A Week in the Woods
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
Mr. Maxwell, a fifth grade science teacher, is in charge of the school‟s "Week in the Woods" program. He is an Eagle Scout and an avid outdoorsman. He has organized and carried out this program for sixteen years. He is totally organized and prepared, months in advance, for the upcoming week in the woods, but there is something that he doesn't know, something that he cannot prepare for, which is trouble.
Mark Chelmsley IV, a rich child living in New York, is unhappy about moving to a small town in New Hampshire. His parents work constantly and are extremely wealthy, but often spend very little with him. Mark is closer to Anya and Leon, a Russian couple employed as his family's maid and butler. Mark is assigned to Mr. Maxwell's class, where his know-it-all attitude, wealthy background, and lack of effort quickly turn Mr. Maxwell against him.
At school, Mark chooses not to make friends, not to complete his work, not to even become involved, deciding that his time at school with be temporary and that he has nothing to gain. However, he gradually starts to become friends with other students in his class and develops a genuine interest in attending the "Week in the Woods", despite rudely rejecting Mr. Maxwell's initial offer. Mr. Maxwell reluctantly allows him to attend and Mark enjoys spending time in the woods with his new friends.
As Mr. Maxwell and Mark's impressions of one another begin to improve, it is quickly derailed when a knife belonging to Mark's friend is found in their tent. Mark decides to take the blame, believing that Mr. Maxwell is looking for an excuse to send him away. When Mark's prediction proves to be true and he is told to go home early, Mark tries to prove that he can survive in the woods on his own. Mr. Maxwell soon realizes that he has been treating Mark unfairly when he discovers Mark did not bring the knife and is distressed to learn that Mark has disappeared into the woods. Though Mr. Maxwell finds Mark, he is injured and needs to rely on Mark for them to return safely to the campgrounds. They come to an understanding with one another during their return and promise to be more open to one another in the future.
The book was critically acclaimed, and nominated for a number of awards, including California Young Reader Medal, Golden Sower Masterlist (NE), Kentucky Bluegrass Award, and the Land of Enchantment Children's Master List (NM). The book won the Iowa Children's Choice Awards (2004–2005). and the Keystone to Reading Book Award of Pennsylvania (2005).