Saturday, June 4, 2011

Schooled

I've read hundreds of young adult books over the years, but usually just donate them to whatever school I am working at when I read them. Now that I am attending graduate school in the US, I want to be able to lend books out to my own students. My personal YA library is pretty puny at 21 books. I am trying to add to my collection as cheaply as possible, so was thrilled when I found a new copy of Schooled in our library sale section. This is my first Gordon Korman novel and I enjoyed every page.

Written from the perspectives of multiple characters, Schooled tells what happens when Capricorn, a hippie raised by his grandmother in a commune of two, is suddenly thrust into a modern middle school. All of the expected bullying and adjustment misunderstandings occur, but they never feel trite or condescending. This is all due to the excellent characterization of Capricorn. He is the heart of the novel and quickly becomes the heart of the school. I love that his innocence and kindness never wavers, even when people are being cruel to him.

"Assume Goodwill" was a buzz phrase among the staff at my former school. I am now realizing that we should have made more effort to say it to students as well. What could be a more important lesson for middle schoolers who are learning how to communicate maturely? Schooled would be a great book for the entire community to read and discuss. I would love to talk in small groups about how Cap persevered, what students think of the somewhat strange ending, and how this applies to their lives. On a less formal level, I will be recommending it to any student who loved Stargirl. I am so happy to have this book in my little library.

2 comments:

  1. Hey! I was just going to say that your description of Capricorn reminded me a ton of Stargirl (maybe the best character ever) and then I read the second to last line of your review! They must really have a lot in common :)

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  2. I also agree that it is a good book to pair up with Stargirl. We often say "Assume good will" among staff at our school too, and I loved how you talked about the merits of expressing this with students as well. Good luck with grad school in the US.

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