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THE DUNDERHEADS by Paul Fleischman


From the Dunderheads series, volume 2

by Paul Fleischman & illustrated by David Roberts

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: June 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2498-9
Publisher: Candlewick

A group of underachievers engages in a battle of wits with their unsympathetic teacher and emerges triumphant. Sound familiar? Maybe so, but readers have never seen the story play out quite this way before. Fleischman’s characters verge on caricature—the problem-solving narrator is a clever boy nicknamed Einstein, his friend Junkyard collects cast-off items from everywhere and the ominously named Miss Breakbone delights in tormenting her students—and Roberts’s watercolor-and–pen-and-ink illustrations, reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s work, exaggerate their quirky qualities. The plot is deliciously outlandish, featuring an undercover caper complete with a hidden safe, grappling hooks made of paperclips, a classmate who just happens to be a hypnotist and a broken statuette with (real) emerald eyes. Of course the kids succeed—the only real mystery is whether their adventure will find an appreciative audience. Younger kids will likely miss the many references to classic films and other inside jokes, while older readers might have the tragically mistaken impression that this is beneath them. Share with special readers; it’s well worth the effort. (Fiction. 7-10)