How to Get Suspended and Influence People -- Adam Selzer

Fourteen-year-old Leon isn't your stereotypical "gifted child":

Now, on TV or in the movies, whenever the main character is a boy genius or something, the smart classes are made up of dorks who tuck their shirts into their underwear, do math in their heads, and might actually sign up for the good grooming activity.  In reality, our advanced classes and gifted pools were always made up of a bunch of miscreant kids who just happened to read books from the adult section of the library.  Many of us even read newspapers.  That was all.  The real dorks weren't smart enough to get in.

How to Get Suspended and Influence PeopleWhen he and the rest of the advanced students are told they are to make health-related videos for the sixth and seventh-graders, they aren't interested in recreating the snorefests that they've been subjected to for years:

It sounded to me like the school was just trying to spare the expense of buying a bunch of new videos, but I had to admit that the project sounded like fun.  When Mr. Streich passed around the list of possible subjects, I looked them over and was a bit surprised to see that sex ed was on the list.  They were actually going to trust an eighth-grader to make a sex-ed video?  Were they drunk when they wrote out the list of topics?  It was like being handed a live grenade and being invited to lob it at one of the teachers.  Eating disorders struck me as a good topic, too, because you'd have a great excuse to do a puking scene, but I couldn't say no to the chance to make a sex-ed video that every student really wanted to see.

At first, Leon is mainly concerned with cramming as much nudity as possible into his video, but as he progresses, he becomes more and more interested in making Great Art That Might Help Kids Understand Themselves.  Of course, what with the subject matter (and the nudity) some adults don't see it quite the same way. 

How to Get Suspended and Influence People is a freaking laugh riot.  Leon is super smart but not overly mature for his age, I loved his friends and his parents.  Totally fun and enjoyable (and educational, but not in an annoying or overly obvious way).

I wouldn't be all that surprised if this one gets challenged at some point -- though that would be a tad ironic, since it is partly a story about censorship.  The book jacket will hopefully (HOPEFULLY) make the content obvious to any freak-out-prone adults.  The inside flap is very clear about the topic of Leon's project and the word 'smart-ass' pops up both there and on the back cover, so maybe they'll steer clear. 

If they don't, they'll probably find something to be offended by -- the gifted kids pretend to be Satanists to annoy a teacher, there is some swearing, some talk about pot and (this might end up being the biggie) one of Leon's main video goals (other than flashing boob pictures) is to get a "masturbation is normal" message across.

As I said though, WAY FUN.  I hope that it finds an audience, and I hope that there'll be more from Adam Selzer soon.

Books -- YALeila RoyComment