The School Story

Clements, Andrew

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002
ISBN 10: 0689851863 / ISBN 13: 9780689851865
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Synopsis: Two middle school girls scheme to publish a book in this novel from Andrew Clements, the author of Frindle.

Natalie's best friend, Zoe, is sure that the novel Natalie's written is good enough to be published. But how can a twelve-year-old girl publish a book? Natalie's mother is an editor for a big children's publisher, but Natalie doesn't want to ask for any favors.

Then Zoe has a brilliant idea: Natalie can submit her manuscript under a pen name, with Zoe acting as her literary agent. But it's not easy for two sixth graders to put themselves over as grown-ups, even with some help from a couple of real grown-ups who are supportive but skeptical. The next bestselling school story may be in their hands—but can Natalie and Zoe pull off their masquerade?

Review: Don't mess with Zee Zee Reisman from the Sherry Clutch Literary Agency. Especially when she's promoting the hot new novelist Cassandra Day. New York's publishing scene is familiar with tough players like Zee Zee, and impressed by the book she's pushing... but stunned when they find out Zee Zee and Cassandra are both 12-year-old girls. Zee Zee is really Zoe, fiercely loyal and self-assured best friend to Natalie Nelson, a.k.a. Cassandra Day. When Natalie writes a story, a really good story, Zoe is determined to let the whole world know. Using her formidable wits and all the resources available to a well-to-do New York City girl, Zoe, along with their timid English teacher, Ms. Clayton, proceeds to chip away at the challenge. The catch? The editor Natalie wants happens to be her own mother, an editor at Shipley Junior Books. But Natalie wants her authorship to remain a secret to her mom so that she'll get a fair shake. What ensues is a masterfully elaborate plot to get the manuscript in the right hands--and away from the arrogant, unfriendly editor in chief.

A highly original plot with plenty of intriguing side stories makes this a thoroughly satisfying read, especially for future novelists, agents, and editors. The publishing world is explored in just enough detail to gently banish romantic notions, but not to quell enthusiasm. The subplot around Natalie's father, who died four years earlier, is an almost silent but strong undercurrent to the story. This graceful and enjoyable novel from Andrew Clements (the bestselling author of The Janitor's Boy, Frindle, and The Landry News) is illustrated with rather gloomy, yet strangely funny black-and-white drawings from Brian Selznick, the illustrator of Clements' Frindle and The Landry News. (Ages 8 to 12) --Emilie Coulter

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Title: The School Story
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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