A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The author is straightforwardly raising an issue of great importance to children: the use and misuse of grades and testing in school.
Positive Role Models
Nora systematically misleads and manipulates her parents and teachers. She hides her intelligence, in part, so that her friend, a boy, won't feel stupid.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the author is straightforwardly raising an issue of great importance to children: the use and misuse of grades and testing in school. But the way the main character goes about it is questionable at best, raising even more issues -- giftedness, protest, rebellion, and achievement.
Is It Any Good?
No one does school stories better than former teacher Andrew Clements. He knows the inner workings of schools, he writes for middle schoolers better than almost anyone, and his stories are usually effervescent delights that flow seamlessly along from start to perfect finish: not the way things do work, but the way they should. Here he has decided to go for more realism -- Nora's protest doesn't sweep the school, make the national news, or start a revolution. Rather than an unabashed triumph over the system of testing and grades, Nora accomplishes little besides being allowed to have some say in the direction of her life.
Since Clements has so clearly stated the problems with this system, some readers may find the ending disappointing, a rarity in his novels. But it may get both kids and adults thinking about the subject and, since he has provided no template for real change, wondering for themselves how things could be made different.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate