Gordan Korman

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Up until eighth grade, Cap Anderson has spent his whole life being home schooled on a farm commune. He’s completely clueless about everything from cell phones to Starbucks. He’s never even used a school locker before.

So from his first day at school, he is every kid’s primary target for spitballs, teasing, and practical jokes. He gets tripped every time he walks down the hall. Fake love notes and rotten bananas appear in his locker.

Cap also gets elected eighth grade president, but at C. Average Middle School, that’s not an honor, it’s a joke. The popular kids always make sure that the biggest loser in the school gets elected class president, and Cap definitely qualifies.

Once he becomes president, his weirdness continues to baffle and amuse the rest of the school. He holds a funeral for a dead bird, conducts a class on tie-dyeing tee shirts and leads sessions of meditation and tai chi. The funny thing is, some of the other kids begin to think that Cap’s strange activities are actually kind of interesting. It almost looks like he could even be….popular.

But two of his classmates are determined to make sure that Cap will forever be known as the biggest eighth-grade loser ever, even if it requires tricking the whole football team into helping. One of those classmates is a popular kid who’s been Cap’s enemy since the school year started…and the other one is Cap’s best friend.

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. The story is told in the words of several different characters. Did this make the book more interesting? Why or why not?
  2. When he started middle school, Cap had a lot to learn about the world beyond Garland Farm. What are some of the most important things Cap didn’t know? How did those make his life at school difficult?
  3. Many other characters eventually learned a lot from Cap. Who do you think benefited the most from getting to know him? Why?
  4. Why did Zach think it was so important to make Cap look foolish?
  5. Why didn’t the adults in the story see what was happening to Cap? Could any of them have made things easier for him?
  6. What was the funniest scene in the book?
  7. In what ways will Cap will be better off staying at Claverage Middle School, rather than returning to his farm? What will he miss most about his past life?
  8. After starting out as Cap’s friend, why did Hugh Winlkeman turn against him? Did his reasons make sense?
  9. Should Rain have done a better job of teaching Cap about the outside world? How would the story have changed if she had?
  10. Sophie “declared war” on Cap from the beginning, but ended up liking him a lot. What words or actions from Cap made the biggest difference in the way Sophie thought of him?

If you liked this book, try

  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • The Misfits by James Howe
  • Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja
  • Sixth-grade Glommers, Norks, and Me by Lisa Papademetriou

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.