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Guest Review: Can You Spell Revolution? 06/13/09

I don't read as many juvenile fiction titles as I might like. Since I try to cover all the different areas of the library in my book reviews, I am never able to really focus on any one area as much as I might like. Can You Spell Revolution? by Matt Beam is set in Laverton Middle School. Where the teachers mostly just pass out busy work and all of the focus seems to be on the rules, Rules, RULES that students are expected to follow. Then one day a transfer student named Clouds arrives and things start to get more interesting. The narrator, a boy named Chris Stren relates how he found a note in his locker one afternoon calling him to a secret meeting that Clouds is organizing.

At the secret meeting it turns out that Clouds wants to start a revolution at Laverton Middle School and wants each of the five members of the new, top-secret Revolutionaries group to study a particular period in history and draw parallels to the problems they currently face. Their first revolutionary act, Code Name: Get Nixon involves audio taping the teacher being unfair to revolutionary Landry. The next day the class is shocked to hear the tape played over the intercom system, and the teacher is forced to back off and start cutting Landry some slack. Another member of the group imitates Mahatma Ghandi and shaves his head and goes about the school resolving conflicts and preaching non-violence. Susan, a member of a sorority called the Magnas studies and imitates Queen Elizabeth in her quest to wrench control of her sorority from a couple of members who have dictatorially taken the group in a bad direction, while narrator Chris is emulating Lafayette who during the French Revolution wanted changes to make things fairer for the common people but did not want the King to be eliminated. And finally, Clouds himself, the instigator of the Revolutionaries group studies and emulates Vladimir Lennon of the Russian Revolution.

Can You Spell Revolution? provides a number of interesting history lessons, framed in a contemporary and engaging story that is sure to please middle schoolers and grown ups alike. This novel is Highly Recommended to anyone who has ever said to themselves "Enough" and set out to change the world.

Can You Spell Revolution?
by Matt Beam
ISBN 978-0-525-47998-7

Review ©2009 by
Alan Jobe.

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