CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 4. . . .September 23, 2016
The final volume in Matson’s Arthur Bean trilogy—preceded by A Year in the Life of a (Total and Complete) Genius and Scenes from the Epic Life of a Total Genius—finds Arthur completing Grade 9 and junior high school. Best friend Robbie has moved to Lethbridge with his mother; crush/frenemy Kennedy now is co-editor of the school newspaper with Arthur; and a new drama teacher, Mr. Harker, has joined the faculty. Trouble ensues when the new principal, Ms. Kraleigh, decrees that the skits written by Arthur and his friends are inappropriate and, therefore, may not be performed. Many students—egged on by Arthur and his newspaper editorials—push back, and Ms. Kraleigh retaliates by cancelling their grad party.
As in the earlier titles, the story is revealed through emails, notes, class assignments, journal entries, newspaper articles, and texts. Matson brings full circle to the issues introduced in the earlier novels: Arthur’s mother’s death; his trouble making friends; and his dislike of sports, although in this book Arthur and his dad try fencing, something which Arthur eventually comes to enjoy. Arthur remains endearing and annoying throughout, and while extreme outward confidence (mixed with occasional sprinklings of angst) will always be his style, there are signs by the end of the story that he is becoming more thoughtful and mature—and that he may have found a girl who appreciates the real Arthur. Notes from the Life of a Total Genius can stand alone, but why miss out on the rest of this trilogy?
Kay Weisman works as a youth services librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library and chairs the Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada’s Information Book Award.
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