Monday, February 25, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Today’s pick:  Ungifted by Gordon Korman
Scholastic, 2012

From Amazon:
The word gifted has never been applied to a kid like Donovan Curtis. It's usually more like Don't try this at home. So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he's finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix-up by one of the administrators, instead of getting in trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction (ASD), a special program for gifted and talented students.

It wasn't exactly what Donovan had intended, but there couldn't be a more perfect hideout for someone like him. That is, if he can manage to fool people whose IQs are above genius level. And that becomes harder and harder as the students and teachers of ASD grow to realize that Donovan may not be good at math or science (or just about anything). But after an ongoing experiment with a live human (sister), an unforgettably dramatic middle-school dance, and the most astonishing come-from-behind robot victory ever, Donovan shows that his gifts might be exactly what the ASD students never knew they needed.

My Take: 
This story was fun (the very unlikely premise clued me in to its over-the-top nature) and I was rooting for Donovan, hoping that everything would somehow work out for him, even though it seemed impossible.

I did have to check the chapter titles carefully, because this book is written from the perspectives of several different characters, including some adults, even though it was sometimes hard to tell from the voice. And I should mention that there have been some controversial reviews of this book because of the stereotypical way the gifted students are portrayed (for example, Book Review: Ungifted by Gordon Korman at The Book Smugglers). But for me, it was an entertaining read that was full of humour.

As a writer, I’d study the dialogue – it seemed so authentic. I’d also read this again for another look at creating humor, something that’s challenging but Korman pulls off so seemingly easily.

Other Info:
Gordon Korman was born in Montreal, Canada and wrote his first book, This Can't be Happening at Macdonald Hall when he was 12 years old in grade 7.  It was published when he was 14.

On the Scholastic website, he is quoted as saying, “I always start off with something real, but then I unleash my imagination to make it more exciting, funnier, or a better story. To be honest, by the time a book is done, you can’t recognize much of the real-life part.”

Other books by this author include:
This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall '78
Go Jump In The Pool '79
Beware The Fish '80
I Want To Go Home '81
Who Is Bugs Potter '80
Our Man Weston '82
Bugs Potter LIVE at Nickaninny '83
The War With Mr. Wizzle '82
No Coins Please '84
Don't Care High '85
Son Of Interflux '86
A Semester In The Life Of A Garbage Bag '87
The Zucchini Warriors '88
Radio 5th Grade '89
Losing Joe's Place '90
Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood '91
The D- Poems of Jeremy Bloom '92
The Twinkie Squad '92
The Toilet Paper Tigers '93
Why Did The Underwear Cross The Road '94
The Last-Place Sports Poems of Jeremy Bloom '96
Something Fishy At Macdonald Hall '95
The Chicken Doesn't Skate '96
Liar, Liar Pants On Fire '97
The Sixth Grade Nickname Game '98
Quarterback Exchange: I was John Elway '97
Running Back Conversion: I was Barry Sanders '97
Super Bowl Switch: I was Dan Marino '97
Heavy Artillary: I was Junior Seau '97
Ultimate Scoring Machine: I was Jerry Rice '98
NFL Rules! Bloopers, Pranks, Upsets, and Touchdowns '98
No More Dead Dogs '00
Slapshots 1 - The Stars From Mars '99
Nose Pickers From Outer Space '99
Slapshots 2 - All-Mars All-Stars '99
Planet Of the Nose Pickers '00
Slapshots 3 - The Face-off Phony '00
Your Mummy Is A Nose Picker '00
Slapshots 4 - Cup Crazy '00
Invasion Of The Nose Pickers '01
Shipwreck (Island Book 1) '01
Survival (Island Book 2) '01
Escape (Island Book 3) '01
Son Of the Mob '02
The Contest (Everest Book 1) '02
The Climb (Everest Book 2) '02
The Summit (Everest Book 3) '02
Maxx Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America'03
Jake, Reinvented '03
Dive Trilogy '03
Son of the Mob: Hollywood Hustle '04
On the Run (Series) '04-'05
Born to Rock '05
Kidnapped (Series) '06
Schooled '07
Swindle '08
The Juvie Three '08
One False Note (39 Clues Book 2) '08
Zoobreak '09
Pop '09
The Emperor's Code (39 Clues Book 8) '10
Framed '10
Titanic Trilogy '11
The Medusa Plot (Kahills vs. Vespers Book 1) '11
Showoff '12
Hideout '13

For more, visit Gordon Korman's website.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!


  1. That is an impressive list of books by Korman! When I was getting my hair cut a few weeks ago, my stylist said her son is a reluctant reader but will always read Korman's books!

  2. Wow! He's written a lot of books. Looks like I need to read one. Thanks for the review.

    1. My kids really liked his adventure trilogies, Everest, Dive and Island. They also really enjoyed the Kidnapped and On the Run books.

  3. I enjoyed this book and quite a few other books by Gordon Korman. He's prolific, all right.

  4. Holy cow, I knew he was prolific, but that's quite a ridiculous list! I would like to have met Gordan Korman back when he first published This Can't Be Happening (which is a very funny book, worthy of being a classic). I wonder if he was more like Donovan, or--given his precocious writing talent--if he was one of those socially awkward gifted kids!

  5. Holy cow! Gordan Korman has written a ton of books! I have read some of them- but this one is new to me. It does sound like fun! I can't wait to look at the dialogue.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Perhaps I should corner Gordan Korman and ask him 7 Questions:) Thanks for the post:)


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