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.