The last thing troublemaker and mediocre student Donovan Curtis ever expected was a transfer from Hardcastle Middle School to the prestigious Academy for Scholastic Distinction.
When he whacks a statue of Atlas on the butt, and Atlas’ globe falls off his shoulders, rolls down the hill, and crashes through the glass doors of the gym, Donovan expects to be in big-time trouble. Instead, he receives a letter informing him that he’s been selected to attend ASD. He does attend but soon feels like “some exotic space alien who crash-landed in the gifted program.” Donovan’s journey through his strange new world is told through multiple points of view, allowing his teachers and gifted classmates to offer thoughts on this clearly ungifted boy in their midst. When the robotics class creates a robot named Tin Man, though, it’s Donovan’s skill with the joystick, developed by hours of playing video games, that gives the team hope of winning the upcoming competition. And as he and his new friends try to find some common ground, Donovan becomes the heart and soul of the school, if not the brains.
Frequent allusions to The Wizard of Oz—with Tin Man the robot, Oz the teacher and themes of brains, heart and courage—add to the charm of this tale of a boy finding his home. (Fiction. 10-14)