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Nothing But the Truth

Patriotism or practical joke?

Ninth-grade student Philip Malloy was suspended from school for singing along to The Star-Spangled Banner in his homeroom, causing what his teacher, Margaret Narwin, called "a disturbance." But was he standing up for his patriotic ideals, only to be squelched by the school system? Was Ms. Narwin simply trying to be a good teacher? Or could it all be just a misunderstanding gone bad—very bad? What is the truth here? Can it ever be known?

Heroism, hoax, or mistake, what happened at Harrison High changes everything for everyone in ways no one—least of all Philip—could have ever predicted.

Story Behind the Story

Nothing but the Truth came to be written because of a series of seemingly unrelated experiences.

To begin: In my college playwriting days I became very interested in a Depression era play form called “Living Newspapers.” These were theatre pieces which, for a plot, tried to teach the audience about something, mostly the current events of the day. The productions used all kinds of teaching/theatre techniques, memos, speeches, charts on screens, trying to inform the audience as to what was happening. They were, if you will, documentary plays.

I even tried to write a living newspaper. About education. read more

Awards and Honors

Newbery Honor Book, 1992
Horn Book-Boston Globe Award Honor Book, 1992
Garden State Teen Award, 1995
YALSA One of the Best YAs from the last twenty-five years, 1994
Arizona Young Readers Award, 1994
New York State Readers Award, 1994
ALA Notable, 1992
Best Books for Young Adults 1992, YASD
Editors' Choice 1991, Booklist
One of the Best Books of 1991, Horn Book
One of the Best Books of 1991, School Library Journal
Best Books of 1991, Publishers Weekly
American Booksellers Children’s Choice List, 1992
Best Books for Teens 1992, NY Public Library
NCTE Notable, Children's Trade Book in the Language Arts, 1992 Notable, National Council of Social Studies/Children's Book  Council, 1991
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Blue Ribbon Book
One of the Best Books of the Year, Banks St. Teachers College, 1992
Library Of Congress: Best Books for Children, 1992.
Starred Review, Booklist, 1991
Starred Review, Horn Book, 1992
Starred Review, School Library Journal, 1991
Starred Review, Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books, 1991
Pointed Review, Kirkus Reviews, 1991
Horn Book, Fanfare Award, 1992


“… Avi shows how easily a simple act of defiance by a teenager can soon become the center of the political correctness debate waging in the United States. This is an interesting, and yet disturbing, story that captures the unfortunate reality of today's school system and the media frenzy around it. Although written for young readers, it is also a good read for parents and educators. As is typical of Avi, the writing is riveting and revealing.” (Children's Literature)

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