Mrs. Woods is brought in at the last minute to be a long term sub in a 6th grade class. She is retired, and doesn't particularly care about the all important state assessments; she would rather read with the students and have them enjoy learning. In chapters told from the points of view of different students in the class, we see how the year progresses, the projects that are completed, the home lives of the speakers and the challenges they face, and then the delivery of the test. We hear from Natalie, who wants to be a lawyer like her parents; Randi, who is tired of gymnastics because her mother is pushing her; Gavin, who hates school and feels that it wasn't important to his parents; Scott, who struggles socially and academically, and has to deal with an aging grandfather; Trevor, who is a bully because he is bullied at home. The students also work with a teacher on art and community service projects, and go to a local nursing home to visit the residents. In the end, there is an issue with the testing, and the children figure out a lot of personal connections between their teachers and the residents of the nursing home.
Strengths: Buyea is a good writer who tells interesting school stories and tries to incorporate characters from a variety of backgrounds. I thought the story about Scott's grandfather was particularly well done. Weaknesses: Students don't want to read about testing any more than they want to take tests, and there are a lot of problems but not a lot of action. Teachers, however, adore these polemics against it. What I really think: Mr. Buyea really, really needs to write a novel about middle school wrestling, preferably from the viewpoint of one wrestler. However, I need novels about wrestlers so badly that I would probably buy two copies even if the story is told from multiple view points.
368 pages 978-1101938256 Ages 9-12
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Library Specialist, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com/
From the beloved author of Because of Mr. Terupt and its sequels comes The Perfect Score, a new middle-grade school story with a very special cast of unforgettable characters who discover that getting the perfect score—both on the test and in life—is perhaps not so perfect after all.
No one likes or wants to take the statewide assessment tests. Not the students in Mrs. Woods’s sixth-grade class. Not even Mrs. Woods. It’s not as if the kids don’t already have things to worry about. . . .
Under pressure to be the top gymnast her mother expects her to be, RANDI starts to wonder what her destiny truly holds. Football-crazy GAVIN has always struggled with reading and feels as dumb as his high school–dropout father. TREVOR acts tough and mean, but as much as he hates school, he hates being home even more. SCOTT’s got a big brain and an even bigger heart, especially when it comes to his grandfather, but his good intentions always backfire in spectacular ways. NATALIE, know-it-all and aspiring lawyer, loves to follow the rules—only this year, she’s about to break them all.
The whole school is in a frenzy with test time approaching—kids, teachers, the administration. Everyone is anxious. When one of the kids has a big idea for acing the tests, they’re all in. But things get ugly before they get better, and in the end, the real meaning of the perfect score surprises them all.--from the publisher