The School for Whatnots by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Young Llama Thoughts
  • Adventurous
  • Christian Friendly
  • Easy Reading
  • Humerous
  • Youth Appropriate
4.2 Llamas


If you are looking for a book full of confusing plot twists this is the one for you! With robots, kids pretending to be robots, robots pretending to be kids and a overall focus on friendship, this book really goes down a twisty path of fun and mystery.

Imagine a world where the rich are so afraid for their children that they put them in schools full of robot children to protect them. That’s the world Max lives in but doesn’t know it. But when his best friend leaves him a note telling him that she IS real, his world starts unraveling… Now, both Max and Josie are looking for the answers to their questions and trying to stay together no matter what. But the ‘whatnot’ rules might just prevent them from ever seeing each other again…

I have been eyeing this book for awhile now, and finally got it the other day. It was a pretty ok read, I liked the adventure and mystery. The focus on friendship was super sweet as well. I think boys and girls 8 and up would enjoy this story about looking past the value this world puts on money and finding friends!

However, I will say this book had some confusing plot twists. Characters come out of no where, how the fictional world works in never really explained and it seems rushed at times. Also, there is a weird focus on how rich people are evil… And the thing is the books seems to blame the rich kid as well, and how the poor kids are just better? I don’t know really what that is about. In my opinion, everyone is bad that’s why we need Jesus, so judging someone based on their wealth seems silly…

Overall, it was a good read but not my favorite. I would of liked to have read more on the world and less on characters at times. I think kids would enjoy this book, though sometimes you don’t understand what’s happening so be warned. Have a book-filled day! -The Young Llama Reader.


  • A pretty good read for kids 8 and up!
  • Enjoyable and entertaining.


  • Weird plot twists…
  • Confusing focus on “evil” rich people…

No matter what anyone tells you, I’m real. That’s what the note says that Max finds under his keyboard. He knows that his best friend, Josie, wrote it. He’d know her handwriting anywhere. But why she wrote it—and what it means—remains a mystery.

Ever since they met in kindergarten, Max and Josie have been inseparable. Until the summer after fifth grade, when Josie disappears, leaving only a note, and whispering something about “whatnot rules.”

But why would Max ever think that Josie wasn’t real? And what are whatnots?

As Max sets to uncover what happened to Josie—and what she is or isn’t—little does he know that she’s fighting to find him again, too. But there are forces trying to keep Max and Josie from ever seeing each other again. Because Josie wasn’t supposed to be real.

This middle grade thriller from Margaret Peterson Haddix delves into the power of privilege, the importance of true friendship, and the question of humanity and identity. Because when anyone could be a whatnot, what makes a person a real friend—or real at all?

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