Cover Image: The School for Whatnots

The School for Whatnots

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Member Reviews

First Margaret Haddix book I've read, which I'm embarrassed to say. This book is a fantasy/futuristic type book, but not on the dark side as much as a dystopian or sci-fi might typically be. Great story for upper elementary and middle school, but I enjoyed it as an adult too! Super interesting premise--rich kid going to school with Whatnots, which are bots built to seem like real children. Centers on one particular rich boy, Max, and his best friend Josie, with an unknown narrator (identity revealed later in book), Not really a spoiler--this is revealed fairly early to the reader--Josie is a real child from an economically challenged family, posing as a Whatnot, to get schooling that a rich student would normally only get. It's very much approachable for students, plot-wise, but opens up some super interesting discussion points--and you can see how the plot can and will thicken quickly. Readers will be bubbling over with ideas of how this will all go. Personally, I don't like adventures that keep me hanging or children characters who aren't smart enough to see what's coming. So I definitely liked this book--these characters are smart, even if some are slower to come to conclusions because of their background or upbringing. You definitely get a sense of what it's like to be brought up entitled and have everything handed to you versus being brought up with a lot of street smarts plus book smarts. How children if a middle school age navigate this is really intriguing--and good for adults to read! Feels real but doesn't avoid hard questions. But isn't heavy handed either. And though there are some darker spots, it's not a super dark tale. Thought provoking but interest piquing as well. Adventure, sci-fi, dystopian, fantasy readers will all like this book! I'll be recommending it to a lot of students in my school libraries.
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The School for Whatnots is another great story by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  I listened to the audiobook in the car.  The plot twists kept me listening long after I arrived at my destination.
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Maximilian was born rich, and it didn't take long for his mother to realize that it would be hard for her son to have true friends who weren't just interested in his money. The obvious solution was to hire Whatnots; androids so human-like that they would be like training wheels that would allow her son to grow up with no regrets. Not all is as it seems within the Whatnot corporation, however. When Max is told that everyone he thought he knew is actually a robot, he is determined to break the rules to ask his best friend in person.

This is not a very long book, and on the surface, it's a fun frolic that balances android technology, the mysteries of a secretive corporation, and school friendships. There's something much deeper lurking within this pages, however, as it offers a raw look at how classism affects everyone. I'm particularly intrigued by the character of Max's mother, who is so afraid of the world and her regrets that she's willing to live in denial of what's right in front of her. While I don't think this book is meant to be a social commentary, it contains some remarkably piercing insights that will leave me in thought for a long time. I'd suggest this book for older middle school readers, but it's also fun for adults, parents and teachers.
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How do you learn to be a good friend? For the wealthy, the answer to this question is to send young children to a school for whatnots, robots pretending to be human children. This way, rich kids don't act spoiled and mean toward classmates but also don't suffer hurt from other children. But when Max learns at the end of his 5th grade year that he will never see his best friend since kindergarten again, he is distraught. He refuses to believe what he has been told and, with the help of his nanny, embarks on a journey to find the truth. Meanwhile, Josie, the best friend, already knows the truth: that she is the only whatnot in the school that's actually secretly a real human. Or at least, she thinks that's the whole truth. In their efforts to be reunited, these kids discover that what they've been told for their entire lives is not the reality that they have been living. They want real answers, no more lies. And they refuse to believe that they will never see each other again. Readers will learn a good lesson about treating others with kindness along with the struggles of finding and keeping good friends; and once you find a good friend, do whatever you can to keep that friend.
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Margaret Peterson Haddix did not disappoint.  The concept for "The School for Whatnots" is a little bit genius.  It is not a thriller in the traditional sense but it is engaging. 
Wealthy parents, for a variety of reasons choose to send their children to school with child-like robots. Max's parents wanted him to have true friends, free from the types of people who envy their wealth. However, this idea backfires. 
There is a hierarchy from the richest in society to the poorest and constant struggle throughout the book that examines the characters ethics and morality.  A good stand alone for older elementary.
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I will definitely use this book in my classroom to show we can be friends with anyone, not just others like us. I enjoyed all of the different point of views it had. Everything was explained in an easy to understand way.
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⭐⭐⭐⭐ Stars!
The story has a bit of mystery, Sci Fi, Fantasy, and magic ~ Yes! A whole lot of imagination! 

Wealthy parents want their children to be surrounded well-mannered children ~ not the normal nasty children. So ‘Whatnots’ were created. A Whatnot is an android posing as a model child in a classroom of privileged classmates. Maximillian has wealthy parents who want the best for him. Josie is a whatnot actually she is pretending to be a whatnot. Max becomes friends with Josie. Josie encourages Max to do things a normal ‘Whatnot ‘would not dare to suggest. For example~ she convinces him to shorten his name to Max! 

Story is classified for Middle Schoolers but as an adult I loved it! I am a big psychological thriller fan, so this was such a different read for me but one that was totally a fun read!
 My first Haddix and I will read another! 

Want to thank NetGalley and Harper Audio ~ Katherine Tegen Books for this VoiceGalley. This file has been made available to me before publication as in an early form for an honest professional review.  Note this early form it is a VoiceGalley and not the final Audiobook.
Publishing Release Date scheduled for March 1, 2021.
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The writing is great and I loved the characters. I loved the story although I wish it went a bit deeper into some things.  Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook
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oh this was such a fun read, but also a very poignant commentary on poverty and entitlement.   
The characters were delightful, Max is such a good friend.  The whole cast of characters were very lovely.  Well done !
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The School for Whatnots intrigued me from the beginning. I especially liked the character of Josie, and I was curious as to where her journey would end up. The friendship between she and Max was touching throughout. There were definitely a few twists and turns in the plot, and it kept me engaged. I did feel as if there was a bit of preachiness at the end about friendships and families that I would have rather seen played out instead of having it told to me in a lecture. The narrator interjecting her opinion between chapters worked for me. I thought that was a clever way to tell the story. I think this book will appeal to kids. It's almost like a kid=friendly version of West World.
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This book was an interesting read. I enjoyed the discussions among socioeconomic classes and the importance the young characters see in exposing and getting rid of these classes.
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This book reminds me of The Similars-- the underlying premise being a school for privileged kids, but with dark secrets. It was fun to read a book that explored those themes for a middle school audience. The author did well at addressing questions of disparity, empathy, and privilege. I will be recommending this book to our store's middle-school audience.
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I haven't really read any Margaret Peterson Haddix books until this one, to my dismay. Now, I want to read all of her books and understand why she is so beloved.  THE SCHOOL FOR WHATNOTS shows amazing insight into elitism and privilege. I don't see how this book was labeled a thriller. It's a story of persevering friendship. The only thing I can think is one never knows who is a whatnot, and it was a bit thrilling to try and figure out what happened to Max's dear friend, Josie. 

Thank you so much to @Netgalley and @margaretpetersonhaddix for the this advanced reader's copy for an honest review.
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Another fantastic Haddix book. I don't even know how to categorize it, mystery? science fiction? She's such a master. I never see her endings coming!!
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I discovered Margaret Peterson Haddix after "The Missing" series already had six books. It is a great series, and Haddix has done it again. THE SCHOOL FOR WHATNOTS is a wonderful way for older elementary and middle school students to better grasp the meaning of privilege. The book is about the power of friendship and the perseverance to do the right thing for others. Some have classified this book as a thriller. It may well be a thriller for middle school-aged children, but not in the same vein as SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. This is a thriller as in the shocking discoveries made about people as the story progresses.

I listened to the voicegalley version of the book, not the final audio narration, therefore I am unable to comment on the quality of the narration.
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