Friday, June 25, 2010

RADIO FIFTH GRADE by Gordon Korman

RADIO FIFTH GRADE is a lively adventure about a group of fifth graders who host a radio show.  Benjy is dedicated to excellent journalism, but he discovers that's not always easy when you're working with a group of amateurs.

The kids have a pretty free hand with their programming because advisor Mr. Morenz usually has his nose deep in some sci-fi thriller.  Only Mr. Whitehead, the show's sponsor and owner of a local pet shop called Our Animal Friends, seems interested in what the kids broadcast.  His sole interest in the programming is to demand that his advertising dollars turn into more people spending more money in his store.

The radio show normally includes things like school news, student stories, and some crazy editorial comments, but when the fifth grade teacher wins the lottery and leaves her job, things change.  The new fifth grade instructor, Ms. Panagopoulos, arrives and their educational environment changes dramatically.  She begins something she calls "seminar" and expectations of student performance increase.  Fortunately, for the students, Benjy figures out a way for the radio show to help them with their grades.  It's genius, really, but what if Ms. Panagopoulos finds out?

Written a bit earlier in Gordon Korman's career (1989), RADIO FIFTH GRADE still rings true today.  Readers will find the story entertaining, and it might even inspire unique hands-on classroom activities.

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