Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Just Another School Day : Science Fair Day by Lynn Plourde

Everyone in Mrs. Shepherd's class was loaded down with posters and potions,
Gizmos and gadgets,
Chemicals and contraptions.

It's Science Fair Day in Mrs. Shepherd's class, and the classroom is awash with widgets and a-buzz with students nervously putting the finishing touches on their projects before the judging begins. That is, everyone except inquisitive student Ima Kindanozee, who is roaming the room asking everyone questions about their projects. (Her project, of course, is an untidy pile covered by a red tablecloth with a warning sign to keep away.) "Did you make it? How's it work? What's this switch for?" she queries.

"This switch," unfortunately, is the launch button for Josefina's model rocket, which works just fine, thank you, and soars convincingly out the window just as the hefty and harried principal Mrs. Helm appears at the door to inspect the projects. Mrs. Shepherd manages to head off Mrs. Helm, who moves on, grumbling about losing thirteen and a-half minutes from her tight schedule, while Josefina scurries about to reset her rocket project.
Ima has already moved on, however, this time managing to disarticulate Dewey's giant dinosaur skeleton model. Undeterred, Josefina moves right on to the table where a classmate in painting and labeling an enormous model of the brain. "Is that what it really looks like? What's it made of? Can it think?" she asks, ignoring the creator's warnings not to touch. In no time Ima is deep into the brain model and most of the "sticky, icky goo" is stuck on her hands and in her hair.

As Mrs. Helm is politely turned away again, Ima moves on to Maybelle's project, again ignoring the "NOT READY. DO NOT TOUCH" sign, pushing the START button and filling the room, "splat, splash, hissss!" with colorful pieces of fruits and vegetables.

At last everyone's project except Ima's is ready for inspection. Ima's work seems to consist of 999 pages of questions and answers about everyone else's work. Just then Principle Helm makes what she clearly intends to be her official and FINAL appearance. Thinking on her feet like the veteran teacher she is, Mrs. Shepherd appoints Ima to be Mrs. Helm's guide, and, surprise, surprise, Ima knows all the right questions and answers about each display:

"Why does the sun glow?
How does the hamster know?
What makes the lava flow?
How did that plant grow?"

Ima is the only student who doesn't earn a science fair ribbon, but she is the one chosen to write the lead article about the fair for the school newspaper, with the appropriate by-line, Ima Kindanozee, Reporter

Science Fair Day, published this month by Dutton, is the latest in author Lynn Plourde's series of special days in Mrs. Shepherd's class, including Teacher Appreciation Day, Book Fair Day, Pajama Day (Picture Puffin Books), and, of course, School Picture Day (Picture Puffin Books), all capably and comically illustrated by Thor Wickstrom.

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  • This isn't related to this post, but I saw a neat-looking book recommended on the news this morning. Title: Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway.... about a paleontologist and his work.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:08 AM  

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