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The Schernoff Discoveries

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Overview

Harold Schernoff, 14-year-old science whiz and social nerd, has a theory for every problem, from dating, to bullies, to making money, to sports, to how to buy a car when you're underage. When he and his buddy team up to put his theories to the test, nothing goes according to plan. A ski lesson becomes: Mass x Acceleration x Slope of hill = eeeAAGGHHH. As for first dates, only Harold could mastermind such disaster. Only Harold could go fishing and get caught by the fish. And only Gary Paulsen could write such a ...
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Overview

Harold Schernoff, 14-year-old science whiz and social nerd, has a theory for every problem, from dating, to bullies, to making money, to sports, to how to buy a car when you're underage. When he and his buddy team up to put his theories to the test, nothing goes according to plan. A ski lesson becomes: Mass x Acceleration x Slope of hill = eeeAAGGHHH. As for first dates, only Harold could mastermind such disaster. Only Harold could go fishing and get caught by the fish. And only Gary Paulsen could write such a wonderfully funny story of friendship.

Harold and his best friend, both hopeless geeks and societal misfits, try to survive unusual science experiments, the attacks of the football team, and other dangers of junior high school.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two junior high boys lose their "uncool" status when they kiss girls and foil some football team thugs in this comedy set in the 1950s. "Joyfully unconventional thinking and quirky writing," said PW. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two things make this book stand out from the crowd of school-based comedies. First, there's Paulsen's joyfully unconventional thinking and quirky writing. Second, this book is told in an unusual but effective way, narrated by an unnamed 14-year-old boy about his best friend, Harold Schernoff. The two buddies are plagued with uncool reputations, but it doesn't hamstring Harold. Among many developments, Harold learns to fish (and gets yanked into the river by his would-be catch). Harold skis. Harold joins home economics class (" `It's simply chemistry,' he said one morning while handing me a delicious apple tart that he'd just finished baking"). Harold kisses a girl, plays golf and works as a not-very-competent pin-setter at the bowling alley (the setting, lightly sketched, is northern Minnesota in the '50s). Harold even foils the football team thugs, dragging his best friend into respectability along the way. As in many of his novels, Paulsen matter-of-factly states the narrator's lousy home situationindifferent, alcoholic parentsbut brushes it off as a minor nuisance, something unfortunate but not central to his life. Instead, he focuses on the funny side of junior high. The humor is luminous in contrast to the faintly but deftly drawn shadows in the background. It's also a welcome boost to those who secretly fear that junior high uncoolness is a permanent state. Ages 10-up. (June)
Children's Literature - Dianne Ochiltree
ng nothing but a cake mix and a box of chocolate-flavored laxatives.) This is a wonderfully wise, funny and heartfelt story of friendship and the adventure of growing up.
VOYA - Maura Bresnahan
Paulsen returns to the humorous narrative style of Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered (Harcourt Brace, 1993/VOYA February 1994). Readers will be immediately drawn in by the unnamed narrator's charmingly told reminiscences of his boyhood friendship with Howard Schernoff. The two young men were fourteen-year-old social outcasts in their 1950s Minnesota hometown-the narrator, in part, because of his family's situation, and Howard because of his scientific genius. He was considered a geek. United by their status and a burning desire to meet girls, the boys become close friends and diligently attempt to enter the orbit of the opposite sex. Using Howard's scientific formulas as their guides, they embark on one adventure after another with fantastically disastrous results. Kissing girls in darkened movie theaters, skiing, fishing, and setting pins at the bowling alley are just a few situations in which Howard's scientific strategies backfire. There is plenty of slapstick action to keep the most reluctant readers entertained. Paulsen delivers a heartfelt memoir of friendship that readers of a younger generation will strongly appreciate and identify with. Bowling alleys now use automatic pinsetters and cars no longer need crankshafts, but boys are still struggling toward adulthood with all the trials, tribulations, and promise as our two heroes did forty years ago. VOYA Codes: 5Q 5P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8A slapstick novel about friendship set in Minnesota. The book includes autobiographical elements from Paulsen's own life (alcoholic parents, a stint in the army, running the Iditarod). Both the first-person narrator and his best (and only) friend, Harold Schernoff, are 14-year-old social outcasts. Harold also is a science whiz, complete with slide rule, who devises theories to solve all sorts of problems, from dating to dealing with bullies and learning to ski. The chapter on his solutions to first-date awkwardness is hilarious. Perhaps the best chapter is the one in which the boys, although underage, buy their very first car and drive it for a glorious eight miles before the engine explodes. Paulsen captures adolescent feelings perfectly; indeed, the novel becomes a survival story with a twistsurvival of adolescence. Asides are interjected parenthetically comparing then and now. An afterword lets readers know what happens to the characters so memorably drawn in the story. Simplicity of style, humor, and great characterization make this another winner from a popular author.Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Kirkus Reviews
A rollicking tale that's dressed up like a novel but reads more like a memoir, from the new comedian on the block, Paulsen (Worksong, p. 304, etc.).

The never-named narrator, whom readers are led to believe is Paulsen himself, is a nerd just like his friend, Harold Schernoff; together they are "easily the most unpopular boys" in their junior high. But if Harold is a brainy geek, with theories about everything from girls to fishing to bullies, the narrator operates under a somewhat dimmer star, willing to help Harold test his theories and come up with results that are just short of disastrous. Under Harold's leadership they find a surefire way to meet girls—by enrolling in home economics—until the football team finds out and Harold has a bigger problem to solve. Other adventures involve skiing and fishing—spectacular failures; the job they get as pinsetters in a local bowling alley results in one of the funniest episodes in the book and, incidentally, leads to the narrator's small triumph over the bully Dick Chimmer. It's all flat-out goofy and great fun, as well as an inspiring story of shared experiences that, weird as they are, form the basis of a strong and affectionate friendship.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440414636
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 103
  • Sales rank: 718,942
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.59 (h) x 0.29 (d)

Meet the Author

GARY PAULSEN is the distinguished author of many critically acclaimed books for young people, His most recent books are Mudshark, Lawn Boy, Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day, The Time Hackers, and The Amazing Life of Birds (The Twenty Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech).
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Customer Reviews

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( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2002

    Good Book

    This was a wonderfully thought out book. It was very funny. This book was fun to read because it kept me interested. After eading the first chapter, I didn't want to put it down. I would recommend this book to any middle school student. They will get a kick out of it. I thought the way that Paulsen wrote it was neat. Like the way that the chapters didn't make one big story, but each chapter was its own story. This book was great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2000

    The geeks

    In this book, Schernoff Discoveries, there were seven chapters.In each chapter they focus on a new idea.No chapter in this book focused on only one subject. Therefore there is seven different plots.14 year old harold schenoff, geek and nerd, is the main character. With his brainy ideas, him and his best friend narrator, never named, can do anything.These two do everything together, from skiing,fish,golf and caddy for golfers.There are many settings in this book.The most mentioned is probably the school. This is were two or three chapters take place in.This book's theme is based on teaching you a lesson. Most chapter they do things that you would not want to do or even try at home. To my opinion this book is a two star book.

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