GRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT by Jim Arter

GRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT

Age Range: 11 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

 In a bitter tale about misfits out to get a hated teacher, Arnold Dinklighter, repeating seventh grade, spends most of his time suspended from school, cooking up annoying pranks, being paddled by the principal, harassing classmates, or in detention, supervised by history teacher ``Apeface'' Applin. Unlit by any spark of generosity or kindness, Arnold despises everything and everybody (``The last time there was any color to your marriage was when your eyes were black and Dad's nose was red,'' he says playfully to his bleary, incompetent mother), but he finds a companion in new student Edward Straight, whose hostility and uncontrollable temper make him an instant discipline problem. The two agree that Applin must suffer, though Edward's talk of ``taking him out'' does make Arnold uneasy. Though title, names, and other cues suggest a comedy, there's little here that's funny and Arnold's too unlikable to get much sympathy. In a soapy denoument, Arnold saves Applin from Edward's knife attack, then takes the teacher to meet his mother; she announces that she has another son, institutionalized since infancy, and Applin suggests that she seek counseling--a suitably inane conclusion to this weak first novel.~(Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-385-30298-3
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1991