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  • Jenny Kawecki 5:00 pm on 2015/11/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , health and safety, , , , louis sachar, , ,   

    7 Fictional Schools That Are Definitely Not Up to Code 

    Fictional schools may seem wonderful and magical when you’re thinking about all the adventures your favorite students get up to, but consider them from the perspective of a concerned parent/insurance adjuster/PTSD-troubled survivor graduate—you cringed, didn’t you? And there’s no way you wouldn’t raise a red flag or two by telling future coworkers/friends there was an entire floor of your high school you weren’t allowed to visit because it was too dangerous. These schools had better hope no one ever sends a safety inspector their way, because there is no way they’re up to code.

    Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy (The Magicians, by Lev Grossman)
    Maybe Brakebills can stand to be a little harsher because it’s technically a college, but still. Turning students into geese? Forcing them to wander the Antarctic? Pushing them to the point that they hate each other and themselves? Given the depressing, hedonistic sort of lives many Brakebills graduates lead after completing their education, it seems like something (a lot of things) must be wrong here. Not to mention, there is no way welters would ever be allowed as a sport on a normal college campus.

    Watford School of Magicks (Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell)
    Watford might be one of the safer schools on this list, and it’s missing a lot of the random troubles that plague Hogwarts (hello, no dumb underage magic law), but it still has a few problems. For instance, the fact that they had to institute the Roommate’s Anathema to prevent roommates from harming each other in their rooms (but it’s perfectly okay elsewhere). Or that they let minors (Simon) walk around campus with swords. Or that the staff has no protocol for dealing with emergencies. (What’s with all the adults letting Simon and Baz deal with that dragon, while they stand by uselessly?) I have no idea why anyone lets these people be in charge of children.

    Crunchem Hall Primary School (Matilda, by Roald Dahl)
    Of course, the main problem with Crunchem Hall is its headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. She’s a bully (and a terrible educator), but her existence is made even worse by the fact that the school board essentially ignores her behavior, allowing her to torture students to her evil heart’s content. And the Chokey? As if even the bare existence of a tiny closet filled with glass and nails would be tolerated at a school that had ever, even once, had a safety inspection.

    Forks High School (Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer)
    It’s one thing, I guess, for all these private schools to be skirting safety standards, but Forks High is supposed to be a public school—shouldn’t it have to be up to code to get funding? Apparently not, because let me tell you, there are some serious flaws at Forks. Science labs where students actually sample their own blood, ignoring students who repeatedly skip far too many classes, and the sheer number of accidents that happen at the school seem to indicate a lack of attentiveness on the part of the staff that I just can’t condone. And where is Bella’s guidance counselor?

    Wayside School (Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar)
    Wayside should have been shut down a long time ago for architectural issues alone. 30 floors high, with no sort of support? It’s a death trap. Add to that the fact that one of the teachers turns students into inanimate objects, the lunch food is inedible (where’s Michelle Obama when you need her?), and someone is selling toes, and you’ve got an insurance nightmare on your hands.

    Prufrock Preparatory School (The Austere Academy, by Lemony Snicket)
    There are more problems at Prufrock Prep than I can count, but let’s examine a few, shall we? First, there’s Sunny’s job as a secretary, which violates pretty much every child labor law out there. Then, there’s the Baudelaire’s living situation, which involves fungus and crustaceans and no health or cleanliness standards whatsoever. On top of that, there are the teachers, whose basic incompetence indicates they aren’t even qualified to graduate elementary school, much less teach it.

    Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling)
    Of course, the most beloved school on this list is also probably the least capable of keeping its students from bodily harm. With the terrible hiring decisions (a literal two-faced villain, a fraud, and a seer who’s had a single authentic prophecy?), the sheer lack of adult supervision, and the constant invasions of evil, is it really a surprise that the school board wants to remove Albus Dumbledore as headmaster by the fifth book? I think not. And we haven’t even started talking about why a school has a dungeon, where that troll came from, why they chose to build beside a forest full of monsters, or the fact that second-year students are handling paralysis-causing plants with very little instruction.

  • Heidi Fiedler 5:00 pm on 2014/07/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , dav pilkey, diary of a wimpy kid, fantastic mr. fox, , jeff kinney, louis sachar, , , polly horvath, , , sideways stories from wayside school, the adventures of captain underpants, , wayside school,   

    Bust-a-Gut-Books for Middle-Grade Readers 

    The Adventures of Captain UnderpantsSummertime should be filled with water-balloon fights, sleepovers, piles of books, and squeals of laughter. So we’ve rounded up some books sure to make your kids giggle all summer long. Just make sure they’re not drinking any soda when they read these. That stuff burns coming out the wrong way:

    Fantastic Mr. Fox, by Roald Dahl
    Pretty much anything by Roald Dahl is sure to enthrall kids and make them lifelong fans. His books are filled with wonder, humor, and enough big ideas to leave kids thinking about them for years. Fantastic Mr. Fox hits all the right notes, with charming characters, oh-so-silly situations, and yes, lots and lots of burping.

    Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!, by Polly Horvath
    This book has the pacing and artwork of a classic children’s book. But look closer and it’s totally trippy. There are the titular bunny detectives, marmots who love garlic bread, hippie parents, and an ever-so-likeable girl at the center of it all. Silly, smart, and sweet!

    Captain Underpants series, by Dav Pilkey
    You might not know these books, but your kids do. They’re funny, action-packed chapter books that “reluctant readers” will gobble down all summer long.

    Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar
    Authors around the world still glare at Sachar with the evil eye, wishing they had written this book from 1985. It’s smart, strange, and totally funny. Those who first encountered it 30 years ago are still enthralled by it.

    Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
    Adults forget that children’s poetry used to be where the good stuff was: wacky characters, impossible situations, and outrageous drawings all found their way in. Today, Shel Silverstein’s wry, wise poems stand tall as bastions of pre-tech humor amid kids’ ever-present digital distractions.

    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, by Betty Macdonald
    These classic books are filled with the perfect mix of wisdom, magic, and whimsy. Just like with Mary Poppins, kids finish the books, drifting off to sleep with a smile on their faces, wondering what it would be like if they could go to bed whenever they wanted, eat whatever they wanted, and pretty much do whatever they wanted,  all the while wishing Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lived on their street to save them from themselves.

    The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
    The movie The Princess Bride is about a grandfather reading a book called The Princess Bride to his grandson. The bad news is Fred Savage is no longer 8 years old, and neither are you. The good news is the book is real, and it’s as delightfully weird and heartwarming as the movie.

    Lunch Lady, by Jarrett Krosoczka
    Jarrett Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady graphic novels feature cafeteria mayhem at its finest. Bring on the hairnets and fish-stick nunchucks! The Lunch Lady is here!

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, by Jeff Kinney
    Don’t dismiss this wimpy kid based on his scrawny stick drawings. These deadpan diaries are one of the strongest success stories in children’s books today! The author of the series has proven he knows exactly what makes kids laugh for 8 blockbuster cartoon-filled books and counting (#9 hits shelves this November!).

    What books have your kids laughing this summer?

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