About Average

Common Sense Media says

Inspiring story of sixth grader solving her bully problem.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Although About Average is a school story that touches on the sixth-grade curriculum, and some of Jordan's favorite book titles are mentioned, the book's greater educational value lies in the example of Jordan's analytical thinking and problem-solving skills and the way she applies them to her own situation.

Positive messages

The fact that Jordan figures out how to successfully resolve her problem by changing her own behavior is an example of what author Andrew Clements does best: give his protagonists -- and young readers -- the tools to solve their own problems, starting with analyzing themselves and the people around them and finishing with putting a solid plan into action. As always, both the planning and the execution produce positive results for the protagonist. Jordan also discovers that there's nothing wrong with being average, and there are different ways to define success. Editor's Note: Although Jordan does a great job of solving her problem herself, we always recommend that kids report bullying situations to a trusted adult.

Positive role models

Jordan is a very resourceful and self-aware girl. She not only comes up with her own successful method of dealing with her tormenter by responding with "industrial-strength niceness," but she also realizes that what she hates most about the teasing is her own angry response. Her friends are supportive and understanding.

Violence & scariness

Jordan fantasizes about whipping out a vaporizer and blasting her nemesis, but she instantly feels bad for having violent thoughts.

Language

Jordan's nemesis, Marlea, calls her a "total loser" at one point.

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.

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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

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
Number of pages:128
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 17
Read aloud:8 - 17
Read alone:8 - 17
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of About Average was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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