The story starts with a marvelous hook that drew me in right from the start:
“Jack leaned over and let the huge wad of gum drop from his mouth into his moistened hand. Then he began applying the gum to the underside of the folding desktop, just as he‘d planned.
He stuck it first to the front outside edge and then pulled a heavy smear toward the opposite corner…
It was the perfect crime…
There were two more class periods, so a kid would have to notice the mess today - this very afternoon. Mr. Pike would have to pull the desk aside so no one would get tangled in the gunk. Mr. Pike would need someone to clean it up before tomorrow.
So after someone had swept the rooms, and emptied the trash cans and washed the chalkboards and dusted the stairs and mopped the halls and cleaned the entryway rugs, someone would also have to find a putty knife and a can of solvent and try to get a very sticky, very smelly desk ready for Tuesday morning. It would be a very messy job, but someone would have to do it.
And Jack knew exactly who that someone would be. It would be the man almost everyone called John—John the janitor.
Of all the kids in the school, Jack was the only one that didn‘t call him John. Jack called him a different name.
Jack called him Dad.”
In his books, Clements exhibits a wonderful skill for portraying the feelings and problems that youths face, and “The Janitor‘s Boy” is no exception. Young Jack, teased by his classmates because his father is a janitor, wants to get back at his Dad.
But when he is caught for his bubble gum crime, the principal punishes him in a unique way—he must assist the janitor, his father, for three weeks. At first Jack feels humiliated and angry, but then he discovers the keys that janitors use to access parts of the school that most people never see. As Jack works at the school, exploring the building, and spending more time with his Dad, he comes to learn more about himself and more about his father, and this ultimately strengthens their relationship.
“The Janitor‘s Boy” is a wonderful book, both for its realistic portrayal of Jack and its intriguing theme. Andrew Clements’ writing style is enjoyable, making this book a worthwhile and entertaining read.
Inkweaver Book Rating:See reviews of other great books by Andrew Clements.