Here I am in Toronto for the International Reading Association conference. Before doing a session yesterday with my esteemed colleagues Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, I hit a few of the publisher booths to see what new ARCs could be had. I grabbed a copy of the new Gordon Korman book, SCHOOLED, from Scottie and Angus at the Hyperion booth. Read it this afternoon between my last session and dinner tonight with the lovely folks from Random House. This is vintage Korman and a perfect middle level book. Cap (short for Capricorn) Anderson has lived on a commune with his grandmother Rain up to the day when she falls out of a tree while picking plums. For the first time in his life, Cap attends a public school. The chief bully decides to run Cap for 8th grade class president. It is a tradition at Claverage Middle School (which is called C Average Middle School by its residents) to take the most hapless kid and make him president so that he has not a clue about what to do. Cap, however, might be clueless about how tings work in the "real" world, but his heart is in the right place. He strives to be the best class president ever.
This is classic Korman fare: school, social eschelons, absent adults, and mischief and mayhem. At the heart of this funny novel, though, is a lot of heart. The humor is never mean spirited; injury is not permanent. Cap manages to make his way into those hearts, the hearts of some rather jaded middle school kids. For those who love Korman, this will be a rewarding read. For kids who have not yet met this author in the pages of NO MORE DEAD DOGS, they will find an author who knows how it really is and how it might be.