Monday, December 11, 2017

Unschooled by Allan Woodrow, 2017

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This year's fifth graders are the worst Principal Klein has ever seen. But he's hoping that Spirit Week can teach them teamwork, with a top secret prize for the winning team as incentive.
Best friends George and Lilly have been looking forward to Spirit Week all year. They might be complete opposites, but they can't wait to be on the winning team together. When their classes end up rivals, with Lilly leading Team Red and George leading Team Blue, the friends swear they can compete and remain best friends.
But suddenly there are slimed lockers, sabotaged costumes, and class pets held hostage. As the pranks escalate, it threatens everything, including the prize. Because if Principal Klein finds out, Spirit Week will be cancelled and the students will spend the rest of the year in detention.
Can George and Lilly find a way to fix their friendship and get the entire fifth grade to play fair, or is the most awesome week of fifth grade about to make this the worst school year ever?

(288 pages)

I reviewed the prequel to this book, Class Dismissed, about a year ago. I thought it was okay, pretty funny, but kind of forgettable. I did indeed basically forget about it after a while, so I had no idea another book was coming out this year.

I didn't, at least, until Unschooled showed up on my doorstep one day unannounced. I think my younger siblings, frankly, were more excited about it than I was (they had also appreciated Class Dismissed more than I did), so I read it quickly and immediately passed it on to my little brother. And I have to say, I actually liked Unschooled better than Class Dismissed.

It seemed a little more mature to me, and a lot more interesting. The premise of competing teams in school reminded me a little bit of the wonderful No Talking by Andrew Clements, and the split between best friends George and Lilly made for compelling friction. Things quickly spiralled completely out of control between the teams, and the best friends, and it was interesting to see how it happened fairly realistically and how the team leaders continued to be held responsible for things that were not really their fault. I did find it a little unrealistic that the adults put so much responsibility on the shoulders of these fifth graders, but it's all good because I like reading about what they do with it.

Honestly, Unschooled is an engaging, well-paced read with interesting main characters and good levels of tension. I enjoyed it quite a bit as a fun, rather fluffy, read; I suspect that kids in the target audience will love it even more than I did.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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