It comes as no surprise that award-winning author Andrew Clements has written another great story. Clements has an ability to get right to the heart of his young characters, tapping into their feelings as they figure out who they are, and Jordan Johnson in About Average is no exception.
In fact, Jordan doesn’t feel she is exceptional at all—at anything. She has average grades, is a mediocre violin player, and is better at assisting the coach of the soccer team than she is playing on it. With only one week before the end of sixth grade, Jordan feels she has not accomplished anything worth notice and is doomed to be “average” her whole life.
Clements does a beautiful job of drawing the reader completely into Jordan’s world in just one day of school. As we go through her day, class by class, we are able to not only see the world as Jordan does, but to feel it intensely as well. Jordan struggles to be nice to the mean girl because she doesn’t want to be the kind of person whose emotions are controlled by bullies. Jordan daydreams in class—pulling up memories of the past year of small personal discoveries—and slowly pieces together that she is more than the lists she makes or the goals she thinks she ought to achieve.
About Average is a small book, and a brief look at a young girl, but Clements has packed it full of heart-rending and heart-warming vignettes that let us know Jordan almost as well as she knows herself. At the end of the day, a truly devastating disaster is averted by her own remarkable abilities, but by then Jordan already knows she is unique and wonderful and well above average.