Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader: Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys: The Rat Brain Fiasco by Julie Gardner Berry

January 25, 2011 Kid-lit, Kid-Lit/Middle Grade, Review, Tales of A (Formerly) Reluctant Reader 10


Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader is a feature in which my eleven-year-old son, John, reviews books geared toward reluctant readers. 

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (August 12, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0448453592
  • Source: Publisher

Cody Mack is used to getting into trouble.  The principal’s office is his second home. This time it’s different, however.  Sitting outside the principles office while his parents are inside, Cody realizes this visit isn’t like the others.  First, this meeting is lasting much longer than most.  Second, he’s overhearing words like “remedial neuro-therapies.”

When he is finally called into the office, he notices a tall strange man in the room.  The man, Dr. Farley, runs a special school for naughty kids.  His parents quite readily sign the forms & Cody leaves with Dr. Farley that afternoon.  When he arrives, he realizes that the Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys isn’t your typical boarding school.  It’s hidden away in a dark & dangerous forest.  The teachers are all monsters: vampires, werewolves, and mummies.

His first day at Splurch Academy, Cody is thrown into the the dungeon, surrounded by rats.  He soon learns of Dr. Farley’s evil plan: to swap the brains of these rats with the boys at Splurch Academy using a horrendous device called the “Rebellio-rodent Recipronator!” The “rat-boys” are then controlled using a remote control device worn by Dr. Farley.  Parents will see their “behaved” boys & Dr. Farley will be famous!  Unfortunately, Farley has met his match with Cody!

John’s review:

Don’t even think about misbehaving at school ever again or your principal might send you away to the Splurch Academy!  You’ll wear prison outfits, eat disgusting food and you won’t have TV or video games!

I’m not a disruptive boy, but this book made me want to behave better so I don’t have to even worry about a punishment like this.  I think Cody deserved his punishment, but I was happy to see that he wouldn’t let Dr. Farley take control of his brain!

One of my favorite things about this book was that it is a combination chapter book/comic book.  The comics break up the chapters, making them seem shorter.  The graphics were both funny & scary at the same time.  I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the third book, which my mom says comes out next month.  Kids who like to read about monsters, but not get too scared, would really love this book.

Jenn’s review:

I truly enjoyed reading this series with John!  As he mentioned, the breaking up of chapters by comic panels really add to the story.  In addition, they helped keep John’s attention; not once did he ask to stop reading or complain. In addition, the chapters are quite short, just 2-3 pages long.  This helped with the pacing of the book; the short chapters kept things exciting.

This series is the perfect one for reluctant readers, specifically boys. John & I are quite hooked on this series;we read both books in one weekend!  We’re both counting down to the release to the third book in the series, The Colossal Fossil Freakout!

10 Responses to “Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader: Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys: The Rat Brain Fiasco by Julie Gardner Berry”

  1. Gina ~ Hott Books
    Twitter: hottbooks

    Thank you so much for this feature! It’s my absolute favorite! I have a reluctant reader & this helps me chose books for him a bunch!

    Currently, he’s LOVING The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable.

  2. Sabrina Ogden

    Excellent review, John! I love your enthusiasm and love even more that you are encouraging others to read. My husband is a reluctant reader…maybe I should make him start with this book! Thanks!

  3. TopherGL
    Twitter: itwasuphill

    Good review! I really like the idea of a chapter/comic book combination. The book does sound kind of frightening, though! I’ll keep what you said about behaving better in mind when I have a disruptive student! 🙂

  4. Shelly Burns
    Twitter: writeforareader

    Thanks for your thoughts, John! I may need to introduce this series, and this book especially, to some of my misbehaving boys at school.

  5. Judy Schu

    I will have to read this book in the near future. I really enjoy the aspect of mother and son contributions to the review. You make a great team!

    John, whenever you were talking about misbehaving and punishment, I was imagining how much enjoyment many teachers would get out of this book. Disruption in the classroom can get to be a big problem. It might help you appreciate your teachers more!

    I am very proud of you! Mama Judy

  6. Julie Berry

    Hi John and Jenn,

    Thank you for this fantastic review of THE RAT BRAIN FIASCO! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and spreading the word about the series. It absolutely makes my day. It was super fun developing this series with my sister Sally, the illustrator, and it’s even more fun hearing from readers who enjoyed it.

    Keep on reading and blogging about great books!

    Julie Berry

  7. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    Thanks, John. You really helped me decide whether to get these books for my nephew. I think he’d like them based on how much you liked them.