I can’t wait to share Schooled (Scholastic 2007) when I get back to school later this month. Gordon Korman takes on bullies, hippies, and irresponsible parents in a story that had me laughing all the way through. The shifting points of view–six major characters and a couple of minor ones share their perspective on the events–have distinctive voices. Here are the main players:
- Capricorn Anderson has never seen a television, talked on a cell phone or played a video game. He has lived his entire life with Rain, his grandmother, on a hippie commune called Garland Farm. When Rain falls out of a tree and breaks her hip, he is thrown into the vicious social jungle known as middle school. Not knowing any better, he takes on every challenge thrown at him with seriousness, down to learning the names of all 1100 students at school.
- Mrs. Donnelly has a secret–she lived for six years at Garland Farm as a child. She still remembers the shock of entering the real world and takes Cap into her home.
- Sophie Donnelly is sixteen and outraged that her mother would bring home a tie-dyed hippie freak to live with them. It is bound to ruin her social life even more than the broken promises from her absent father.
- Zach Powers is the rightful lord and king of C Average Middle School as he enters his eighth grade year. Captain of both the football and soccer teams, he leads his friends in the tradition of selecting the biggest loser for the job of eighth grade president. He is furious when his plan to nominate and humilate Cap backfires.
- Hugh Winkleman is more thankful than anyone that Cap showed up before the election. If not for Cap, he would be the 8th grade president for sure. Now that Cap is in the spotlight, Hugh can enjoy school without the treath of spitballs and wedgies.
- Naomi Erlanger has a crush on Zach, and is more than willing to contribute to Cap’s humiliation. But as Cap remains undisturbed–and clueless–to their bullying, she can’t help but be drawn to his innocence and naivete. Which boy will win her heart in the end?
That’s just the beginning of this incredible story. Throw in a hijacked school bus, bounced checks, and a couple of funerals to round out the story. Don’t forget the tie-dye lessons in the art room or the sing-alongs in the music wing. Fans of Korman’s No More Dead Dogs will definitely enjoy this visit to middle school just as much. Just to make you want more, Here are the opening lines from Capricorn Anderson:
I was thirteen the first time I saw a police officer up close. He was arresting me for driving without a license. At the time, I didnt’ even know what a license was. I wasn’t too clear on what being arrested meant either.
I can guarantee you that no one at C Average Middle School will ever be the same.