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James Howe is a young adult fiction author, and this book is written between and 4th and 8th grade level. The plot itself is supposed to revolves around and reflect a "typical" and modern 7th grade class.
The main characters are the "misfits" of their class (and the stereotypical misfits of any class) who call themselves the "Gang of 5." They decide to run for student counsel on an alternative platform known as the "No-Name Party." What ensues is a somewhat humorous portrayal of the social difficulties of 7th grade, including name-calling, ostracizing, and the attempt to find a place to fit in. The group must deal with peers, teachers, administrators, and parents.
In this novel, students can relate to the plot elements that might also be present in their own schools. In addition to the bullying that takes place, the idea of running for a student counsel election is something that most students should be familiar with. The style of this book is unique, and has been criticized (for its target age group) as slow and too passive. Also, there isn't much dialogue, which readers of this genre usually enjoy and rely on for understanding. One downfall of this plot is that the basic principle is almost a cliche at this point, and this book doesn't offer a redeeming enough presentation for (in my opinion) many students to feel bored. As a novel study, it would offer the opportunity to discuss diversity, differences, acceptance, etc., but my question here is, "What 7th grade curriculum doesn't?"
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