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SPACEMAN by Jane Cutler


by Jane Cutler

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-45636-8
Publisher: Dutton

 Gary is a student with learning disabilities who is tormented by his classmates and berated by an unsympathetic teacher. He lives with his timid mother and dreads visits with his fitness-crazed father and stepmother. To escape from his problems he frequently spaces out, shutting out the world around him. When he is placed in a special class, the gifted teacher and understanding classmates help him deal with his problems. Cutler (Rats!, 1996, etc.) gets Gary's symptoms right and everything else wrong, as if she plucked his problems out of a textbook, with no understanding of the underlying pathology. Readers will believe Gary's behavior is the result of his conscious choices, rather than beyond his control. The one-dimensional characterizations of the secondary players (pushover mother, hard-driving and insensitive father, mean teacher, tough but gifted special-ed teacher, nasty ``normal'' classmates, kind and understanding special-ed students), combined with pat solutions, miraculous changes in characters, and negligent school practices, add up to a disservice to learning-disabled children and almost no real story. (Fiction. 9-13)