A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dan Gutman's popular My Weird School series is full of light, funny jokes about classmates, teachers, and the principal. Readers can see how the adults in the series behave in sneaky ways to trick the kids into doing more schoolwork, which is fun to watch unfold. That said, there's a consistent message that boys and "boy stuff" like sports are cool and that girls and "nerdy stuff" like being good at school are not. In several of the books, A.J. learns that school is important and can be fun, but the series reinforces some unfortunate gender stereotypes. When the teacher asks if the students are ready to learn, all the girls yell "yes" and the boys yell "no." The boys are all about physical and competitive games, and the girls run screaming after a teen pop star. The writing is funny, but the messages can be troubling.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the MY WEIRD SCHOOL series, second-grader Arlo Jervis (aka A.J.) hates school, and he does everything he can to cause the maximum disruption while doing the minimum amount of work. Sometimes, though, he's tricked into working hard, like when his new teacher, Miss Daisy, says she doesn't know how to do math and her entire class has to teach her addition. Or when the principal, Mr. Klutz, says he'd give the school a chocolate party and kiss a pig if they wrote 100,000 spelling words. With his friends Ryan and Michael, A.J. squares off against the girls, Andrea and Emily, in a constant boys-vs.-girls battle that stereotypes learning and school as nerdy and female and sports and rambunctious behavior as innately male.
Is it any good?
This beginning chapter book series is for any kid who doesn't like school, enjoys watching kids get away with pranks, or wants to see school as a sillier place than it is. Kids love reading the My Weird School series. The language is age-appropriate, the adult characters are as loopy as they come, and the friendships between the kids are real. But any reader who's felt the sting of schoolyard teasing, or who's sensitive to seeing kids pick on each other, or who doesn't like the "boys vs. girls" theme might have a hard time with the content.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the name-calling in the My Weird School series. Does it seem over the top to you, or do kids at your school insult one another this much?
What other books about school friends have you read? Is a school friend different from a neighbor friend?
Can jokes turn into bullying if taken too far? What can you do if someone bullies you or if you see someone else being bullied?
- Author: Dan Gutman
- Illustrator: Jim Paillot
- Genre: For Beginning Readers
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTrophy
- Publication date: July 1, 2004
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 6 - 10
- Number of pages: 96
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
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