Schooled is the compelling story of a home-schooled hippie kid who has been raised in a 1960s eco-commune. As the story begins, the commune has dwindled down to two people, 13-year-old Cap and his 72-year-old grandmother. Rain, the grandmother, breaks a leg falling from a tree while picking plums. With no telephone to call an ambulance (and no driver’s license), Cap has to drive her to the hospital himself.
Meanwhile, poor Cap gets fostered out to a social worker. Mrs. Donnolly, the social worker, volunteers to take Cap in while Grandmother Rain is in hospital. The social worker herself has grown up in this hippie compound, known as Garland Farm, and remembers it only too well: “It all came roaring back in a tsunami of Day-Glo, Ponchos and organic lentils.”
Cap instantly has her sympathy and becomes her reluctant house guest. The story of Cap and how he deals with fitting in at middle school is told from the perspective of several people: Mrs. Donnolly, her beautiful daughter Sophie, the class nerd, and the so-called popular kid. Cap has a hard time adjusting to middle school culture, and complains to his Grandmother that:
“People dress funny, they talk too fast;
And all they’re interested in is things!
Cell phones and Ipods, Game Boys and Starbucks.
What’s a Starbuck?”
Cap has obviously received a different type of education from the other middle schoolers, and this is both funny and sad. He can drive a tractor, is well read, has been doing Tai Chi since he was five, and has never watched TV. He is picked on by the popular kids. In the end his charismatic personality overcomes many hurdles thrown his way, and the story finishes with a surprising twist.
Gordon Korman, author of more than fifty books for young adult and middle-grade students, has written this story with a simple plot line, so it’s a fast-paced read. Korman is always a good author to recommend for middle-grade boys. This story is also a good pick for a reluctant reader. It presents the tough life of the middle school years at a public school. It is similar in many ways to Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl–also a story about a homeschooler attending public school. Schooled has been chosen as a Battle of the Books 2011 pick for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade at Williamsburg Regional Library.
Check the WRL catalog for Schooled.