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Stinky Stern Forever

by Michelle  Edwards

Published by Harcourt, 2005
49 pages
ISBN: 0152163891

Ages 6-8

Each of the first three volumes in Michelle Edwards’s Jackson Friends series has featured a different one of three best friends as the main character: Pa Lia, who is Hmong; Howie, who is African American; and Calliope, who is white. Over the course of all three stories, their classmate Matthew “Stinky” Stern has been the subject of much frustration, and the occasional moment of delightful surprise. Stinky Stern is almost always teasing, taunting, or otherwise annoying someone in their second grade classoom. But at the start of Stinky Stern Forever, Stinky is hit by a car after school and killed. In class the next day, Mrs. Fennessy invites the children to share memories or stories or thoughts about what happened if they wish: He had a stuffed hedgehog named Harold in preschool. Remember how he and his mom played the bagpipes in the talent show? His middle name was Velvel and he didn’t want anyone to know. For Pa Lia, who witnessed the accident and had been angry at Stinky the day before, listening to her classmates helps her work through her own sad feelings. Readers who have read the other Jackson Friends books may be navigating their way through feelings of loss, just like Pa Lia and the other kids in her class. Regardless, Michelle Edwards’s remarkably deft and sensitive story offers room to grieve but also to smile as she acknowledges the many and sometimes conflicting feelings that can arise when someone dies.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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