BookPage Children's Top Pick, October 2016
“A Tale of Two Weddings” would be an apt, more Dickensian title for Archer Magill’s story. At the first wedding, when Archer was 6, his performance as the ring bearer didn’t go so well. He split his too-tight dress pants (with no underwear underneath) and walked down the aisle, bare bottom exposed for the world (and YouTube) to see. In fifth grade, Warrant Officer Ed McLeod arrives during a school lockdown complete with helicopters to be the new student teacher in Archer’s class. The 26-year-old’s dramatic arrival and movie-star looks soon make him “the most famous student teacher in the Twitterverse and the photosphere.” He becomes a heartthrob to the girls and gets marriage proposals from as far away as North Korea. Turns out, though, that Mr. McLeod is gay and attracted to Archer’s beloved Uncle Paul, and Archer is to be the best man at their wedding. He does a splendid job this time—pants intact, no butts about it.
Author Richard Peck relates the years between the weddings with his signature humor, using the intimacy of the first-person point of view to provide Archer’s take on his world—sometimes clueless, always earnest—as he grows up and seeks role models. Peck began this book in 2014, when same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois (where the novel takes place), and by the time he finished, same-sex marriage was the law of the land. “But have the youngest readers among us heard?” he wondered. So he wrote this endearing, full-of-life story “to spark discussion and to open a door to a world suddenly living in a whole different era.” By the end of the story, count Uncle Paul and Ed McLeod, now happily married, as two of Archer’s role models.