Ungifted Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Teens and pre-teens flock to any new offering from New York Times best-selling author Gordon Korman. Told through multiple viewpoints, Ungifted follows Donovan Curtis through his year at a magnet school for gifted and talented kids. Thanks to an administrative foul-up, the decidedly mediocre student Donovan finds himself enrolled in the Academy of Scholastic Distinction. Out of place and out of luck, Donovan joins the robotics team. And while he learns a few lessons from his gifted classmates, he also teaches a few of his own.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 14 minutes|
|Narrator||Jonathan Todd Ross, Richard Poe, Erin Moon, Andy Paris, Mark Turetsky, Andrea Gallo, Celeste Ciulla, Suzy Jackson|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 21, 2012|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #17,296 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#102 in Humorous Fiction for Children
#234 in Growing Up & Facts of Life for Children
#2,091 in Children's School Issues
Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2015
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After reading the first four paragraphs, I posted my friends on Facebook (especially tagging my childhood trouble-in-arms) that I am going to enjoy this book. It was about us!
No, Gordon Korman didn't actually write about us - he has no idea who we are - but we were both a Donovan and a Daniel (or both Daniels).
I have no doubt there will be reviews posted about the storyline, character arcs, plots & sub-plots.. But for me, it was where this author took me as I read about this kid everyone considered 'ungifted' because of his head know,edge (or lack of it) yet he had a gift that the best brainiacs couldn't wrap their head around, yet felt it. A gift I discovered in my own life as I grew up. A gift that had nothing to do with my IQ (or lack of it) and everything to do with my heart.
I am 66 years old now and this book made me laugh a lot over antics that only a middle grade screw-up could do. But don't let my age change your mind about reading this one. I have no doubt my grandkids will love it too.
I hope Gordon Korman writes more stories about Donovan. He is a great character, as are his best friends: The two Daniels and of course Noah. I would enjoy reading about their antics in High School some day.
God bless you, Gordon for another amazing story.
Unfortunately, Ungifted squanders the good will I have felt towards Korman. It does so by perpetuating myths and stereotypes about gifted students, their parents, their schools, and their teachers. The students who attend a gifted-only public school academy are repeatedly described in negative terms. They lack social skills. They are incomplete without the assistance of a non-gifted boy. These stereotypes perpetuate the myths that the highly gifted have social problems. The research, though, shows that social-emotional issues are no more likely to affect a gifted individual than anyone else; in fact, that is especially true when the students are in an environment in which their academic gifts are not held back. If anything, gifted students at a school for the highly gifted would be less likely to have social-emotional issues than gifted students in a regular school.
Similarly, the adults who believe Donovan doesn’t belong at the Academy are portrayed as villains. They also perpetuate stereotypes including the teacher who says that gifted parents are worse than regular parents. While it is unfortunately true that parents and teachers may be at odds, this statement reinforces stereotypes that gifted students are really just gifted because their parents have advocated for them. Admittedly, in some cases there may be truth to that stereotype. However, in many instances parents don’t advocate for their gifted students. In some cases, it may be because the parents are unaware of the academic needs of their student; in other cases, it may be because parents have come to believe anti-gifted rhetoric that is far too common in American society.
The book also tries to foster resentment between gifted and non-gifted populations. Certainly, the Academy is a remarkable place. However, how many school districts have such a program? How many gifted programs have their own buildings, and how often are those building pristine compared to the rest of the buildings in the district? Perhaps such happenings occur more often in other parts of the US or Canada. However, in the Midwestern states in which I’ve taught, I’ve seen no such dichotomy. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve seen separate buildings for gifted programs except in extraordinarily rare magnet instances. Still, this depiction reinforces the belief that gifted students are getting more than non-gifted students, when, in fact, just the opposite is usually true. Frankly, the book simply feeds into many people’s pre-existing prejudices about the gifted.
The book’s theme may be expressed as the trite cliché that “everyone is gifted in different ways.” Such a statement is no doubt soothing to many persons’ self-esteem. However, it is a sentiment that undermines the importance of helping gifted students to reach their academic potential.
Plenty of protagonists of children’s literature over the years have been unidentified gifted. Where, though, are the protagonists who are identified gifted? The book would have been more effective—and more realistic!—if Donovan had entered the gifted program based on a real test score, a test score that revealed that despite mediocre grades he had a gifted mind, a mind that had been wasted by a lack of meaningful challenge in school. Nearly the rest of the book could have proceeded apace. However, the easy way out is to revel in misconceptions and stereotypes. Unfortunately, that’s what Korman did in what could have been a good book.