Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Trail to Jail? The Dunderheads Behind Barsl by Paul Fleischman

When school ended, we thought we were done with our teacher, Miss Breakbone, forever.

I thought summer would be boring.

I thought I'd never see the inside of a jail cell.

Wrong. Wrong again, and very wrong.

Maybe the Dunderheads shouldn't call me "Einstein" at all.

Christened "Dunderheads" by the evil taskmistress and sadistic teacher Miss Breakbone for their inability to meet her exacting standards, a group of unusual students, each with their own peculiar, and shall we say, non-academic talents, the Dunderheads are ready for their idea of a leisurely and rewarding summer.

But when their movie-mad member, nicknamed "Hollywood," talks the group into signing up as extras for the movie being shot on location in their town, starring teen diva, Ashley Throb-Hart, the would-be Dunderhead actors discover, to their dismay, that Mrs. Breakbone has also auditioned for a bit part. And then, when a series of cat burglaries occur around town, the spiteful Miss Breakbone fingers one of their group, "Spider," whom she knows can hold his own with Spiderman's climbing skills. With Spider behind bars, awaiting trial, the rest of the Dunderheads--Wheels, Nails, Spitball, Google-Eyes, Clips, Junkyard, and Pencil--hatch a byzantine plan involving their wacky abilities for helping Spider out of the hoosegow and, they hope, flummox Miss Breakbone and her brother, Chief-of-Police Breakbone, in the process.

The sequel to Newberry Award-winning Paul Fleishman's earlier The Dunderheads,, also illustrated by the able David Roberts in his own inimitable style, has opened to rave reviews among the critics. Funny, fast-moving, and respectful to those kids with eccentric and often unappreciated abilities, The Dunderheads Behind Bars (Candlewick, 2012) is cut from the same inventive storytelling cloth as Paul Fleishman's award-winning The Whipping Boy.

"Fleischman and Roberts work in perfect synch to deliver a noirish mystery that’s as delightfully eccentric as the kids themselves," declares Publishers Weekly.

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