Joint Review: The Landry News

The Landry News by Andrew Clements

Gabriel’s thoughts: I liked The Landry News because I thought it was an interesting thing to have a kid who is kind of shy make her own newspaper that everyone can read.

The story is about a girl, Cara Landry, who makes a newspaper that talks about the classroom.  Cara is a bit of a trouble maker and in her last school she made her own newspaper, but it was really harsh and got her in trouble.  Cara starts the new school by making her own paper and at first it’s a little harsh too.  She wrote an editorial that bad-mouthed her social studies/language arts teacher, Mr. Larson.  To be fair, she was right about what she said about him but she wasn’t very kind.  She was inspired by  her mom that said you should always have truth plus mercy.  She then starts making friends in class and they actually publish the paper.  It was her first time getting help and the paper was really good thanks to all her classmates’ help.  Everyone in the class is really excited about it.

After copies are made, the principal finds it.  The principal doesn’t like the 5th grade teacher, Mr. Larson and would love to fire him.  He then makes the teacher take full responsibility for the paper.

The problem happens when Cara decides to publish a certain article about what it’s like to have your parents divorce.  The principal doesn’t like it and it gets Mr. Larson in trouble.  Cara needs to figure out how to help her teacher and still keep her newspaper.

I thought this book was really interesting.  Most authors  I like to go on adventures but this wasn’t like that.  It was more of a realistic situation.  I thought the characters were really cool.  I liked how a character experienced something really sad and then shared his feelings about it so it can help others.  My favorite part was at the end when the kid reads his article out loud.

The Landry News is part of what inspired me to make this blog.  If she can make a newspaper, why can’t I write this blog?

I would recommend this book.

Mom’s thoughts: Gabriel reads so many books so quickly that I honestly don’t have the time or energy to read along with him.  Since we pick up kids’ books (versus young adult books), I normally don’t worry too much on the themes.  Very rarely he will tell me that I have to read a book and then I’ll drop everything and read it.  His “must reads” for me have never disappointed and included The Platypus Police Squad and Wonder (which he tried to ask his dad to read too– this is how much he enjoyed that book).

As an adult, it’s hard not to bring my own bias into reading.  Is this plot predictable? Are the characters believable? You know, that kind of thing that sometimes ruins a kids book.  Onto The Landry News.

This story is about two people: Cara and Mr. Larson and how they evolve during a class newspaper project.  Cara is the new girl in town who has gone through the pain of her parent’s divorce.  She is extremely intelligent and has a great talent for journalism. She’s a regular Andrea Zuckerman, for those of you old enough to catch the 90210 reference. After a rough start, the class and Mr. Larson are working on a weekly newspaper.  Things are going great until a controversial article is published.

The book has all the making of a Disney movie:  disenchanted teacher, emotionally scarred young person, heroic up-hill battle that galvanizes a community, and a town hall meeting climax.  It also brings up great topics of free speech, censorship, and how even grownups don’t always have all the answers. Even as a kid, I noticed so many burned out teachers and wondered how they got there. This book shines some light on how a teacher can lose and then regain his spark.

There are several good parts of this book. My two favorite are when Cara is questioned by the principal and she is able to manage his near-bullying ways so cleverly. It’s a part I re-read just because the exchange was so well done. The other part I loved was the very end where Cara creates an “advanced copy” newspaper which reminds me of the “Dewy Beats Truman” newspapers we would see in the history books.

This book isn’t as poignant as Wonder, but the adult characters and backstory are full enough that an adult would like this book too.  Plus, it’s a fast read and can be used for some good kid-parent book discussion.


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