Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Publishing Information: New York: First Second Books, 2013
Pages: 279 p.
Annotation: The unlikely friendship between basketball team captain Charlie and robotics club president Nate is challenged when Nate declares war on the cheerleaders over funding that will either pay for new uniforms or a robotics competition.
Summary: Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is a high stakes, action-packed story of the cutthroat world of high school politics. When the principal decides to allocate money to the science team or cheerleaders based on a student council vote, things rapidly go off the rails at Hollow Ridge High School. How will the cheerleaders get new uniforms if they don’t get money from the student council? How will the science team ‘be part of the robot revolution’ at the National Robotics Competition if they don’t get the money? Clearly it is time for sabotage. And possibly extremely embarrassing childhood photographs. (from Get to the Point! Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group blog)
Book Talk: Give me an R! What does it stand for? Robotics! Revenge! There’s only so much money in the school budget—it’s either the robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms, not both. Charlie Nolan might win on the basketball court, but he’s a helpless pawn in the ensuing power struggle between the Science Team and the cheerleaders. When the pranks get out of control, though, both sides find themselves out in the cold. Can they work together to make their ambitions real?
Subject Headings & Major Themes: High School Students
Booklist, March 1, 2013, p. 47
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2013, p. 111
Library Media Connection, January/February 2013, p. 80
Publishers Weekly, March 25, 2013, p. 71
School Library Journal, July 2013, p. 105
Discussion Questions and Ideas:
In the very first scene, Holly dumps Charlie by text message. What does his reaction tell us about his character? How about Holly’s?
Geeks vs. Jocks is a tried-and-true staple of teen literature and film. How does Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong subvert that trope? How does it reinscribe it?
What are some stereotypes other than Jock and Geek that Shen and Hicks play with?
Both Holly and Nate are strong, demanding personalities. Why do you think Charlie would be drawn to people like that?
If you were in the administration of Hollow Ridge High School, which team would you want funded: science or cheerleading? Why?
How is the political process depicted during the student council race? Although Charlie tries to stay out of his own campaign’s mudslinging, how much is he responsible for, say, the football field disaster?
How do the characters use stereotypical expectations to get what they want?
Nate compares the cheerleading team to both the Gestapo and the KGB, how does that hyperbole sit with you: insensitive, hysterical, or somewhere in-between? Are there darker connections to read into that given how the characters engage in the political process?
While NCPGW is comical, Charlie is also dealing with a serious family issue. How does that subplot affect the humor and vice versa? Do you think Shen and Hicks were right to include it?
Compare the way Joanna is drawn to how Holly and Nola are drawn. How is her character conveyed to the reader?
There are depictions of underage drinking that do not result in serious consequences for all the characters. Is this realistic? Is it appropriate?
Faith Erin Hicks found the robotics competition challenging to draw and watched a lot of BattleBots for inspiration. Was her depiction convincing?
Hicks uses a lot of strong lines in her art. What appeals to you about her style? How would the addition of color change the book?
Find panels that use different effects like close-ups, silhouettes, plain backgrounds, and busy ones. What message do those effects have about the character and the scene?
Humor can be very subjective depending on culture, experience, and personality. What makes this a successful (or failed) comedy?
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong was adapted by Hicks from an unpublished novel by Prudence Shen. Do you think some stories are improved in the graphic format? Why? Are some stories made worse?
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong Website (with alternate endings!)- http://www.nothingcanpossiblygowrong.com
Author’s website: http://www.faitherinhicks.com
Graphic novels for teens - http://www.ipl.org/div/graphicnovels/
BattleBots Channel: http://m.youtube.com/user/BattleBotsTV
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Other Work by the Authors:
The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks, 2013
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks, 2012
Into the Woods by J. Torres, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, 2012
Brain Camp by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, 2010
The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks, 2008
Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks, 2007
Demonology 101 (webcomic), 1999-2004
About the Authors:
Faith Erin Hicks is a Canadian webcomic and comic artist and writer and animator living in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Prudence Shen is a writer in New York. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is her first book.