Wallace hasn’t told a lie in his life. So when Mr. Fogelman assigns him to review the classic Old Shep, My Pal, he says exactly what he thinks: “[This] is the most boring book I’ve read in my entire life…. This book couldn’t be any lousier if it came with a letter bomb,” etc. Mr. Fogelman, being the sort of teacher who shows up in novels to give my profession a bad name, doesn’t say, “Please rewrite the review giving specific examples of things you didn’t like.” No, he takes Wallace off the football team and sticks him in detention until he writes a laudatory review. Detention means hanging out with Mr. F and the drama club, which is putting on a play of Old Shep. Wallace has a few ideas about improving the production…
Old Shep is, of course, a Dog Death Book, of exactly the sort I couldn’t stand either when I was Wallace’s age. So the premise was promising. Plus a theater production provides the perfect opportunity for the best sort of Gordon Korman wacky hijinks. And overall, I was entertained. I particularly enjoyed Wallace’s teammate Rick, whose trademark is combining expressions: “You’re going to be on detention until the cows freeze over.” (Is there a word for this, like spoonerism?)
Unfortunately, just like in Schooled, Korman decides to let many of the characters narrate in alternating chapters. Some of the characters are three-dimensional enough to support this; some (especially Trudi, the central-casting ditz who’s after Wallace) are decidedly not.
When I get a free moment, I want to re-read childhood Korman favorites Son of Interflux and I Want to Go Home! to see if they’re still as hilarious as I thought at the time. It’s possible I’ve just outgrown the guy.