How his job as a classroom teacher helped THE PERFECT SCORE author Rob Buyea discover the power of audiobooks.

By Jennifer Rubins | November 1 2017 | All-School Reads

From the beloved author of Because of Mr. Terupt and its sequels comes THE PERFECT SCORE, a new middle-grade school story with a very special cast of unforgettable characters who discover that getting the perfect score—both on the test and in life—is perhaps not so perfect after all. We’re thrilled to welcome author Rob Buyea to the Common Reads blog to share his own personal experience with audiobooks and why they are perfect for teachers and students. THE PERFECT SCORE is read by a cast of five narrators who enthusiastically bring this terrific story to life. Find an audio clip from THE PERFECT SCORE at the end of the post!

Rob Buyea
As a teacher, I was determined to implement a successful reader’s workshop. That meant allowing my students to choose their own books. But in a climate where assessment is so important, how do you assess a student who’s reading something you’ve never read?

For me, one obvious answer was to begin reading more. I wanted to inspire passionate readers in my classroom. I started devouring books, and the more I read, the better equipped I became to engage in conversation with my students. My desire to read even more eventually led to me discovering audiobooks. I began enjoying stories on my drive to and from school. So it was as a classroom teacher that I realized how terrific audiobooks are.

One of the first books I listened to on tape was Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis. James Avery, the reader, does an incredible job. I loved listening to his voice. I enjoyed the audiobook so much that this novel became my next read-aloud. And that was when I found out that listening to audiobooks helped me create voices like I hadn’t before. Read-aloud time became a part of the school day that my students and I cherished.

The first story I listened to that featured several readers was Bat 6, written by Virginia Euwer Wolff. I loved hearing the different voices, and though I had no idea at the time, I believe this listening experience influenced my writing.

I don’t know if I ever would’ve tried or even thought to write a story from several characters’ points of view—something I did with my Mr. Terupt series and again in my book THE PERFECT SCORE. I loved creating the variety of kids and adults. These characters came alive on the page and then in audio.
I’ve enjoyed many wonderful audiobooks since I first discovered them. One of my recent favorites was Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan. My own daughters adored Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan and The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan. Currently, I’m loving How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor.

My passion for audiobooks led to my having Mrs. Woods, a special teacher in my new novel, THE PERFECT SCORE, use them to help her student Gavin, who is a struggling reader. I should also mention that Mrs. Woods is outstanding at reading aloud. I can’t wait for my readers to meet the new diverse cast of characters in THE PERFECT SCORE. I hope they give you the pleasure of being a reader and a listener!

Happy Listening,
Rob Buyea

LISTEN to a clip:
THE PERFECT SCORE is read on audio by Abigail Revasch, Robbie Daymond, Caitlin Davies, Ozzie Rodriguez, and Todd Haberkorn.

This blog post first appeared on Visit for more information on audiobooks and find ideas for audio-use in the classroom.

“Told through five students’ perspectives, this novel is a heartfelt look at social interactions in middle school, a pointed commentary on standardized testing, and an entertaining read.”—Booklist

“Topics explored include sibling abuse, bullying, poverty, learning disabilities, pressures within competitive sports, community service responsibilities, and ethical values…Engaging and highly discussion-worthy.”—School Library Journal

The Perfect Score
Kid-friendly, and full of heart with unforgettable characters-kid and adult, this new series is further evidence of Buyea's masterful understanding of middle schoolers, a reputation first established with his popular Mr. Terupt series.
Audiobook Download
Age 9-12 years
Grades 4-7

Bud, Not Buddy
It's 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but he's on a mission. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression! Bud's got an idea that those posters will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him.
Age 10 and up
Grade 5 & Up