Firstly, I apologise for not writing a post in a while. I have been pretty busy and have indulged in reading books not written for children; I am an adult after all! I have been meaning to write a review of Because of Mr Terupt for some time now. The delay in writing is not due to lack of interest in the book. On the contrary, I thought that this book was fantastic. Many thanks go to Hannah who recommended it to me.
Because of Mr Terupt is about a class of children and their teacher, Mr Terupt. No surprises there as to how they came up with the name of the book! When I first read the blurb I admit that I had my doubts. It seemed to stereotype the characters as ‘clever’, ‘a prankster’ and ‘shy’. I don’t like to label people. We shouldn’t be defined as one thing and we change so much as we grow up that it isn’t fair to limit someone to a label. If someone makes some bad choices, that doesn’t mean that we should always call them naughty. If we end up doing that, the chances are that they will live up to your expectations and won’t change. As soon as I got into the book however, I realised that Rob Buyea was purposefully trying to challenge those stereotypes. As the story developed, I realised that each child in the story had challenges that they faced at home and many of them didn’t have the courage to really talk to anyone about them. Writing in a similar format to R J Palacio in Wonder, reading from the perspective of each child really helped me empathise with each character and it challenged my initial thoughts about them. Below I have included a quote from the book which I think summarises the children coming to understand each other better and realise that behaviour is sometimes caused by external factors which they might not know about. It can teach us that it is OK to feel a bit down sometimes, even if we know that other people are feeling down too. Sometime we feel guilty if we know that other people are suffering and we know that our problems aren’t as severe, but we still feel sad about our situation. A real thought provoker!
‘Selfishness caused me to be blind. I only thought about how bad I felt. I’m not saying I would have done anything different, had I seen it earlier. I’m just glad it changed. For all of us.’
This book not only highlights the negatives of stereotyping, but reminds us as a reader that in order to get along, to achieve in school/work and to generally be a good person, we need to by kind to one another, be willing to forgive and persevere in all that we do. Talking is the key with any kind of relationship, whether it be with friends or family. If you are worried about something and you’re bottling it up – which only makes you feel worse – talk to someone. Maybe someone in your family, a friend or even a teacher. The mutual respect that Mr Terupt builds with his students is admirable and shows real passion that teachers have for their students.
Because of Mr Terupt was sitting pride of place on my mini book display in my classroom. It was quickly snapped up and is currently out on loan. I hope that the borrower enjoys it as much as I did!