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Ungifted Hardcover – August 21, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 341 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
  • Lexile Measure: 730 (What's this?)
  • 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 (341 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By :) on December 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I can't believe the "gifted" people here who missed the point of this book. I love the way Korman employs hyperbole to poke fun at schools' evaluation and separation of people based upon labels, including "giftedness." I think the book is hilarious and discussion-worthy due to many witty elements Korman incorporates. For example, Dr. Shultz, the superintendent of the school district has an IQ slightly below "gifted," while Mr. Osborn, the teacher at the gifted school has an IQ slightly above. Yet, this separation is enough to warrant Mr. Osborne teaching at a plush academy while Dr. Shultz, who is smart enough to have earned a PhD and lead the entire school district, doesn't even qualify. It's strange to see some people so offended and take themselves so seriously, comparing themselves to the characters in the book. The IQs are not meant to be serious, people. I mean, Noah has an IQ of 206, and all it takes is a little research on IQs to reveal the point of this. I love the way this book is able to make fun of the system and show that there is much more to people and life than labels. Very well done! :)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book. My son read this as required reading for Summer between 4th-5th for advanced class. It is not a hard book to read. It is full of idioms and figurative language. He annotated it and there was a lot to write. It has an interesting premise and was amusing to me that it was chosen as the gifted kids required reading. The "gifted" kids in this book are in a special school - they are the brains that are so superior and unable to relate with regular kids, and are really not what regular ISD gifted programs are filled with, so it was amusing to these kids as well. The antics that ensued when a "non-gifted" kid was introduced were memorable. My son enjoyed reading it very much.
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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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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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Format: Paperback
Thank you, Mr. Korman, for reinforcing every single negative stereotype about the gifted. They are socially challenged. They have no fashion sense. They enjoy nothing but school. They don't take part in "normal" activities like school dances. All they care about is getting into Ivy League colleges. Their giftedness, and therefore their identities, are defined by a single "IQ" number. Schools for the gifted don't offer social or athletic activities and are so taken up with calculus and astrophysics that they ignore the "normal" stuff that kids need to know. The author clearly has had no experience either with gifted students or gifted education programs. And I'm disgusted that he would present these baseless stereotypes as funny.

I'm a licensed gifted education specialist who has spent the past 12 years teaching in our school's program for academically gifted students. My fifth graders come to me from all the district's elementary schools and are with me all day, every day. They are accelerated a minimum of one year in math and language arts. They study the same social studies and science topics as their grade level peers, but with additional depth and enrichment. We emphasize problem-solving and higher order thinking skills. The pace is fast and curriculum is compacted, which means we have time for extended research and inquiry work.

My students have lots of friends. They play sports, go to parties, hang out at the mall, and interact on social media. They play in the school band and orchestra, sing in the choir, and perform on the jump rope team. They are absolutely normal eleven-year-olds who happen to have different learning needs from their peers.
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