Friday, February 12, 2010
Schooled: Gordon Korman
I picked up Schooled at my friend’s house while babysitting because it had a bright and interesting cover. A short, young reader novel, Schooled is a modern story of Tarzan for middle schoolers. Capricorn Anderson grew up on a hippie commune with his grandmother, Rain. When Rain takes a fall and is put in the hospital for six weeks, Cap is forced to lived in a suburban home and attend public school as an eighth grader.
The Tarzan parallels are pretty obvious; like Tarzan, Capricorn is taken out of his home habitat and thrust into a totally foreign culture and treated like a freak. In the name of tradition, Capricorn is nominated the eighth grade class president because his peers assume he will make a fool of himself since he is such a total loser. He wears tie dye and has a long mop of blond hair. He practices Tai Chi on the school’s front lawn before class starts. And he’s a total hippie with no contemporary references. Cap doesn’t even realize how different he is. Nor does he understand that being different is the kiss of death in eighth grade.
Of course it wouldn’t be a young reader novel if there wasn’t a really obvious moral. The moral here is that being different can be good. Cap takes on the responsibility of being class president and unites the entire middle school. His reign is not without mistakes, but ultimately, everyone learns an important lesson and they all live happily ever after.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. Yes, it’s trite, but it’s a sweet kind of trite. And the characters are really enjoyable. Everyone, at some point in their life, has felt as alien as Capricorn in a public school, but we survive. We make our own way and create our own niche, which is a crucial piece of information for middle school readers.