School stories for unusual times

School stories for unusual times

Now is perhaps a good time to revisit some well-loved book series set in schools.

Worst Witch series

Going back to school after the vacation can be an exciting time. New uniforms and shiny shoes, books with crackling crisp pages, pencils sharpened to perfect points and best of all, looking forward to meeting friends after ages...

Ah well, these are unusual times with learning going online and so, much of what I said will not hold good this year. However, whether or not kids can “return” to school anytime soon, what’s to stop us from enjoying some well-loved book series set in schools? There is no way we can make a list like this without talking about Enid Blyton’s school series. The Naughtiest Girl in School series for younger children and The Malory Towers and the St Clare’s series for older ones have been hot favourites for decades. Generations of children (including yours truly) have grown up dreaming about midnight feasts, tuckboxes and exciting boarding school adventures!

Much before Harry Potter went to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, another young witch, Mildred Hubble, attended Miss Cackle’s Academy of Magic in The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy. Mildred’s clumsiness is the source of a number of hilarious magic mishaps — but is she really the worst witch in the school?

The Wayside School series by Louis Sachar is a rollicking adventure through a strange school — Wayside school was supposed to be built one storey tall with thirty classrooms. But, it was accidentally built thirty stories high with one classroom on each floor! Filled with funny characters and improbable situations and students trying to tackle ridiculous problems, kids will certainly giggle through this series.

The Hill School Girls series by A Coven is for slightly older children and is set in a fictional place somewhere in the hills in India. Each of the four books in the series is told from the point of view of one of four friends. This is perhaps the only school series set in India.

Having said that, if you’re willing to stretch the definition of “school series” a tiny bit, there’s Arundhati Venkatesh’s popular Petu Pumpkin series that takes place in a school and Jane De Suza’s hilarious Super Zero series, where children go to school to learn to be superheroes! I cannot end this list without mentioning the adorable and funny Goony Bird Greene series by Lois Lowry, in which Gooney Bird, a delightful little girl with a unique sense of style, regales her classmates with a whole bunch of absurd “absolutely true” stories. Great for young readers.

Soon, we might see books about schooling in the time of coronavirus! Watch this space!

The author got a master’s degree in energy engineering and worked in the IT industry until her daughter dragged out the writer lurking inside her. She has written eight books for children and can be reached at www.shruthi-rao.com

GobbledyBook is a fortnightly column that gives you a peek into the wondrous world of children’s books. Hop on! Or as Alice did, plunge into the rabbit hole.

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