The School for the Insanely Gifted

The School for the Insanely Gifted

4.6 27
by Dan Elish
     
 

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Daphna Whispers is insanely gifted.

At age two and a half, she composed her first sonata.

At age eight, she completed an opera.

And now, at eleven and three-quarters, she is orchestrating a piano rhapsody.

With a résumé like that, it's no wonder she is a student at the prestigious Blatt School for the Insanely Gifted. But as sixth grade draws to a

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Overview

Daphna Whispers is insanely gifted.

At age two and a half, she composed her first sonata.

At age eight, she completed an opera.

And now, at eleven and three-quarters, she is orchestrating a piano rhapsody.

With a résumé like that, it's no wonder she is a student at the prestigious Blatt School for the Insanely Gifted. But as sixth grade draws to a close, Daphna's mind is far from the upcoming "Insanity Cup" competition. She's preoccupied by her mother's disappearance two months ago.

When a mysterious man breaks into Daphna's small New York apartment, Daphna discovers that her mother's disappearance wasn't a random accident. Her mother knew something—and now somebody is after Daphna. What starts out as a simple fact-finding trip to the basement with her friends spirals into an international expedition. And while Daphna hopes to uncover the secret of her mother's disappearance on her global trek, the last thing she expects to uncover is an outrageous secret about the Blatt School.

And one insanely shocking secret about herself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eleven-year-old Daphna Whispers is a musical genius at the Blatt School for the Insanely Gifted in New York City. In preparation for the upcoming Insanity Cup competition, Daphna's best friends Harkin and Cynthia are working on a Gum-Top ("The computer that you chew") and a one-woman musical version of Macbeth, respectively. Daphna is trying to compose her masterpiece, a rhapsody, but is distracted by her mother's mysterious disappearance and a series of bizarre occurrences: a man dressed as an antelope breaks into her apartment, school founder Ignatious Blatt (a cross between Steve Jobs and Willy Wonka) is taking forever to release his new invention, and his son, Myron, is snooping around Daphna's studio. Daphna, Harkin, and Cynthia follow clues left by Daphna's mother to Africa in Harkin's Thunkmobile in search of answers. It's a fairly standard adventure about preternaturally talented kids making the most of their gifts, but Elish (13: A Novel) offers an abundance of imaginative and humorous details and a plot full of twists and turns, while Daphna's search for her mother and her passion for music keep the story grounded. Ages 8–12. (July)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Daphna Winters, 11, attends New York City's Blatt School for the Insanely Gifted, whose founder, Ignatious Peabody Blatt, is a computer genius. Her two best friends are Harkin Thunkenreiser, a boy inventor who can collapse his car into a laptop-size package, and Cynthia Trustwell, a Broadway star who dreams of performing a one-woman Macbeth. Daphna spends her time composing music and hoping for news of her mother, who vanished over the Atlantic. When a group of goons comes after her, she wonders if their presence is linked to her mother's disappearance. Daphna and her friends fly to Mt. Kilimanjaro to find her mother's college friend, Billy B. Brilliant. His connection to her and to Ignatius Blatt leads to a showdown in which the girl fights to stop Blatt from brainwashing the entire city. Elish has created a school story with genius students and a likable main character. While plot trumps character, Daphna manages to express her need for family and tie up some emotional loose ends before saving the day. This lively adventure parades enough gadgets to capture readers' imaginations. Daphna and her friends have deus ex machina down to a science as they escape one situation after another with the help of chewing gum that surfs the Internet or an apartment whose rooms collapse. Give this one to children who like modern-day superhero stories.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Kirkus Reviews

From the author ofAttack of the Frozen Woodchucks(2008) comes an equally surreal cyber-caper loosely attached to an incoherent story line.

At 11 3/4, Daphna is already a talented composer, whose music transports listeners into refreshing trances—so she fits right in with the rest of her genius New York schoolmates. Harkin "Thunk" Thunkenreiser is developing a chewing-gum computer that puts the chewer online as long as the flavor lasts, and her friend Cynthia is recastingMacbethas a one-woman musical while starring in a string of smash Broadway hits. Two months after her mother's disappearance at sea, ineffectual pursuers wearing antelope masks pursue grieving Daphna and her allies to a hidden valley on Mount Kilimanjaro, where the children find evidence that the school's great benefactor, digital entrepreneur Ignatius Blatt (think Steve Jobs with the fashion sense of Ronald McDonald) has actually stolen all the wildly popular digital gadgets he claims to have invented himself. Thanks to a spy in Daphna's circle of friends, Blatt releases contact-lens computers that give him control (through a ring on his finger) over the minds of those who wear them. The shoveled-together climax is of a piece with the rest of this overstuffed, self-conscious tale.

Confused readers will wish that the author had spent a lot more time fitting together the random and extraneous elements here.(Fantasy. 10-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061138737
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/21/2011
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
1,015,668
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.52(h) x 1.03(d)
Lexile:
670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Dan Elish is the insanely gifted author of many novels for both adults and children, including The Attack of the Frozen Woodchucks, 13 (based on the Broadway musical), and The Worldwide Dessert Contest.

When he's not busy typing furiously away on his Lap-Top (not a Gum-Top or a Hat-Top or even a Balloon-Top), you can find Dan in New York City, where he lives with his wife, Andrea, and daughter, Cassie, and son, John.

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