On My Honor
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On My Honor

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  2,794 ratings  ·  375 reviews
Joel's best friend Tony drowns while they are swimming in the forbidden, treacherous Vermilion River. Joel is terrified at having to tell of his disobedience and overwhelmed by his feelings of guilt.
Mass Market Paperback, 96 pages
Published May 12th 1997 by Laurel Leaf (first published January 1st 1986)
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Wordsmith Johnson
"On My Honor" was always a kids' book that was personal to me. The author, Marion Dane Bauer, was raised in the same small town as my mother; Oglesby, Illinois. The events in the book are based on an actual young boy's drowning that took place when my mother and the author were both children. I grew up playing around the Vermillion River, the same river that is responsible for the life-changing events and eventual coming of age focused on in this very deep book about pain and growing up. It is p...more
Our LA teacher has some of the 7th graders read this book and he gave it to me, telling me it's a quick read. It was. I read it in about half an hour to 45 minutes.

The story revolves around 2 boys, Tony and Joel. Joel is the safe, conservative one, while Tony is a little bit rougher around the edges. Joel's father gives him some instructions as to what he's allowed to do, but he feels peer pressured to ignore them and has to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be.

Joel tried to escape b...more
Read it when I was younger, tried again, not worth my time. Why did this get an award anyways? If you can summarize the general plot of a book in 2-3 simple sentences, it doesn't sound worth publishing. Or reading. Or an award, for that matter.

Two kids decide that they want to hang out one day, and they have a race across a river. One kid can't swim, and he drowns, and the other kid has to tell his family what happened.
That's it?
Why was this published?
I'm sorry, but s...more
I really enjoyed this book. It has such detail. I couldn't wait to finish it. My school librarian read it to my 5th grade class and I liked it so much, I checked it out and finished it the next day! The HUGE accident is something so lifechanging, it's hard to believe how someone can live knowig that they did something so tragic! I would recomend this to anyone who is looking for a teriffic book to read!
Nicole Stevens
"On My Honor" is an amazing story that tells the tale of regret, guilt, and the realities of life through the eyes of a young boy. Joel, a conscientious and responsible boy is constantly left frustrated by his adventurous and free-spirited best friend, Tony, but when Tony gives up his idea of dangerously scaling Starved Rock, Joel agrees to swim in the unknowingly more dangerous Vermillion River to satisfy Tony's need for adventure. After challenging Tony to swim to the sandbar in the river, Jo...more
Trisha Shaw

I was read this book when I was in the fifth grade and when the teacher got done reading, I thought there was more to this book, so I checked it out at my school's media center, BUT NOPE! There is nothing else to this book.

Now, the only thing saving this from getting the dreaded 1 star review is I like how it's written. It's pretty well written for elementary school students, but not quite for an 18 year old girl who read the book 8-7 years ago.

Overall, Book pisse...more
Leslie Brevard
4th grade- 8th grades
Bauer used many emotions when writing this book, she captured the attention right in the beginning when Bauer talks about how Tony’s life is not very good how his bike is not as good as Joel’s and how Tony’s home life isn’t good either. Bauer also puts a lot of emotions when Joel turns around and can’t find Tony. He first is angry because he thinks that Tony is playing a trick and then becomes scared and worried because he realizes that something bad has happened. When Joel...more
This was a very powerful read and gave me many things to think about as a parent. Joel's dad gives permission for he and his best friend, Tony, to ride their bikes to Starved Rock Park and back. Joel was sure he'd say no and is dreading the ride. Not wanting to appear scared, they leave for the park. Tony stops at the Vermillion River wanting to swim. Again, Joel agrees because he's 12, despite his warnings to Tony about the strong current, smelly water and promise to his dad to only go to the p...more
This is a very short book, around 85 pages, but that doesn't mean it is a light or easy read.
Two boys aged about twelve are friends trying to figure out how to spend a summer day together. Neither one of them is able to be honest with the other, or their parents, about what they want to do. This leads to resentment, dares, bravado and ultimately tragedy. It is in how the tragedy is handled rather than the tragedy itself, that gives the book its weight and complexity. I would imagine that this i...more
Lyn Tan
Nov 23, 2011 Lyn Tan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yan Shen, Lea Tan
Recommended to Lyn by: Siew Ee Foo
The part about the drowning and Joel's emotions was very boring and long-winded. I was actually quite tempted to stop reading it but I pushed on as the book won an award. The only good part was when Joel confessed. It was very touching and tears rolled down my cheeks when I read that part.

Also, the book was short and it was mainly about what Joel thought and what he felt, so the actual action was only a teeny part of the SHORT book. I mean, that's important too, but you don't have to go on and...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle Isenhoff
Joel didn’t want to ride out to Starved Rock Bluffs, let alone climb them, but Tony wouldn’t leave him alone. He talked his dad into giving him permission, hoping the whole time that he wouldn’t succeed. But his dad said yes, and the boys set off on their bikes, and Tony stopped at the bridge over the river. Tony went into the river. And Tony never came out.

Guilt is eating Joel alive. When his parents – and when Tony’s parents – start asking questions, Joel avoids them. But he can still smell th...more
Brayden Leach
On my honor is about two young boys, Joel and tony. It all starts on a day when Joel and tiny are home and trying to find something todo. Then tony decides they should go a climb some cliff that Ana fell off a dies from recently. Joel try's to persuade him by going swimming at the local pool. Instead tony tells Joel they'll go tomorrow and then they're off. Once they're on their way the stop at the vermilion rice and tony gets in. After he is in he pressures Joel into getting in with him. Then s...more
Love this book!!! I used to read it to every class!
Newbery Honor. Friendship and death.
Incredibly moving story. Read it in an hour. I picked it up as I was partway through another Newbery Honor, Audubon--long, boring, not surprisingly difficult to find in a nearby library. This really shows that sometimes a few carefully chosen words can be more powerful than hundreds of pages of explanation. I've read all the award winning Newberys at this point and a third of the honors, and it's a mystery to me how the books are evaluated. If anyone has insight into the process, I'd love to lea...more
I read this book aloud to a group of 4-8th graders. When we were done reading, everyone was absolutely quiet. This group had read 15 or so other books together and this was the only selection that evoked no verbal response from anyone in the group. I wanted to find out more of what the book meant to them so I asked them to write a paper about what honor means. The majority of the students could relate to the struggle between Joel and Tony.

Tony is a daredevil, attention and adventure seeking yout...more
On My Honor was pretty intense for me as a kid, but that's what made it so engaging for me.
I didn't really like this book cause it was too sad for me......
A really touching and heartbreaking story, but it was written very well and I enjoyed it. I expected it to be sad, but while reading it, I was really wanting and hoping that somehow Joel would find Tony and everything would be okay, but whether it happened the way I wanted it to or not, the story had a powerful message. I think "On my honor" is a deep message and one to reflect on before making any decisions. I really liked that aspect and I think it helps and encourages us to tell the truth and...more
May 01, 2014 Booknerdwatever rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My Worst Enemy
Not terrible, but not good. (view spoiler)

I only finished it so I can participate in the Battle of the Books school...more
Mar 04, 2010 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 4-8th grade readers
Recommended to Alison by: Skyler
Shelves: 2010, kids-and-ya, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Independent reading for 4th-6th grade

Bauer demands the interest of the reader by presenting a cover that details the pained expression on a young boys face as he holds his head in his hands with a river and trees looming in the background. She captures the reader’s attention in the very beginning with action and suspense through the main characters. There is a chronological fluency to the story as Joel expresses his emotion with his need to be accepted by his friend, but all the while remaining...more

Grades 4th -6th
Joel, age twelve, has reluctantly agreed to bike out to Staved Rock state park with his friend Tony. Joel promises his father,” On his honor”, that he will be careful. Tony has the idea that he wants to climb the dangerous bluffs once they get to the park. However, when they were about half way to Starved Rock and very tired of riding their bikes, the boys come across a bridge that crosses the Vermilion River and decide to take a swim. The water in the river is turbulent and full...more
Casey Brock
Reading level: 5-7. The story may be too graphic for some 5th graders. The story line is rather adult-related.

Bauer, again, doesn't have a lot of illustrations to work within the story. The cover clearly shows two boys riding their bikes. This is something that is done often in the story, and we will assume that it's Tony and Joel. The text in the story is rather easy to read and has a bold, bright appearance. The book is written as a chapter book, but the chapters are mostly less than 5-7 page...more
Tami Roberts
6th Grade and Up: Independent Reading

Marion Dane Bauer beautifully writes of a boy’s journey through a complex set of emotions following the death of his best friend, an event most children do not have to face during their childhood. I was moved by Bauer’s insight on Joel’s emotions, especially his feelings of anger; at times like this it is common for one to lash out in perverse ways like Joel does towards his brother. The book, although only 90 pages and a quick read, contains established sen...more
On My Honor
4 out of 5 stars

Bauer’s book touches on some very real issues. The text is the size of an adult book, but the high amount of dialogue helps the reader to gain interest. The author uses descriptive text, and her choice of words really help the reader to paint a clear picture. When talking about Tony getting into the water, Bauer uses the words plunged and thrashing to help the reader paint a mental picture of the struggling swimmer. The emotions it evokes, in my opinion, vary from re...more
Lisa Rathbun
Although this book is short and easy to read, I would not assign it to children without thinking carefully. The straightforward plot which only covers one day describes the accidental drowning of Joel's friend and his subsequent grief and fear.

It is too bad that though the book portrays the dynamics of the friendship between the boys, it does not show how to handle being pressured by a charismatic friend. Joel is quieter, more responsible, and more cautious and also feels more guilt about misbe...more
Winner of the 1987 Newbery Honor, On My Honor by Marion Bauer is a short and touching novel about a tragedy that could easily happen in any neighborhood. I appreciate how straightforward the story is, focusing almost exclusively on the events surrounding the drowning accident, along with the tragedy itself. At the same time, the story works on a deeper level, in that it explores how Joel comes to accept his part in his best friend’s death.

When one tells a story in less than one hundred pages, on...more
Jackie Pino
In the summer after sixth grade, best friends and neighbors Tony and Joel have gained more freedom. Tony takes this to the extreme, challenging his friend to go places and do things he knows he should not. When Tony stops to cool off in the river during a bike ride, Joel first cautions him of the dangers of the uncontrollable water, but eventually challenges his friend to a swimming competition. As Joel finishes the race, he realizes that Tony is nowhere in sight and struggles to find him in the...more
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Marion Dane Bauer is the author of more than eighty books for young people, ranging from novelty and picture books through early readers, both fiction and nonfiction, books on writing, and middle-grade and young-adult novels. She has won numerous awards, including several Minnesota Book Awards, a Jane Addams Peace Association Award for RAIN OF FIRE, an American Library Association Newbery Honor Aw...more
More about Marion Dane Bauer...
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