cover image The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall

The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall

Tony Johnston, . . Harcourt, $16 (134pp) ISBN 978-0-15-205292-8

The sword is a bejeweled spoon and the stone is the bathroom wall in Johnston's (The Worm Family ) lighthearted Arthurian spoof centering on a 10-year-old heroine. Martha Snapdragon lives with her janitor father in the boiler room of the Horace E. Bloggins School. Her patient father has for years toiled under the ruthless principal, Dr. Klunk, who is "pudgy and pasty and bald as a bottle, with beastly little eyes like mean raisins." Martha is constantly being teased by Rufus Turk "(rhymes with jerk )," the school bully who had "a pinchy face like a boll weevil, ratty little teeth, and hair the color of an orangutan." Shortly after Rufus tauntingly gives Martha the new nickname of "Marthur," she spies chiseled into the school wall the words, "The king is coming. " Though some readers may realize immediately the literary reference with which the girl's nickname rhymes, science teacher Mrs. Ferlin "(rhymes with Merlin )," soon brings it to the girl's attention and agrees to give her lessons in how to be a teacher. Some madcap scenes transpire (including several involving Mrs. Ferlin's dancing eggs, which turn into dragons when Rufus maliciously boils them) before the spoon suddenly appears in the school bathroom wall and, well, someone must remove it. With duly preposterous pomp, this comically written caper builds to a crowning scene of glory. Ages 8-12. (May )