Gordon Korman is a very popular author at my school, based on what I see in my classroom and in the school library. I have to admit that I had never read any of his books until now, but this one has a robot on the front, so it made into the “Books I Intend to Read Over Summer Vacation” box that I brought home from school a few weeks ago. (Robots, big yes!) Ungifted reminded me of a student that I know…
Donovan Curtis is a bit of a troublemaker with a reputation at his middle school. He’s impulsive. He acts first, thinks later. So on the day of the big basketball game when he’s already in the office for another offense he committed, he can’t NOT help himself to the unattended PA system where he offers up a cheer against his own team! Next, he ditches detention with the encouragement of his best friends, and as they are leaving campus yet another incident occurs. This time Donovan gets busted by the superintendent himself, and there is a great amount of property damage done to the school.
Oddly, Donovan does not get called up to the office to deal with his crime. Instead, he receives a letter in the mail that lets his family know that he’s been accepted into the special academy for gifted students. His parents are confused, but thrilled nonetheless, and Donovan realizes that this paperwork mixup is his opportunity to go into hiding. If the superintendent can’t find him, then he and his family won’t have to pay for all the damage his last prank caused. Off to gifted school!
It become obvious that Donovan is not like the other children at his new school. He knows, it, the other kids know it, the teachers know it, but everyone is surprisingly patient with him as they wait for whatever his intellectual talents are to reveal themselves. There is a very rigorous testing procedure in place to qualify for this school, so either he’s super smart (but unmotivated) or clever enough to cheat the system, so they make him take the admissions test again. In the meantime, Donovan has found a place on the robotics team and he is slowly becoming invested in something bigger than himself. Maybe there is more to school than just begin the biggest goof-off!
Fair warning: if you ARE a gifted kid yourself, you might find some of the “quirky” traits assigned to the academy kids a little stereotypical. Korman does make them all different among themselves though, and I think that is important, because everyone has got their own quirks in real life, too. Donovan also develops into having more than one dimension, which is nice, but the ending left me wondering if he had really changed or not. Hmm. You decide!
As for the student this reminded me of, I hope that I was patient with him just like these teachers were, and I hope I helped him discover some of his strengths this year. He would corner me and ask, “Mrs. P., am I your favorite???” My answer was always, “What do you think?” My goal is always to make each of my students feel like they are my favorite. If I’ve done that, I know I’ve had a great year.
Read this book if you are gifted, if you know someone who is gifted, if you are high spirited and impulsive, if you are a student who likes to challenge yourself, or you want a new perspective on other types of kids that you don’t already know…or basically if you’re just a kid in general!
Ungifted has an AR level of 5.2 and is worth 8 points.