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The Jacket

The Jacket

Illustrated by: McDavid Henderson
For Ages: 8 - 12
  • reading group guide
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Phil is on a mission. His absentminded little brother forgot his lunch money. All kinds of thoughts are running through Phil's mind as he searches for Jimmy in the throngs of fourth and fifth graders crowding the school hallway:...if I'm late for math today, then I might not be allowed to take the test -- and then I could flunk math! I might even flunk sixth grade and get left back!
Then Phil spots Jimmy's one-of-a-kind jacket and rushes to the corner of the hallway. Except the person wearing it isn't his brother; it's some black kid Phil's never seen before -- wearing Jimmy's jacket! Phil makes an accusation, tempers flare, and both kids wind up in the principal's office.
How will Phil react when he finds out how Daniel came to be the owner of this unique jacket? Will Daniel be able to forgive Phil for an accusation that was based on racial prejudice? What will each boy learn about the other, and most important, about himself?
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  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 96 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689848308 | 
  • May 2002 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7
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Read an Excerpt

Part I: Collision Course

It was Thursday morning right before first period, and Phil was on a mission. Hurrying through the fourth- and fifth-grade hall, he waded through groups of younger kids. His little brother, Jimmy, had left the house early so he could ride to school with a friend, and he had left his lunch money on the kitchen counter.

Phil was tall for a sixth grader, so most of the younger kids got out of his way. Which was good, because he had no time to mess around. If he got one more tardy during December, he would have to serve two detentions. The pressure made Phil's imagination run at full throttle. Like, if I'm... see more

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Topics
What's your opinion of how the principal solved the problem between the boys? What would you have done if you'd been the principal? How are conflicts handled in your school? Do you agree with the rules and policies in your school? Why or why not?
Why do you think Phil got so angry when he saw Daniel wearing his brother's jacket? If you were Phil in this story, how would you have reacted when you saw someone wearing your brother's jacket? What would you have done in Daniel's shoes?
Phil thinks "being friends with everyone and being someone's friend are two different things." Do you agree or disagree with him? Why? Describe someone who's your friend. Describe someone who's an acquaintance. What is the same/different about these two people? What makes someone a friend?
Phil wonders how he would have treated Daniel had he been white. Do you think Phil is prejudiced? Why or why not? What does it mean to be prejudiced? Use specific events from the story to support your opinion. How does Phil grow and change as a character from his experiences in this story? What kinds of life lessons does he learn?
Do you think Phil's mom could be prejudiced? Why or why not? What's your opinion about the way that Phil's mom answered his questions about being prejudiced?
Phil's father has some strong feelings about black people in sports. Reread the conversation Phil has with his father about this. What is your opinion? Do you think, see more

About the Author

Andrew Clements
Photo Credit:

Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements is the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he has been nominated for a multitude of state awards, including two Christopher Awards and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He is also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. He lives with his wife in Maine and has four grown children. Visit him at AndrewClements.com.

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