Things are hopping at the old middle school these days. For two consecutive days, we’ve been invited (us parents that is) up to the school at 7:15 am for breakfast (stale danish) and to see some cool stuff. No, it wasn’t anything that had been dissected.

The first was to honor all the straight-A kids. That was nice but very much like a graduation ceremony. They should have served coffee.

Our illustrious Evan has made the straight-A honor roll. All those painful hours of us making him do his homework has obviously paid off. This morning, they had an early breakfast ceremony for all the kids so honored. Mel and I went although we passed on the stale cinnamon rolls.

We got one of those “My child is an honor student at __________ school” bumper stickers. I was reminded of those bumper stickers that read “My kid just beat up your honor student” followed by my favorite “comeback” bumper sticker: “My honor student will end up defending your kid who just beat up an honor student.”

The other event was a display of the “book projects”. All the kids were required to write a short book, illustrate it, bind it, put on cover art, make a dust jacket, and write fake reviews and summaries to adorn the inside of the dust jacket with. And there was no masters degree awarded for this either – only a display and some of the aforementioned stale pastries. They were really entertaining.

The teachers had purposely mixed them all up so that you had to look through them all instead of heading straight to your own child’s and then leaving. I don’t know what I expected but I was pleasantly surprised. Evan’s was a classic in the same vein as “Captain Underpants” (from which he took his inspiration). It’s about Bob, the flying pig. One day, I’ll scan it and put it up on my site because it’s a real knee slapper.

There was a predictable smattering of the sort of cute stories you might expect: Abner’s Big Adventure about a dog that escaped from the back yard for a day (Our two dogs could relate to that), Dead and Gone about a late lamented goldfish, and so on. I’ll bet the teachers really go for that sort of schmaltz. But nothing could have prepared me for:

My Life as a Male Model

I picked it up and began to read thinking “What could bring a middle schooler to come up with such a concept?” The first line read:

I was born in San Francisco, California…”

I had my answer.

There was a uniquely Oklahoman title: The Duck Hunting Trip which featured a nicely rendered illustration of a box of Winchester shotgun shells.

My favorite cover was from a book about a goldfish which featured the following review: “Two Fins Up!” It had an interesting dedication:

“This book is dedicated to my dog and cat for keeping my nephews busy.”

I sense some privacy issues at home, don’t you?

The award for blatant honesty goes to the following title:

Can’t Think of an Idea

It was (predictably) about a kid who was given a big assignment to write a book but which had no guidance as to what the book should be about. The main character searched her imagination for an idea but, sadly, none was forthcoming. I wonder what grade she got for that “In Yo’ Face Teacher!” project?

One kid had the beginnings of a story of epic proportions. Unfortunately, the title escapes me since it was pretty esoteric but the plot was pretty good: a boy’s parents are killed while on an interstellar adventure and the boy then had to fend for himself and in the process, discovers some things about his family that leads him to realize that he can eventually control the galaxy. Coooolll!

There was also a book about a paintball tournament. My review would be:

Can’t spell, can’t draw, thumbs down!”

I sure hope his parents don’t ever check out my web site and see this.

It was a real hoot; I was sad to have to go to work. Evan said good-bye to me in traditional middle school fashion: barely looking at me and wearing that body language that said “God, please don’t hug me!” Not to worry, I’ve been there myself. But one girl actually reached up and kissed her mother before the mom went off to work. What’s up with that? That mom must have some true brainwashing talents.

I think I’ll call her up and ask her how she does that.

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