Monday, September 20, 2010

Adam Canfield, the Last Reporter by Michael Winerip

This is the latest (and, according to rumor, final) installment in the series of books about middle school student Adam Canfield and his school newspaper trials and tribulations. Adam is an obviously gifted student as are his co-editor Jennifer and Phoebe who is described as both the world’s greatest 3rd grade reporter and also the world’s most annoying 3rd grader.
These characters make for absolutely delightful reading for teachers, but I really wonder if kids enjoy these books as much as adults do. Adam and Phoebe act like normal kids much of the time, but there are many ethical issues and adult concerns brought into these stories. These issues include ethical conduct for elections, maintaining a “wall” between the business and news aspects of a news delivery system, and state standardized testing. I know that the author is a NY Times reporter and also a father of kids who are in the same age range as these characters, My overall feeling is that he has a pretty good handle on the capacity for 5-8th grade students to negotiate these issues, given a bit of adult guidance. These books would be terrific read-aloud choices for a classroom, parents and kids, or reading groups to discuss. I fear that many children would give up without finishing them if left to read and ponder them on their own.
For those reading this who are unfamiliar with the two previous titles in the series, they are:
Adam Canfield of the Slash
Adam Canfield, Watch Your Back

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