A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that About Average, by bestselling children's author Andrew Clements (Frindle), deals with bullying -- specifically mean-spirited verbal teasing. Protagonist Jordan's school has an anti-bullying policy, and she knows that when a classmate reported physical bullying to the authorities it turned out well, but she decides to handle this problem herself, and the solution she comes up with is positive and self-affirming. Editor's Note: Although Jordan does a great job of solving her problem on her own initiative, we always recommend that kids report bullying situations to a trusted adult.
What's the story?
Over the course of one very hot and humid day in Illinois, we meet Jordan during her last week of sixth grade. Thoughout the school year, Jordan has tried to prove that she's special, but she's come to the unhappy conclusion that she's just "about average." When she tries to think of what she's really good at, she can only cite babysitting and gardening. Being teased by \"Cuteness Club\" member Marlea only exacerbates Jordan's insecurity, until she comes up with a plan that just might stop Marlea. In the process of executing her plan, Jordan discovers new things about herself and increases her self-confidence. Jordan's story is interspersed with short chapters that focus on the local weather man's observations of changing clouds, which ultimately tie into Jordan's discovery that there's nothing wrong with being average, and there are different ways to define success.
Is it any good?
Once again, author Andrew Clements offers a comforting, feel-good story about a preteen who faces a problem and figures out how to solve it herself. Although ABOUT AVERAGE doesn't break new ground, it achieves its aim of offering a positive example of a girl who doesn't fit the typical profile of success and yet manages to accomplish quite a bit.
For the attentive reader, About Average will provide food for thought about how we sometimes give others the power to change how we feel about ourselves, and how it's possible to change that through our own efforts and by staying true to ourselves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Jordan's lists of "Things I'm Good At," "Things I'm Okay At," and "Things I Stink At." Name one thing you would put on each list for yourself.
Has anyone has ever teased you about something? How did you handle it?
Have you ever had to respond in an emergency situation like Jordan did? What kind of emergency was it? What did you do?
- Author: Andrew Clements
- Illustrator: Mark Elliott
- Genre: School
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Atheneum
- Publication date: July 24, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 17
- Number of pages: 128
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 17, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love strong female characters
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