CM . . . .Volume V Number 16 . . . . April 9, 1999
A horn sounded, and a sleek silver sedan whispered up to the curb.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.
Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller living in Kingston, ON, and awaiting Gordon Korman's next novel.
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