Rummanah Aasi
  I don't understand where we got the notion of conformity. Have we been unconsciously taught that being different is harmful, funny, scary, or all of the above from society or it just plain old human nature? What deters us from stepping outside of the norm? And who determines what's normal and more importantly, who defines what is normal? These insightful questions are asked in Gordon Korman's smart, funny, and poignant novel Schooled.

Description: Capricorn "Cap" Anderson is raised and home schooled by his hippie grandmother, Rain. When Rain falls from a tree trying to pick plums from their 'alternate farm commune', Cap is forced to attend a public school for the first time. Smart, insightful, innocent and inexperienced Cap is the target of pranks and the butt of jokes in the middle school. Will Cap survive his new school or will he take an extensive leave of absence like others before him?

Review: I really liked Schooled right from the first page. Each chapter is told from a different first person narrative that shifts among the main characters: Cap, Mrs. Donnelly a social worker (who takes him into her home), Sophie (Mrs. Donnelly's daughter who resents his presence there), an A-list bully, a Z-list victim, a popular girl, the school principal, and a football player. Korman capably manages to seamlessly shifts the points of view of characters without confusing the reader and shows how those who begin by scorning or resenting Cap actually end up on Cap's side. The book has lots of memorable moments of comedy, tenderness, and reflection. A great children's book that not only discusses bullying, but also the stifling effects of conformity within a school's culture.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: Nothing.

If you like this book, try: Stargirl and Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
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