The Perfect Score

Rob Buyea. Delacorte, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-101-93825-6
As he did with younger students in his Mr. Terupt books, Buyea takes readers into a sixth-grade classroom to follow five memorable students: Natalie, a rule-following future lawyer; Scott, a kid with brains, heart, and big ideas (that always seem to go south); Trevor, who acts tougher than he is; Gavin, a football enthusiast who struggles in school; and Randi, a state-ranked gymnast with loads of pressure at home. After their expected teacher moves away, they wind up with the elderly Mrs. Woods, whose no-nonsense style dates back to when their parents were in school, but whose love of books and underlying compassion wins them over. As the pressure to perform during state testing mounts, the five students reluctantly band together with a risky plan to ace them. Buyea gives his narrators clear voices and diverse backstories. The plot, however, plods along, pushed forward mostly by amusing mishaps (perpetrated by the irrepressible Scott) until the testing debacle late in the book. The students’ stories are compelling, and Buyea confidently mixes humor and heart, but the story lacks tension until the final chapters. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/21/2017
Release date: 10/03/2017
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 368 pages - 978-1-101-93827-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-8210-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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