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The Dunderheads

by Paul Fleischman
Illustrated by David Roberts

Published by Candlewick Press, 2009
54 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2498-9

Age 8 and older

Paul Fleischman meets Roald Dahl in a wickedly funny story featuring a deliciously evil, Dahl-esque teacher and the group of misfit students who join forces against her. Miss Breakbone gives herself a gold star whenever she makes a student cry. But when she confiscates Junkyard’s most recent treasure it proves to be her undoing. Everyone in the class has something to contribute as the students plan and carry out a mission to infiltrate Miss Breakbone’s house to retrieve Junkyard’s confiscated belongings. The students’ nicknames reflect their special talents: there’s Clips, who transforms paper clips into lengthy chains; Pencil, who can draw anything she sees from memory; Spider, a prodigious climber; Spitball (no explanation needed); Wheels; and others. All are essential to the mission’s success. The casually conversational tone of the storytelling (“That was her first mistake: the insult. Mistake Number 2: no eye for talent.”) is understated, while the outrageous plot is absurdity amplified. David Roberts’s illustrations, replete with diagrams and mathematical equations that are all part of the planning process, are a perfect match for Fleischman’s fun. CCBC categories: Picture Books for School-Age Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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