by Gordon Korman
Balzer + Bray, 2012
Contemporary Middle Grade Fiction
Reviewed from purchased copy.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The word "gifted" has
never been applied to a kid like Donovan Curtis. It's usually more like
"Don't try this at home." So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank
at his middle school, he thinks he's finally gone too far. But thanks to
a mix-up by one of the administrators, instead of getting in trouble,
Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction (ASD), a
special program for gifted and talented students.
exactly what Donovan had intended, but there couldn't be a more perfect
hideout for someone like him. That is, if he can manage to fool people
whose IQs are above genius level. And that becomes harder and harder as
the students and teachers of ASD grow to realize that Donovan may not be
good at math or science (or just about anything). But after an ongoing
experiment with a live human (sister), an unforgettably dramatic
middle-school dance, and the most astonishing come-from-behind robot
victory ever, Donovan shows that his "gifts" might be exactly what the
ASD students never knew they needed.
I found this book to be both amusing and touching, quite a feat for a middle grade book. Donovan is a very likeable kid who has a tendency to act first and think later, which gets him into trouble in the very first chapter. He follows one of his strange brainstorms and ends up in the district superintendent's office in major trouble. But thanks to a paperwork mishap he instead ends up at the school for gifted students. He and his classmates as well as the teachers quickly realize that while he has talents, they are not the academic type.
It was interesting though to read about the effect Donovan's presence had on the other characters and on himself. Donovan rubs off on his fellow students and they rub off on him. Despite Donovan's lack of brilliance academically, he adds his own touch to the robot some of the students in science are building. Surprisingly, his video game skills come in handy. Korman does a great job of creating memorable characters with some depth, they seem very real with real strengths and weaknesses. For me that makes all the difference in the world. I think theme-wise, Korman admirable demonstrates that while not all students have academic talents, everyone has something to add to the school environment. I recommend this to all looking for a good read, not only entertainment but lots of food for thought as well.