Raymond and Graham Rule the School by Mike Knudson Steve Wilkinson (2009-07-09) Paperback Paperback – January 1, 1681
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Top reviews from the United States
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This book is not really very plot driven. Raymond and Graham are starting fourth grade and are planning, as the oldest elementary students, to "rule the school". Needless to say things don't work out that way. After numerous setbacks, missteps and small humiliations, which they usually fix, work around, or ignore, most of the various plot strands come together and wrap up nicely at the end. (While there are NO SPOILERS HERE, it is fair to say that there are at least a dozen set pieces along the way that honestly qualify as laugh-out-loud funny.)
What really drives this book is Raymond's narration and the conversations between Raymond and Graham. Do they sound like authentic fourth graders? Of course not. They sound like the smartest, funniest, driest, most insightful and most deadpan fourth graders you could imagine, channeled through the mind and the pen of a gifted author. Raymond has enough of the feel of a real kid, and his thoughts and experiences are translated to such an authentic kid level, that you believe you are peeking into his head and eavesdropping on his conversations with Graham and with all of his fourth grade friends. That is one heck of a trick for a writer to pull off.
I would think that a young reader would immediately like Raymond and Graham, would be amused by their banter and their antics, and would absorb some of the insight and wisdom from which they have been molded. I can't think of anything more that I would want from an elementary level book. It doesn't hurt that in these books parents are understanding and supportive, teachers know what they are doing, adults generally are dependable, and virtue ends up being rewarded - all without irony or even a hit of preachiness. A nice, warm find.
Please note that I found this book while browsing the local library's Kindle books, and downloaded it for free. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
I taught elementary school for twenty years and also spent many, many hours reading to my daughter, so this rating comes from someone who had read lots of great and not-so-great books. Everybody-- the 8-10 year old students and the 30-60 year-old adults-- loved the chapter about the unibrow most of all. Just thinking of it makes me laugh. As you can see from the age range of the people in the classroom while I was reading the book, the authors successfully appeal to a very wide audience.
I am delighted to see that Mike Knudson is coming out with a second book in early Sept.; I can't wait to share it with my class. I hope he realizes how much the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students (especially boys) of America need Raymond and Graham to keep us laughing.
Our rule is simple: Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Don't say it mean. But you can read it. Our benevolent censorship extends only to verbal, not written, speech.
Raymond, the character in "Rule the School" burps, farts, teases, cheats, lies, sasses, connives and dodges his way through fourth grade. This book belongs to the gross-out genre and joins the ranks of "Captain Underpants" and "The Day My Butt Went Psycho."
This dumb, dumber and dumbest style of writing is supposed to get kids - especially boys - interested in reading. But according to Thomas Spence, in an OpEd piece for the Wall Street Journal, a 10-point literacy gap opened up between boys and girls in 1992, right about the time the gross-out genre took off. Two surprising things: one, boys continue to score below girls in reading proficiency despite the potty-themed genre's popularity; two, "there is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls."
What sustains this genre is a robust elementary school market whose staff, allegedly, are desperate to meet - rather than guide - the "untutored tastes" of this young, mostly male, audience.
My daughter loved this book; my son thought it was, well, "stupid."