Andrew Clements is well-known for his middle grade novels featuring characters and situations that kids can identify with, and in About Average he tackles a problem that’s been in the public eye a lot lately — bullies.
Jordan Johnston is just average. There’s nothing exceptional about her, except maybe her babysitting skills, for Jordan can make a killer fort. When Marlea, the popular girl in school, comes across a list that Jordan made detailing things she’s great at, ok at, and stinks at, Marlea teases her mercilessly. Jordan knows turning Marlea in will just make things worse, so decides to try killing her with kindness.
Mixed in with Jordan’s details of the goings-on during a day of school are weather reports from Joe the Weather Guy, whose experience on a farm tells him that some bad weather is brewing. When the school is in the direct path of a tornado, Jordan’s clear head and quick thinking save the day, proving that even average kids can be exceptional.
I haven’t read any of Clements’s books before, and I don’t think my fourth-grader has either. I was taken with his understanding of that age range and appreciation for the struggles they go through, especially in the books that take place in school. They remind me a lot of the Judy Blume books I devoured as a kid.
NOTES ON THE AUDIOBOOK: Pre-teen angst, self-doubt and frustration are all expressed well by the narrator in this audiobook that would appeal to both boys and girls.