The Superteacher Project by Gordon Korman

Published by Balzer + Bray

Summary:  Oliver’s surprised when his new homeroom teacher Mr. Aidact intercepts his spitball on their first day of school.  Before long, Mr. Aidact shows other surprising traits that are annoying at first but soon become endearing.  He has an almost endless knowledge of trivia and proves himself a surprisingly adept girls’ field hockey coach.  When there’s an accident on a field trip, Mr. Aidact turns out to be a skillful bus driver.  Oliver and his best friend Nathan do some sleuthing and make a shocking discovery–Mr. Aidact is actually a robot, a form of artificial intelligence being tested by the government in a project all the adults at school know about.  Try as they might, they find it impossible to keep this information a secret, and when parents get wind of it, an angry mob demands that Mr. Aidact must go.  When Oliver and Nathan intercept the Department of Education’s plans to dismantle their teacher, they hatch a daring plot to rescue him.  If they succeed, their beloved teacher will be gone for good.  But as Mr. Aidact tells them, “I’ll never forget you.  Unless I stand too close to a strong magnet.”  304 pages; grade 4-7.

Pros:  Gordon Korman’s latest book is a timely tale of artificial intelligence, told in his trademark style of multiple narrators, including memos to the Department of Education on the status of their project.  Kids will enjoy the humor and the realistic middle school characters and situations and will also be challenged to think about the line between human and machine.

Cons:  The human teachers were for the most part portrayed as boring and/or slackers.

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