(Zoë van Dijk/For The Washington Post)
Ungifted

By Gordon Korman. Ages 8 to 12.

Have you ever played a practical joke that you later regretted? It probably didn’t come close to what Donovan Curtis does in the opening pages of “Ungifted.”

While goofing off during a ­middle-school basketball game, Donovan manages to send a gigantic metal ball


(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

hurtling down a hill into the gym. No one gets hurt and he didn’t mean to do it, but he knows right away he’s in huge trouble.

Narrated by Donovan as well as by people around him, “Ungifted” follows Donovan as he mistakenly gets

assigned to a school for the highly intelligent, escaping punishment — for a while anyway — for the damage he caused.

The story contains plot turns that seem unlikely (he switches schools immediately, for instance), but they happen so quickly that they probably won’t bother you. It’s hard not to root for Donovan, who is dealing with a lot at home. His parents are stressed out. His pregnant sister is worried about her husband, Brad, who is a Marine in Afghanistan. And he has a new roommate, Brad’s dog Beatrice, who doesn’t seem to have much energy or appetite.

In his new school, Donovan tries to stay away from practical jokes and fit in among the geniuses, but he remains a whirl of activity — becoming the driver of the class robot, for instance. Although Donovan struggles with the schoolwork, his new teacher and most of his classmates are impressed with his ideas and nonstop energy.

“Ungifted” asks some good questions about special programs for gifted and talented kids, but the book’s funny characters and situations are what make it memorable. Somehow trouble follows Donovan wherever he goes. And if you like this book, you can enjoy the continuing escapades of Donovan and his classmates in Gordon Korman’s just-published sequel, “Supergifted.”

Click here to join the Summer Book Club.

You might also like . . .

Schooled, also by Gordon Korman, in which 13-year-old Cap (short for Capricorn) Anderson goes to

school for the first time. Raised on a commune by his grandmother, he changes his new school as much as he is changed by it.

Jack Gantos’s Dead End in Norvelt takes place in 1962 and features a kid named Jackie, who doesn’t let being “grounded for life” stop him from having an adventure-filled summer.

Next week

The Lifters

By Dave Eggers. Ages 8 to 12.

With his dad out of work, Gran and his family must move 1,000 miles to the town of Carousel, where there is the promise of a job. The place isn’t too welcoming, however. Gran feels invisible at his new school until he meets a mysterious classmate named Catalina. She disappears often. Gran follows her one day and discovers that she has access to a system of tunnels under Carousel. She tells him to forget what he has seen. But Gran is sure he can help with Catalina’s top-secret underground mission.

Join the club

The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 5 to 14. Children may read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book at
wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch
.) The first 650 kids registered will receive a drawstring book bag. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must fill out our form at
wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2018 or send the child’s first and last names, age and address to KidsPost Summer Book Club, The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.