4th Grade and Up
(First Published 2004)
Nora Rose Rowley is a genius, but don’t tell anyone. She’s managed to make it to the fifth grade without anyone figuring out that she’s not just an ordinary kid, and she wants to keep it that way.
But then Nora gets fed up with the importance everyone attaches to test scores and grades, and she purposely brings home a terrible report card just to prove a point. Suddenly the attention she’s successfully avoided all her life is focused on her, and her secret is out. And that’s when things start to get really complicated.
I think this is my favorite Andrew Clements story and it’s all because of Nora. Nora never showed off or brags about being a genius. She’s never had to put much effort into being smart, but she admires people who aren’t as smart but do try. You might question why Nora, or anyone, would hide their intelligence. But she’s still a kid and for now she just wants to be a kid, not trying to be something someone else thinks she should be.
The main subjects in this story are grades, tests, and being smart. The big test that takes place in this story is the Connecticut Mastery Test. It’s one of those “standardized, fill in the bubble, multiple choice” tests where you have to solve math problems, reading short stories and answer questions. I hated taking these tests. I could work with the math questions but the short stories I had to read were so boring and took me so long to read that I had to rush to answer the questions.
Everything Nora does, she’s not doing it for herself. She’s doing all of this to make a point, that real intelligence cannot be graded by questions answered on a standardized memorization test.
You might think Nora’s delusional to believe that she can change the grading system, that kids have been graded and tested this way for years and it’s unlikely to change. You have to remember that even with her vast intelligence she’s still young enough to believe that someone can make a difference. Because if she doesn’t do something, who else will?
As a bonus, the Frazz comic below makes a point about standardized tests:
According to Google, Lichtenstein is a country with a lot of castles, so I’m guessing Caulfield drew a castle using the answer bubbles.
This weeks’ Weird but True Fact about the Brain
Your brain has about as much memory capacity as the entire Web.