8th Grade Superzero

8th Grade Superzero

4.5 2
by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
     
 

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In this terrific debut, a Brooklyn middle-schooler finds the superhero within himself thanks to old friends, new dreams, and a pair of magical "Dora the Explorer" sneakers.

Ever since a deeply unfortunate incident earlier this year, Reggie's been known as "Pukey" McKnight at his high-intensity Brooklyn middle school. He wants to turn his image

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Overview

In this terrific debut, a Brooklyn middle-schooler finds the superhero within himself thanks to old friends, new dreams, and a pair of magical "Dora the Explorer" sneakers.

Ever since a deeply unfortunate incident earlier this year, Reggie's been known as "Pukey" McKnight at his high-intensity Brooklyn middle school. He wants to turn his image around, but he has other things on his mind as well:  his father, who's out of a job; his best friends, Ruthie and Joe C.; his former best friend Donovan, who's now become a jerk; and of course, the beautiful Mialonie. The elections for school president are coming up, but with his notorious nickname and "nothing" social status, Reggie wouldn't stand a chance, if he even had the courage to run.

Then Reggie gets involved with a local homeless shelter, the Olive Branch. Haunted by two of the clients there--George, a once-proud man now living on the streets, and Charlie, a six-year-old kid who becomes his official "Little Buddy"--he begins to think about making a difference, both in the world and at school. Pukey for President? It can happen . . . if he starts believing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Publishers Weekly. Starred Review. Rhuday-Perkovich delivers a masterful debut, telling a layered middle-school tale filled with characters who are delightfully flawed and, more importantly, striving to overcome those flaws. Reggie McKnight has been saddled with the nickname “Pukey” thanks to a disastrous incident on the first day of school. Attempting to get through the rest of the year unnoticed, he spends his time with his best friends, political activist Ruthie (who shares Reggie's Jamaican background) and aspiring rapper Joe C. While working on a project at a homeless shelter with his church's youth group, he becomes increasingly interested and involved in the community, leading to his participation in his school's presidential race, first as an adviser to a classmate, eventually as a candidate. Rhuday-Perkovich doesn't take shortcuts, forcing Reggie to deal with a world in which he doesn't always get the answers or successes he wants, and the book shines as a result. Messages of social justice–whether through church projects, parental discussions, or recognition of racial biases among his friends–complement the story and characters, rather than upstage them. Ages 10–14. (Jan.)

Kirkus Reviews. Though he imagines himself a superhero, Reginald McKnight threw up on the first day of school and acquired the less-than-cool nickname “Pukey”–now, he just wants survive the year “under the radar and on the sidelines.” Readers might legitimately fear this will be just another middle-school tale of plastic vomit, “puke-worthy” cafeteria food and snorting milk out of nostrils, but when Reggie gets involved with a service project at the Olive Branch Shelter to document the lives of the homeless, he realizes that “[e]ighth grade isn't all there is to life.” When Reggie runs for class president, his platform becomes getting students involved in the community, with the shelter as a good place to start–as tutors, painters, babysitters, walking partners and after-school helpers. A good-hearted, nuanced story of a young man who dares to be more than his place in a middle-school social hierarchy, a tale rooted in religious faith and social conscience, related with lively good humor. (Fiction. 10-14)

Kirkus Reviews.

Though he imagines himself a superhero, Reginald McKnight threw up on the first day of school and acquired the less-than-cool nickname \u0022Pukey\u0022 -- now, he just wants survive the year \u0022under the radar and on the sidelines.\u0022 Readers might legitimately fear this will be just another middle-school tale of plastic vomit, \u0022puke-worthy\u0022 cafeteria food and snorting milk out of nostrils, but when Reggie gets involved with a service project at the Olive Branch Shelter to document the lives of the homeless, he realizes that \u0022[e]ighth grade isn't all there is to life.\u0022 When Reggie runs for class president, his platform becomes getting students involved in the community, with the shelter as a good place to start -- as tutors, painters, babysitters, walking partners and after-school helpers. A good-hearted, nuanced story of a young man who dares to be more than his place in a middle-school social hierarchy, a tale rooted in religious faith and social conscience, related with lively good humor. (Fiction. 10-14)

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Eighth-grade Reggie McKnight has been nicknamed Pukey because of an unfortunate incident when he was the featured speaker at an all-school assembly at Clarke Middle School, a school whose official self-image as focusing on responsibility and respect is at odds with its actual culture of bullying and conformity. Reggie finds himself in the spotlight again when he is tapped by repellent Vicky Ross to be campaign manager in her race for school president. He hopes he can get Vicky to focus her campaign on getting the Clarke students to volunteer at the local homeless shelter. Instead, Vicky cares only about creating further rewards for the school's academic elite. Finally, Reggie seizes the chance to act in his own name, with his own voice, to try to make a difference. It seem unbelievable that ambitious Vicky would choose to collaborate with a school outcast and equally unbelievable that Reggie would endure Vicky's abuse and arrogance as long as he does. The unremitting nastiness of Clarke Middle School—which feels much more like a high school—becomes exhausting to read about, but Reggie's genuine care for the homeless is completely compelling, as are the relationships within his Jamaican family. It is refreshing to see an unapologetic expression of religious faith in a mainstream young adult novel, and to watch one lone hero standing up for something worth believing in. Readers can expect to cry during Reggie's proudest moment and come away from his story energized to engage with what really matters. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
Publishers Weekly
Rhuday-Perkovich delivers a masterful debut, telling a layered middle-school tale filled with characters who are delightfully flawed and, more importantly, striving to overcome those flaws. Reggie McKnight has been saddled with the nickname “Pukey” thanks to a disastrous incident on the first day of school. Attempting to get through the rest of the year unnoticed, he spends his time with his best friends, political activist Ruthie (who shares Reggie’s Jamaican background) and aspiring rapper Joe C. While working on a project at a homeless shelter with his church’s youth group, he becomes increasingly interested and involved in the community, leading to his participation in his school’s presidential race, first as an adviser to a classmate, eventually as a candidate. Rhuday-Perkovich doesn’t take shortcuts, forcing Reggie to deal with a world in which he doesn’t always get the answers or successes he wants, and the book shines as a result. Messages of social justice—whether through church projects, parental discussions, or recognition of racial biases among his friends—complement the story and characters, rather than upstage them. Ages 10–14. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Reggie McKnight is a smart but somewhat geeky eighth grader growing up in New York City. He earned the nickname "Pukey" during an unfortunate incident at assembly, and he hasn't been able to shake it. Life at his alternative school isn't all bad, though. Reggie's friends Ruthie and Joe C. have his back most of the time, and then there's beautiful Mialonie, who is showing some interest in him. But these days Reggie has a little more on his plate than he can handle. His dad is out of work, and his mom works too much. He gets involved at a homeless shelter, befriending two of its residents, but is often at a loss for how to make a difference. And will he ever work up the courage to overcome his reputation as "Pukey" and run for class president? The novel takes on a number of weighty issues including religion, homelessness, and getting involved without the heavy language and situations that are often a part of urban fiction. Although this moderately paced story will likely require some selling, it is a good one to recommend to readers who are looking for realistic fiction with a focus on social responsibility.—Jessica Marie, Renton Public Library, WA
Kirkus Reviews
Though he imagines himself a superhero, Reginald McKnight threw up on the first day of school and acquired the less-than-cool nickname "Pukey"-now, he just wants survive the year "under the radar and on the sidelines." Readers might legitimately fear this will be just another middle-school tale of plastic vomit, "puke-worthy" cafeteria food and snorting milk out of nostrils, but when Reggie gets involved with a service project at the Olive Branch Shelter to document the lives of the homeless, he realizes that "[e]ighth grade isn't all there is to life." When Reggie runs for class president, his platform becomes getting students involved in the community, with the shelter as a good place to start-as tutors, painters, babysitters, walking partners and after-school helpers. A good-hearted, nuanced story of a young man who dares to be more than his place in a middle-school social hierarchy, a tale rooted in religious faith and social conscience, related with lively good humor. (Fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545096768
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/01/2010
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
8.48(w) x 5.76(h) x 1.17(d)
Lexile:
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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