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Literature / The Landry News

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The Landry News is a novel by Andrew Clements.

Mr. Larson is the teacher that doesn't teach. He just sets up a class assignment, reads his newspaper, and sips coffee as his students act out. That changes when a student publishes a newspaper in his classroom, asking why Mr. Larson isn't a teacher.

Tropes for this book include:

  • Adults Are Useless: At least, Cara's parents used to be, since they used to fight a lot and got divorced without discussed custody visits. Cara's mother has gotten better about it, and she's shouldered single parenting stresses.
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  • Anything but That!: Most parents in town write notes begging that their children not be put in Mr. Larson's class.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Mr. Larson, as described above, until finally shaken out of his stupor.
  • Badass Bystander: Cara Landry, as shown when Dr. Barnes calls her into the office to punish her for starting a newspaper after being ordered to no longer publish the Landry News. She not only uses facts to prove that she has no reason to be in trouble, but she also addresses his concern that the newspapers are at school by revealing the paper is going online.
  • Brutally Honest: Cara as an editor is this; after a heart-to-heart with her mom she decides to tone this down. The Landry News's new motto becomes "Truth and Mercy."
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Subverted with Mr. Larson, played straight with Cara given she would write scorching editorials and burn people.
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  • Death by Newbery Medal: Subverted; no one dies in this story. Two divorces have played out, though.
  • Downer Beginning: A mild one, considering this is a children's book.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Cara's first act in the story is to post a handmade newspaper on her classroom's bulletin board with a Brutally Honest editorial about how Mr. Larson doesn't teach.
    • Mr. Larson's has become his trademark: he sits down and drinks coffee during class, leaving the students to fend for themselves.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Played for Drama. Apparently publishing a personal account about divorce can cause you to lose your job. God help any school that would really sanction this action.
  • Freudian Excuse: Discussed, and ultimately Deconstructed. It doesn't matter if you have a husband with a large beer stomach, or two kids that you couldn't afford to send to an acclaiemd college; you have to do your job, either as a teacher, a principal or as a journalist.
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  • Heroic BSoD: Mr. Larson has this as an Establishing Character Moment. He even mentions that it's due to burnout over the years.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Averted. Most of the teachers don't like Mr. Larson, or they feel sad that he's succumbed to Heroic BSoD, but they support him after reading The Landry News and seeing how productive Mr. Larson's students have become. When Dr. Barnes conspires to fire Mr. Larson over a controversial article? The teachers band together, arranging a meeting with the school board, and attract a lot of publicity.
  • Innocent Bystander: The Landry News becomes the Unwitting Pawn that Dr. Barnes uses to file disciplinary action against Mr. Larson, which ends up hurting the students. Mr. Larson knows this, as does Cara; that's why they both fight back.
  • Jerkass:
    • Dr. Barnes, subverting the role of Reasonable Authority Figure and becoming a Control Freak. Although he has to balance everyone's interests, which is why he and the school board don't like Mr. Larson's Heroic BSoD since the students don't learn, he uses the Landry News as an Innocent Bystander to fire Mr. Larson, Dramatically Missing the Point that Mr. Larson has become a teacher. Then he tries to go after Cara for fighting back, calling her into the principal's office.
    • Cara's dad may be one, given he moved out without saying so much as "goodbye" and didn't offer help when her newspaper activities got her in trouble at school. He only wrote letters the summer after her Dark and Troubled Past, when most of the damage had been done.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Cara as editor-in-chief; everyone notes that she has a point when she says that Mr. Larson gets paid for teaching when he expects the students to teach themselves.
  • Made Out to Be a Jerkass: Mr. Larson. Yes, Cara was Brutally Honest in her editorial, but she had made her newspaper by hand. Screaming that it's inappropriate and tearing it up would make any writer cringe. Fortunately no one holds it against him in the story.
  • Technology Marches On: In-universe. Happens in the story; Cara starts out by making her newspapers on hand until Joey teachers her how to use a computer to format newspaper pages, and then The Guardian goes completely online.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Cara after her parents divorced; she started writing angry news articles for a year that she self-published. After getting most of it out of her system and finally getting letters from her dad, she Took a Level in Kindness. You still don't want to cross her, though.