The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall, by Tony Johnston (Harcourt, 2005)

Martha (or as the bullies call her, Marthur) is a highly intelligent, good-hearted girl who lives with her father in the boiler room of a school where strange things happen on a daily basis. All she wants to do is become a teacher someday, but first she has to contend with dancing eggs, tiny dragons, annoying bullies, a bizarre principal, and a teacher who’s a magician. No problem, right? And then a spoon appears in the bathroom wall, stuck there as if by magic, with an inscription suggesting that whoever pulls the spoon from the wall is the rightful king of the school. The principal is bound and determined to make it his, but somewhere in the school, there’s a true rightful king. And they’ll need a little help if they want to claim their position.

This is a charming, highly whimsical postmodern fairy tale, much in the same vein as the Sideways Tales from Wayside School series. Strange things happen, but it’s all part and parcel of the location and setting. Martha is a resourceful protagonist whose kind heart is worth any number of magic swords. Both wry and amusing, The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall is bound to find an audience with younger readers and their parents. I certainly got a kick out of it.

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