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Good children's literature is really a genre in its own right -- something that adults can enjoy just as much as children -- if the author does a good job of setting up strong characters and an engaging story.

That's exactly what Richard Peck has achieved in his novel "The Best Man."

The book is told from the perspective of sixth-grader Archer Magill, and tells of his life with his family and classmates as he grows through the elementary school years and enters into middle school.

Kids will love this book because of Arthur's realistic escapades told in a funny voice, and adults will relate to the close-knit family and their struggles and triumphs as they navigate through some tough, but very real issues.

One of the best parts of this books is that the issues the characters deal with aren't exaggerated for comedic or dramatic effect as they so often are in children's books. Also, one of the main themes -- Arthur's realization that his favorite uncle is gay and his enthusiastic support of that uncle's relationship with one of his teachers -- is dealt with in a manner that doesn't sensationalize the question of homosexuality. Rather, the author relates his character learning about his uncle's sexual orientation in a compassionate, matter-of-fact, everyday manner -- much the way this generation children will likely encounter the issue as they grow up.

This book is definitely worth a read -- for both your kids and you!

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