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Pinkwater, Daniel. The education of Robert Nifkin.

PINKWATER, Daniel. The education of Robert Nifkin. Houghton Mifflin, Graphia. 178p. c2005. 0-618-55208-1. $6.99. JS *

To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 1998: In the form of a college application essay, Robert Nifkin (a stand-in for the author) humorously recounts his experiences at two very different high schools in Chicago in the 1950s. The first is a hellish large public high school, where "The only thing I was learning was that boredom can hurt like physical pain." The teachers are crazy in various ways, ranging from the anti-Semitic English teacher to the biology teacher who babbles to herself in the coat closet during the class. He joins R.O.T.C., which is closed down for being a "Commie cell." Robert eventually skips class for months at a time and happily explores Chicago. When he's found out he convinces his hostile immigrant father (who likes to say "I'm the kink of my castle," as Pinkwater renders his accent) to send him to a private school. The Wheaton school is a unique, and uniquely lax, institution, where "the dregs of Chicago youth turned up," and "they limit enrollment to humans--for the most part ... unless you pay in advance." Robert settles in happily; the teachers and students are just as eccentric, but tolerant of each other. He meets a number of intriguing people and manages to learn a lot in summer school, thanks to some offbeat but dedicated teachers.

Pinkwater's equally offbeat style make this a treat to read, full of sharp observations and a keen memory for the humiliations of adolescence. He takes delight in the bizarre, and his pleasure is contagious. A few profanities here and there. Paula Rohrlick, KLIATT

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.
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Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Rohrlick, Paula
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
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