________________ CM . . . .Volume V Number 16 . . . . April 9, 1999

cover The 6th Grade Nickname Game.

Gordon Korman.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1998.
154 pp., cloth, $18.99.
ISBN 0-590-03875-3.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4


A horn sounded, and a sleek silver sedan whispered up to the curb.

Cassandra pirouetted and waved. "Hi, Dad!" She spun back to Wiley and Jeff, beamed, and said, "See you guys at school tomorrow," before skating off. The circus parade on her skirt billowed out behind her.

Jeff frowned as she hopped into the car and disappeared. "The nerve of that girl! We're trying to be friendly, and she tunes us out like a bad radio station! I say we give Carrot-top a second look!"

"Or Birdbrain, "Wiley added. "Did you catch that bit about the warbling sparrow?"

Gordon Korman fans of all ages rejoice: there is a new Gordon Korman novel, and it's a good one. I can still remember my first encounter with Gordon Korman. I was in grade 8, roughly the same age as Korman when he wrote the school project that would become This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall. I was hooked and went on to read many more of the Bruno and Boots adventures. Nineteen years, and almost as many books, later, Korman is still writing. The setting this time is not a private school in Canada but a public school in Pennsylvania, and Bruno and Boots aren't present, but it's classic Korman, full of the same likable kids and characteristic brand of humour for which Korman is known.

      The duo this time is Jeff and Wiley, best friends and official nicknamers of Old Orchard Public School (OOPS, thanks to Jeff and Wiley). When their new teacher turns out to be football coach-turned-teacher Mr. Hughes, the boys have no trouble re-naming him, "Mr. Huge." But a new student, Cassandra, poses more of a problem as no one name seems to capture all aspects of her personality. For the first time, the nicknamers are stuck.

      Rivalry for Cassandra's attention threatens Jeff's and Wiley's 12-year-old friendship, as they try to outdo each other to make an impression. But when Mr. Hughes' job is on the line due to 6B's poor showing on a reading comprehension test, the kids kick into action to save their teacher.

      Anyone who's read one Gordon Korman knows that all will turn out happily. Korman's schools seem frozen in time-- no drugs, attitude or confrontations here. His novels don't pretend to tackle the big issues. They do provide lots of chuckles that just may be the hook a young reader needs to stay interested in reading.

Highly Recommended.

Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller living in Kingston, ON, and awaiting Gordon Korman's next novel.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364