Monday, February 05, 2007



MaryJane was a curious child. She liked to climb the bookcase in the back of the room, stand on top, and sing the ABC song backwards. She would spin the globe until it hummed so loudly that Patrick McOwl crawled under his desk because he thought it was a spaceship coming in for a landing. When Miss Rose turned to write on the blackboard, MaryJane pulled the turtle from the terrarium and painted its shell with nail polish she’d smuggled out of her older sister’s room.

Miss Rose was constantly calling her name. “MaryJane,” she’d say, “please stop swinging from the flag like that.” Or “MaryJane! Get out of the sink and put those fish back in their tank.” MaryJane giggled and dumped the water out of her ladybug rain boots. “MaryJane,” Miss Rose said in her sternest teacher voice, “now you know we mustn’t use markers to make our tongues purple, or sniff glitter up our noses.” When MaryJane sneezed it was like fireworks.

Mr. Snogwort was the principal of MaryJane’s school. He didn’t like to hear kids laughing in the hallway. He didn’t like to hear kids laughing in the gym. He didn’t like to hear kids laughing at all. He was crabby and his face crinkled up in the middle. When Mr. Snogwort walked to the cafeteria for lunch his shoes squelched on the linoleum. There was a cabbage smell in his office, or so the kids said. Nobody had ever actually been in Mr. Snogwort’s office as far as anyone knew. Just the threat of the principal’s name was enough to make the most unruly student sit up straight, be quiet, and pay attention. Until MaryJane, that is.

“MaryJane,” Miss Rose said for the 103rd time that day. She’d repeated that name so many times that she’d begun saying it in her sleep at night. “MaryJane, if you don’t stop this instant, you will have to go see Mr. Snogwort.” The class gave a collective shudder and fell silent. MaryJane tipped another chair onto the stack she was building and surveyed the results...

Afterward, it was rumored that the school nurse heard snickering from behind the principal’s closed door – and not just MaryJane’s voice, either. MaryJane never said a word but she was as curious as ever. Miss Rose still called MaryJane’s name all day long, and started collecting brochures from technical colleges in her desk drawer. And Mr. Snogwort? Well, Fred Griffith told Sally Meyer that Jason Murphy said Irma Winkle saw the principal smile, but nobody believes it. Except MaryJane.

Written in collaboration with Emma, age 6, and Kate, age 4, budding storytellers.


P. A. Moed said...

Oh you've given me a wonderful memory of my son at this age when we used to make up stories together, illustrate them and bind them into notebooks! Enjoy this time with them.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

What a great idea, Patti! I AM enjoying it immensely, though it is flying by very fast.