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The Last Holiday Concert

Last updated Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Author: Andrew Clements
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0689845162
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2009

Synopsis: Sixth-grader Hart Evans's least-favorite class is chorus, where uptight Mr. Meinert makes them sing boring songs. When Hart shoots a couple of rubber bands at the teacher, the man overreacts and is angry when the smooth-talking boy gets off relatively unscathed. Although the class is not told, readers learn that Mr. Meinert will lose his job after January 1 because of budget cuts. When the students act up the next day, he snaps and decides to place the responsibility for the holiday concert in their hands. This sets in motion a series of events that leaves Hart running the show with the teacher watching, learning, and eventually helping out. The plot unfolds to encompass control issues, democratic procedures, and an end product that wows the crowd. Clements is a master at taking elements of relatively common school situations and turning them into masterful stories with truly engaging characters. Foreshadowing provides glimpses of the program during the chapters leading up to the conclusion, but the climactic description of the event will leave youngsters teeming with emotion. The book's accessible language and quick pace will also appeal to reluctant readers.

Note to readers:
•  Suggestion: Start with Chapter 3. Try to go through Chapter 7 and if possible 8. Volunteers please read the book flap to get hold of the plot points. And jump into the story from Chapter 3.
•  In the spirit of democracy discussed in the book (in Chapter 7) take a vote to read through or take up a craft project. You can make ballots and count the votes.
•  Vocabulary: visionary, rigmarole, egocentric, refrain, melody, harmony, bellowed

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What do you think this book is about?
•  Would you like to play/do you play an instrument?
•  Have you been in a concert?
•  What do you think a concert is made of? – music? Dancing? Acting? Costumes?
•  Do you know how to read sheet music?
•  What do you think you will want in your own concert?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What do you think is “cool”?
•  Do you play any pranks at school? Do you think pranks can be dangerous?
•  What do you think it takes to be a teacher? Do you think you could be a good teacher?
•  Do you think Mr. Meinert could have been hurt by Hart’s prank?
•  If you were the principal what would you have done?

Craft ideas:
•  "The Last Holiday Concert" themed crossword puzzle and word search will be provided for the students.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!