Schooled Summary

Gordon Korman


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Schooled Summary

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Schooled is a 2010 children’s novel by Canadian-American author Gordon Korman. It focuses on a preteen boy named Capricorn “Cap” Anderson. He has been raised and homeschooled by his hippie grandmother, Rain, on a commune. However, when Rain is injured in a fall and can’t teach him anymore, Cap has to attend the local middle school. There, he has to adapt to the life of an everyday student and struggles to fit into a world that feels completely foreign to him. Dealing with themes of social adjustment, popularity, the desire to fit in, and the way people make snap judgements about those who are different, Schooled moves between Cap’s perspective and that of various students and employees at the school. Critically acclaimed for its in-depth look at the social environment of middle school, Schooled remains a best-seller and is common in school libraries and book sales. It won the 2010 Young Reader’s Choice Awards.

As Schooled begins, Capricorn Anderson is pulled over by the police and arrested for driving without a license. He doesn’t even know what a license is, and tells them he’s driving his grandmother to hospital because she broke her hip when she fell out of a tree. Cap lives on a commune called Garland, and doesn’t know the number for the emergency services. The police let him go and he drives his grandmother Rain to the hospital, but she’s crushed when she finds out she’ll have to stay there for two months. She’s been raising Capricorn, and she doesn’t want him corrupted by the outside world. Social services are soon called upon to find Capricorn, or Cap, a temporary home and a new school. Mrs. Donnelly, a kind woman who was raised in Garland herself, is his social worker and decides to take him in herself. His first few days at school are terrible, as he immediately meets the school bully Zach. Zach targets Cap for his shabby clothes and social awkwardness. The school has a cruel tradition to elect the weakest kid in the school as Class President so stronger kids like Zach can manipulate him. The last two kids elected Class President transferred schools.

Cap tells Rain that he’s not happy at school, because people are violent and cruel. Although Rain understands that he wants to go back to Garland, she tells him that she feels sorry for anyone who isn’t as kind as he is. She tells him that she should have introduced him to the outside world earlier. Soon enough, Cap is voted Class President. Everyone is happy, especially Hugh Winkleman, Zach’s former target. Zach and his friends Darryl, Naomi, and Lena take turns pulling pranks on Cap. Zach leaves a dead bird in Cap’s locker one day, and Cap takes it and buries it in the garden. As he pays his respects, he’s joined by a few other kids, including Naomi. Naomi secretly wishes Zach would be kinder, like Cap. Zach watches this scene from the school and feels nothing but rage. At home with Mrs. Donnelly, Cap struggles as well. Mrs. Donnelly’s daughter, Sophie, hates Cap, picking on him and pouring water on him when he practices Tai Chi on the lawn. She finds him embarrassing, and doesn’t care when he tries to be kind to her. Mrs. Donnelly tells him that Sophie is just angry because her father left the family and continuously makes promises he doesn’t keep, like teaching her to drive. Cap wins Sophie over by giving her a driving lesson while Mrs. Donnelly isn’t around.

At school, Cap becomes more popular when he helps prevent a bus crash when the bus driver Mr. Rodrigo has a heart attack. Cap is able to drive the bus to safety. Students consider him a hero and begin helping him out with his duties as Class President. The principal, Mr. Kasagi, gives him blank checks to pay for expenses but tells him to use them responsibly. Thanks to Rain’s advice, he knows what to do. He buys a bracelet for Sophie and engraves it as if it’s from her father, and donates money to Naomi’s favorite charities. His generosity makes him more popular, and thanks to Rain he knows that responsibility means helping others. The only two people not happy? Hugh and Zach. Both resent Cap’s popularity and decide to work together to hurt him. They trick him into dressing up in the opposing team’s gear during a school pep rally. When he appears, the school’s team, led by Zach’s friend Darryl, charges him. They only realize he’s not a football player when he collapses. Darryl is angry he was used and confronts Zach, getting into a fight with his former friend. Cap tries to get between them, and Darryl accidentally punches him.

An ambulance comes for Cap, and the students learn that Rain has arrived to take Cap back to Garland. Cap has mixed feelings about this, because he’s made many friends at Claverage Middle School. When they arrive back at Garland, Cap realizes that it feels very dull by comparison. The students, meanwhile, think Cap died and blame Hugh and Zach for his death. Both boys think this is ridiculous, but Zach wants to be popular again and decides to take advantage. The two boys organize a memorial service for Cap in the school parking lot. Sophie takes her driving test when she realizes that Cap sent her the bracelet. She feels guilty about the way she treated him and decides to drive to Garland and take Cap to the Halloween Bash at the school. Cap decides to go as well, and meets her along the way. When they arrive, they’re shocked to walk into the memorial service, where everyone is dressed in hippie clothes, to look like Cap. Cap watches as they give their speeches memorializing him, and then he surprises everyone by showing up. They lift him up on the stage. Unbeknownst to him, Rain is in the back, watching everything. A few days later, Cap is working on the commune when Rain shows up in a Mercedes. She is dressed in modern clothes and has a cell phone, and tells Cap she sold Garland for seventeen million dollars. She’s taking Cap to the city and enrolling him at Claverage. She hasn’t sold out, though – she intends to give most of the money to charity.

Gordon Korman is a prolific Canadian-American author of children’s fiction. He has written over eighty books, most focusing on kids of middle-school age. Working in genres including sports fiction, adventure fiction, and slice-of-life fiction, he is perhaps best known for the Macdonald Hall series and the humor book No More Dead Dogs. He has received multiple awards from the American Library Association and the Young Reader’s Choice Award over his nearly forty-year writing career.