by Gordon Korman

by Gordon Korman

Capricorn (Cap) is being thrown to the sharks.  Not literally, but almost!  He is going to school for the first time ever as an eighth grader. He does not know what a television is, doesn’t know why he has a locker, and why he can’t legally drive.  Cap has been home schooled by his grandmother who has somehow managed to stay permanently lodged in the sixties.  She has taught him the philosophies of freedom and a hatred of capitalism and government but she neglected to teach him the skills that will help him survive eighth grade; how to detect spitballs, and know when someone is playing him for a fool.

 

 

 

    I enjoyed this book.  I was rooting for Capricorn as he endured the pressures of a new situation.  In fact I was more concerned about the situations than Cap was.  He did not even know enough to worried or upset about the situations.  Most of the characters were believable except the principal.  The principal was more of a fool than any principal I have ever encountered.  What principal gives signed checks to an eight grader even if he has to be out of town?  Another very unbelievable plot problem revolved around everyone being invited to tie dye their clothing with the 8th grade president.  It is a BIG school.  The art room would not hold all the students at one time.  If you have ever been in a real school the glaring “wrongness” of it does not sit right.  Even though I had to gloss over this part of the plot I was impressed with fellow outsider Hugh Winkleman.  At first he appreciated Cap for helping him to move up the ladder of social status.  Finally, he is not the student picked on the most.  Hugh is able to sit through lunch without getting hit by spitballs.  Later, he realizes he likes Cap for who he is and still appreciates that he is not being pestered as much this year.  When Cap becomes a school hero Hugh teams up with the bully but Hugh’s motive is to help Cap. 

            This book is told through each of the main character’s voices.  Each chapter title is a person’s name and the chapter is told through their point of view.  I think middle school students will find it funny and enlightening.  The realities of wedgies and spitballs will resonant with most readers while they are given some general insights into the reasons some students bully others.    

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