Sunday, March 30, 2008

Schooled by Gordon Korman

Back in November Michelle posted the Texas Lone Star Reading List. This book just came into my library, and since Korman will be at TLA next month, I thought I better know more of his work than Born to Rock.

Thirteen year old Capricorn Anderson grew up on a psychedelic hippie commune with his grandma, Rain. Once upon a time Garland Farms was a happening place, but now Cap and Rain are its only residents. No tv, no radio, no phone. They grow their own food and fix everything with duct tape. Rain homeschools Cap and does a pretty great job of it according to the state testers. One day Rain falls from a tree and Cap is arrested for driving when he tries to take her to, gasp!, the hospital. Rain is out of commission for 6 weeks and Cap is handed over to a social worker who just happened to have spent part of her youth at Garland Farms before her parents decided that they do rather like modern conveniences and money. Those 5 years scarred our Mrs. Donnelly as she knows only too well the painful awakening Cap is about to have as he leaves his utopia for hell - aka C(l)average Middle School.

Cap's arrival immediately marks him the biggest dork on campus resulting in spit balls, teasing, and other torments like being given directions to non-existent rooms. Because of his pacifist upbringing, he takes it all in stride never striking out or blowing up. Much of this is due to his naivete regarding the "world out there", but the rest is his personal Beatles-inspired philosophy that "all you need is love".

Cap is a great character. I appreciated how Korman (who tells the story through the different voices of the main characters) kept Cap true to himself while the other supporting characters changed, not only in their views of Cap, but in the way that they treat others and live their lives in general. Right on, dude. I did have trouble with the whole commune/nonviolence = 60's hippies and that Cap was seen as something from the past. It marked that sort of philosophy as sqarely hippie-dippy when it could have had a more contemporary alternative lifestyle background. Also, what Rain does at the end completely came out of the blue for me. That didn't sit well, either.

All-in-all it's a super fun book aimed at middle grade readers. Korman nails his well-earned status as a go-to humor guy and the appeal for this book should reach both boys and girls.


Kerry said...

I liked this book a lot. I've always been partial to Korman ever since his MacDonald Hall book days...and if ever get a chance, hunt up an out of print copy of "I Want To Go Home." You'll bust a gut laughing.

joanna said...

I forgot to mention that I read part of this book to Sam one night when he demanded I read it to him. It was the football chapter. Anyway, Greg heard it and when I finished the book HE read it.

Patti said...

I love that Greg read it. I should really read this. I love Gordon Korman - he's just so funny.