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Warner, Sally.
New York : Viking, 2011
IL K-3, RL 4.8
ISBN 067006243X

(2 booktalks)
Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

Third grader EllRay has a problem.  A big problem.  A problem named Jared Matthews.  EllRay is the smallest boy in Ms. Sanchez’s class and Jared is the biggest. While Ms. Sanchez is smart about what goes on inside her classroom, she doesn’t always know what goes on outside.  As EllRay says, “outside is when school really happens to kids,” and outside is when Jared is making EllRay’s life miserable.  But no one else knows and EllRay always seems to be the one getting in trouble.  When EllRay is asked to stay out of trouble for a week to earn a trip to Disneyland, the challenge begins!  Can he avoid Jared?  Can he fight the knots in his stomach and become the bigger man?  Read this first book in the EllRay Jakes series to find out!  (Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards Program Booktalks 2012-2013)

Booktalk #2

There's a war in Ms. Sanchez's third grade class between three of the boys. Ever since the end of Christmas vacation, Jared Matthews and Stanley Washington have had it out for EllRay Jakes. Jared and Stanley don't pull things in the classroom, at first, but they are at EllRay during lunch, recess, break and other times when they are out of sight from teachers and other adults. They know how to hide their rib-aching digs and other things they're doing from other kids as well. EllRay swears Jared's biggest aim is to make him cry in front of everyone at school.

EllRay's determined not to let anyone know what Jared and Stanley are doing to him. He doesn't want other boys taking sides and making this war bigger because that wouldn't end things for EllRay. He doesn't want the girls chattering about the war and staring. He definitely doesn't want his parents involved. Not when they are already on his care for his progress report, the one that says "Behavior: Needs Improvement." His teacher is calling home each day with a report on him now and his dad grills EllRay about his day. Then a prize is dangled in front of EllRay - a day at Disneyland if he can hold it together for a whole week.

Each day, EllRay struggles not to react to Jared and Stanley, not to blow up. He tries not to make the other kids laugh or make faces. The week gets worse and worse, and still he keeps trying to hold it together.
(Booktalk by the Sequoya Youth Book Award committee, 2014)

SUBJECTS:     Behavior -- Fiction.
                        Bullies -- Fiction.
                        Schools -- Fiction.
                        Family life -- California -- Fiction.
                        California -- Fiction.

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