Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Antony John Five Flavors of Dumb

338 pp.  Dial Books (Penguin Group)  2010  ISBN: 978-0-8037-3433-3

Summary (From the publisher):  The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.

The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band’s manager and get her share of the profits.

The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she’s deaf?

Piper can’t hear Dumb’s music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb.

I learned about Five Flavors of Dumb when the ALA awards were being announced.  Five Flavors of Dumb received the Schneider Family Book Award, and after looking it up on Goodreads I knew I had to read it.  I started this Saturday night (1/29/11) and finished it early the following day.  Antony John’s writing style is easy to read and filled with wit and charm.  I know I’ll be reading more of his books!

Many of my students are in band and/or choir, so I’ve read a number of books that fit with those students (i.e. Dramarama by E. Lockhart).  Antony’s book is a nice change of pace because it involves kids in their own band and playing instruments like the guitar and drums.  I have quite a few guitar players in my classes, so I’m hoping this book will be a great fit. 

What I most enjoyed about this book is that nothing comes to easily for Piper; she really has to work and step up her game to get what she wants.  Because she needs to break out of her shell, she also grows some confidence and looks past her deafness.  It doesn’t happen in a snap, but it’s fun to watch her discover who she really is.  The process also involves Piper’s tense relationship with her family.  Her dad won’t/hasn’t learned ASL, her mom is paying all her attention to her now-hearing baby sister, and her brother won’t give her the time of day.  Trying to work through that, while also trying to make Dumb hit it big throws some obstacles in her way.  Thankfully, Piper is able to learn from it all without the book becoming cheesy. 

If you want to read a humorous, fun and heart-warming book–mixed with plenty of rock, of course–then I definitely suggest you pick up a copy of Antony John’s Five Flavors of Dumb!


  1. I really enjoyed this book 🙂

  2. What I really dug was how John handled Piper’s deafness. She’s so normal — that’s the key. This was sort of in the camp of Tara Kelly’s “Harmonic Feedback” in that the book features a main character with a huge challenge and yet, that challenge isn’t the story. It’s simply a part of the story. It’s normalized. We so need more of these stories.

    Doesn’t hurt that John did such a great job including music and making it really high school.

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      I completely agree. Most times I forgot that Piper is deaf until someone reminded her or brought something about it. Even when she was signing everything about her felt “normal”.

  3. Oooohh this sounds fantastic! A deaf character, I bet that is interesting!

  4. Wow! Great review, I am even more excited to read this book now =]

  5. Thanks so much for taking the time to read DUMB, and to share your thoughts, Sarah. I hope your students enjoy it!

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      Thanks for the comment, Antony! One of my students borrowed it before I had a chance to show it to my 1st hour class 🙂

I love comments!

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