Top critical review
From the Outhouse to the Schoolhouse
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2012
In our home, we practice a family-friendly version of censorship. My kids are not allowed to sass us, say curse words ("Oh, my god!"), call names or say things like "shut up" "idiot" or "stupid." We discourage slang ("Like, whatever, you know?") and colloquial speech (shoulda, woulda and coulda - just don't).
Our rule is simple: Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Don't say it mean. But you can read it. Our benevolent censorship extends only to verbal, not written, speech.
Raymond, the character in "Rule the School" burps, farts, teases, cheats, lies, sasses, connives and dodges his way through fourth grade. This book belongs to the gross-out genre and joins the ranks of "Captain Underpants" and "The Day My Butt Went Psycho."
This dumb, dumber and dumbest style of writing is supposed to get kids - especially boys - interested in reading. But according to Thomas Spence, in an OpEd piece for the Wall Street Journal, a 10-point literacy gap opened up between boys and girls in 1992, right about the time the gross-out genre took off. Two surprising things: one, boys continue to score below girls in reading proficiency despite the potty-themed genre's popularity; two, "there is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls."
What sustains this genre is a robust elementary school market whose staff, allegedly, are desperate to meet - rather than guide - the "untutored tastes" of this young, mostly male, audience.
My daughter loved this book; my son thought it was, well, "stupid."