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
July 30, 2003
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Excerpt from The Jacket by Andrew Clements
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 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! And when Mom and Dad yell at me, I'm gonna get so mad, 'cause, like, it's not even my fault! I'll say, "Hey, know what? Forget about school, that's what!" And I'll just drop out and turn into a bum -- or maybe even a criminal. My whole life's gonna be a mess, and it's all on account of my stupid little brother! Where is that punk?
Phil was about to stick his head into a classroom to look around. Then up at the corner of the hallway he thought he saw the back of his brother's jacket. It had to be Jimmy. No one else in the whole city had a jacket like that one.
He called, "Hey, Jimmy!" but his brother didn't stop, and Phil pushed his way forward and rushed around the corner. "Hey, idiot, you forgot..."
But it wasn't Jimmy. It was someone Phil had never seen before, a black kid. Wearing Jimmy's jacket.
Phil grabbed the collar and said, "Hey! This is my brother's jacket! Where is he? How'd you get this from him?"
The other boy struggled, trying to pull away. "What're you talkin' about? Let go of me! This is my jacket! I don't even know your brother!"