October 4 – 10
Have you ever felt like you just didn't belong? Cap Anderson has never felt that in his whole life! That is, until he is made to go to a regular middle school when his grandmother has to go into the hospital. Cap grew up on a farming commune where, back in the 60s, several people stayed and lived in an alternative lifestyle without all the distractions of mainstream society. Which means when he shows up to his new school, there is an instant target put on his back by the most popular guy in school (who also doubles as a bully). Can Cap overcome the pranks pulled by his peers?
Korman, G. (2007). Schooled. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.
Young teens everywhere will love Cap. I think the idea that he has lived on a farm commune his whole life is something that blows most teens away. When I brought up the book at a teen meeting at my library, they all looked at me in shock. It was almost like they were saying, "Who could live without cell phones and tv?" Regardless of where he came from, though, this is another story of fitting in when you're really different. I think it's great that Cap tries to understand his new classmates and how they live and even takes to liking some of it, but above all stays true to who he really is and what he believes. It was very entertaining to see how everyone's lives were effected Cap's presidency and how they all came to depend on him.
From Kirkus Reviews:
Thirteen-year-old Capricorn 'Cap' Anderson has only left the Garland Farm Commune (founded 1967) with his grandmother ('Rain') a few times for supplies. He doesn't know what TV is like, and he's never held money in his hand. When Rain falls from a plum tree and has to spend two months in the hospital, Cap gets his first real taste of the confusing, 'real' world of 2007. Fortunately, his caseworker Mrs. Donnelly spent a few of her childhood years at Garland, and she knows what he's in for. Unfortunately, there's this tradition at Claverage (C-average) Middle School in which the eighth-grade class elects the strangest kid and biggest nerd to be Class President. They don't come any stranger than Cap, and Zach Powers and his clique do their level best to make Cap's life hell. Claverage gets a taste of peace, love and understanding it won't soon forget. Korman's novel narrated by the good, the bad and the only slightly involved is his usual smart, funny, slightly skewed realism. Tweens will definitely identify and could view their grandparents in a whole new light. (Fiction. 9-14). 224pg. VNU EMEDIA, c2007.
[Book Review of Schooled]. (2007 July 15). Kirkus Reviews, pp 730
Gr. 6-9. Homeschooled on an isolated 'alternate farm commune' that has dwindled since the 1960s to 2 members, 13-year-old Cap has always lived with his grandmother, Rain. When she is hospitalized, Cap is taken in by a social worker and sent--like a lamb to slaughter--to middle school. Smart and capable, innocent and inexperienced (he learned to drive on the farm, but he has never watched television), long-haired Cap soon becomes the butt of pranks. He reacts in unexpected ways and, in the end, elevates those around him to higher ground. From chapter to chapter, the first-person narrative shifts among certain characters: Cap, a social worker (who takes him into her home), her daughter (who resents his presence there), an A-list bully, a Z-list victim, a popular girl, the school principal, and a football player (who unintentionally decks Cap twice in one day). Korman capably manages the shifting points of view of characters who begin by scorning or resenting Cap and end up on his side. From the eye-catching jacket art to the scene in which Cap says good-bye to his 1,100 fellow students, individually and by name, this rewarding novel features an engaging main character and some memorable moments of comedy, tenderness, and reflection. Pair this with Jerry Spinelli's 2000 Stargirl (the sequel is reviewed in this issue) for a discussion of the stifling effects of conformity within school culture or just read it for the fun of it. Carolyn Phelan. 224pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2007.
[Book Review of Schooled]. (2007 August 1). Booklist, pp 0071.
From VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates Magazine):
Grade. M. Popularity. 4P. Capricorn Anderson is different from other thirteen-year-olds. He has never watched television, never heard of a Starbucks, and never attended a public school, but he knows how to drive a car. Cap and his hippie grandmother Rain's lifestyle is reminiscent of a 1960s farm commune. Rain is Cap's only family, friend, and teacher until a tragic accident lands Rain in the hospital, forcing Cap to live with strangers. Before Cap can blink, he is enrolled at Claverage Middle School with students who make him a target for their ridicule. Cap's strange appearance and naive ways encourage students to nominate him for class president, which at this school is not an honor or sign of popularity but instead an age-old joke. The in crowd sets out to ensure that Cap fails at every endeavor, especially the Halloween dance, but the joke is on them. Students stop laughing at him and begin revering Cap because of his pure heart and immeasurable patience. Before long, the roles are reversed, but Cap is no longer there to witness the change in his peers. Korman creates an intricate novel in which goodness and strength of character prevail over the shortsightedness of others. Readers are reminded that the underdog can win without conforming to the constraints of society. Through chapters that alternate characters' points of view, readers gain insight into the turmoil that each person is experiencing as Cap influences their lives. Teens will relate to these characters whether it is the jock, the nerd, or the outcast.-Laura Panter. 224pg. VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES, c2007.
Panter, L. (2007 October). [Review of Schooled]. VOYA, pp 332.
Library Setting Uses:
This would make a fun summer program: have a tie-dying party for the teens! There are several safe tie-dying kits and paints available now, so you wouldn't have to worry about boiling the water and the liability of doing that with several teens around. Everyone should get to do at least one object (shirt, bandana, book tote, etc.) that they bring from home, then if there are enough leftover supplies allow for other stuff to be dyed. Then while the objects are drying out, have a popsicle party or fun (and safe) outdoor games to play until the objects are safe to touch without tie-dying your hands!
make tie-dye shirts, bandannas, or book bags