Monday, February 14, 2011

Schooled by Gordon Korman

Book Jacket

Capricorn (Cap) Anderson has never watched television.  He's never tasted a pizza.  Never even heard of a wedgie.  Since he was little, his only experience has been living on farm commune and being homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Rain.

But when Rain falls out of a tree while picking plums and has to stay in the hospital, Cap is forced to move in with a guidance counselor and her cranky teen daughter and attend the local middle school.  While Cap knows a lot about tie-dyeing and Zen Buddhism, no education could prepare him for the politics of public school.

Right from the beginning, Cap's weirdness makes him a moving target at Claverage Middle School (dubbed C Average by the students).  He has long, ungroomed hair; wears hemp clothes; and practices tai chi out on the lawn.  Once Zach Powers, big man on campus, spots Cap, he can't wait to introduce him to the age-old tradition at C Average: the biggest nerd is nominated for class president...and wins.

Will Cap turn out to be the greatest president in the history of C Average?  Or the biggest punch line?


Korman's story about a hippie boy who knows almost nothing about the "real world" was surprisingly touching.  One student's honest kindness subtly infiltrates a typically cruel middle school, even though most of that school is actively antagonizing him.  Cap is truly a one of a kind kid, and I would totally want to hang out with him in real life.  The fact that he doesn't even understand teasing or pranks is just such a nice breath of fresh air.  Obviously the rest of the characters in the book agree with me.  Eventually.

My favorite thing about Schooled is the fact that there are multiple narrators, each one named at the beginning of the chapter.  It was incredibly helpful to see Cap's experience from both his point of view and from the other students'.  The switches made it clear that yes, Cap would be an incredibly strange addition to any school, while at the same time showing why Cap does the things he does.

I also loved the fact that the school's requisite nerd is just as awful as the school's requisite jock.  Nice equality.  Of course, even they can't resist the lure of Capricorn Anderson forever.

Four out of five bangled bracelets.

Release Date:  July 2007
Reading Level:  Grade 4+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  CAUDILL

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