Radio Fifth Grade

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
Originally published in 1989, this story follows determined "newskid" Benjy Driver as he leads the school's Saturday radio program. Benjy has a loyal staff in support of the program—Mark and Ellen Louise—and a dedicated sponsor in the form of Mr. Whitehead who runs a pet store called, "Our Animal Friends." When their fifth-grade teacher wins the lottery and decamps to Hawaii and they fail to properly highlight Mr. Whitehead's parrot Winston Churchill on their "Mascot of the Week" spot, the spunky fifth-graders find themselves in hot water. Their new teacher does not really care about the radio show and peppers them with homework, so much so that they have a hard time getting everything ready for the show while finishing their work. Furthermore, unless they unload Winston the parrot, Mr. Whitehead is not sure if his sponsorship will continue. Benjy, Mark, and Ellen Louise have to get their creative juices flowing, but, as they do, they face new traumas and dilemmas in trying to make their teacher, Mr. Whitehead, and their parents happy. As with other Korman books, this is a fun read, but it is telling that this book was originally published in the late 1980's as the radio show aspects seemed a bit dated. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Korman ( A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag ; Don't Care High )tackles the topic of student-run radio with characteristic lightheartedness. Benjy hopes for great things for ``his'' show, but circumstances conspire against it: a stubbornly silent parrot from their sole sponsor could mean the end of their funding, a new teacher assigns so much work that Benjy and his coproducers don't have time for the show, the school bully is muscling in on their airtime in order to read his truly bad creative writing, and their faculty adviser, addicted to SF novels with titles like Vampire Slave Monsters of the Planet Garafraxa , simply tells them to solve their problems by themselves. Like his earlier work, Korman's latest is feelingly written and earns a place with the best middle-grade fiction; more than a romp, it has genuine charm. Ages 9-12. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- Benjy Driver dreams of becoming a big-time radio announcer. He gets an opportunity to develop his skills on a radio show produced by kids and aired every Saturday afternoon from the local station. The many elements of the novel's complicated and episodic plot involve a teacher who wins the state lottery, a talking parrot who says all the wrong things, a hair dryer that jams radios and traffic lights, and a school bully who writes stories about two kittens named Fuzzy and Puffy. Although the plot is thin and the characters one-dimensional, this story works well on the level of sheer farce. Korman is good at creating chaotic, if not always believable, situations. And although not all of the jokes work and the perspective is somewhat adult, this book has a fast pace and an amusing, goofy tone that many kids will enjoy. --Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Pub . Lib . , IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590419277
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/1991
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 7.63 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman is the author of The 39 Clues Book 2: One False Note, which debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and The 39 Clues Book #8: The Emperor's Code. Gordon has written more than sixty books for kids and young adults, including Zoobreak, Swindle, and Son of the Mob, as well as the On the Run series and the Island, Everest, Dive, and Kidnapped trilogies. A native of Ontario, Canada, Korman now lives with his family in Long Island, New York.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

    RADIO FIFTH GRADE is a lively adventure about a group of fifth graders who host a radio show. Benjy is dedicated to excellent journalism, but he discovers that's not always easy when you're working with a group of amateurs.

    The kids have a pretty free hand with their programming because their advisor, Mr. Morenz, usually has his nose deep in some sci-fi thriller. Only Mr. Whitehead, the show's sponsor and owner of a local pet shop called Our Animal Friends, seems interested in what the kids broadcast. His sole interest in the programming is to demand that his advertising dollars turn into more people spending more money in his store.

    The radio show normally includes things like school news, student stories, and some crazy editorial comments, but when the fifth grade teacher wins the lottery and leaves her job, things change. The new fifth grade instructor, Ms. Panagopoulos, arrives and their educational environment changes dramatically. She begins something she calls "seminar" and expectations of student performance increase.

    Fortunately for the students, Benjy figures out a way for the radio show to help them with their grades. It's genius, really, but what if Ms. Panagopoulos finds out?

    Written a bit earlier in Gordon Korman's career (1989), RADIO FIFTH GRADE still rings true today. Readers will find the story entertaining, and it might even inspire unique hands-on classroom activities.

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