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The Dunderheads Hardcover – June 9, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Fleischman won the Newbery Medal for JOYFUL NOISE: POEMS FOR TWO VOICES and a Newbery Honor for GRAVEN IMAGES. Among his award-winning picture books are SIDEWALK CIRCUS, THE ANIMAL HEDGE, and WESTLANDIA. He lives in Aromas, California.

David Roberts is the author-illustrator of the Bertie books and the illustrator of many books for children, including THE DUMPSTER DIVER by Janet S. Wong. He lives in London.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 430L (What's this?)
  • Series: Dunderheads
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763624985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763624989
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jordan K. Henrichs on December 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have learned a lot of things in the past five years of teaching fifth grade but one thing I seem to relearn each and every year is that kids are smarter than adults sometimes give them credit for. Much smarter. Paul Fleischman, author of THE DUNDERHEADS, certainly understands this. Miss Breakbone, "the Dunderheads'" teacher, like many adults, does not.

Junkyard was so happy when he found the one-eared porcelin cat in the dumpster. It would make the perfect Christmas gift for his cat-loving mom. That is until Miss Breakbone confiscated it from him in class for no apparent reason. Miss Breakbone hates kids, especially this particular class of "fiddling, twiddling, time-squandering, mind-wandering, doodling, dozing, don't-knowing dunderheads." However by taking this particular cat statue from Junkyard, Miss Breakbone has bitten off more than she can chew. Junkyard enlists the help of Einstein, Wheels, Pencil, Spider, Hollywood, and the rest of his classmates to join together and get back what's rightfully his.

There's a lot said in education today about recognizing the special "uniqueness" in every child and building on their strengths (perhaps TOO much). THE DUNDERHEADS definitely speaks to this idea! Each Dunderhead, while apparently not being the "ideal" student, possesses a truly unique talent unacknowledged by Miss Breakbone, and each is equally crucial to the success of the mission. Einstein is the brains of the operation but each Dunderhead gets their individual moment to shine in this book and I loved how Fleischman cleverly chose to reveal each character and their role.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tasha Saecker on July 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Miss Breakbone hates children. She is harsh, rude, and cruel. But worst of all, she is also a teacher. She calls her class Dunderheads, and one day goes too far in taking away a broken cat from one of the children. His nickname was Junkyard and he had found it in the trash, a perfect gift for his feline-loving mother. When Miss Breakbone basically dared Junkyard to try to get it back, the class turned to Einstein, a boy with a brilliant mind for figuring things out and the narrator of the story. The children all had talents that they are nicknamed for. Together they formed the perfect set of skills to break into Miss Breakbone's castle of a house and retrieve the cat.

This book is a marvelous mix of impossible mission intrigue and school misfits. Fleischman has created characters that are unique, strange and great fun. His text is simple, perfect for readers in first and second grades who want a book with pizzazz but are more comfortable with lots of illustrations. Roberts' illustrations are a large part of the book. Much of it is done with panels like a graphic novel, enhancing the feel that the book is for slightly older children than most picture books. Roberts illustrations are dramatic, silly, and suit the subject perfectly. His towering and glowering Miss Breakbone is a frightening figure indeed. The danger is heightened by his illustrations rather than diminished, much to the delight of readers.

Highly recommended, this book fits a niche for picture books that will be of great interest to newly independent readers. It is also a wonderful read aloud, filled with tension, drama and humor galore. Appropriate for ages 5-6 as a read aloud, but also appropriate for ages 6-8 as a self-read.

[...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ace VINE VOICE on August 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The WHOLE class gets involved in this caper - - trying to wrest a broken cat statue (with attributes that only Miss Breakbone has noticed, in the beginning anyway) from the spooky and well-secured haunted house belonging to Miss Breakbone -- a feared and hated teacher who towers menacingly over all the kids in her class.

This is a delightful little read, for kids in the 5th - 9th grade, that shows how teamwork and ingenuity can make the day.

The illustrations are delightful and very Gorey-esque (but in this case, the humans actually do talk!!). Every kid tells a story -- just by having and demonstrating her or his unique and bizzarre talents. The kids risk everything to bravely get back that little cat statue -- and in the process of doing so, confront their own fears and triumph in their endeavor.

You can bet that the students' newfound solidarity will will give mean old Miss Breakbone food for thought the next time she tries anything remotely nefarious in the future.
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Format: Hardcover
Mrs. G's Class
The Dunderheads is about a group of kids who are on a mission. They need to get something back that their teacher confiscated which takes them to the mean teacher's house. It's their worst nightmare. The story was hilarious and we enjoyed how all the students had a special skill. It is an adventurous book that is a little long but can be read in one sitting. It would be best for grades 3,4, and 5.

Mrs. T's Class
The Dunderheads is about students who have major problems with their mean and crazy teacher. They break into her house to get their stuff back. We thought that the characters were really funny with some amazing talents. It was an adventurous story that was very imaginative. We loved it. We would recommend it for grades 2,3,4, and 5.

Mrs S's Class
In the Dunderheads, there is a mean, daring teacher who takes students' stuff away. She is so mean that she gives herself a gold star when she makes the students cry. The students go on a secret mission to get their things back. The story can be a little confusing but we really liked it. The pictures were cool and really helped the story. This book would be best for first grade and up.

Mrs. L's Class
The Dunderheads is about a harsh teacher who takes her students' stuff. The students go on a mission to the teacher's home to get their things back. It was a pretty good story with lots of cool details about the students' abilities and hobbies. It was like an adventurous Mission Impossible for kids. The pictures were really funny. The book would be best for second grade and up.
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