The Best Man by Richard PeckThe Best Man by Richard Peck

The Best Man

byRichard Peck

Paperback | September 5, 2017

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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
Amazon Editors’ Picks for Fall (Ages 9-12)
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
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 ...
Title:The Best ManFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 7.75 × 5.13 × 0.63 inPublished:September 5, 2017Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0147515793

ISBN - 13:9780147515797


Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Middle-Grade Novel This is my favourite middle-grade book I've read this year (as a librarian, I read quite a lot of them). It's charming and funny with memorable characters and a wonderful sense of whimsy. A novel about family and love and finding your way in the world. I can't recommend enough. Our main character, Archer, is a bit clueless about everything but he is also very kind and thoughtful. In the midst of 5th grade, a new teacher arrives at their otherwise totally-female-run school, and it basically makes the whole town go topsy-turvy with excitement. There are police dogs, helicopters, fainting au peres, and plenty of other odd happenings after Mr. McLeod. Archer's role models are also great for any kids reading this book: his dad, uncle, grandpa and Mr. McLeod are all insightful, layered, and charismatic.
Date published: 2017-12-26

Read from the Book

Chapter 1Boys 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.”“What’s left?”“Ring bearer,” Mom said.“What’s that?”“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.”She?“A darling little girl named Lynette Stanley.”A girl?“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.”Chapter 2Every hot August day brought the wedding closer. My sister, Holly, came home from camp and pounded up to her room to try on her junior bridesmaid dress. She about wore it out before the day came. But the day came.So did my ring-bearer rig, my first FeEx delivery. Mrs. Addison Magill had sent for it—Grandma. I couldn't read it, but I knew that much. "Archer," Mom said, "whatever it is, you'll have to wear it. I do my best with your grandmother Magill, but it's never good enough. Never. Be a brave boy."It was going to be a simple porch wedding, Grandma's porch. They wouldn't even need a rehearsal, which was fine with me. I didn't know what a rehearsal was. Just a gathering of friends. No fuss.But a hundred and twenty-five chairs were set up on the front lawn when the wedding day dawned. We live behind my grandparents. Two big square houses. Grandpa Magill built them.Dad stayed down in the garage as long as he could. But time ran out for him too. "A tie?" I heard him say to Mom up in their room. "I have to wear a tie?"I crouched at the end of my bed. I couldn't sit all the way down on my ring-bearer's rig. An idea hit me—the best idea I'd ever had in my life. I'd go hide, and after a while they'd forget they'd ever had me. I know. A few months older—a few weeks—and I'd have seen all the bugs in this plan. The first thing you learn in school is that there's no place to hide. I vanished while the coast was clear. Not easy in those shoes. Even the soles seemed to be patent leather. I skidded past Holly's room. And Mom and Dad's, where Mom was tying Dad's tie. Then I was outdoors and across the alley to Grandpa and Grandma's. August sun glinted off me. I was all in white like the bride.I came across Grandpa Magill, in the porch swing Dad had set up for him in our backyard. He wore his seersucker suit and a straw hat, and was sound asleep. Cleo the cat was in his lap. She glanced up at me, then stared. Even to the cat I looked ridiculous. Up at the back of Grandma and Grandpa's house, uniformed people were putting glasses on trays. The wedding cake stood under a plastic sheet. I wouldn't have said no to a piece of cake, but I had some disappearing to do.Now I was moving from one snowball bush to the next, along the side of the house, and the front porch. I slid back a piece of loose latticework down low and slipped inside. Now you see me, now you don't.I'd been down here under the porch before, making a fort, messing around. It's a cool, webby place with some mud. I was inches from the wedding, but totally invisible. Footsteps thundered on the porch floor above. Murmuring came from the folding chairs in the yard. A string quartet tuned up directly over my head. Then I got a big surprise.A face appeeared in the open space I'd come through. I jumped, and cracked my head on a beam. A girl ducked inside. She had a mop of red hair with a big pink bow in it. You could just stand up in here, if you were six. She was a little bigger than I was, all the way around.Her skirt was a lot of peachy pink net. We seemed to be wearing matching shoes. "Hey, bozo, you're supposed to be on the porch, not under it," the girl said. "What are you, five?"It was Lynette Stanley, of course."How'd you know I was down here?""I saw you from the living room window." She jerked a thumb over her shoulder. Her dress had weird puffy sleeves."Who could miss you in all that white? You look like a snow cone."It was dim down here, but Lynette Stanley got a good look at me. "White velvet shorts?" she said. "What were they thinking?""Shut up," I said, hopeless. "They're really tight on you."Tighter than she knew. I coudn't sit down."They're like toddler's shorts," Lynette said. "It's like you wear training pants underneath."I wasn't wearing anything underneath. How could I? And I was beginning to chafe."It's like you drink out of a sippy cup. And look at your shirt. You've got more ruffles down your front than I do."She held out her skirt. "And I look like Fancy Nancy."Her dress was a lot of net, a lot of sash, those ruffles. Dorky. She'd had a FedEx delivery too. Above us the string quartet went into "You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings.""It's a bad dress," I told Lynette, "but you'll be safe down here.""Are you nuts?" she said. "We're already late. They'll be panicking. They'll be on their phones. It'll be an Amber Alert.""I'm not going." I put my hands behind me. "You go ahead."Lynette sighed and made a grab for me. She was planning to frog-march me out from under the porch or something. I jumped back. My slick shoes shot out from under me. I sat down hard, and my hands slapped mud. We heard the sound of stitches popping."Whoops," said Lynette.Something inside me had known this wasn't going to work. A sob started up, behind the baby-blue velvet bow tie. 

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Best ManAutumn 2016 Kids' Indie Next List -- "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers":   Amazon Editors’ Picks for Fall (Ages 9-12)New York Times Notable Children's BookHorn Book FanfareSchool Library Journal Best Books of 2016Kirkus Best Books of 2016Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2016  “Peck is at heart a gentle realist, a keen observer of family dynamics who uses the soft power of understated emotion to tack social issues. His latest middle grade novel, The Best Man is . . . a reminder that no matter your gender or sexuality, love is love is love.”—New York Times Book Review* "A nostalgic slice of Rockwell Americana with a contemporary filling. Delicious—take a bite."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review* "An indelible portrait of what it looks like to grow up in an age of viral videos and media frenzies, undergirded by the same powerful sense of family that characterizes so much of Peck's work."—Publishers Weekly, starred review* "Rise and toast The Best Man . . . We're not done needing books like this. Comic, easy to read, swiftly paced, and matter-of-fact, Peck's latest steps out to lead the way."—Horn Book, starred review* "A witty, engaging novel from a master storyteller."—Booklist, starred review* “The Newbery Award–winning [Richard Peck] explores what it means to love and what it means to be a man. A modern, funny, and realistic tale featuring strong, nuanced, and unforgettable characters . . . Essential.”—School Library Journal, starred review   “Sweet…The award-winning Peck has often written from the past, but here he applies his humor and humanity to the present, where it is so sorely needed.”—San Francisco Chronicle   “Author Richard Peck relates the years between the weddings with his signature humor, using the intimacy of the first-person point of view to provide Archer’s take on his world —sometimes clueless, always earnest—as he grows up and seeks role models…[An] endearing, full-of-life story.” —BookPage, Top Pick Review   “Insightful and witty…There's plenty of homespun wisdom here, but no hint of preaching…Peck's wandering, anecdote-rich narrative is set in Chicago, and told in the dryly funny voice of an immensely likable, if slightly oblivious boy named Archer Magill…A modern-day delight with a satisfyingly old-fashioned feel.”—Shelf Awareness   “One of my favorite books of September for middle graders is Richard Peck's The Best Man…There is lots of humor and wisdom in The Best Man,  and to me it embodies what I want most for my child--to be caring, compassionate, and let the best of you shine through.”—Seira Wilson, Amazon Books