Gordon Korman (Schooled) offers another winner, starring surprisingly appealing antihero Donovan Curtis, a reckless eighth-grader with extremely poor impulse control.

Donovan can't resist "throwing darts at a pool float to test my sister's swimming skills, or spitting back at the llamas at the zoo." It gets worse. One day, Donovan uses a baseball bat to break the statue of Atlas on his middle school campus. He sends the globe flying into the gym doors, shattering them completely. But instead of Donovan getting expelled or arrested, a paperwork glitch sends him to the district's school for the gifted. There, hiding out from the superintendent, Donovan finds a way to fit in. He may not be gifted like the other students, but he brings them social skills and a sense of normalcy. He unites the robotics group, for instance, and gives their prized robot a name (Tin Man), then uses his video game experience to win the job of driving it. And he convinces his very pregnant sister to fill in for the Human Growth and Development class that the group missed, allowing them to graduate without summer school. But since the gym at his old school is still out of commission, the superintendent decides to move the spring dance to the gifted academy--and Donovan's worlds collide.

Korman demonstrates how many gifts one "ungifted" kid can bring to a classroom full of geniuses. This wacky yet well-crafted novel explores the fish-out-of-water theme with freshness and pizzazz. --Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

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