Remembered Reading - The Twinkie Squad

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Posted: July 24, 2020

Category: Staff Picks

A group of children look at a taller boy who confidently holds a yellow binderThe Twinkie Squad by Gordon Korman was in print 1992-1994.

Douglas Fairchild is Pefkakian. Well, sort of. He was born in Pefkakia when his mother went into labour during a flight home. Douglas has no hobbies or interests beyond Pefkakia, and so his new principal assigns him to a discussion group that students have nicknamed “The Twinkie Squad.”

Commando lives with his dad, loves basketball, and is far more interested in politics than any kid his age should be. He regularly stands up against bullies and ends up in fights and detention as a result.

When Commando tries to pass a basketball to Douglas at recess, the ball takes a bad bounce and hits Douglas in the nose. His bloody nose combined with Commando’s history result in Commando also being assigned to the Twinkie Squad.

At their first meeting, Commando rants about how unfair it is that they’re stuck in the group, and Douglas decides there are two problems: the group’s name and the fact that nobody else is allowed to join. So, Douglas renames the group The Grand Knights of the Exalted Karpoozi (supposedly a Pefkakian thing) and places a signup sheet on a bulletin board.

Over the next few months as Douglas and Commando become friends, Douglas causes all kinds of problems. He makes the entire school stink, ruins the school play, and commits fraud by misusing the Surgeon General’s signature. In the process, he indirectly helps the members of the Twinkie Squad with the issues that led to them joining the group.

The basic storyline of The Twinkie Squad is still entertaining, so why hasn’t it been reprinted in over 25 years? I believe the main reason is that the aura surrounding Douglas comes from his connection with Pefkakia, and anyone with access to Wikipedia could instantly learn much more about the country to confirm or refute his often-ridiculous claims.

The Twinkie Squad is still somewhat available. A handful of libraries in TRAC still own the book, and GPPL staff members would be happy to request it for any interested readers.

If you’re interested in a modern equivalent, I suggest The Unteachables, also by Gordon Korman.

When starting at her new school, Kiana is accidentally assigned to SCS-8: Self-Contained Special Eighth-Grade Class, also known as the Unteachables. She has classmates like Parker, a boy with a provisional driver’s license and dyslexia, and Elaine rhymes with pain, whose punishment of other students is legendary. Mr. Kermit is also assigned to SCS-8. He was a great teacher until a cheating scandal ruined his career, and now he just cares about his crossword puzzles and his oversized coffee mug.

When Mr. Kermit realizes how badly the school treats his new students, he argues on their behalf and earns their respect and loyalty in the process. Things come to a head when the school principal decides that Mr. Kermit will be forced into retirement if he cannot achieve near-impossible academic goals with the students of SCS-8. Can Mr. Kermit and his students come together and achieve the impossible?

The Unteachables is shelved upstairs, in the juvenile everyday life section of the Children’s Department.

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