Eleven-year-old Ash McNulty is one of the “gifted and talented” kids at her school, spending most of her day in a special class with a few other advanced students. As the end of fifth grade rolls around, she should be on top of the world. According to everyone, she’s going to rock junior high!
(FROM Macmillan Publishers)
But Ash has a secret: She can’t keep up with her advanced classmates anymore. The minute she asks for help though, everyone will know she’s not who they think she is. She’s not so smart. She might not even be that special. And her parents will be crushed to discover the truth.
If Ash can win the Quiz Bowl, though, that will show everyone that she is still on top. If she gets a lucky break ahead of time, all the better.
Except that “lucky break” backfires . . .
And Ash is left to question everything she thought she knew about school, friends, and success.
PAGE COUNT: 240 BOOK BIRTHDAY: June 21, 2022
This title grabbed my attention right away since I taught in a gifted classroom of 24 students for several years. It was more than challenging meeting the needs of each child. Yes, they had taken a test to determine intellectual potential and all came out high on their results. But their abilities and interests were far ranging. Some were ready for high school math and others just beginning to master the material in my 6th grade classroom. The same held true for skill levels in writing, oral communication, science, and I was faced with an even wider range of social emotional needs.
Despite the challenges I had a great time teaching these kids—although my work week went from about 50 hours to over 60 planning and teaching to this group.. The time spent with them inspired me to further study the gifted label and how it effects students, parents, and teachers. I pursued my own research on the gifted label and at the ripe young age of 34 finished a dissertation followed by a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. What did I conclude about this often misunderstood label? I’ll let you know after I tell you more about GOLDEN TICKET.
The third person narration moves the story along at a nice pace with some great end of chapter teasers. Ash’s parents immigrated to the states from Ireland and manage their own restaurant. A younger sister is also in the family but her giftedness is more in playing soccer than with academics. The first half of the novel leads up to the decision Ash makes to be on top for the Quiz Bowl competition. She cheats and and the new girl catches her in the act.
The intriguing second half of this story has many surprising outcomes for Ash. She gains an unlikely new friend and begins to question everything about her future and self. Is she really “Gifted”?
Ash’s plight would be a great discussion in any 5th or 6th grade classroom. I liked the conclusions Ash finally made and would love to see how it plays out for her in middle school. Overall, my label for Kate Egan’s Golden Ticket is a solid A.
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT GOLDEN TICKET by Kate Egan
- You learn a bit of the Irish slang used by the parents and also about the stereotypes often attached to someone from Ireland.
- The fifth graders sounded like fifth graders and not ones being written through an adult’s eyes.
- The school handled Ash’s mistake in a perfect way. It wasn’t easy but the end result shined.
- Friendship can happen in the most unexpected ways. The lesson that someone who doesn’t look or act like you may indeed become a BFF was a wonderful twist.
- The gifted label was given an honest and realistic view from inside Quigley Elementary. Also accurate was how the school year often ends for students in fifth grade who are headed to Middle School the next year.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Egan’s gifts and talents all involve words. She is the author of a picture book, Kate and Nate Are Running Late!, and a chapter book series, The Magic Shop, both published by Feiwel and Friends. Her work has been named to many state reading lists, selected by the Junior Library Guild, and recognized as “Best of the Year” by Amazon. She is also a freelance editor, a prolific ghostwriter, and an occasional book reviewer. Kate lives with her family on the coast of Maine.
THE GIFTED LABEL: MY RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS
A detailed questionnaire and interviews led me to conclude parents and their identified student both had positive reactions to the label, even higher for males. Regular classroom teachers had the most negative reactions expressing it was an elitist concept. They also thought “gifted” kids were losing their regular classroom friendships.
The main conclusion coming from the study was reaffirming my belief that every child has potential to do great things no matter their ability level. Each deserve a year’s worth of growth during a school year. Teachers should begin finding out what students know and understand. From their they can be challenged to extend and learn more. I recommended that separate opportunities for gifted students continue, but also integrate the learning into the regular classroom.
Certainly not easy to obtain. The problem we have in schools is the lack of teacher preparation and support to differentiate for all abilities rather than the traditional one size fits all model. Continued training is essential. Class size also needs to be lowered so that teachers can provide levels of learning for what I called “The don’t have it yet.”; ” Sort of have it.”; and ” I already know that.” ability levels you find in any classroom. Not sure that will ever happen with school budgets, but it would be a great start.
The gifted label is here to stay and differentiated programming options are the key to success for all.
(Comments are welcome below and be sure to stop by again this Friday for a delicious GIVEAWAY opportunity!)