Derek Dawson was excited to finally be done with middle school, and especially to never again have to deal with Principal Johnson. Well, he was — until he created a “game” for his friends, which involved throwing pennies at passing cars. His hijinks on the final bus ride home earned him a return trip to Principal Johnson’s office and a summer full of punishments. Not only did Derek have to work at his family’s store to pay for the damages on the car he hit, but he was assigned to perform community service at a local library (Principal Johnson’s wife was a librarian) AND might have lost his chance to attend Inventure Camp. A crappy way to start the summer, to be sure.
The funny thing is, though, that Derek’s “punishment” of volunteering at the library actually turned into an enjoyable experience. He found that he liked the other teens who volunteered there and the fact that Mrs. Johnson never seemed to expect the worst from him. One day, while trying to cover up the fact that he was watching a cute girl from the stacks, he claims that he was looking for a book and ends up checking out a book on juggling. Since he had nothing better to do while he was grounded, he decided to give juggling a try… and discovered that he was really good at it! Although the story was written for a tween audience, it was “clean” enough that I read it with my 7-year-old son. He said, “I liked how Derek got himself out of trouble and stopped misbehaving.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. 🙂