The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

May 23, 2008

Book review: Get ‘Schooled’ in a summer of great books

I have had two incarnations as a children’s or youth services librarian in my career. It is where my heart lies. Just because that is not what I do now does not mean I have left the books behind.

This group of books just happens to all revolve around eighth-graders. So, with the Joplin Public Library summer reading programs — children’s, teen and adult — starting on Tuesday, check out what I’ve been reading and join us for a summer of great books, programs and fun for all ages.


By Gordon Korman

Imagine never having watched TV, tasted pizza, or attending a school activity. This is Capricorn (Cap, for short) Anderson’s world, until one day when his hippie grandmother, Rain, breaks her hip while picking plums on their commune. While Rain is recuperating, Cap goes to live with a social worker and her daughter. Suddenly at 13, Cap is no longer being home-schooled, but finds himself thrown into eighth grade in the local public school.

The story is written in alternating chapters by Cap, his social worker, her daughter and a few classmates. Korman does an excellent job showing each character’s emotions and how he or she deals with this unusual situation and how each of the main characters grows, adapts and changes, not only themselves, but each to other.

‘Toby Wheeler, Eighth-Grade Benchwarmer’

By Thatcher Heldring

In Heldring’s debut novel, Toby Wheeler is known as a “gym rat.” He plays pick-up basketball at the local gym on a very regular basis but he has never played for the school team. One day he is challenged on his abilities to play and finds himself agreeing to play for his eighth-grade team.

Toby fully expects to be a starter and is floored when the new coach makes him the 12th man on the team, which essentially means he’s sitting on the bench and will only see any playing time if the team is already so far ahead they can’t lose.

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