A Midsummer Night’s Dork, by Carol Gorman (24 October)

I picked up this book from the library as part of my great search for books to get my little brother for his birthday. It came highly recommended, but I think I’ll have to pass because this book really (really really) harps on the fact that a boy wearing a dress is like THE WORST POSSIBLE THING ANYONE COULD IMAGINE EVER. Seriously.

The general story, as you might assume, follows along with that of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that one play by that famous dude. The kids in the story are in sixth grade and are studying said play for their classes and their ridiculously awesome teachers have set up after-school Elizabethan activities (like stage fighting, costume design, and games) for them to do. Jerry Flack, our hero and sixth-grade class president, has a great idea to put on a festival to raise money for computers in the lunch room (no, I don’t know either) and he has to give a speech to start it. This is important.

Meanwhile, Jerry wants his unpopular friend, Elena, to be more popular, so he enlists the help of Cool Girl Zoey to talk to her and make her look cooler to the other sixth graders. Zoey’s “magic” works, and soon Elena has two male suitors, one of whom is ignoring his current girl for her.

Meanwhile, Jerry’s enemy, Craig, is doing a terrible job of taking care of a stray puppy that he tricked away from Jerry’s girlfriend Brenda. Brenda wants Jerry to get the dog for her, and Craig wants to torture Jerry, so Jerry agrees to eat dog food in exchange for the dog. The food is eaten but then regurgitated, so Craig says no deal. BUT, if Jerry will give his festival opening speech in a dress, Craig will for reals give up the dog this time.

…And this is where I got a little upset. Here is the passage where Jerry decides that that is not going to happen:

“I’m sorry, Bren, but there’s no way–“
“Oh, of course not.”
“Everyone will be there. My parents even want to come.”
“Right,” Brenda agreed. “Mine, too.”
“I’m president of the sixth grade,” Jerry continued. “I mean, everyone would think I’d lost my mind if I gave the welcoming speech in a dress.”
“Yes, they would.”
“I can’t do it. It’d be too embarrassing.”

A dress, people. Spoiler alert, he does wear a dress in the end and makes it all fine and dandy, but seriously every few paragraphs Gorman reiterates how terrible, horrible, no-good and very bad it would be if Jerry wore a dress. Ugggggggggggggggh.

I’m not going to give this to William to read, because he already has enough people telling him that doing things that are girly is the worst thing ever and I’m pretty sure he believes it, so that’s no good. But if you’ve got a kid in mind that is secure about gender roles (or one in whom you would like to reinforce the gender divide), I say go for it. The allusions to Shakespeare are rather well done and it’s always nice to rescue puppies.

Rating: 6/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2004)

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Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

2 thoughts on “A Midsummer Night’s Dork, by Carol Gorman (24 October)

  1. Carol Gorman says:

    I wrote A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DORK, and you'll probably be surprised that I agree with you: the book doesn't help young people who are struggling with society's strict rules about what's “appropriate” gender behavior. If I wrote that book today, it would read differently.

  2. Alison says:

    Thanks for stopping by! I'm not really surprised that you agree with me, nor even that you wrote the book the way you did — it's certainly an accurate depiction of the sixth-grade mind, even if I don't want it to be. 🙂 I guess I was just a little sad that every single person in the book (at least, the ones who knew about the dare/bet/agreement) had the same opinion about the matter, especially after Zoey was so awesome in breaking down stereotypes throughout the story.

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