A love of learning does not require homework to flourish in Frank’s (Armstrong and Charlie, 2017) latest.
Sixth-grader Sam wants to build a treehouse with his dad and spend more time with his older half sister, Sadie, but instead he faces a seemingly bottomless pit of superfluous schoolwork. One more homework assignment is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, launching Sam up on his desk in protest—and subsequently into a three-day suspension. Sadie, mired in her own endless homework Hades, soon joins forces to stand up against the curricular status quo. With a crew of friends who each bring their own areas of expertise and life experience to the team, Sam, Sadie, and their curmudgeonly, retired-lawyer neighbor, Mr. Kalman, manage to take their fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the process, Sam and his squad learn about civics, computer science, economics: more than any worksheet could ever hope to instill. While the pacing of their court case, from principal’s office to the highest court in the land in the span of mere months, stretches the bounds of credulity even for fiction, the story is entertaining and engaging. The characters’ example of project-based learning is likely to appeal to both educators and burned-out students. Sam and Sadie seem to be white by default, and their friends are a relatively diverse group.
More amusing than your average civics class. (Fiction. 10-12)