Friday 17 February 2023

The Superteacher Project - Gordon Korman

The Superteacher Project
Gordon Korman
US Edition
Balzer & Bray
ISBN 9780063032798
eISBN 9780063032811
Canadian Edition
ISBN 9781443198011

First I absolutely love reading Gordon Korman books, either by myself or with one or more of my children. But I will state that it is sometimes frustrating that his books release weeks or months ahead in the US Market, before coming to the Canadian Market. And based on the description and some of Korman’s many other amazing ‘school stories’ I had to get the Us edition so I could read it right away!

Mid Last year, in the summer of 2022, Korman published his 100th book. Yes you read that correctly, his hundredth book. My introduction to Korman’s works was the 39 Clues back in 2009. Since then I have read almost 30 of his books. But a drop in the buck, but with each one I read I am entertained and often challenged. My son often reads these books to me or with me. I picked up this to read it the week it released. And now my son is rereading it to me. 

My son and I started reading Gordon Korman books together a few years ago, when he was given one as an end of year gift by his teacher. She gave the whole class the same Scholastic edition and wrote a note to each student in their copy of the book. Prior to that I had a read a few of his contributions to the 39 Clues series and had enjoyed them. My son and I have mostly been reading his more recent titles. I have read about 25 over the last 6 months. This one took me by surprise and now a few days later I am still thinking about it. Working in IT and AI being one of the buzz words the last few years this story really works well. In the US from Harper Collins and is now in reprint under the Balzer + Bray imprint, and in Canada it is published by Scholastic.

The description of this volume states:

“From Gordon Korman, the bestselling author of Restart and The Unteachables, comes a hilarious new story about a mysterious new teacher who turns out to be an AI robot from a secret experimental program.

Oliver Zahn, spitball champion and self-declared rule-wrecker of Brightling Middle School, is not a fan of his new homeroom teacher, Mr. Aidact. The guy is sort of stiff, never cracks a smile, and refers to them as "pupils." The worst part is he catches Oliver before he can pull any of his signature pranks! It's time for Oliver and his best friend, Nathan, to show the new teacher who's boss.

But as the weeks go by, they start to realize that Mr. Aidact is not what they expected. He has an uncanny ability to remember song lyrics or trivia. When the girls' field hockey team needs a new coach, he suddenly turns out to be an expert. He never complains when other teachers unload work on him--even when it's lunchroom duty and overseeing detention. Against all odds, Mr. Aidact starts to become the most popular teacher at Brightling.

Still, Oliver and Nathan know that something is fishy. They're determined to get to the bottom of the mystery: What's the deal with Mr. Aidact?”

Like many of Korman’s other books this one formost chapters is written in a series of first person narratives. Each chapter title is the name of the narrator for that chapter. There are a couple of other authors I read who use this method, and Korman is one of the masters. The narrators are:

Oliver Zahn - 8
Rosalie Arnette - 8
Nathan Popova - 7
Steinke Newhouse - 2
Principal Candiotti - 4
Nathan Popova - 7
Paul Perkins, PE - 1

There are also a number of chapters that are confidential emails, 7 to be accurate and the Epilogue is a news story from a wire service. A Sample of an email report chapter is:

To: Department of Education, Washington, DC
From: Paul Perkins, 

Have been observing AIDACT at Brightling Middle School for four weeks now. AIDACT is performing within the expected range of teaching proficiency. Student progress has been acceptable. AIDACT sometimes has difficulty working with students’ wide range of personalities and ability levels but has shown the capacity to adjust in innovative and sometimes unexpected ways. Future goals include smiling more and recognizing common expressions, such as “hitting the ceiling” and “raining cats and dogs.” There have been no security breaches.

SPECIAL EXPENSES1 venetian blind (installed in classroom)1 heavy-duty suspension upgrade for Toyota Prius”

The number beside their name is the number of chapters they narrated. This book an absolutely wonderful read! The subjects tackled and how Korman goes about them is magnificently executed. As is often the case in Korman’s books, the characters are wonderfully written. The story is very intriguing. I could not put this book down. I was excited to see how Korman would handle the robotic AI teacher, and how the children and parents would take it when the news broke. It was interesting to see how the human teachers started taking advantage of Mr. Aidact. And how he gre through the constant interactions with the children. It was also intriguing to see the insights from Principal Candiotti and Paul Perkins, the project engineer acting as a student teacher, and their interpretations of events as they unfolded. 

The thought of an AI as the teacher in a classroom, being able to access all the internet, and responding to and growing from interaction with the pupils is very intriguing. The story has a great pace. The characters are masterfully written. This is a story young readers will greatly enjoy. It is an intriguing premise and Korman executes on it perfectly! Another amazing read from Korman’s pen.  

Books by Gordon Korman:
MacDonald Hall Series:
The Wizzle War (1982)
         (formerly The War With Mr. Wizzle)
The Zucchini Warriors (1988)
Light’s Camera, Disaster (1991)
          (aka Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood)
The Jokes on Us (1995)
          (formerly Something Fishy at Macdonald Hall)

Bugs Potter Series:

Jeremy Bloom Series:
The D−Poems of Jeremy Bloom (1992)
The Last-Place Sports Poems of Jeremy Bloom (1996)

Monday Night Football Series:
The Quarterback Exchange (1997)
Running Back Conversion (1997)
Super Bowl Switch (1997)
Heavy Artillery (1997)
Ultimate Scoring Machine (1998)
NFL Rules! Bloopers, Pranks, Upsets, and Touchdowns (1998)

Masterminds Series:

Slapshots Series:
The Stars From Mars (1999)
All-Mars All-Stars/The Dream Team (1999)
The Face-off Phony (2000)
Cup Crazy (2000)
Ouch I got slapped (2023)
4-in-1 Slapshots: The Complete Collection (2008)

Nose Pickers Series:
Nose Pickers from Outer Space! (1999)
Planet of the Nose Pickers (2000)
Your Mummy Is a Nose Picker (2000)
Invasion of the Nose Pickers (2001)
4-in-1 The Ultimate Nose-Picker Collection (2006)

Island Series:
Shipwreck (2001)
Survival (2001)
Escape (2001)
3-in-1 Island Trilogy Collection (2006)

Son of the Mob Series:
Son of the Mob 2: Hollywood Hustle (2004)

Everest Series:
The Contest (2002)
The Climb (2002)
The Summit (2002)
Everest Trilogy Box Set (2002)

Dive Series:
The Discovery (2003)
The Deep (2003)
The Danger (2003)

On the Run Series:
Now You See Them, Now You Don't (2005)
The Stowaway Solution (2005)
Public Enemies (2005)
Hunting the Hunter (2006)

Kidnapped Series:
The Search (2006)
The Rescue (2006)

Swindle Series:
Swindle (2008)
Zoobreak (2009)
Framed (2010)
Showoff (2012)
Hideout (2013)
Jackpot (2014)
Unleashed (2015)
Jingle (2016)

Titanic Series:
Unsinkable (2011)
Collision Course (2011)
S.O.S (2011)

The 39 Clues Series:
Vespers Rising (2011)
The Medusa Plot (2011)
Flashpoint (2014)

Hypnotists Series:
The Hypnotists (2013)
Memory Maze (2014)
The Dragonfly Effect (2015)

Ungifted Series:
Ungifted (2012)
Supergifted (2018)

Slacker Series:
Slacker (2016)
Level 13 (2019)

Non Series Books:
Son of Interflux (1986)
Radio 5th Grade (1989)
Losing Joe's Place (1990)
The Twinkie Squad (1992)
The Toilet Paper Tigers (1993)
Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road (1994)
The Chicken Doesn't Skate (1996)
No More Dead Dogs (2000)
Maxx Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America (2003)
Jake, Reinvented (2003)
Born To Rock (2006)
Schooled (2007)
Pop (2009)
Slacker (2016)
Restart (2017)
Notorious (2019)
War Stories (2020)
Game On (contains The Chicken Doesn’t Skate and The Toilet Paper Tigers (2021)
Unplugged (2021)
Linked (2021)
The Fort (2022)

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