Thursday, October 15, 2009
Schooled by Gordan Korman
My 10-year-old son is a big Gordan Korman fan. I would guess he's read at least 20 of his books. According to my book jacket, he has written at least 50. This was my first time reading one of his books, and I was impressed. He writes very honestly, and I think deals with some intense topics, but keeps it appropriate for younger readers.
The characters in this book don't stray too far from their stereotypes, aside from the main character Cap Anderson. Cap and his grandma are the last two remaining residents of a commune founded in the 1960's. He has lead a sheltered life, and when his grandma is convalescing in the hospital, he is shoved into a modern day middle school.
This book reminded me of Stargirl. The stories are similar. While I liked Stargirl better, Schooled has a much happier, tidier ending. Each chapter is written in the first person by one of the characters. I think the technique works well, and provides good insight into the thoughts and motivations of each character. I still think Korman could have been a little more creative with his characters. They were so stereotypical, popular football player, outcast--on the chess team, no less, sidekick, popular girl, etc. But they were well developed.
The most insightful part comes when the popular boy (Zach) has now been outcast and is having a conversation with the boy (Hugh) he has tormented for years.
"My whole life, it's always been obvious what sports to play, what bands to listen to, what people to hang out with. It's as if I was born with a natural guidance systerm inside my head, showing mme how to be cool."....Instead of gloating, he actually seemed to understand. For Hugh Winkleman, the whole planet didn't come with a book of instructions.
Doesn't is seem like from a young age those kids who will be popular and cool seem to stand out? It's hard to explain, but I think Korman said it well.
I'm looking forward to reading more of Gordan Korman's books. Apparently I'll have plenty of choices!