It Happened at School: Two Tales

By Susie Morgenstern: Viking, 1997; pp. 82

Plot: This book presents two short stories–the sort that can be read at bedtime or in the classroom in one or two sessions–about classroom life, but really, life. The first story, “The Autograph” involves an older teacher who asks her charges to bring an object they valued most to school. The precocious Claudette bring a crumpled piece of paper with cellist Rostropovich’s autograph, which he had given her. Of course, she is mocked by her classmates. The wise teacher asks the entire class to bring an autograph of a person they wish they had met. A truly teachable moment occurs. The second story, Our Teacher’s Boyfriend” is a hilarious tale of a fax machine and a vulnerable teacher with “man troubles.” The scenario is so original in young adult literature. The mere title, garners the snickers of delight that its author intended. Imagine, having a front-row seat as your teacher’s suitor calls, calls … ring, ring….

Review: Author Morgenstern’s two stories were originally written in French and are reminiscent of the Madeleine in the puckish spirit and tenderness evoked in the telling. By far, my favorite story was  “The Autograph,” a story about the arrival of a fax/telephone in the classroom. The students soon learn that their teacher has an admirer who faxes and calls incessantly to profess his love and send missives via fax. The poor teacher nearly has a breakdown from this relentless pursuit.

Ages: 8 and older

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