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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.
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved