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Book Review: The Report Card by Andrew Clements


Book Review

The Report Card by Andrew Clements (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2004)

Ages 9-13

If you suspect that your kids are developing unhealthy ideas about grades, intelligence, or tests, a copy of The Report Card should be just what the doctor ordered. It directly confronts these issues from a kid's point of view. The Report Card is a great way to get kids thinking and talking about what it means to be smart, what grades do or don't show, and what test scores prove or don't prove.

The story is about Nora, a genius who has everyone, including her parents, believing she's just an average student. She hatches a plot to challenge her school's overemphasis on grades and tests. As her plan unravels, she realizes she'll be forced to come clean about the intelligence she's been hiding for years. The ending is surprising but not altogether satisfying, and brings up lots of interesting questions about the relationships among academic success, intelligence, and happiness.

If you're a fan of Andrew Clements, as I am, you may agree with me when I say this isn't his best book. The parents are too clueless, and some of the situations seem unnaturally placed in the book just to take another shot at testing. I nonetheless feel grateful to him for taking on these issues, and hate to fault him for his obvious passion about them. So if you're not finding yourself in need of a good children's book about grades and test issues, give the guy a break and check out one of his other books, like Frindle, School Story, or The Landry News - all terrific reads with lots of heart.

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