The Superteacher Project

 
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The Superteacher Project
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
January 10, 2023
ISBN
978-0063032798
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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?

Editor reviews

2 reviews
What does it mean to be human?
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
It’s quickly apparent there’s something different about the new teacher. All young readers can identify with encountering new teachers and the character in this book combines their common traits. He’s handsome and good-looking but he never smiles. He knows about everything but doesn’t understand common figures of speech. He’s a stickler for rules but his reactions to violations aren’t consistent. Readers will find themselves puzzled over what makes this teacher tick, although they’ll probably have suspicions. And what’s up with his student teacher looking like his grandfather and carrying a black case wherever he goes?
The plot is shared from various points of view that will help readers make personal connections with at least one character. The opening scene is told by a seventh-grade prankster as the new teacher foils his plans to shoot the perfect spit wad. A studious, well-behaved girl shares another chapter about the prankster scaring her in the bathroom and the new teacher’s unexpected reaction. She deals with the new teacher’s efforts to coach field hockey and her mom, PTA president, flirting with him. A lowly-motivated student connects with the new teacher in detention and makes some surprising behavior changes. The prankster’s best friend and the principal are the focus of additional chapters with drastically different perspectives of the new teacher and school.
As a retired teacher, the perspective of the teaching staff and the educational environment are interesting. The principal informs readers that this is a Department of Education experiment so the new teacher’s role is unexpected. Other teachers begin to take advantage of him as they dump all of their unwanted duties on him. However, the new teacher’s methods are effective and he becomes quite popular. He even makes afterschool detention a place where kids want to hang out. As we well know, all good things must come to an end.
What didn’t work as well:
While the plot is entertaining, the major conflict or problem is put on the back burner until the second half of the book. However, the overall story is very entertaining and the climax is worth the wait.
The Final Verdict:
The author has been a favorite of mine over the years and this book does not disappoint. The use of multiple points of view is a familiar strategy for this author and it works very well in this setting. I don’t often enjoy more than a couple of them in a book but I can highly recommend you give this book a shot!
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If there's a teacher shortage, this could happen!
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Brightling Middle School is a bustling place with lots going on. Oliver and his friend Nathan are always deeply involved in perpetrating pranks. Principal Candiotti hopes that the girls' field hockey team will someday have the same kind of winning season her own Brightling team did in the 1980s. Rosalie Arnette is on the field hockey team and shares this hope, but also has to deal with her newly divorced mother who is throwing herself into PTA work, and trying to get the students to sell flax-based snack bars for a fundraiser. Add to this mix a new teacher, Mr. Aidact, and his "student teacher", the "Boomer aged" Mr. Perkins, and funny things start to happen. Mr. Aidact seems able to know just when Oliver is going to shoot a spitball (a skill at which he excels) and can identify him as the mastermind behind a remote controlled car prank. The teacher also seems to know everything, and can keep up with students quoting rap song lyrics. He's a little odd, referring to students as "pupils" and showing little emotion, but the other teachers take to him because he does their duties without complaining. He ends up covering after school detention WHILE running clubs, and also is brought in to coach the field hockey team, where he does an excellent job, even though he knew nothing about field hockey. He even catches the eye of Rosalie's mother! Mr. Perkins isn't happy about all of these additional duties, and we eventually discover why. Mr. Aidact's behavior comes under scrutiny as rumors swirl around him and the field hockey team advances. Instead of fighting him, Oliver and Nathan come up with a plan to help Mr. Aidact live his best life, even if it is no longer at Brightling.
Good Points
This was a fun, relatively problem free romp, and I don't want to spoil the twists and turns, although it's pretty easy to guess what is going on with the teacher. Oliver is more of a Greg Heffley character, who is a little more evil in his pursuit of pranks, while Nathan is a good foil who tries to rein him in a bit, ala Big Nate. This is told from different viewpoints, and Rosalie's perspective is much more focused on Mr. Aidact as a way for her team to be successful. There are good set pieces, like riding Big Wheels in the school hallways mainly because it is against the written rules, and a lot of heart as the boys work to save Mr. Aidact. Again, it's hard to review this without giving too much away!

The multiple perspective format is never my favorite, and this book in particular would have been more successful for me had I seen everything from Oliver's viewpoint and concentrated on his growth. The limited perspective would have put a completely different spin on the book, so I can see why Korman wanted to include chapters from the principal, Mr. Perkins, and other characters. Readers who like books like Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt will be glad to see this format.

There are so many Korman titles, and you really can't go wrong with this prolific author. His books all are good, but if I had to put them in order, I would rank this one with Whatshisname and Notorious, with books like Ungifted and Linked ones that I like a little bit more.
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