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Book Review

The Sixth Grade Nickname Game by Gordon Korman has been reviewed by magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Jeff and Wiley are 11-year-old boys who create nicknames for people at Old Orchard Public School (OOPS). A classmate despises his “Snoopy” nickname, given to him for his annoying habit of snooping. Snoopy believes that their nicknames hold a self-fulfilling prophecy that is not always favorable.

He challenges Jeff and Wiley to create a benign nickname for someone and watch the power that it holds. They boys accept his challenge, and he selects a quiet boy in their class, who no one knows much about, even though he has attended OOPS with them for years. Mike Smith is the nonchalant student who quickly becomes known as “Iceman.”

As the boys are contemplating the impact of their nicknaming, their new long-term substitute teacher arrives. Mr. Hughes is a football coach at the high school, and his presence is intimidating. He is a large man who appears to be a cross between King Kong and the Incredible Hulk. The boys quickly dub him "Mr. Huge.”

Mr. Huge has a large personality that matches his big name. He is full of energy and is all about creating positive motivation to spark his students' love of learning. His passion for teamwork is impressive and simultaneously overwhelming to his students.

Mr. Huge’s repetitive motto is to always give 110 percent. This not only applies to work on the ball field, but also to efforts in the classroom. Although he can be overbearing, he is a likeable teacher and endearing to his students. The students quickly become accustomed to Mr. Huge jogging up and down the aisles of the classroom chanting positive words of encouragement, blowing his whistle and breaking quite a sweat while they complete their lessons.

On a seemingly normal day, Principal Doncaster brings a new student named Cassandra Levy to join their class. She has red hair and a spring in her step. She is not like the average girls at OOPS. Her wildly colorful clothes and friendly, confident personality have the boys searching for a nickname and agreeing that nothing they can dream up properly suits the new girl. Soon Jeff and Wiley find themselves in the middle of a competition to win her affection.

While the Iceman is slowly embracing his new status as the cool kid at school, he is completely confused as to how his fame originated overnight. Snoopy’s theory about nicknames influencing perception is beginning to be proven.

Ironically, Jeff and Wiley long ago created a class nickname for their homeroom, and its connotation is not favorable. Everyone knows that the students of 6B are a collective bunch of kids who have never earned top marks for their academic achievements. Everyone affectionately calls 6A the “Bright Lights.” So it makes perfect sense that Jeff and Wiley coin the name “Dim Bulbs” for 6B.

As state testing approaches, all classes are preparing for the important assessment that is known to earn each school a grade and secure each teacher’s position. When the principal reviews the school reading practice tests, he realizes that 6B is on the edge of failure. Snoopy overhears him sharing his concerns with another administrator and races back to share the news with his class.

Even though Mr. Huge has only been with the class for a short time, the failing grade will mean that his job is on the line. The idea of Mr. Huge being fired devastates his students. Cassandra approaches Jeff and Wiley with a plan. If indeed their nicknames have power, they need to prove the theory wrong to save Mr. Huge's job as their teacher.

The homeroom of 6B band together and accept the challenge to bring up their reading scores. They set up a reading plan and begin checking out books at the library in record numbers. Their lethargic days of lounging at school are over.

They encourage each other to read every moment they can in the three weeks that lead up to the testing. Mr. Huge is pleasantly surprised by the new level of commitment from his class and has no idea that his students are motivated by their desire to save his job as their teacher.

As reading becomes a new top focus, Jeff and Wiley continually try to one up each other and gain Cassandra’s favor. The Sadie Hawkins dance is approaching and each of them hopes she chooses him as her date. Although Cassandra has grown close to both boys and enjoys their company, she is ultimately attracted to “Iceman,” which surprises them. Snoopy’s theory is continuing to reveal truth behind the impact of what a person is called on a regular basis.

The 6B Dim Bulbs are ready for testing when the big day arrives. The class scores in the top 1 percent on the state reading test, and Mr. Huge’s job is secure. He is offered a full-time teaching contract.

Snoopy’s challenge proves that what a person is labeled impacts what he becomes. The irony of the situation is that Jeff and Wiley’s challenge began with the promise to give Snoopy a new nickname if he could prove his theory true. The fact that his snooping was what tipped them off to Mr. Huge’s job threat in the first place now has everyone calling Snoopy a hero for saving the day. He is not ready to give up his nickname, not now or any time soon.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Though not mystical, Snoopy believes that nicknames have some sort of power over reality—what you call someone is what they become.

Authority Roles

Mr. Hughes uses his authority to motivate his students and encourage them to always do their best. Principal Doncaster does not effectively exert his authority to gain the respect of his students. The principal’s nickname, “Deer in the Headlights,” reflects this perception. He is often overwhelmed by his position and fails to respond to situations in a timely manner.





Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

9 to 12


Gordon Korman






Record Label



Hyperion Books for Children


On Video

Year Published



Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for Grade 4-6, 2001; AISLE Read-Aloud Books Too Good To Miss; Intermediate, 2002


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