Saturday, April 21, 2007

Gordon Korman retrospective

I was rereading some Gordon Korman this week. For those of you who don't know, he is a Canadian author (now based in New York) who writes juvenile and young adult novels. He is famous for writing his first book, This Can't be Happening at Macdonald Hall!, as a school project when he was in Grade 7. And having it published shortly thereafter. It is a classic, and still very, very funny. It became a series, starring Bruno and Boots, mischievious residents of a boys' school. In addition to this series, Korman began writing some stand-alone books. This week I was rereading A Semester in the life of a garbage bag. In this one, two high school boys, Raymond and Sean, get thrown together for an English project studying modern poetry. For various reasons, they have to make it a stunner and get high marks, so they decide to write an exposé of obscure Canadian poet Gavin Gunhold. Then they discover that he only wrote one poem and then died, in 1949, so they decide to create a body of poetry to support their paper. Their attempt to write meaningful poetry, in between having to plan social events for the school, trying to play well on the varsity team, and impressing girls, is a hopeless cause; but inexplicably their paper succeeds beyond their wildest dreams, making Gavin Gunhold into a celebrity. At this point, they must recruit Sean's wisecracking grandfather to impersonate Gunhold. Much craziness ensues. Gordon Korman knows how to write an over the top, amusingly adventurous high school story. The first poem the boys try to write is truly awful, but I've always remembered it, and somehow it has a poignancy to it.

Fruit Fly by Gavin Gunhold

Due to the tragically short life span of the average fruit fly,
College is not really an option.
Caps and gowns don't come in that size anyway.

If you need a good laugh, or something for a reluctant reader, try one of Gordon Korman's many, many stories of boys, school and chaos.


  1. I love "Don't Care High"--and had forgotten about his other books until I read that poem! It all came back to me.

    He has a new book coming out soon--

  2. Hi Annie - I like "Don't Care High" as well. If you look on his web page, you can read the opening chapter of his new book, Schooled. It sounds great.

  3. Hi,
    I believe you are mistaken. Wasn't their first poem "Registration Day"?
    On registration day at taxidermy school,
    I distinctly saw the moose's eyes move
    That's from memory so may be a little off : )
    Love that GK!

  4. Liz - what a GK fan! I think that the Taxidermy poem was the only actual poem that Gunhold ever wrote, the one that the boys found, before realizing it was the single poem in the Gunhold oeuvre.


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