Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dong Nabbit!" Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street School Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt

The kids at the Odd Street School are all on edge. The bell in the school clock tower rang 27 times (by Agatha Parrot's count) during the night. And now an upper window in Miss Pingle's classroom is mysteriously open, and her class is getting cold.

Miss Pingle decides that the situation calls for action, even if she has to be Extremely Naughty! She puts a chair on top of a small table on top of a big table under the window and starts to scale the heights. The class is too absorbed in their teacher's daring ascent to notice the classroom door opening.

"Miss Pingle!" shrieked Miss Barking, the Vice Principle. "You're a teacher, NOT a monkey!" Miss Pingle climbed down. It was really embarrassing for her, so we all pretended to be doing our work.

"If you need to shut that window, use the ladder!" said Miss Barking.

"I'll go get it," said Miss Pingle. "You can't," said Miss Barking. "I've locked it up so people can't use it!" "But that's silly," said Miss Pingle.

Miss Barking took Miss Pingle out into the hall, and we could hear her scolding her for climbing on the furniture. Of course, as soon as they were gone, Ivy (who climbs like her namesake plant) was up the shelves under the window, leaping across to grab the pipe by the open window. By the time Miss Pingle came back, we were all in our seats being good children.

"Remember what I said," Miss Barking barked from the door. "That window will stay open until... EH?"

She saw that the window was shut. "How did that happen?"

We all looked up and GASPED and pretended it was a big surprise. "Maybe... maybe it was the GHOST," said Ellie. "WOOOO!" said everybody.

The Odd Street School bell rings strangely every night, and when the parents of Odd Street gather at midnight on the sidewalk to investigate, they see a scary greenish face in the tower. The friends on Odd Street--Agatha Parrot, the appropriately-named Ivy, Martha, and Bianca--stick together against mean girls Gwendoline Tutt and Olivia Livid, who call their friend "Scary Ellie, Knees Turned to Jelly," but when Olivia runs screaming from a green hand scuttling out of the janitor's closet, the whole school seems to be going ghost crazy.

It's just the sort of silly, semi-scary story that tickles young readers' funnybones, in Kjarten Poskitt's forthcoming Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street School Ghost (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2016). In the best tradition of Edward Sachar's wacky Wayside School Boxed Set: Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, Wayside School is Falling Down, Sideway Stories from Wayside School or Dan Gutman's even-wackier long-running My Weird School series, My Weird School Daze 12-Book Box Set,: author Poskitt and talented illustrator Wes Hargis look to be all set for further Odd Street School books in the future. With a setting on a street with only odd-numbered houses, a school bell that rings spookily at midnight, characters who are truly characters themselves, a quirky narrator, Agatha Parrot, and a vocabulary tailored to readers just venturing into the early chapter novel genre, who knows what will happen next on Odd Street?

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