About Average

About Average

4.1 30
by Andrew Clements, Mark Elliott

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Can average be amazing? The bestselling author of Frindle shows that with a little kindness, it can.

Jordan Johnston is average. Not short, not tall. Not plump, not slim. Not gifted, not flunking out. Even her shoe size is average. She’s ordinary for her school, for her town, for even the whole wide world, it seems.

Then Marlea Harkins, one…  See more details below


Can average be amazing? The bestselling author of Frindle shows that with a little kindness, it can.

Jordan Johnston is average. Not short, not tall. Not plump, not slim. Not gifted, not flunking out. Even her shoe size is average. She’s ordinary for her school, for her town, for even the whole wide world, it seems.

Then Marlea Harkins, one of the most popular girls in school—and most definitely the meanest—does something unthinkable, and suddenly nice, average Jordan isn’t thinking average thoughts anymore. She wants to get Marlea back! But what’s the best way to beat a bully? Could it be with kindness?

Called “a genius of gentle, high concept tales set in suburban middle school” by The New York Times, bestselling author Andrew Clements presents a compelling story of the greatest achievement possible—self-acceptance.

Editorial Reviews

Jordan Johnston might be described as a human median. Average in every way, this so-so looking mid-teen tends towards C's in school and invisibility in most other places. Impatient with her self-perceived mediocrity, she composes a list of the gifts, talents, and attributes that she doesn't have. When this tally is snatched by her bullying sister, Jordan begins a resolute quest for emotional survival. Andrew Clements (Frindle, Extra Credit, Lost and Found) has written another thoughtful novel of problems that young readers really do face.

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Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt



It was a sunny spring morning, but there was murder in the air. Jordan Johnston was killing Pomp and Circumstance. Actually, the whole elementary school orchestra was involved. It was a musical massacre.

But Jordan’s violin was especially deadly. It screeched like a frightened owl. Mr. Graisha glared at her, snapping his baton up and down, side to side, fighting to keep all twenty-three students playing in unison. It was a losing battle. He glanced up at the clock and then waved both arms as if he needed to stop a freight train.

“All right, all right, stop playing—everyone, stop. Stop!” He mopped his forehead with a handkerchief and smiled as best he could. “I think that’s enough for this morning. Don’t forget that this is Thursday, and we have a special rehearsal right here after school—don’t be late. And if you have any free time at all during the day, please practice. We are not going to play well together if you can’t play well by yourself, right? Practice!”

Jordan put away her violin carefully. She loved the instrument, and she was very good at putting it away. She was also good at polishing the rich brown wood and keeping the strings in tune, and keeping the bow in tip-top condition. It was playing the thing that gave her trouble.

But she was not going to give up on it.

She had given up on so many things during the past eight months. The violin was her last stand, her line in the sand. She was bound and determined to become a gifted violinist—instead of a scary one.

She was still a member of the sixth-grade chorus, but she didn’t feel that was much of an accomplishment. Every other sixth grader was in it too.

Jordan wasn’t shy about singing. She sang right out. She sang so loudly that Mr. Graisha had taken her aside one day. He was in charge of all things musical at Baird Elementary School—band, orchestra, chorus, everything.

“Jordan, you have great . . . enthusiasm. But it would be good if you didn’t sing louder than all the other kids around you. The audience needs to hear them too, don’t you think?”

Jordan got the message: Your voice isn’t so good.

She almost always sang the correct notes, she was sure of that. She wasn’t a terrible singer—just not good enough to be the loudest one. Her voice was about average.

Her friend Kylie had a gorgeous voice, high and sweet and clear—but she was so timid. Kylie barely made a squeak during chorus practice, and she hardly whispered at concerts. It drove Jordan crazy.

She wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her and shout, “Kylie, if I had a voice like yours, I would already live in Hollywood—no kidding, I would be a star by now! What is wrong with you?”

Jordan was a careful observer of all the talented kids at her school—the ones who got the trophies and awards, the ones who were written up in the local newspaper, the ones who were obviously going to go on and do amazing and wonderful things all the rest of their lives. They were the gifted ones, the talented ones, the special ones.

And she was not one of them.

After her violin was tucked safely into its bulletproof case, Jordan began putting away the music stands. She carried them one by one and stacked them over in the dark corner of the stage next to the heavy folds of the red velvet curtain. When all twenty-three stands were arranged neatly, she folded the metal chairs and then stacked each one onto a rolling cart. She also tipped Mr. Graisha’s heavy podium up onto its rollers and wheeled it over to its place next to the grand piano.

It was already warm in the auditorium, and she leaned against the piano a moment. Moving that wooden podium always made her feel like a weight lifter, and she didn’t want to start sweating so early in the day. It had been hotter than normal all week long.

Jordan had volunteered at the start of the school year to be the orchestra stage manager. She arrived early for each rehearsal and set up the chairs and the music stands. Then, after rehearsal, she stayed to put them all away again.

She didn’t do this to get on Mr. Graisha’s good side—the only sure way to do that was to be a super-talented musician. She just liked helping out. She also liked the stage to be orderly. She knew how to arrange the chairs and music stands correctly, and she understood how to put everything away again, just right.

Her best friend, Nikki Scanlon, had wanted to be the co-manager, but Jordan enjoyed doing the work herself. Also, by the time she finished putting things away three mornings a week, Jordan was sometimes by herself, alone on the big stage. She enjoyed that, too.

And today, like the other times she’d been alone in there, she went to the center of the stage and looked out over all the empty seats.

Baird Elementary School had once been the town’s high school, and the auditorium was in a separate building off to one side. It was a large room. Row after row of theater seats sloped up to the back wall.

Jordan smiled modestly and walked to the front edge of the stage. Looking out over the crowd, she lowered her eyes then took a long, graceful bow.

The people were standing up now, whistling and hooting and clapping like crazy. She smiled and bowed again, then gave a special nod to her mom and dad, there in the front row. She even smiled sweetly at her big sister, Allie, and her little brother, Tim. Of course, Tim didn’t notice. He was only four, and he was staring at the blue-and-red stage lights with one finger stuck in his nose.

A young girl in a blue dress ran down the center aisle from the back of the hall, stretched up on tiptoes, and handed Jordan two dozen yellow roses—her favorite flower. With the bouquet cradled in one arm, Jordan took a final bow and backed away. The red velvet curtain parted for just a moment, and she slipped backstage.

There were people asking for autographs, plus some journalists with their cameras flashing, and a crush of happy friends, eager to congratulate her and wish her well. It was wonderful, and Jordan savored each second, as she had so many times before.


The first bell—six seconds of harsh, brain-rattling noise. It echoed in the empty auditorium. Outside behind the main building, kids whooped and yelled as they ran from the playground and lined up at the doors.

The intruding sounds did not touch Jordan’s joy and certainty. She felt absolutely sure that one day her moment of triumph would be real, a part of her life.

But why would all those people be applauding her?

She had no idea.

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About Average 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book could be one of my fav books i have ever read and im considered a book worm! Even though im 10 i still love reading books that r a little older for me soo this was kind of a mix. I think this is a must READ
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was very good it was all about this girl that is named jordan who is average everyrhing then comes a girl named marlea who isnt very nice to jordon and did a very mean thing to her which was how jordan made a list if things shes good at and things that shes bad at and the bad part of the list took up most of the page jordan then recycled the lists and marlea grabs it and she reads it out loud. Their teacher schedualed an extra band class so that they could practice for the concert and a tornado hits and jordan does something amazing but you will have to read the book to find out what jordan did this is a must read for ages 10 and on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is GREAT!!! It's a must-get! I was pretty stuck to it. Don't listen to the people who say it's "bad." 5 STARS NO JOKE! Just get it, you'll love it! For a book, it's not even that much ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It Is a great book for kids so get it. Yourkids will love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All of you who posted 5 stars have the right ideas
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very awsome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The sample doesn't tell you anything but that she's bad at the violin in the elementary school band.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to read this book again and again
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish i could give it zero stars yo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that this book is a really good for kids who like stories with social issues
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book! Better than what I expected. Really good book for a pre-teen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good but it is really short and i finished it in about a day or two but other than that it is really good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i saw the title and saw the front cover i thought it would be a really good book but it confusled me i really did not get it the book jumped all around from diffent places in a heart beat i was just thinking to myself that i must of skiped a chapter or something.this was the first book of andrew clemets really did not like atleast of the ones i read witch are..... Frindle , the last holiday cocert, the landry news, things hoped for and i probly read more but thats all i can remember right now so if there is some more andrew clemets books that arent really good please post and keep me updated so i dont waste all my money on not good books. THANKS bye. Haylee =)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book rater
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago