cover image The School of Possibilities

The School of Possibilities

Seita Parkkola, trans. from the Finnish by Annira Silver and Marja Gass, illus. by Jani Ikonen, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $12.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4022-1835-4

In this inventive, surreal, but somewhat incoherent tale, 12-year-old Storm Steele, a good-hearted but undisciplined boy who has failed at his previous schools, is enrolled by his incompetent father and overbearing stepmother at the experimental School of Possibilities, where strict discipline is the rule. If he fails, he is told, "I will be expelled, and after that, nothing good will be waiting for me in this life." Storm soon runs afoul of a variety of seemingly irrational school regulations. He refuses to take up mandatory hobbies, is uninterested in the girlfriend he has been assigned, and hears rumors of children who have disappeared after failing. This satire about repressive educational methods, vaguely reminiscent of Louis Sachar's Holes, was a bestseller in Parkkola's native Finland. But it is hamstrung by an often awkward and unidiomatic translation ("I waited patiently for the evening meal, and when it arrived, I tried to tell them at the table something vague about my class soccer training and my buddy who was waiting for me in the car park") that makes for halted reading. Ages 9–12. (June)