The League of Unexceptional Children: The Kids Who Knew Too Little


By Gitty Daneshvari

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$12.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 10, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The final book in a smart, funny, and exceptional middle grade series about unexceptionals from School of Fear author Gitty Daneshvari!

Since being recruited by the League of Unexceptional Children, Jonathan Murray and Shelley Brown have rescued the vice president and stopped the outbreak of a virus capable of dimming human intelligence. Against all odds, these totally average spies have somehow managed to save the day…twice.

Now Jonathan’s parents have been arrested by the CIA for treason, and liberating them means going head-to-head with a secret organization so powerful it has literally changed the course of history. It’s Jonathan and Shelley’s most dangerous mission yet, and one that will decide their fate as members of the League. Will they be able to accidentally sort of save the day one last time?



Darkness rolled in like clouds of an impending storm. Two figures, small in stature, trudged slowly along. A stench, thick and rancid, burned their nostrils, dripping down their throats and souring their stomachs. Sludge trickled off the cement walls of the tunnel, meandered through their hair, and stained their already filthy clothes. Nearly a hundred feet belowground, the temperature soared and the air thinned. Keep going, they told themselves, just keep going. Freedom would soon be found. They had come so far; it couldn’t end here. Could it? No! they screamed to themselves. No! We will fight until the end! We are members of the League of Unexceptional Children! We were chosen for a reason!

Oh yes, but that reason… that reason was hardly comforting. They were chosen for their lack of intelligence, athletic prowess, and memorability. They were chosen because they were nobodies, kids so inconsequential, they were often mistaken for furniture.

Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra…” voices chanted in the distance.

And yet, somehow, the nobodies had become the hunted.

Racing through the tunnel, muck splashing against their legs, twelve-year-old Jonathan Murray and Shelley Brown felt capture closing in on them. There was no more luck to be mined. There were no more exceptions for the unexceptionals. The end was near; they could feel it.

Louder and louder the voices grew: “Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra…”

A meaningless assortment of sounds, that’s what these words were to Jonathan and Shelley. After all, the two had a hard enough time with English, let alone Latin. And yet the words ignited a terror so deep in them that they could hardly breathe. This shall be the soundtrack of our deaths, they thought.

“Occulta potentia in umbra…”

Chests tightened. Heavy. Painful. As though dipped in quick-drying cement, their lungs struggled for each breath. Keep going, they told themselves, death’s shadow seemingly closer by the second. Were these to be their last moments on earth? Alone, plodding through a murky tunnel, hope fading rapidly?

“I can’t…” Jonathan muttered, saliva pooling beneath his tongue, sickness rising in his throat.

Crashing slowly to his knees, Jonathan retched the last contents of his stomach. Not since an unfortunate incident with tapioca pudding (full disclosure: Mrs. Murray considers expiration dates little more than numerical decorations) had he experienced such a violent revolt from within his body. Flickers of light dotted his vision and muddled his mind. Much like a cartoon, Jonathan’s eyes rolled so far back in his head, the irises were no longer visible.

“Oh no,” Shelley said as she began to dry heave, her words drowned out by guttural noises. “Argh… no… argh… argh… stop, please stop, you’re making me sick.”

“I think I’m dying,” Jonathan mumbled as Shelley’s gagging trailed off.

“In the sense that we’re all dying someday?”

Jonathan shook his head as Shelley attempted to lift him to his feet. “I can’t go on. I’m too weak.”

“Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra…”

“Stop pretending, Johno—get up!” Shelley insisted, tears falling from beneath her filthy glasses.

“I’ll try and stop them as best I can, even if only for a minute,” Jonathan whispered. “Just keep going.”

“I’m not leaving you here to die,” Shelley said, her mind blurring with memories of the two of them—climbing through the fridge at League headquarters, saving the vice president, traipsing through London, risking everything to stop the release of a virus capable of dimming one’s intelligence, laughter, khaki slacks, Hammett Humphries, Nurse Maidenkirk. “Shells and Johno go together like pickles and ranch dressing, like Coca-Cola and milk—”

“Those sound disgusting.…”

“Exactly! You’d never think they would go together, but they do. Kind of like us,” Shelley said. “So I’m not leaving here without you even if that means I have to carry you.”

“I’ll only slow you down.”

It was true. Jonathan was to be the brick that cemented their demise. And yet Shelley persevered, wrapping his limp arm around her neck.

“We’re getting out of here one way or another. Nothing can stop us. Not even death! Or actually, on second thought, death could totally stop us, which is why we need to start praying we get caught!” Shelley whispered excitedly.

“What?” Jonathan responded as they staggered down the tunnel, the chant continuing in the background like a song stuck on repeat.

“Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra…”

“God has never answered any of my prayers. Not a one. Grow an extra inch over the summer? Denied! Have a face that people remember? Denied! Win a talent show and become famous enough to have my own reality show? Denied! Read animals’ minds? Denied! Be the first kid in the world to add God as a friend on Facebook? Denied!”

“You think God’s on Facebook?”

“He… or she… even denied small requests like having a cheese-and-avocado sandwich dropped off at my house.”

“God is not a delivery service, Shells.”

“That is not the point!”

“Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra…”

“Shells, you’re not making any sense!”

“I’m praying for them to catch us, because then it won’t happen!”

Jonathan raised his eyebrows incredulously. “You’re trying to use reverse psychology on God?”

“What choice do I have? It’s either that or rely on Charl!”

Jonathan and Shelley both shook their heads and sighed—a long and heavy sigh. The kind reserved for such annoyances as school talent shows, lines at an amusement park, and teachers who give homework on Fridays.

“The h is silent, remember?”

Jonathan and Shelley jumped as a boy’s voice emerged from the darkness.

“Did I just hear Charl remind us yet again that his name is pronounced ‘Carl’?!” Shelley barked as a boy, whose skin was covered head to toe in freckles and moles, creating a natural camouflage effect, stepped toward them. The boy could literally fade into the background, whether it be a bush, wallpaper, or in this case a sludge-coated tunnel.

“Crazy running into you guys like this, right?” Carl said with the casualness one might expect in a supermarket or even the dentist’s office, but not an underground tunnel in Bulgaria.

“Why are you here? You told us you were going to get help! Call for reinforcements!” Jonathan growled, his anger palpable.

“Yeah, about that… looks like it’s not going to happen.…”

“Gee, you think?” Shelley scoffed.

“I tried.… Actually, I didn’t try, I just followed you guys. So no one’s coming—well, except for the maniacs. They’re definitely coming.”

“Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra.”

“Charl, I hate you. I really do.”

“You’re trying to use reverse psychology on me, aren’t you?” Carl said with a sly smile. “Good news: It’s working. I love you, Selley.”

“It’s Shelley!”

“You sure the h isn’t silent? It’s more common than you think. Carl, Fred, Jerry, Alex—”

“None of those names have h’s in them,” Jonathan pointed out.

“Or maybe the h’s are just invisible?”

“Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra…”

“We don’t have time for this!” Jonathan snapped.

Shelley raised her hand to stop the others from talking. “Do you hear that?”

“The sound of impending doom is kind of hard to miss,” Jonathan answered.

“On that note, I think it’s time for me to blend into the background,” Carl said, before adding, “But if you need me to relay a message or return a library book or something, just let me know.”

Shelley balled her hands into fists and growled. “Stop talking and listen!”

Thhhhh. Thluck. Thhhhh. Thluck.

“Water’s trickling down! That means there’s a drain nearby—a possible way out!” Shelley explained as she dropped to her knees and frantically felt around the tunnel floor. Fleshy, phlegm-like lumps of mud passed through her fingers as she searched for the cool touch of metal. “I found it, but it’s too heavy. I need your help, Charl!”

“But I’m blending into the background to avoid being killed so that I can live… and return your library books.… What about Jonathan?”

“Khaki’s almost dead! He can’t lift anything! Come on, Charl, do something right for once!” Shelley said.

Almost dead? Jonathan thought. It was true that he couldn’t remember a time when he had felt so depleted, so tired, so utterly devoid of hope. He imagined his skin gray and chalky, his eyes dulled, and his lips cracked with spots of blood breaking through. Maybe he was about to die.

“Ugh,” Shelley grunted as she and Carl attempted to lift the drain.

Jonathan’s stomach sank. This was it. This was the moment their unexceptionalness—specifically their lack of physical strength—was going to get them all killed.

“Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra…”

“Guys, there’s no way we’re lifting this drain,” Carl said nonchalantly as the chanting grew closer. “Which means this is the end of the road for you two, aka time to pick out coffins. Speaking of which, my uncle can get you a good deal. They don’t call him the King of Coffins for nothing.”

“Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra.”

“I’m not ready to die! Or maybe I’m already dead? Is this… Did I fail heaven’s entrance exam? I knew I shouldn’t have cut the head off my sister’s doll!” Shelley rambled hysterically, tears dribbling down her cheeks.

Jonathan looked Shelley in the eye and noted the disappearance of her irrational optimism, that annoying quality that had always left him with a mixture of envy and irritation. The stress of the situation had gnawed at her, and now she was unraveling right before Jonathan’s eyes. So he mustered every last ounce of energy he had and presented a self-assured, confident facade. “That doll deserved to have her head cut off.… Wait, that didn’t come out right.”

“It did if you’re trying to sound like one of those crazy people who push strangers in front of trains,” Carl explained. “Which is one of my fears: death by train. I’m also afraid of death by hot dog cart, death by cat scratch fever, death by crazed maniacs in a tunnel.…”

Jonathan shot Carl a look, took a deep breath, and started again. “What I meant to say was heaven would be lucky to have you, Shells. But unless you’re in a rush to get there, we need to start jumping.”

“Jumping?” Shelley repeated.

Jonathan nodded. “If we can’t lift the grate, maybe we can break through it?”

“Talk about a khaki-coated genius,” Shelley said as the two began jumping up and down.

“Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra…”

“I’ve never been one for long good-byes,” Carl said as he stepped toward Jonathan and Shelley and threw his arms around them. “Keep in touch… if they don’t kill you, that is.”

Creeeeaaaakkk. Creeeaaakkk.

“No!” Carl screamed as the grate dropped out from beneath them.

“Shhhhh!!!” Jonathan and Shelley responded as they free-fell through the unknown. Swathed in darkness, all they could do was hope that what awaited them was safer than what was chasing them.



What happened? Jonathan thought as he slowly roused to consciousness. My head hurts. No, wait—everything hurts, the boy noted as he opened his eyes. So dark was the room, he wondered if he might be blindfolded. Unable to move, his arms and legs tied tightly, he called out for his friend.


“Johno?” Shelley offered faintly, “I can’t move.”

“Neither can I,” Jonathan answered.

“Guys,” Carl chimed in, “I’m here too, just in case you want to check on me.”

Jonathan and Shelley shook their heads. Carl was beginning to feel like a shadow, always creeping around behind them. But before they could even finish their thoughts, they heard it.

“Occulta potentia in umbra. Occulta potentia in umbra…”

“No!” Jonathan and Shelley shrieked as the lights switched on.

Their voices grew hoarse, their veins throbbed visibly across their necks, and their limbs trembled. Seated back to back in chairs, Jonathan, Shelley, and Carl took in the figures surrounding them, cloaked in black velvet floor-length robes and red masks. Deformed and drooping, the masks’ features appeared melted, much like a crayon left in the afternoon sun.

“White,” Carl mumbled in dismay as he looked at the stark floor and walls. “It’s my kryptonite. I can’t blend with white!”

“Gentlemen… and maybe ladies… it’s hard to tell with these outfits,” Shelley said as her grubby glasses slid down the bridge of her nose. “I know what you’re thinking: Let’s just kill these kids and call it a day. Maybe sing that terrible song a few more times and go to bed?”

“Shells? What are you doing?” Jonathan whispered.

“Shelltastic doesn’t give up without a fight or a speech,” Shelley answered before turning her attention back to the masked figures. “But here’s the thing: We’re as strong as steel. As loyal as a blind dog. And as devilish as a… deviled egg at a cocktail party… one that has gone bad… as in you’re going to have food poisoning for at least two days.”

A figure carrying a candelabra stepped forward and slowly lowered the ornate silver antique over Shelley, hot wax dribbling across the back of her hand.

“Ahhhh! Stop it! That hurts!”

“So,” Jonathan said, too numb to shout or cry or do any of the other things he would have expected, “this is the end.”

A scratchy voice replied, “No, this is only the beginning.…”




  • Praise for The League of Unexceptional Children:
    "Delivers hilarious shenanigans...This humorous new series is sure to appeal to fans of Daneshvari and other lovers of the ludicrous."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Pokes sly fun at the pressure to raise future valedictorians and CEOs, by turning the tables on the classic trope of an average kid discovering greatness...Daneshvari's fast-paced, twisty story is chock-full of clever humor."—Publishers Weekly
  • "This...amusing chapter book goes down easy. Even with the fate of the world resting on their 'slightly hunched' shoulders, the main characters are so disarmingly upfront about their inadequacies that they'll definitely have readers on their side."—Booklist
  • "Keeps readers giggling."—SLJ
  • "It will hook readers and have them anxiously awaiting the next adventure."—School Library Connection

On Sale
Oct 10, 2017
Page Count
208 pages

Gitty Daneshvari

About the Author

Gitty Daneshvari was an average child, the kind who never made much of a mark academically, athletically, or socially, so it hardly came as a surprise when she was rejected from her school’s Talented and Gifted Program. On the contrary, Gitty had long ago accepted that she simply wasn’t “special,” unless of course you counted her long list of phobias (please read School of Fear for further explanation). Luckily, as Gitty aged, she realized that while she lacked natural talent, there was nothing stopping her from figuring out what she enjoyed and then working hard to become better at it.

Gitty is the author of the series The League of Unexceptional Children, School of Fear, and Monster High: Ghoulfriends. She invites you to visit her online at and @GittyDaneshvari.

Learn more about this author