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list price: $15.99
edition:Paperback
published: Aug 2006
ISBN:9780006395393
publisher: HarperCollins
imprint: HarperTrophy

Can You Spell Revolution

by Matt Beam

reviews: 2
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5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $15.99
edition:Paperback
published: Aug 2006
ISBN:9780006395393
publisher: HarperCollins
imprint: HarperTrophy
Description

Clouds McFadden is definitely different. With his shock of red hair, his disarming manner and an opening greeting of “Good day, fellow proletariats,” this transfer student to Laverton Junior High looks ready to shake the boredom from his adopted Grade 8 class. Which is fine with Chris, who, quite frankly, is tired of tyrannicalteachers, cool-girl cliques and boring work. When Clouds proposes to Chris and a select group of classmates that they can change their school world for the better with a little revolutionary zeal, everyone gets into the act. Inspired by historical figures, the group manages to humiliate a nitpicking teacher through the use of a secret tape recorder (known as Operation “Code: Nixon”), infiltrate the cool-girls’ club (“Code: Queen Elizabeth”) and stage a passive resistance to tedious note-taking (“Code: Gandhi”). But then Clouds goes too far in his desire for revenge on Principal Dorfman—and the revolution takes a frighteningly real turn.

In the same way that he comically connected the rules of baseball to the rules of adolescent love in Getting to First Base with Danalda Chase, Matt Beam makes another inspired yet never over-the-top link between the lessons of history and the lessons of life that every teen must master.

About the Author

Matt Beam

MATT BEAM is a writer, photographer and teacher. His young adult novels include Can You Spell Revolution?, Earth to Nathan Blue and Last December. He created two photographic picture books, City Alphabet and City Numbers, with words by Joanne Schwartz. He lives in Toronto.

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
12 to 100
Grade:
7 to 17

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Reader Reviews

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Can You Spell Revolution?

The Grade 8 class at Laverton Public School is recognizable to every reader. The student body comprises the cliques, the bullies, the jocks, the scapegoats, the nerds and the want-to-bes. Clouds McFadden, a new student with the “coldest, most intense grey eyes” arrives and changes everything with his greeting “good day, fellow proletariats.” Using the great lessons of history, he inspires a carefully chosen group of fellow students to effect change at the school.

Their demands are seemingly simple: to run their own assemblies; to convince a teacher to use multiple intelligence learning theory to change classroom assignments; to shed administrative light on the behaviour of the school divas; and to gain recognition of the value of even those students who struggle with behavioural and academic problems. With Lenin, Gandhi, Lafayette, Nixon and Elizabeth I as their models, and with Clouds’ insistence that all adults are tyrants, the group sets out to change their world. Chris, the narrator, reluctantly participates and views the proceedings with a sceptical yet hopeful eye. While revelling in the changes in school atmosphere, he comes to understand that power can corrupt even the most inspiring and well-meaning leaders. The author portrays the emotional chaos of these teenagers realistically and poignantly. The historical significance of the role models may elude many teen readers; however, it may spur eager minds to research the historical episodes referenced in the story. The book would be enhanced by an appendix with brief biographies of the historical figures.

The ending is a bit contrived. Everything ends happily and with explanation, including Clouds’ emotional angst. However, readers aged 11 and up will enjoy the interesting historical detail, the realistic interactions between adults and children and the recognizable emotional and physical environment of the story. This reviewer suspects that some will adopt this story as their teen call to the barricades.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2006. Vol.29 No. 4.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Can You Spell Revolution?

When a transfer student tries to shake the boredom from his adopted Grade 8 class, everyone gets into the act. But they go too far, and the revolution takes a frightening turn…

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.

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