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by Gordon Korman

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 2023
ISBN: 978-0-06-303279-8
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

What does it mean to be human?

Mr. Aidact is the new teacher at Brightling Middle School. He immediately makes a strong impression when, despite having his back turned, he reaches out and catches a spitball the moment before it hits his head. This does not endear him to spitball-thrower Oliver Zahn, Brightling’s self-described foremost rule breaker and the first narrator in this tale told through multiple perspectives. Gifted student and field hockey player Rosalie Arnette, like many kids her age, is just trying to figure out how to negotiate the hallways and the middle school social structure. Nathan Popova, Oliver’s best friend, enjoys a good prank but doesn’t want to get in trouble, which is hard when your buddy actively goes looking for it. Steinke Newhouse—who really hates being called Stinky—feels his greatest talent is arguing, which regularly lands him in detention. Although Mr. Aidact seems to be very literal and to lack a sense of humor, he sees and gets each student, meeting them where they’re at. Is he too good to be true? Oliver and Nathan know something’s up—but the answer, which brings in AI and government experiments—surprises even them. Each viewpoint is distinct, and most characters are multifaceted. Most characters default to White.

A school story with a twist, told with humor, insight, and empathy.

(Fiction. 8-12)