop behind the school just after lunch.

Then I forgot it when the principal sent me home, and the school was locked by the time I remembered, so I had to wear my regular jeans and a black mask to go trick-or-treating.

Mary Sue Briggs deserved a wet teddy bear. Even now, five years later and in the sixth grade, I'd do the same thing again. Except now it wouldn't make any difference to Mary Sue. She doesn't have teddy bears any longer, only purple lipstick and plastic bracelets and rings with colored stones she wears on all her fingers. But she still has the same mean character she had when she was six.

"Character" is a word my father uses. I'm not exactly sure what it means. He refers to my character as "good," even though I have spent five years in nonstop trouble at school. He thinks that Mary Sue Briggs, who happens to be the best student in my class and a teacher's pet as well, is a girl of "questionable character."

"I don't get what you mean," I said, although I certainly agreed with anything bad he had to say about Mary Sue. "Everybody thinks she's perfect."

"Who is everybody?" he asked.

"The teachers like her. I mean, she plays up to them."

"Exactly," my father said.

"So is character about good guys and bad guys?" I asked.

"Sometimes the guys who are considered bad, especially at school, are actually kids of real character and the good guys like Mary Sue can't be trusted. It's worth thinking about," my father said.

He's always telling me something is worth thinking about, like I have all the time in the world to lie around my room thinking about character.

The thing I haven't told you is that I have a lisp. I've always had a lisp since I started to talk. When I was very little, like two and three and four, before I went to school, my parents and especially my sister, Meg, thought a lisp was cute.

"Say 'sweetheart,' " Meg would say to me.

I'd say "thweetheart" and Meg would laugh and call my mother, and I'd do it again and my mother would laugh, and then at dinner I'd say "thweetheart" to my father and he would laugh too. So I thought I was good at speaking and especially funny.

From the Hardcover edition.

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