Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dunderheads (The Dunderheads, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Dunderheads (The Dunderheads, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dunderheads

(The Dunderheads)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,237 ratings  ·  206 reviews
Dunderheads, unite! A tyrannical teacher gets her just due in a delightfully
subversive, outrageously funny tale by Newbery Medal winner Paul Fleischman.

Miss Breakbone hates kids. Especially the time-squandering, mindwandering, doodling, dozing dunderheads in her class. But when she confiscates Junkyard’s crucial fi nd, she fi nally goes too far. Enter Wheels (and his soupe
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Candlewick Press (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,237 ratings  ·  206 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Dunderheads (The Dunderheads, #1)
Dec 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: voice, humor, life, adventure, j, picture
For what it is, I think this book is nearly perfect. The text and illustrations could each work independently and tell a story on their own, and together they give each other added depth and additional life.

Einstein is our first person narrator with a simple yet distinct voice and personality who tells the story of his class's confrontation with their mean and overbearing teacher (Miss Breakbone). Each classmate is defined by a quirky personality trait and/or defining interest (Wheels, Spitball,
Sid Fleischman's last book? In any event, perceptive as always, and clever. I don't usually love a story that's too lopsided in the kids vs. the grownups dept. You know - those stories that glorify the talents of the kids in contrast to the idiotically-behaving grownups in their lives. However, my memories of an awful, angry, and utterly unfair and inflexible junior high/senior high substitute teacher fit quite nicely into the mold of Miss Breakbone, Fleischman's very unlikeable teacher. If you' ...more
Erin Murray
This book was a pleasant surprise, I didn't think I would enjoy it half as much as I did. The villan in the book is Miss Breakbone who reminded me of Miss Trunchable from Matilda. She liked to confiscate childrens possessions and make them cry. Then one day the children she so completely underestimated at the start of the year, all make a plan to get some special possessions and return them to their owners.

The book is about each of the individual children within the text having their own unique
W.H. Beck
Jul 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
From my blog (Of Books and Boys):

Who was the worst, the meanest, teacher you ever had? I once knew one that made a girl clean up her own mess when she got sick in class. A first grader! And another mountain of a man who’d bellow from the front table anytime he thought someone wasn’t paying attention. “Paul! Get up here! Bring your notebook!” And if that notebook wasn’t word-for-word synced with the overhead transparency, he’d tear it up and roar, “Get out of here! “F” for the day!” And the poor
Abby Johnson
Oct 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Miss Breakbone is an evil teacher to rival Miss Trunchbull or Viola Swamp. She gives herself a gold star every time she makes a kid cry. And she thinks her students are just dunderheads. But when Miss Breakbone crosses the line, the so-called Dunderheads decide to get back what's theirs.

This is a fun book that kids will pore over, soaking up every interesting detail in the illustrations. I'd gladly hand it to fans of Roald Dahl or the Black Lagoon series. It's a little more than a picture book,
Feb 26, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lana Krumwiede
This book reminds me of a kid version of "Ocean's Eleven." ...more
Tracy The Great
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i think it was good!!
Reading Comics shouldn’t be seen as an act of rebellion and reading Picture Books post second grade shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment. Especially with the works of Shaun Tan residing so comfortably on grown-up shelves. Course, it doesn’t hurt when the book isn’t formatted for two laps and is more popularly categorized as a “graphic novel.” The daughter (newly 11) and I huddled over the pages of Paul Fleischman authored and David Roberts illustrated The Dunderheads—a wonderful hybrid read fo ...more
Stephanie Ludlow
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by David Roberts

This book is about a group of students, the Dunderheads, as the teacher has branded them, who are constantly victimized by their cruel teacher, Miss Breakbone. Miss Breakbone specializes in making the children cry, and taking their beloved things. One day, she decided to not only take Theodore’s (Junkyard) magnifying glass, but also a one-eared cat he had found as a birthday present for his mother. This was the last straw and the
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Clean lines, comical details and snappy, generous first person narration sweep us into this suspenseful tale of strategy, solidarity and overlooked superpowers.

You can listen in on our chat about this book on our Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast.

Other books mentioned:
Iggy Peck, Architect
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Miss Nelson is Missing

More independent thinkers on JOMB:
Odd Velvet
Suki’s Kimono
Ruby’s Wish
Getting to Know Ruben Plotnick
Silly Tilly
more here.

We’d love to
Oct 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Dunderheads, unite! A tyrannical teacher gets her just due in a delightfully subversive, outrageously funny tale by Newbery Medal winner Paul Fleischman.

Miss Breakbone hates kids. Especially the time-squandering, mindwandering, doodling, dozing dunderheads in her class. But when she confiscates Junkyard’s crucial find, she finally goes too far. Enter Wheels (and his souped-up bike with forty-eight extra gears), Pencil (who can draw anything from memory), Spider (look up & you’ll find him), & the
Melissa Morton
Apr 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: tl307-spring2014
Miss Breakbone is the teacher every child hates and avoids. She yells at her students, takes their things away, makes them cry, and does not give them second chances. One day, Miss Breakbone takes away Junkyard’s magnifying glass and cat that he found in the trash, and locks them away in her desk. The narrator is known by his peers as Einstein, and he is determined to get Junkyard’s belongings back. He enlists the help of his fellow classmates, and uses each of their talents to unlock Miss Break ...more
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Miss Breakbone hates children. She is harsh, rude, and cruel. But worst of all, she is also a teacher. She calls her class Dunderheads, and one day goes too far in taking away a broken cat from one of the children. His nickname was Junkyard and he had found it in the trash, a perfect gift for his feline-loving mother. When Miss Breakbone basically dared Junkyard to try to get it back, the class turned to Einstein, a boy with a brilliant mind for figuring things out and the narrator of the story. ...more
Emma Hoyer
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Literature Requirement: **2015 Blue Stem Award Nominee**

Wow! I absolutely adore this book, especially the illustrations. Each character is very unique, and they each play an integral part in the rescue mission to get back Junkyard’s one-eared treasure. Not only is the book entertaining, but it speaks volumes towards individuality. Everyone has their own talents, something that they like more than anyone else. No one is without talent; it’s just not always tapped into. Each of the “dunderheads” i
Teresa Scherping Moulton
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile, 3rd-4th, humor
Miss Breakbone just may be the worst teacher ever. She gives herself a star every time she makes a student cry, and her specialty is confiscating their favorite possessions. But Miss Breakbone goes too far when she confiscates the cat statue that Junkyard was going to give to his mom for her birthday. Class smartypants Einstein knows something must be done. He rounds up his talented classmates - like Pencil, who can see something once and draw it from memory, and Clips, who may struggle with rea ...more
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 642
I'd place "The Dunderheads" by Paul Fleischman squarely in the Realistic genre. It definitely seems to be a "What if" kind of book with lots of humor, adventure, and suspense. I'd read it to any school age kid - I certainly think they would get the most our of it, up to about 5th grade.

"The Dunderheads" is about a group of kids who have a seriously mean teacher, Miss Breakbone. Miss Breakbone tells them, "Never, have I been asked to teach such a scraping-together of fiddling, twiddling, time-sq
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
What is a dunderhead? A dunderhead is what the awful Miss Breakbone calls her students. She complains, also, that they are fiddling, twiddling, time-squandering, mind-wandering, doodling, dozing, and don’t-knowing. In this junior spy-thriller, a student named Einstein leads his class of misfits in the heist of an item confiscated by the wicked Miss Breakbone. The return of their fellow student’s treasured prize is the adventure of the year! This title is well suited for striving readers. Its 7” ...more
Rebecca Boliard
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
*2015 Blue Stem Nominee*
The Dunderheads is perfection! I absolutely love this storyline! The story is told by a student that is called Einstein by his classmates. Each classmate has a nickname based off of their hobby or talent. These students have an awful teacher name Miss Breakbone, who takes their belongings and sells them. She is terrible, while reading I imagined Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. This woman was horrifying to look at as well. The story follows the students as they prepare a pla
Sarah W
May 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
When Miss Breakbone, cantankerous child-hating teacher extraordinaire, takes Junkyard's magnifying class and his mother's birthday present during class, she makes a series of mistakes. The worst of which is that she dares Junkyard not to think about getting his things back.

Now Einstein, the class problem solver, is organizing the rest of the kids in the class to pull off the ultimate heist--breaking into Miss Breakbone's house to retrieve the one-eyed cat in time for Junkyard to give it to his m
Paula Griffith
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Too funny! When I was reading this, I kept hearing the theme music for "Mission Impossible," and I know that really dates me. Mrs. Breakbone really went to far when she took the cat figurine from Junkyard that he was planning on giving his mother for her birthday. The dunderheads unite to pull off a fantastically complex mission to rescue said kitty and give it back to Junkyard. Will they be able to rise to the challenge and outsmart their mean teacher who calls them all "dunderheads?" While the ...more
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Miss Breakbone is a terrible teacher. She spends all her time yelling and insulting her pupils. She also confiscates all their possessions. The students just sit in silent suffering until one day Miss B goes too far. She takes something from Junkyard that he had planned to give his mother for her birthday. The class brain, Einstein, springs into action. He devises a plan that involves the whole class and each of their special interests and talents. The goal is to reclaim their stuff and show Mis ...more
Madelyn Adams
Personal Reaction:
This book was on a list of great read aloud books for children, however it was not my favorite. I liked how the students worked together to get back their items the teacher took away from them. The illustrations were descent, but they were more like cartoons, which would be appealing to some children.

This book makes a wonderful read aloud, because of the vocabulary and language. I think 2nd through 5th graders would enjoy this story, because they are getting back what
Jul 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Miss Breakbone hates children: each time she makes one cry, she gives herself a gold star, and it is rumored that she purchased an electric chair with money made from selling items she’d confiscated from students. She underestimates the class of kids she has labeled “Dunderheads”, however, and together they use their unique talents to retrieve their belongings. Roberts’ comical cartoon illustrations of Miss Breakbone show her looking like a stereotypical Russian prison guard--huge chest beneath ...more
Aug 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: middle graders
Recommended to Carmine by: cover appeal
This felt like a picture book version of 'The Mysterious Benedict Society.' A crack team of children of varying talents united by common goal. Clever, clever children thwart the evil grownup. Perhaps there is an emerging sub genre...'Ocean's 11 junior' see also 'Swindle' by Gordon Korman.

It could just as easily belong to the classic sub genre of children's lit- the evil teacher...see also 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl, 'Miss Nelson is Missing' by Allard, 'A Little Princess' by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Entertaining light and clever read about a nasty piece of work of a teacher and some very clever and resourceful students who definitely give her a well-deserved comeuppance. Although this is cataloged in the fiction (as in longer fiction) area of the children's area of our library, it is really a picture book for older readers. Aah - do I wish there could be a separate area for just that. Those special books that are far too long and conceptually above the little ones have so much to offer as r ...more
Kaethe Douglas
November 18, 2010

We read it last night when we got it home. Such fun! I love the class full of kids who may seem like misfits, but each of whom has very desirable skills which they use together to thwart the evil teacher. An elaborate heist pulled off by kids against a teacher who looks like she came out of a Roald Dahl story. Awesome.

May 3, 2012

Tash said I'd read it, but I couldn't quite remember it. Oh, drag, I had to read a pleasurable book again. Next week I'll have to pick up the sequel,
Franklin Park Public Library
The Dunderheads, written by Newbery Medal winner Paul Fleishman, was a light-hearted picture book that reminded me of Ocean’s 11, but with children. Each student was nicknamed for their special talent and worked together to break into the evil teacher’s house to take back the precious cat she had stolen from one of her students. Through their seeking of justice we are reminded that every individual is intelligent in different and unique ways. The lessons learned are never judge and never underes ...more
Blakelee Kelley
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Genre: Picture Book Published: 2009

The dunderheads are a group of misfit students with special skills that go on a mission to save a one eared cat from a not so nice teacher. This book was entertaining and full of adventure. It is a light hearted humorous book. One of my favorite quotes from the book was "Never have I been asked to teach such a scraping-together of fiddling, twiddling, time squandering, mind-wandering, doodling, dozing, don't knowing dunderheads." This book is also by the same a
Tim Eichorst
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"The Dunderheads" is one of the most cleverly written books I have ever read. The story focuses on a class of students who set out to recover an item that their mean, crotchety teacher stole from one of their classmates during school. The story highlights how even the "weird kids" have something to offer if you get to know them. This book also highlights the value of teamwork towards a common goal, as every student involved with the plot has a unique role in attempting to recover the stolen item ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Better Than You
  • The Barnabus Project
  • A River
  • Grizzly Dad
  • A Mouse in the House
  • The Great Sheep Shenanigans
  • You, Me and the Big Blue Sea
  • Animal Rescue
  • Olive and the Bad Mood
  • Red Light, Green Lion
  • Three Bags Full
  • Outside Over There
  • The Noisiest Night
  • The Green Ship
  • The Most Beautiful Thing
  • The Most Magnificent Thing
  • While You Are Sleeping
  • Malala's Magic Pencil
See similar books…
Paul Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California. The son of well-known children's novelist Sid Fleischman, Paul was in the unique position of having his famous father's books read out loud to him by the author as they were being written. This experience continued throughout his childhood.
Paul followed in his father's footsteps as an author of books for young readers, and in 1982 he released

Other books in the series

The Dunderheads (2 books)
  • The Dunderheads Behind Bars (The Dunderheads, #2)

News & Interviews

Believe it or not, we're halfway through 2021! As is our tradition, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial team burrows into our data to...
5 likes · 0 comments