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JOLTED by Arthur Slade


Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival


Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: March 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-385-74700-4
Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Starring a Canadian teenager whose entire family on one side has for centuries been killed by lightning and a small, pink companion pig who is the brains of the pair for all that she can only oink, this boarding-school tale labors at times but achieves a certain amount of offbeat appeal. Still angry at his mother for being fatally struck too soon, Newton checks into the Jerry Potts Academy of Higher Learning and Survival, determined to score top marks while eluding the bolt that has his name on it. Tackling a curriculum that mixes conventional studies with instruction in disaster and wilderness survival, he succeeds, at least in part—with help from Joséphine, a self-possessed piglet acquired in the course of creating a mystery-meat truffle quiche (recipe included) for a class assignment. Understandably tense given his circumstances, but also temperamental and given to treating would-be friends badly, Newton isn’t particularly likable, but readers will at least sympathize with him—and Jerry Potts makes an entertaining riff on the likes of Hogwarts, Lemony Snicket’s Prufrock Prep or the Axis Academy in Catherine Jinks’s Evil Genius (2007). (Fantasy. 11-13)