The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier

The Rag and Bone Shop

Bibliographic information: The Rag and Bone Shop. Robert Cormier. Delacorte Press, 2001. $15.99. 154p. ISBN-13:  9780385729628.
Summary: Twelve-year-old Jason is a quiet boy, he doesn’t have many friends and he tends to like kids that are younger than him because they are not as annoying. After visiting his friend, seven-year-old Alicia, she turns up dead later that day. Jason was the last person to see her alive and now he is considered the one and only suspect in her murder. Under the guise of helping the police, Jason is brought to the station for questioning. Only later does he find out that he is a suspect of killing his friend.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 6 and up
Review: Cormier has produced a well written psychological story about a little boy being manipulated beyond the point of return. This book is so well crafted that the reader will genuinely feel anger towards the perpetrator and sorrow for poor Jason. Their heartbeat will rise and they will want to jump into the book to help Jason escape the torture he is going through. The characters are wonderfully developed and will stick with you long after you have put the book down. In the end it leave the reader wondering whether Jason is capable of murder or not. Recommended to young and old.
Readers’ annotation: One of Jason’s friends has been murdered and he was the last person to see her. Now he is the only suspect for the case. Is Jason the murderer?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book covers the horrors of manipulation. Anybody who has been manipulated in any way will feel for Jason and be able to relate to his character. Teens will read this book and understand that others are manipulated and they are not the only one. They will hopefully be able to read this book and get the courage to tell someone else what is happening to them so that it can be stopped.
Issues present: This book has manipulation the likes of which I have never read or seen. People, especially parents, are going to object to the way Jason was treated, but they have to understand that some kids are manipulated by their peers and the adults in their lives. The use of authority to get your way is a common practice and Cormier did a great job of showing this in his work. Kids are vulnerable and should not be taken advantage of, that is what this book is tell us.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Jason and Trent’s characters.
P. 17 – describes murder scene.
Genre or subject: Murder, manipulation
Readalikes:  The Chosen One, Kill Switch, The Interrogation of Gabriel James
Author’s website: no personal website
Awards: ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2002)
Reviews: School Library Journal:; Publisher’s Weekly:
Why I chose it: I heard that Robert Cormier was a great author and I have a soft spot for murder mysteries, so I decided to try this one. I have to say that he did not disappoint. 

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Filed under Bullying, Death

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