Supergifted

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Supergifted Book Poster Image
Laughs mix with life lessons in strong middle school sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Noah in particular is a fount of knowledge on all sorts of subjects, especially science, though not always at the right moment.

Positive Messages

Strong messages of family, friendship, teamwork, and respecting everyone's talents, however unexpected. As a teacher says to the head cheerleader, "It's fine to impress people, but it's not fine when you start trying to weed out people you don't think are impressive enough."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Donovan performs an impulsive feat of bravery -- and Noah claims credit for it to keep Donovan from getting in trouble. Even the bully learns better ways in the course of the story, and, guided by wise adults, the kids help one another and work together to solve problems.

Violence

A key plot development turns on a character trying to save his friend from a bully, getting punched in the face, and not being able to do anything about it because it would put the family dog who came to his rescue in mortal danger.

Sex
Language

Occasional references to butts, poop, and pee, especially in connection with a puppy's house-training fails. Also wedgies.

Consumerism

Occasional mentions of real-life products, as when Noah receives Mini Oreo cookies from a fan but only eats the regular-size ones. He's also very devoted to YouTube and Twitter. Also mentions of superheroes, WWE wrestling, and other pop-culture staples.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Supergifted is the sequel to master storyteller Gordon Korman's Ungifted, and offers the continuing adventures of that book's characters. From bullies to wobbly cheerleader pyramids, the joys and woes of middle school are front and center as supergenius Noah (his IQ is off the chart, his social skills not so much) plunges headlong into regular, non-gifted school, where friend and regular kid Donovan tries, sometimes successfully, to keep him out of trouble. Friendship, family, inclusion, teamwork, and making the best use of everyone's talents are all strong themes -- while quirky characters, slapstick situations, and surprise plot developments keep preachiness at bay. There's a bit of pee, poop, and wedgie humor along the way, but there's not much to worry about and lots to love in this complicated tale where all the characters are a little out of their depth and everybody learns something good.

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What's the story?

Life should be great for Ungifted Donovan Curtis, who's back in the eighth grade at Hardcastle Middle School after leaving genius school, but it's not, thanks largely to his SUPERGIFTED friend, Noah. Following the events of Ungifted, Noah is at Hardcastle also, despite his off-the-chart IQ, and he loves it, especially the opportunities it offers to do things badly (cooking! cheerleading!), because he's always succeeded effortlessly. But, since he has no social skills whatsoever, Donovan has to put a lot of energy into keeping Noah out of trouble. In the course of keeping Noah from getting beaten up by a bully, Donovan sets off a series of unlikely events that get Noah superhero status for a brave deed actually done by Donovan. Crazy doings ensue, imparting a lot of wisdom along the way.

Is it any good?

This fun and funny sequel spotlights the misadventures of a geeky genius in regular middle school and his friend's efforts to keep him out of trouble. Between the bullies, the cheerleaders, the robotics club, and the Marines, things are poised to run off the rails from the get-go -- and quickly do. Gordon Korman's Ungifted cried out for a sequel, and readers are lucky to get it. The kids are relatable, the situations both harrowing and hilarious, and through it all, the lead characters are trying hard to do the right thing. Really.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about middle school -- and why it's such a popular subject for stories. What other middle school tales do you know, and how does Supergifted compare with them? 

  • Why might it not be a good idea to make YouTube your go-to reference for learning about something?

  • Have you ever tried to do something you weren't at all good at but really loved? How did it go? Did you get better with practice, give up, or do something else?

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