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Ungifted Hardcover – August 21, 2012

297 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-Donovan Curtis is an impulse-driven prankster who, at the start of Ungifted, manages to alienate both the students and faculty of his middle school. First he mocks the basketball team over the school PA system with a derisive cheer and then he whacks the school's statue of Atlas with a stick, knocking the huge globe off and sending it rolling down the hill where it smashes into the gymnasium and stops the big game. When Donovan ends up on the carpet, the district superintendent accidentally adds his name to the roll of gifted students at the Academy for Scholastic Distinction. Although he flounders at his new school, Donovan ends up humanizing a program that focuses on academic achievement and ignores the social aspects of students' success. From his first day when he startles the robotics team by naming their robot, to his saving the class from summer school by drafting his pregnant sister as the answer to a missed credit in Human Development, Donovan finds that his gift lies in helping the smart kids by teaching them how to be "normal." Using an ancestor who survived the Titanic as inspiration, Donovan has a goofy kindness that charms characters and readers alike. Reminiscent of Stanley Yelnats and Joey Pigza, he careens through life much like the out-of-control globe from Atlas's statue. The story is told from the points of view of various characters (each chapter titled with an Un-word), and readers hear from teachers and administrators, students-both gifted and not-and family members. The message is tolerance, and Korman expertly and humorously delivers it in an unpretentious and universally appealing tale.-Jane Barrer, Steinway Intermediate School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

“Touching, without being overly sentimental, Ungifted is a gem for readers looking for a story where the underdog comes out on top.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))

“From its lovable-robot jacket art to its satisfying conclusion, this will please Korman’s fans and win him new ones.” (ALA Booklist)

“Donovan has a goofy kindness that charms characters and readers alike … The message is tolerance, and Korman expertly and humorously delivers it in an unpretentious and universally appealing tale.” (School Library Journal)

“Funny and insightful.” (Publishers Weekly)

Praise for POP: “A brisk, heartfelt and timely novel.” (New York Times Book Review)

Praise for POP: “Korman goes straight to the heart.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

Praise for POP: “Thought-provoking.” (Publishers Weekly)

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; 1 edition (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006174266X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061742668
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (297 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gordon Korman has written more than fifty middle-grade and teen novels. Favorites include the New York Times #1 bestseller The 39 Clues: One False Note, The Juvie Three, Son of the Mob, Born to Rock, and Schooled. Though he didn't play football in high school, Gordon's been a lifelong fan and season ticket holder. He says, "I've always been fascinated by the 'culture of collision' in football and wanted to explore it-not just from the highlight films but from its darker side as well." Gordon lives with his family on Long Island, New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 162 people found the following review helpful By Tari St Marie on January 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book has such a great premise -- a highly impulsive student accidentally gets placed in a program for gifted students -- that I couldn't wait to read it. I was so disappointed at the portrayal of gifted kids in this book, and wonder if Korman has ever actually set foot in a gifted school so he can understand these complicated kids. Many gifted kids don't even know they're gifted, and most don't know their IQ, but every chapter starts with a person's name and IQ score. IQ is a great place to begin to understand intelligence, but a lousy place to end, and the education of gifted children encompasses social and emotional needs that reach beyond a number and the stereotypical nerd persona that Korman clings to in this book. The storyline wanted to be funny, but reached for that at the expense of credibility. That, combined with the horrendous stereotyping, destroyed any redeeming features the book had.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Ksulty on February 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was looking for books for my 10 year old son and this one was recommended, so I read it. The main character is a juvenile delinquent and gets himself into trouble. Not really a good message for my son. Yes there are some good parts but no appropriate for kids who haven't had sex education yet!
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60 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ungifted had a great premise, a lovable hero in Donovan, and our state librarian association's top award for kid lit.
Please, please don't subject your gifted kids to this book, especially if they are into FLL or FIRST robotics. The characters, setting, and even plot are so offensive my robotics-obsessed, gifted middle schooler ditched the book a third of the way in. He's asked me twice if that's what "real" people think of he and his friends. Sadly son, yes. And that's why this author is a best seller -- he appeals to the kids who have to be bribed to read books. My frustration lies in the fact that his story would have improved with real kids and an accurate portrayal of robotics. The fantasy world he created worked against his theme and plot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kristen Cutsail on December 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As teen and tween novels go, this one is a good read overall. Telling a story from various points of view and in first person is not an easy feat, but I feel it is pulled off pretty successfully. The concerns and frustrations of all characters, as well as the consequences of most of their actions, are realistic, and I feel that each one was well fleshed out with his or her own voice.
That being said, the characters did come off as a little stereotypical, particularly the female students and teachers. Katie was probably the best written of the four female points of view that are offered, though her development seemed quite fast considering the time frame of the book. The girl students, while intelligent and driven, relied a little heavily on the archetypes of "pretty potential love interest" and "pushy and self-interested." More could have been done to make these girls even half as relatable and interesting as Noah, who is probably the most developed character.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By thehydrogenpoptart on September 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A few months ago, my school had an author visit us. We had the pleasure of hosting Gordon Korman, and he discussed a book called Ungifted with us, even showing us an ARC of it. He didn't tell us much about the book, other than that it was about an "ungifted" kid sent to the wrong school...oh, yeah, and about robots. I instantly made a resolution to read it. Why? Well, that cover is simply irresistible. And secondly, telling someone you're going to mention their school in your book is an extremely good way to get that person to read your book.

Ungifted is, partly, about robots, but it's so much more than that. Our ungifted hero, Donovan Curtis, has never been a star student. In fact, he's just pulled his latest prank on the middle school--however accidental it may have been. But in a miraculous twist of fate, the school makes a mistake. Instead of getting into trouble, Donovan is headed to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction. His goal there? Attempt to blend in with the geniuses there, while hiding as the culprit behind his prank that got him into the whole mess in the first place.

This book has a bit of everything in it: it's got action, a heavy dose of humor, and some seriously great characters. Donovan is a character who I think we can all relate to. Of course, he's a troublemaker, but surely everyone has felt ungifted at least once in their lives. Then there's Donovan's quirky teacher, Mr. Osborne, who, trust me, is every kid's dream teacher. Then you have Chloe, and Abigail, and Noah, and Katie...all these supporting characters make for a great reading experience. Not to mention, there are some truly laugh-out-loud moments in here! And...how did I forget the robot?! Ungifted takes the prize for Most Lovable Robot I Have Read In A Book This Year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on July 2, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gordon Korman’s books for young readers tend to share some commonalities. They feature a spirited protagonist who often runs afoul of parental or (especially) school authorities. Typically, a large dollop of humor is featured as well. Perhaps because of the sheer number of books he has written, he hasn’t always gotten the attention or respect he deserved. It wasn’t until he started venturing into young adult territory that he started garnering awards recognition, for example. As I said, that has always seemed unjust to me. His earlier books are great reads, and not just for so-called reluctant readers. I still collect copies of the unfortunately out-of-print The D- Poems of Jeremy Bloom so that I have a class set should I ever re-enter an upper elementary classroom, even while I’ve thinned the rest of my children’s literature collection.

Unfortunately, Ungifted squanders the good will I have felt towards Korman. It does so by perpetuating myths and stereotypes about gifted students, their parents, their schools, and their teachers. The students who attend a gifted-only public school academy are repeatedly described in negative terms. They lack social skills. They are incomplete without the assistance of a non-gifted boy. These stereotypes perpetuate the myths that the highly gifted have social problems. The research, though, shows that social-emotional issues are no more likely to affect a gifted individual than anyone else; in fact, that is especially true when the students are in an environment in which their academic gifts are not held back. If anything, gifted students at a school for the highly gifted would be less likely to have social-emotional issues than gifted students in a regular school.
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