BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Schooled by Gordon Korman

SchooledEver since the fabulous audible version of No More Dead Dogs kept my then-backseated young ‘uns highly entertained through many a traffic jam, Gordon Korman holds special favor on the contraptions that have taken over their now-teenage ears. [Pop, by the way, earned a double rave.] Oldster me is still laughing along (hey, these YA titles keep me young!) and especially appreciative of the full-cast productions that keep the running miles passing smoothly by.

Cap Anderson is just 13 when he’s arrested for driving without a license (even though he’s been at the wheel since he was 8), trying to get his grandmother Rain to the hospital. He’s eventually un-cuffed when the police officer realizes Cap’s not an unlawful teen, he’s just not your average kid. Cap’s spent his whole life on “an alternative farm commune” with Rain as his guardian/protector/teacher who’s homeschooled him “to avoid the low standards and cultural poison of a world that had lost its way.”

Now with Rain in the hospital with a broken hip, Cap gets thrust out in that “lost” world with no preparation. ‘Wide-eyed and innocent’ barely begins to describe young Cap who knows nothing of the “cultural poison” he’s about to experience. He lands in the home of a social worker and her angry-at-the-world high school daughter Sophie who has no qualms about letting Cap know he’s anything but welcome. Hardly home sweet home!

At Claverage Middle School (otherwise known as C Average Middle School after top bully Zach Powers pulls off a letter from the school sign), Cap quickly becomes the object of curious disdain. One by one, Korman shifts the narrative to give each of Cap’s new classmates a chance to share their reactions to the new kid. From the wannabe popular girl to the bottom-of-the-social-rung nerd to a football player who can’t seem to stop decking Cap (by mistake!), Cap’s brave new world turns upside down and all shook up. His classmates, of course, are in for some major surprises, too.

Korman effortlessly voices the worried parent, the proud principal, and the nastiest villain, to create a diverse community slowly coming to terms with unexpected difference. Cap’s otherworldly upbringing leads to moments of heartbreak and comedy, confusion and insight. Korman takes great care not to present Cap as some avenging angel against all things electronic and corporate, and instead imbues him (and his classmates) with unpredictable layers of complicated adolescence …

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2007


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