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Ethan Marcus Stands Up

Ethan Marcus Stands Up
Now Available!

Twelve-year old Ethan Marcus snaps one day while sitting in Language Arts. He's always been a high-energy kid, not ADHD, but he has something his dad calls ESD—Ethan Squiggle Disease. He stands up in class and announces he's doing a "protest" about how long kids have to sit in school, which doesn't go over so well with stodgy, rule-oriented Mr. Delman.


A scoma is what I call that semi-conscious, numb, bleary condition we're all sadly familiar with that occurs only during school hours. It's an epidemic, but no one talks about it.

"I've totaled up how long I sit at a desk, and it's about seven hours. It's not so bad at first, in the morning. But later in the day, my feet and legs fall asleep, my brain shuts down, and my butt hurts so bad, I swear when I get home, it's square-shaped. So when I'm not a Ping Pong ball, I'm Sponge Bob.

"Monday in Mr. Delman's class, it was the perfect storm. We sit in rows—he told us on the first day that he's a 'row kind of guy'—and that makes it worse. All you're looking at is the kid's head in front of you, and no amount of interesting hair can keep you from scomatizing.


After his protest, Ethan is required to serve two days of "Reflection," McNutt Jr. High's answer to detention, and the faculty advisor, Ms. Gilardi, suggests he channel his energy into the school's Invention Day competition. Ethan resists—he's never been a maker/inventor type kid. That's his sister Erin's department. But inspiration from a beloved picture book, The Carrot Seed, gives him the courage to try.

Erin and her best friend Zoe are hard at work on their Invention Day project but keep failing. Ethan recruits his friend Brian then they ask for help from Marlon Romanov, Erin's arch enemy and the tech genius who won last year's Invention Day. This creates a huge rift between brother and sister, and their contentious relationship reaches an all-time low. It looks like nothing's going right for anyone, until unexpected events turn everything around.

Told from the perspectives of five different seventh graders—Ethan, Brian, Erin, Zoe, and a mysterious tough kid named Wesley Pinto—Ethan Marcus Stands Up is a funny and honest portrayal of how the labels we have serve to define us, but also can challenge us to step out of our comfort zone and make things happen in a totally different way.

Check out the discussion questions

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  • Nominated for Florida's 2019-2020 Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) for grades 6-8
  • 2018 Illinois Reads selection, grades 6-8 division (Illinois Reading Council)


"Readers with siblings will appreciate this story about rivalry (and) will easily pick up on the relevant life lessons peppered throughout."
   —School Library Journal

"Hurwitz takes a perceptive look at a preteen's new awareness of the role he's been playing and the possibility for changing it. The shifting narration is smartly effective at giving insight into the friction between brother and sister, and the point that you can't externally see what drives people is a helpful nudge to empathy. Taking conceptual exploration into the emotional intelligence range, this could be a thoughtful next step for readers of Andrew Clements."
   —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think motivated Ethan to do Invention Day?
  2. Do you agree with Ethan's feeling that Wesley was the one who wrote the secret note Ethan found in his locker? If you were Ethan, would you have asked Wesley about the note?
  3. In Chapter 21, do you think Brian was telling the truth, or did he really miss the catch on purpose, even though he said he didn't?
  4. What do you think is going on with Marlon?
  5. In Chapter 22, what does Ms. Gilardi mean when she tells Wesley about the seagulls choosing to leave the water and go inland? What is she trying to say?
  6. In Chapter 24, why do you think Erin told Ethan, "Of course I was right about you." Why do you think she said it in Spanish? Were you surprised Wesley offered to translate?
  7. Could you make a desk-evator? How would you make it?
  8. Were you surprised at what happened during Invention Day, with Erin and Zoe, and Ethan and Brian?
  9. Have you ever stood up for a cause you believed in, even if no one else was standing up with you?
  10. If you could invent anything, what would it be?

Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, hardcover, September 2017
Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, paperback, November 2018

Ethan Marcus Stands Up poster    Fanmail
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Ethan Marcus Stands Up
A classroom with flexible seating!

After a Florida teacher's book club read Ethan Marcus Stands Up, the students got inspired and asked for flexible seating in their classroom. The teacher did a fundraiser and was able to purchase a variety of standing, sitting, and floor options for her room. She says the new seating has completely changed the feel of the classroom and the way students learn. Here's what the students had to say:

"I can finally sit on the floor with no judgment."
"I really love that I can choose where and how to sit."
"I love how we can go to something new each day. It makes the classroom more fun and creative."
"It's fun, but it is also good and helpful for the different people who either like to sit, stand, or jump!"