Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius

Matson, Stacey (Author)
Scholastic Canada 2014. 266 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9781443133173 (hardcover)
9781443128681 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, dialogue, figurative language, multigenre, point of view, structures and features

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Arthur Bean’s Grade 7 year at Terry Fox Junior High in Calgary is creatively recounted through entertaining homework assignments, lovesick emails, extravagant articles for the school newspaper and entries in the reading journal he treats more like a confidant.

Through the pithy individual but linked texts, readers quickly become acquainted with Arthur and the struggles of this likeable, amusing and sometimes smug 13-year-old.

In an ultimately unpublishable article for the school newspaper, he writes, “I also think our uniforms are really ugly. Blue and gold? Did they buy them at Ikea? At least our track and field team placed last in our division this year. If they had been actually fast, they would look like someone was sick after drinking Kool-Aid and eating lemon birthday cake!”

At home, Arthur and his dad are dealing with the recent death of his mom and there are sad moments, like the poem he writes about his dad: “Every night, he sits in a chair/Reality shows on the TV blare/Not watching them really.”

Throughout, Arthur is also trying to find himself as a writer. When his obsession with becoming a famous writer gets him into pretty big trouble, Arthur’s feelings of culpability, followed by panic and isolation, are convincing.

As summer break arrives, Arthur decides he’s more a poet than a novelist. This will make perfect sense to readers who have just made their way through a year’s worth of his sassy verses.

  •  

    What do you think it takes to be a genius? How would being much more intelligent than others affect your life?

  •  

    Create an interview with Arthur that sheds some light on why he considers himself so outstanding and what he does that “proves” his “genius.”

  •  

    The main character’s writing style varies depending on his mood and intentions. Choose two pieces of his writing (e.g. a text about his mother dying and one about his hatred of Robbie) and explain how they are similar and different, and how details define the tone of the texts.

  •  Written in a variety of text types, this twist on an epistolary novel offers opportunities for readers to gain an understanding of the affordances of different texts.
  •  

    Discuss the types of information the reader gains through the different text types. For example, Arthur’s journal entries might be compared with his emails to Kennedy or to his writing assignments.

  •  

    After reading and discussions, make notes about author’s craft and how different texts can be used to tell a story. Keep this information in a reader-writer's notebook for use in future writing projects.

  •  In a small group, discuss what it is like for a kid to change schools, particularly going from elementary to high school.
  •  

    If that same kid experienced a traumatic event the summer before starting high school, how might that affect the transition?

  •  

    Keep track of the important life lessons Arthur learns during his first year in junior high school and reflect on how they change him (or not).

  •  

    At the end, Arthur mentions starting a reading journal at arts camp. Write (five) entries from his time at camp, using the voice he typically applied in his RJ entries. Be sure to mention interactions with Robbie and thoughts of Kennedy.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Career Development
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Personal Development
  • Social Sciences