Nothing, but the Truth (Avi)

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Ninth-grader Philip is upset, because his English grade is keeping him off the track team. Though the rule is "respectful, silent attention", he hums along with the daily playing of the national anthem. He's moved to the homeroom of Miss Narwin, his English teacher who is rigid, humorless and out of touch with modern kids. When she tries to enforce the silence rule, Philip responds with offhand rudeness. The ensuing confrontation escalates into a two-day suspension followed by national media attention based on the erroneous belief that Philip has been denied the right to express his patriotism. Skillfully composing his story from school memos, news clips, dialogs and Philip's diary, Avi shows how people can generate misinformation through a combination of interrupting and not listening, shaping the facts to suit their own goals, letting preconceptions prevail or just lacking the will and the skill to get things straight. The conversations are all too believable: only one reporter makes an intelligent effort to find out what really happened and his story is never printed. Nobody wins: Philip transfers to a school that doesn't have track and Miss Narwin is forced to take leave. Wryly satirical: nothing, but the deplorable truth about our increasingly insensitive, media-driven society!