Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Latest Favorite Book

I read--a lot. I mostly read children's books, as you can see by looking at the Shelfari bookshelf here on my blog that shows all the books I've read since the beginning of 2009. I especially like YA books. Those are Young Adult books, intended for kids from about fifth grade through high school.

I don't expect to write many book reviews on my blog, as there are plenty of other people who do that. But I read a book last week that was so good that I can't stop talking about it. It's the kind of book I want to write.

Gordon Korman (pictured below) has been writing YA books for a long time. He knows kids, and he knows writing.

Korman's SCHOOLED has captured my heart.

Here's the basic plot: Thirteen-year-old Cap lives on a communal farm established by his grandmother and other hippies in 1967. Over time, members of the commune have moved away, and now Cap and his grandmother live on the farm by themselves. When his grandmother is hospitalized and then goes through rehab, a social worker takes Cap home with her and enrolls him in the local middle school. He is the strangest person the kids there have ever known. They, of course, being middle schoolers, proceed to harass him because he is different.

I won't tell you more than that, but it is a beautiful, believable story. Maybe I love it because Cap spouts hippie philosophy and it reminds me of those days when I was young. Or maybe I love it because I spent so much of my teaching career surrounded by middle schoolers, and although I love kids that age, I have to say that middle schools have to be among the most cruel places on the planet. Young teens, even as vulnerable and loving as they can be, can also be merciless. Or maybe I love it because Cap is so naive, sort of a noble savage character. But mostly, I think I love it because it is a story of how people, and especially kids, can influence each other in positive ways.
A writer less skillful than Korman probably couldn't write this story. He writes from multiple points of view, and he makes us understand all of the characters, whether male or female, kid or adult. The story is funny, heartbreaking, touching, and inspiring. He did everything RIGHT.

Go ahead. Read a book intended for kids. You can finish it in a day, and you'll love it.

As for me, I'm adding a bunch of Gordon Korman's more recent books to my "Big Fat Reading List," the books I want to read soon. I want to see what other magic he's created, and I want to see what I can learn from him.


drlobojo said...

As per the conversation of probable connotation and slang ( or rap) meanings circa 2005:

schooled: Taught a lesson (the hard way), to lose humiliating.

eg: ...that fool got schooled good... I've done been schooled and it don't feel so good... you've been schooled by a freshman dude!...

Joan said...

I read this book to my 6th graders in the Spring. They enjoyed and I liked it enough to decide I will read it again to my new class.

Jeanie said...

Rachel and Anna had read Schooled and highly recommended it too. I just finished it -- and agree with the three of you. It was great!

Admiralboom said...

I remember reading Gordon Korman! He is up there along with Robert Cormier. I am going to have to check this out, thanks!