by Gordon Korman
* * * Stars (Pretty good)
Donovan Curtis is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction by mistake after he’s caught by the Superintendent for destroying school property. While Donovan is not gifted, he’s smart enough to know that he’d better hide out there as long as he can or he’s going to be in huge trouble with both his family AND the Superintendent. For awhile, Donovan’s teachers try to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it soon becomes obvious that Donovan isn’t gifted in any academic area. But his social skills, his way of looking at things with fresh eyes, and his very normalcy make him a hit with the other kids on the robotics team, so when Donovan is retested, they go to bat for him – hacking into the computer and answering the questions for him. It isn’t enough to keep Donovan safe, but things turn out ok for him in the end.
Hardcastle Middle School is a breeze after the Academy, and Donovan’s friends find a way to sneak him into the robotics competition. Donovan is a mostly good kid who makes things hard on himself by giving into some questionable impulses. He’s also easily influenced by his friends – the Daniels – who care more about a good laugh than they do Donovan’s welfare. Gordon Korman is obviously in touch with his inner middle school boy, and has been since he was 12 and wrote his first book. “Ungifted” should find a place among fans of the funny guy genres. While I’ve liked others of his titles better – he was my hero after I read “I Want to Go Home” – this was still an enjoyable page-turner.
Reviewed by YA Librarian