A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{June 24, 2012}   Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Plot: Donovan doesn’t mean to cause trouble but he can’t help it. He can’t resist that one perfect moment of chaos before the inevitable consequences. But this time he has gone too far. One of his reckless impulses has destroyed the school gym and disrupted an important game; he risks expulsion and fines that his family can’t afford. Instead, because of a clerical error, he gets sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction. It is clear to everyone, Donovan included, that he isn’t gifted but it is his one chance to escape the consequences of his actions.

This review is based on an ARC received at BEA 2012.

A Gordon Korman book rarely disappoints and this one is no exception. I cannot wait to share Ungifted with the kids at my library; it’s going to be very popular. I was laughing by page two and I never really stopped. The image of Donovan spitting back at a llama shall never leave me. ^_^

It’s impossible to dislike Donovan: he’s undoubtably trouble but he’s so much fun, as the Academy kids soon discover. Though he is ungifted, he brings some much-needed chaos into their lives. And they change him as well: he comes to appreciate these kids who were little more than nerds to him before and the things they are passionate about. The Academy kids are a pleasure to read about too. They are all smart but they are very different: Chloe is gifted but desperate to live a normal life; Noah is a genius who just wants to be surprised, to be wrong about something; and Abigail accepts nothing less than perfection.

The adults have much less interesting narrations; they are simply not as funny as the kids. We laugh at them not with them. The one exception is Donovan’s pregnant sister Katie who becomes the Academy’s Human Growth and Development (i.e. sex ed) project. Still, this doesn’t detract from the sheer fun of the novel.

There are pranks, robots, hilarious trips to the OB-GYN and surprises enough to make even Noah happy. A very satisfying read, perfect for middle grade readers.

2012 (#63)


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