Schooled takes a simple concept, one that middle school readers will easily grasp - sheltered home-schooled kid suddenly must attend local middle school - and stretches it juuuuust up to the point of unbelievability. But the line is never crossed.
This could be my school, readers think. Readers will see their school's I-Know-I'm-Popular guy and the I'll-be-with-THAT-guy girl and the Oh-No-Not-Another-Wedgie geek. Korman creates perfect stereotypes but through numerous narrators shows you what is going on inside each character. The insecurities of the popular kids, the necessary alertness of the geek, and the true cluelessness in home-schooled hero Cap are all clear, offering readers a glimpse into the minds of kids different from themselves.
Capricorn was raised by Rain, his grandmother, on a commune left over from the sixties. They are the only two residents left. When Rain must stay in the hospital for extended rehab after falling and breaking a hip, Cap goes to live with social worker Mrs. Donnelly, herself a former resident of Garland Farm. Cap knows nothing of middle school life, from lockers to talking back to teachers. (When a teacher asks if he is talking back, he responds, "Yes?")
Cap is elected 8th grade class president as a joke. His nomination, campaign, election, and even press conferences are all choreographed by the popular kid for the class's entertainment. Cap, being his naive self, believing he needs to learn and know everyone's name, starts slowly winning over the school. Problems come of course (A checkbook? You fill this out and the bank pays?) but in the end everyone learns something about themselves and their actions, a favorite character "dies," and readers are left with a terrific, nearly unbelievable, surprise ending.