Book Review: THE SCHOOL OF POSSIBILITIES

posted by Ruth

The School of Possibilities by Seita Parkkola

Imagine a “special school” that turns kids into “Stepford” Students:  obedient, compliant,  not normal kids at all.  In this school, if you are a girl, you’ll probably be assigned to be a girlfriend, and spy on your designated boyfriend.  And if you are a boy and break a rule, you are assigned a girlfriend as punishment–and believe me, in this place, it is.   Storm is the newest student at this eerie School of Possibilities for troubled youth. He is a 12-year-old skateboarder who loves to fly on the wings of his board.   When he is skating, he is, in his own words, “fearless.”  And, he tells us, “I’m not a bad boy, but I’m not a good one either.”  Despite the fact that he has never done anything very awful, his step-monster–oops–stepmother–decides this school is Storm’s  last chance to save himself.

As the book unfolds, we learn more about two very different aspects of Storm’s world:  a school of increasingly zombie-like students, and an abandoned factory filled with wild children who have escaped  from this terrifying school before having their own minds captured and enslaved.

Written by Finnish author Seita Parkkola, The School of Possibility is an intriguing story of family, school, friendship, and the particular difficulties of being 12 years old.  It has a Roald Dahl-ish quality that  is both startling and appealing:  a kind of parable/horror /adventure story, complete with very eerie illustrations. by Jani Ikonen.

I really appreciate having access to more international children’s books, and sharing with adolescents contemporary stories from around the world.  The writing is clean and sparse, yet  quite poetic and filled with dialogue that is true to the characters the author has created and has a kind of sophistication and cleverness that kids and adults will both appreciate.

I hope we’ll continue to have increased access to more adolescent novels like this one that introduces them to the different writing styles and ideas of a world of authors.

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