Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Superteacher Project

Korman, Gordon. The Superteacher Project
January 10, 2023 by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Brightling Middle School is a bustling place with lots going on. Oliver and his friend Nathan are always deeply involved in perpetrating pranks. Principal Candiotti hopes that the girls' field hockey team will someday have the same kind of winning season her own Brightling team did in the 1980s. Rosalie Arnette is on the field hockey team and shares this hope, but also has to deal with her newly divorced mother who is throwing herself into PTA work, and trying to get the students to sell flax-based snack bars for a fundraiser. Add to this mix a new teacher, Mr. Aidact, and his "student teacher", the "Boomer aged" Mr. Perkins, and funny things start to happen. Mr. Aidact seems able to know just when Oliver is going to shoot a spitball (a skill at which he excels) and can identify him as the mastermind behind a remote controlled car prank. The teacher also seems to know everything, and can keep up with students quoting rap song lyrics. He's a little odd, referring to students as "pupils" and showing little emotion, but the other teachers take to him because he does their duties without complaining. He ends up covering after school detention WHILE running clubs, and also is brought in to coach the field hockey team, where he does an excellent job, even though he knew nothing about field hockey. He even catches the eye of Rosalie's mother! Mr. Perkins isn't happy about all of these additional duties, and we eventually discover why. Mr. Aidact's behavior comes under scrutiny as rumors swirl around him and the field hockey team advances. Instead of fighting him, Oliver and Nathan come up with a plan to help Mr. Aidact live his best life, even if it is no longer at Brightling. 
Strengths: This was a fun, relatively problem free romp, and I don't want to spoil the twists and turns, although it's pretty easy to guess what is going on with the teacher. Oliver is more of a Greg Heffley character, who is a little more evil in his pursuit of pranks, while Nathan is a good foil who tries to rein him in a bit, ala Big Nate. This is told from different viewpoints, and Rosalie's perspective is much more focused on Mr. Aidact as a way for her team to be successful. There are good set pieces, like riding Big Wheels in the school hallways mainly because it is against the written rules, and a lot of heart as the boys work to save Mr. Aidact. Again, it's hard to review this without giving too much away!
Weaknesses: The multiple perspective format is never my favorite, and this book in particular would have been more successful for me had I seen everything from Oliver's viewpoint and concentrated on his growth. The limited perspective would have put a completely different spin on the book, so I can see why Korman wanted to include chapters from the principal, Mr. Perkins, and other characters. 
What I really think: There are so many Korman titles, and they all are good, but if I had to put them in order, I would rank this one with Whatshisname and Notorious, with books like Ungifted and Linked ones that I like a little bit more. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:16 PM EST

    I haven't read this one yet, but I agree that I wish Gordon Korman would write some of his book from a single POV! Looking forward to reading this one.