While taking a trip to B&N this week to pick up a new copy of Harry Potter (again!... nothing seems to stop my students when in a rage from destroying books within reach- even Harry Potter!) I stopped to browse the "summer reading list" table.  Also curious and looking for new books to read with my pre-teen class, I picked up Schooled by Gorden Korman.  I must admit, I was drawn in by the cover.  A tie-dyed window of a school bus with a backdrop of a peace sign?  Sign me up!  After reading the excerpt from the back, I knew I had to buy the book.  What a good bully-free, non-violence book!!
The book follows Capricorn Anderson, an 8th grade boy who grew up at Garland- a true commune.  Throwing you back to the 60s when community living and communes were everywhere, the reader gets to experience the danger and pleasure of a commune.
Cap lives at Garland with Rain.  Rain founded Garland years ago and is the last one sticking it out to see communal living through.  Long ago, all the other families left the commune to join the 'real world' and allow their children to experience life outside of the fields of Garland.  After an accident involving plums, Rain is rushed to the hospital by 13 year old Cap in the drivers seat.  What happens next is devastating for Capricorn.  Rain needs surgery, and CPS is stepping in to take care of him while Rain in recovering.   Cap is taken from Rain and placed in a temporary foster home while she receives physical therapy for her recovery.  Thrust into the real world with absolutely NO knowledge is challenging to say the least.
Cap looks different, acts different, and thinks completely different than the 1,100 students at Claverage Middle School.  Immediately Cap becomes and easy target for bullies.  But he sticks through it.  Cap is put throw the ringer- experiencing every great and terrible thing middle school has to offer- with no prior knowledge of what middle school even is.  Will Capricorn survive in the real world, or will his peers eat him alive?  Is Capricorn able to overcome the barrier of living with 60's ideals and maintain that in our current technology, money, and materialistic driven world?

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  An easy read and interesting read, Schooled offers up everything kids nowadays need.  Schooled gives background information on the 60s, teaches kids what a commune is, lets us see what sustainable living REALLY is, and paints a very clear picture of differing ideals.  It also offers up plenty of real-life lessons... from bullies to charity.
Schooled is written in multiple voices.  Each chapter is a characters voice and their interpretation of what is happening.  This allows the reader to see a multitude of opinions.  Well written and informative, as well as entertaining, I would suggest this book to anyone (and everyone).  Teachers- use it in your classrooms when you teach about the 60s movements or when bullying becomes extreme!  Parents- read it to your kids to show that beautiful values and a peek inside others.  Bookies- grab a glass of lemonade, sit in the sun, and reminisce about the 60s, middle school, or both!  After reading Schooled by Gordon Korman, I am really excited to pick up his other novels.  I can only imagine after reading the titles and summaries that his other books are successful at teaching life lessons to children.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

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