What caught my eye about this book was the adorable robot with the welcoming smile on the cover. We may not judge books by their covers, but we sure do choose them. Ungifted by Gordon Korman was a refreshing and endearing read.
This book is targeted for kids 8-12, or 5th grade and up. Although, I think a 4th grader with advanced reading skills could enjoy it immensely as well. The story is set in a large suburban school system. This is important to note, because students from my town would be a little blown away by how things are done there.
Apparently this school district has a separate school for gifted students, and this is what makes this story interesting from the first. Can you imagine being sent to the gifted campus when…well…you aren’t gifted?
Donovan Curtis is one of those kids that is always in trouble. Of course, he is also kinda good-looking. He attends school at a large middle school. On the day of a big basketball game he decides to wack the large statue of Atlas that they have in front of the school with a stick. His life just gets complicated from there. Atlas looses his grip on the world and it rolls into the gymnasium. Through a series of convoluted events stemming from this spanking of Atlas, Donovan ends up on the list of students to be sent to the gifted campus. His home-room is robotics. Enter beguiling robot on the cover.
This is a cute story about belonging and acceptance. The gifted kids are stereotyped, but I don’t think this hurts the book. Middle school age students stereotype by nature. Gorman feeds into this and teaches them to accept these students anyway. I think it works to build the story, and it strengthens the lesson behind it. We are all guilty of stereotyping, but can we see past that to the person and accept them anyway, even if they do fit the stereotype?
There is also a school dance and many wonderfully awkward social moments that bring humor to the story while allowing us to relate.
This is a great choice for 5th and 6th graders especially. I think it may be pushing it for students who are already in junior high, but it depends on your student. If you are an adult wanting a light and humorous read, pick this one up. It won’t take you long and you will appreciate the fact that you are no longer 12 so much more.