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CAN YOU SPELL REVOLUTION? by Matt Beam

CAN YOU SPELL REVOLUTION?

By Matt Beam

Age Range: 12 - 14

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-525-47998-7
Publisher: Dutton

The mission: Depose the principal without divisions among friends. When the unconventionally named Clouds McFadden arrives as a new student at Laverton Middle School, he recruits Chris Stern and several other eighth-graders in a plot to stand up to the teachers and administrators who abuse their positions of authority. Clouds’s increasingly autocratic behavior soon motivates Chris to research his role model, “Lenon” (Chris’s yearlong misconstruing of Lenin), leaving Chris to choose between peaceful change and radical revolution. Beam’s year of teaching eighth grade helps him to accurately portray the constantly shifting attitudes and friendships that comprise the middle-school experience. Despite building a strong relationship with readers through his fumbling relationship with Susan, his sporadic interest in class and his honest relationship with his parents, however, Chris never develops into a fully realized character. Clouds’s unsatisfying personality gaps are easier to fill in, though the divided-family dynamic feels cheap. Though the narrative is mediocre, the theme of peaceful conflict resolution is important in today’s acrimonious environment. (Fiction. 12-14)