Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack Gantos.
Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth—Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.
But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn't see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he's the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.
In pages that ripple with laughter, there's a teardrop here and there. And more than a few insights about the bewildering world of adults, made by a boy on his way to being the best man he can be.
Boston Globe Horn Honor Book
New York Times Notable Children's Book
Horn Book Fanfare
School Library Journal Best Books of 2016
Kirkus Best Books of 2016
Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2016
About the Author
RICHARD PECK (1934-2018) was born in Decatur, Illinois and lived in New York City for nearly 50 years. The acclaimed author of 35 novels for children and young adults, he won the Newbery Medal for A Year Down Yonder, a Newbery Honor for A Long Way from Chicago, the Scott O’Dell Award for The River Between Us, the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Are You in the House Alone?, a Boston Globe-Horn BookAward Honor for The Best Man, and the Christopher Medal for The Teacher’s Funeral. He was the first children’s author ever to have been awarded a National Humanities Medal, and was twice a National Book Award Finalist.
Read an Excerpt
Boys aren’t too interested in weddings. Girls like them. Grown-ups like them. But my first-grade year started with one wedding, and my sixth ended with another. Call my story “A Tale of Two Weddings.” I was in both of them.
One of the weddings was great. In fact, it’s just over. There’s still some cake. And I got a fantastic new suit out of it. The pants are cuffed. The coat gives me shoulders, and I’ll be sorry to outgrow it. I won’t mind being taller, but I’ll miss the suit.
Also, a pair of gold cuff links are involved, but we’ll come to them later.
The other wedding, the first one, was a train wreck, so let’s get that one out of the way. Besides, it happened when I was too little to know what was happening or to stand up for my rights. I didn’t have any rights. I was six.
Did I even know what weddings are? And this one wasn’t even anybody in our family.
“Archer, honey,” said Mom one day. I was in her office for some reason I didn’t see coming. Mom’s maiden name was Archer. I’m named for her kid brother, Paul Archer.
Mom was about to pull me onto her lap. But I held up both hands. They were red and black with touch-up paint. I was paint all over. I’d sat in some. Dad and I had been out in the garage detailing a vintage ’56 Chevy Bel Air.
Mom pulled back, but only a little. “There’s going to be a wedding, and guess what? You get to be in it.”
“Get Holly,” I said. Holly’s my sister, seven years older, so she’d have been thirteen or so.
“We already have Holly,” Mom said. “She’s going to be a junior bridesmaid. She’s tickled pink.”
“Ring bearer,” Mom said.
“You carry the bride’s ring down the aisle on a little satin pillow.”
“Whoa,” I said.
“You won’t be alone,” Mom said. “Don’t worry about that. There’ll be another ring bearer. She’ll carry the groom’s ring.”
“A darling little girl named Lynette Stanley.”
“Her mother and I went to college together. We were best buds in the Tri Delt House. The Stanleys have moved here for the schools, so you and Lynette will be starting first grade together, and you’ll already be friends!” Mom beamed.
How could I be friends with a girl? I stood there, waiting to wake up from this bad dream.
“I can wear my regular clothes,” I said. “Right?”
“Archer, honey, you don’t have regular clothes,” Mom said. “And by the way, racing-stripe paint doesn’t come out in the wash. I suppose your dad’s in about the same condition.”
“Pretty much,” I said.
“We’ll look at what you’ll wear for the wedding a little later on.” Mom glanced away. “A little closer to the event.”
I racked my six-year-old brain. There had to be a way out of this. There’s always a way out when you’re six, right? “Who are they, these people getting married?”
Mom was looking away, far, far away. “The bride is Mrs. Ridgley’s granddaughter,” she said.
“Who’s Mrs. Ridgley?”
“An old friend of your grandmother Magill.”
“Were they best buds in the Tri Delt House?”
“No,” Mom said. “They were best buds at the Salem witch trials.”
Excerpted from "The Best Man"
Copyright © 2016 Richard Peck.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
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.