Reviews for Report Card
Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 February 2004
Gr. 4-7. With the federal law placing increased importance on test scores, this timely novel gives both kids and adults plenty to think and talk about. Fifth-grader Nora Rowley is a genius masquerading as an average student to avoid the pressures that come with her gift. When her best friend, Stephen, a nice, hard-working child who really is average, scores low on the state mastery tests and starts to think of himself as "dumb," Nora decides it's time to do something. Feeling she has nothing to lose, she brings home a terrible report card, setting off a whole chain of events that affect not only Stephen but also her family, her other classmates, her teachers, and herself. Veteran author Clements has once again built a solid story around a controversial issue for which there is no easy answer, and to his credit, he never tries to offer one. There are no good guys or bad guys in the mix; everyone simply manages with the hand he or she is dealt. A novel sure to generate strong feelings and discussion. ((Reviewed February 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
Average student Nora's grades are dropping precipitously. Her alarmed family and teachers are unaware that the fifth grader is secretly a genius who has intentionally hidden her intelligence throughout her school career and is now purposefully performing below par to prove a point about the unfairness of the grading system. Despite its unlikely premise, the story does raise some thought-provoking issues. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2004 March #1
A fifth-grade girl genius, who has been fooling her parents and teachers by pretending to be a mediocre student, decides to protest the school culture of tests and testing. Genius Nora Rowley is disturbed because her best friend Stephen, who she thinks is the smartest, kindest boy in school, suddenly believes he's dumb just because he didn't score well on an academic assessment test. Upset by Stephen's reaction and the validity of testing in general, Nora tries getting D's on her report card, then later, with Stephen's help, concocts a rebellion among students in which they all flunk their next exam. A polemic for kids, Clements takes on the multifaceted subject of the relationship between a number on a test, student self-esteem, and real-life smarts. Although the ideas presented are provocative, germane, and genuinely worthy, the scenario is highly unlikely and the reader can hear the author's voice speaking through the characters a bit too plainly. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 March #2
With subtlety and authority, Clements (A Week in the Woods) explores the plight of extraordinarily intelligent Nora, who, determined to avoid being singled out, has from an early age strategically hidden her genius from her parents, peers and teachers. But this young narrator attracts ample attention when she purposefully earns D's on her fifth-grade report card, the inaugural step in her plan to protest the school's focus on grades and testing. The catalyst for Nora's scheme is the dramatic change she observes in her best friend, Stephen, whose self-confidence plummets and anxiety soars after he scores poorly on his first standardized state test. After that test, Nora observes, "All the kids started keeping track of test scores and homework grades. School was suddenly all about the competition, and grades were how you could tell the winners from the losers." Appreciating the ramifications of test results on teachers, administrators, a school's reputation and even a town's real estate values, Nora perceptively remarks, "A bad grade for a kid is a bad grade for everybody." After strutting her intellectual stuff and wowing her teachers, the girl goes on to botch three consecutive tests and, with Stephen, convinces most of their classmates to likewise land intentional zeroes. Realistically, the two pals do not effect a revamping of the curriculum, but make their voices heard clearly. Solid characters, convincing dialogue and a topic certain to spark dialogue earn Clements high marks. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 January #3
"With subtlety and authority, Clements explores the plight of an extraordinarily intelligent girl, who from an early age, has strategically hidden her genius from her parents, peers and teachers," PW wrote in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) [Page 67]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 March
Gr 4-7-Fifth-grader Nora Rowley has a problem with grades, and her latest report card, with five D's and one C, proves it. What nobody knows because she's kept it a secret is that she is really a genius and has earned those low marks on purpose because of her friend Stephen. She doesn't like the way tests make him feel about himself (dumb); plus, she can do without the stress as teachers prepare students for the state achievement test. The plan she hatches to sabotage test scores eventually begins to backfire, and the plot develops steadily around that crisis. Narrated by a very bright protagonist, the story has moments of engaging tension: Will the librarian disclose that Nora has been accessing college-level courses online? Will the school psychologist discover her high IQ and place her in the gifted program? Will she and Stephen be suspended for inciting a rebellion? This novel highlights the controversial issues of testing and grades from a child's point of view, but it also reveals the pressure that everyone, including teachers, administrators, and parents, feels. Clements's style, the large print, and the appealing cover illustration will easily capture the attention of even the most reluctant readers.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.