The School for the Insanely Gifted (review)
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Reviewed by
Elish, Dan. The School for the Insanely Gifted. Harper/HarperCollins, 2011. [304p]. ISBN 978-0-06-113873-7 $15.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 4-6.

As the name of their school suggests, the students at the Blatt School for the Insanely Gifted have some pretty impressive talents. Eleven-year-old Daphna Whispers is a musical prodigy, while her pals Harkin and Cynthia are, respectively, an engineering Einstein and a theater virtuoso. Unfortunately, genius isn't enough to ward off bad luck, as Daphna well knows after losing her estranged father to a bad batch of yak's milk (supposedly), and now her pilot/climatologist mother has gone missing on a transoceanic flight. Things go from bad to worse when Daphna finds herself the target of mysterious masked men and a secret message from her mother leads her on a chase from her New York City home to the mountains of Africa—in a flying taxi, no less (Harkin's latest invention). What she finds there has the potential to utterly ruin the reputation of her beloved school and its enigmatic founder, not to mention put her friendships with Harkin and Cynthia to the test. As in The Attack of the Frozen Woodchucks (BCCB 3/08), Elish rolls out the absurdity, which ranges from canine musical theatre to laptops that cook, clean, and engage in epic battles. It's all a little too much, however, and what starts as funny and quirky soon feels like a barrage of insanity that threatens to make readers' heads spin. Broad characterizations make Daphna and pals little more than stereotypes, and the unresolved issues of her mother's disappearance and Daphna's hypnotic music-making abilities leave rather gaping plot holes. Still, secret codes, a chewable computer, and a whip-wielding hero are hard to resist, so readers who enjoyed the hijinks of Elish's previous work may find this one equally appealing. [End Page 517]