FICTION

The Superteacher Project

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jan. 2023. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063032798.
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Gr 4-6–Oliver, self-proclaimed “number one rule-wrecker,” spitballs new teacher Mr. Aidact on the first day of seventh grade. But when Aidact catches the projectile between his thumb and forefinger, it’s clear this rookie is no ordinary teacher. Aidact’s popularity quickly grows to hero status: teachers dump unwanted assignments on him, and students are enthralled by his vast knowledge and enthusiasm. What is the secret of Aidact’s success? Why does he never eat or drink, and why is his student teacher much older than he is? Korman plants clues readers will notice quickly, so only Oliver and the students are shocked when Aidact is revealed to be a robot and his student teacher is a Department of Education engineer assigned to monitor this experimental project. The reveal creates an uproar, compelling the entire school to consider what makes a teacher great—and what it means to be truly human. The controversy also gives Korman opportunity to comment on government, artificial intelligence, and the limitless potential of students. This novel has Korman’s trademark humor, fast pace, alternating points of view, and raucous climax. All convey his message with masterful ease: the best teachers don’t allow themselves to become robotic. They know that students respond to teachers who are willing to show they’re a little bit like them—or to teachers who simply like them.
VERDICT Through his understanding of what makes middle schoolers tick, Korman writes the books kids love to read and teachers ought to read.

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