If you've ever wanted to read every book in the library, maybe you should rethink that.

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I hate stories,” said Dana. “They make me laugh and cry too much.”
You don’t hate stories, Dana,” Mrs. Jewls told her. “You love stories. I wish everybody laughed and cried as much as you.”

Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar

Featured books:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger by Louis Sachar

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

Charlotte's Web

My favourite elementary school teacher was Mrs. B, the same one who read Dahl’s The Witches to the class. I remember her most, however, for Charlotte’s Web. I had surely seen the Hanna-Barbera movie many times before third grade. Had I read the story? Perhaps my mother read it to me. Perhaps I read it on my own; I can’t remember when I bought it. No matter my history with the actual book, this is another story that plays out in my mind with the voices of the movie’s actors, inflection for inflection.

Mrs. B brought so much more charm to the story. (This is a completely biased opinion.) I’d already known this was a sad story in the end. I don’t know if Mrs. B had read the book before, or if there was something going on in her life, but when [character] died, she had to take a moment. She was legitimately crying in front of the class. We understood and our hearts went out to her. This is one of the reasons why I love this book.

The movie sticks with you. The songs Charlotte sang still haunt me and never fail to get me teary-eyed. They’re beautiful songs, and Charlotte is indeed a beautiful cartoon spider. She’s the reason why I find some spider’s tolerable. As she said, spiders help control the bug population. There’s a lot of wisdom in this book that authors can only pull off when writing about animals.

I never heard [an animal] say anything. But that proves nothing. It is quite possible that an animal has spoken civilly to me and that I didn’t catch the remark because I wasn’t paying attention. Children pay better attention than grownups. If Fern says that the animals in Zuckerman’s barn talk, I’m quite ready to believe her. Perhaps if people talked less, animals would talk more. People are incessant talkers—I can give you my word on that.”

I remember the store where I bought this book. It was a special store. Much later in my life, another bookstore I bought from featured the cover of this novel on their bags. I taped this bag to my closet door and I’m not taking it down for anything.

I was going to watch the film right after rereading this, but I’m going to save the it for the end of this summer challenge as a treat. Perhaps I’ll even partake in the 2006 remake, which I have yet to see.

Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger (Wayside School)

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. H, was my least favourite elementary school teacher, but I remember liking her in one moment brought to us by Louis Sachar and a place called Wayside School.

The kids in my class loved the Wayside School books. I can’t remember if Mrs. H read the first two book in the series, but she most certainly read the third one, Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. Before reading this for myself last week, I remembered the tall school, the mysterious nineteenth floor, cows, the person with an ear on her head, the elevators that only worked once, and the following story.

Something insane was happening regarding someone’s nose, but I’m not going to give it all away because I’d like to encourage everyone to read for themselves. Long story short, someone’s nose fell off. Mrs. H was reading the story just fine when suddenly she burst out laughing. Her face went red, tears ran down her face, and the class had no idea what was so funny. She had to duck behind the cubbies to calm down. At last, her face still red and strained, she read:

[character]’s nose lay on the floor. Miss Mush picked it up and put it in her apron pocket. “It will go good in spaghetti sauce,” she said.

The joke hit her just right. I liked many other jokes in the series much better. The class laughed when she read the line, but we might have been more tickled by how much she had laughed.

I recommend the whole series to adults. It’s a really easy read because each chapter is like a short, short story. They’re cleverly written and give you something interesting to ponder. Those who read the books out loud can easily take extreme dramatic license. By the time you’re halfway through the series you realize that you’ve gotten to know all the students fairly well and even like most of them. (I associate most with Todd. He got in trouble for following the rules just because he was doing what everyone else was not.) If you don’t want to read these books then go rub a monkey’s tummy! Rub a monkey’s tummy with your head!

And props to Sachar for mentioning Charlotte’s Web in the series. How did he know I had just read it? =) All books are linked to one another.

Freak The Mighty

Freak the Mighty was read to my seventh grade class by the worst English teacher in the history of anything. I can’t remember her name for the life of me, and I don’t even care to remember it, but it might have started with L.

I shouldn’t give Mrs. L so much beef. She did expose us to good books, after all, especially this one. That’s almost all the good I remember about her. She might not have even cried during this book; it might have been me. Or maybe it was a random person or the whole class—I don’t know. I do recall a collected mourning over [fictional person]. Despite blocking out or forgetting most of my first experience with this book and class, Freak the Mighty did stay in my mind as being an excellent story, and it’s for this quote that pretty much explains why I write fiction:

I think he needed something to hope for and so he invented this rather remarkable fantasy you describe. Everybody needs something to hope for. Don’t call it a lie.”

This would have been a great selection for my next post’s theme, Mortality in Children’s Fiction. I’m a bit peeved that [character]’s family wouldn’t have told him about [other character]’s possible future. This made [event] more tragic, but then we wouldn’t have as much of a novel, would we?

My class also watched the movie, titled The Mighty, after finishing the book. I’d love to see it again because I remember it being good, but I also remember it being so sad. Maybe I’ll save it with Charlotte’s Web for a post-challenge celebration.

Which books moved your teachers to tears?


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