From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7--Fifth-grader Nora Rowley has a problem with grades, and her latest report card, with five D's and one C, proves it. What nobody knows because she's kept it a secret is that she is really a genius and has earned those low marks on purpose because of her friend Stephen. She doesn't like the way tests make him feel about himself (dumb); plus, she can do without the stress as teachers prepare students for the state achievement test. The plan she hatches to sabotage test scores eventually begins to backfire, and the plot develops steadily around that crisis. Narrated by a very bright protagonist, the story has moments of engaging tension: Will the librarian disclose that Nora has been accessing college-level courses online? Will the school psychologist discover her high IQ and place her in the gifted program? Will she and Stephen be suspended for inciting a rebellion? This novel highlights the controversial issues of testing and grades from a child's point of view, but it also reveals the pressure that everyone, including teachers, administrators, and parents, feels. Clements's style, the large print, and the appealing cover illustration will easily capture the attention of even the most reluctant readers.--Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
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Gr. 4-7. With the federal law placing increased importance on test scores, this timely novel gives both kids and adults plenty to think and talk about. Fifth-grader Nora Rowley is a genius masquerading as an average student to avoid the pressures that come with her gift. When her best friend, Stephen, a nice, hard-working child who really is average, scores low on the state mastery tests and starts to think of himself as "dumb," Nora decides it's time to do something. Feeling she has nothing to lose, she brings home a terrible report card, setting off a whole chain of events that affect not only Stephen but also her family, her other classmates, her teachers, and herself. Veteran author Clements has once again built a solid story around a controversial issue for which there is no easy answer, and to his credit, he never tries to offer one. There are no good guys or bad guys in the mix; everyone simply manages with the hand he or she is dealt. A novel sure to generate strong feelings and discussion. Lauren PetersonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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