Bernice Blossom Bolton–Bernie–is a nine-and-a-half-year-old force to be reckoned with as she charges head-first into the 21st century. Feisty and fun, liberated and opinionated, she’s ready to take on the world.
When Bernie was in third grade, she thought Mr. Soren was the most amazing teacher in the universe. He played games, did wood shop, and every Friday they’d had movies and popcorn. Now that she’s in fifth grade, Mr. Soren, the coolest teacher in the Universe, is her teacher once again. But unfathomably, he’s now worse than Miss Boggs, all because he’s making the class keep a journal of all the things that happen in their lives. What’d Bernie expected to be a wonderful fifth grade year is off to a really revolting start.
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GENRE: Midgrade Reader Word Count: 24, 167
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 28
I got this book today and I’ll explain all about that in a minute, but I have to tell ya’ that I think it’s really freaky trying to talk to a pencil and a spiral notebook. I didn’t even get the color I wanted, which was red. Instead I wound up with white! Can you imagine anything in my house being white and staying that way for three months? I’m a kid and I get dirty hands all the time. And Kirby…if he even passes by my bedroom door he leaves a cloud of dust behind. Besides…white is so BORING!!
I have no idea who or what you are, so you better not think we’re going to be buddies or anything. This is for school, PERIOD…end of discussion!!!
Okay…so here’s the deal. And it just goes to show ya’ that you should never, ever trust your memory from third grade…
I did get Mr. Soren this year for fifth grade, just like I knew I would. The first couple of weeks were fantastic. Well…better than fantastic. It was more like insanely stupendous!
When I had Mr. Soren in third grade, I thought he was the most amazing teacher in the universe. He used to play games all the time, and do wood shop with us where we’d make these jumpy toys and other cool stuff like KEEP OUT signs for your bedroom door, and every Friday he had what he called Free Friday. What that means is, that if you did good on your spelling and math tests that week, and you behaved yourself, you could take extra recess time and spend the afternoon eating snacks and watching a movie. It’s a great “motivational tool”. That’s what my father said anyway…he, also, told me how to spell “motivational”. I personally have no idea what a “motivational tool” is, but I was way into Free Fridays.
Anyway…back to my story. So, this went on for the first two weeks of school, and then WHAM!, Mr. Soren did a Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde act. Ya’ know…one minute he’s like, the coolest man on the planet, and then the next day he’s like, the meanest. Just over night he grew fangs and hairy knuckles, just like in the movie.
All right…maybe that’s sort of an exaggeration, but he came in that day and announced that there would be no more wood shop for a while because we had to start preparing for the State writing tests. And, besides getting passing grades on the math and spelling tests, we would have to get a perfect check-off on your weekly journal entries if we wanted to be part of Free Friday. Otherwise, we’d have to spend that time writing what we should have already done.
That’s right…you heard me perfectly. Mr. Soren has decided that in order to prepare us for the writing tests, and to help us “get in touch with our inner-self”, we all have to keep a journal for the whole first semester. Personally, I think my inner-self looks a lot like my outer-self…which thinks this whole thing is a stupid idea.
I mean…do you really believe that? Can you think of anything more boring than trying to write down your whole life…after you already did everything?
It’s like in the olden days when my Grammy was a little girl and she kept a diary. She said she wrote in it every night and it had a little key to lock it so that no one could snoop into her private thoughts.
“One day, Bernie,” she told me, “when I was just about your age, I got a beautiful diary for my birthday. I loved it so much, I used to lock it up, put it under my pillow at night, and sleep with it. After a few days, I was afraid my sister would find the key under my socks, ’cause she was a real “sneaky Pete”.
I have no idea where Grammy gets her expressions, but “sneaky Pete” is one of her favorites. She especially likes to call my step-brother, Kirby, a “sneaky Pete”, because he’s always sniffing around and looking for mischief.
“So what I did, one day,” Grammy said, “was I decided to hide the key where no one would find it except me. Well, being just a child and not nearly as smart as you, Bernie, I decided the lamp was the perfect place. I gently took off the lampshade, unscrewed the light bulb, and very carefully dropped the little metal key into the socket where the light bulb had been. Sounds like a swell place, doesn’t it? Oh my…let me tell you…the second that little metal key hit the bottom of the socket, sparks began to shoot out of the lamp like fireworks at the Fair, then smoke, and then all of the lights in the whole house went out.”
(WARNING! Don’t try this at home…unless you want to be punished for the rest of your entire life!!)
Okay…back to my Grammy story…So, I started to laugh and Grammy laughed with me until we both had tears rolling down our cheeks.
“That’s right, sweetie, I blew out every single fuse in the house and afterward, I had to apologize to the firemen who came out, sirens and all, ’cause a neighbor had called the fire department when they saw smoke coming from my bedroom window. I spent the whole weekend in my room as a punishment for scaring my mother half to death. I had plenty to write about that week.”
So you get the picture, right? Mr. Soren is making us keep a journal…a diary…a book, of our own private stuff, and he is going to check it on Fridays to make sure we have at least two entries written every week. Like kids have nothing better to do than write down private thoughts, which I have none of, and I have no idea where to get them. But, no weekly entries…no Free Friday! He promised not to read our thoughts, just grade on spelling, and neatness. I wonder how he can do that without “reading” anything. Hmmmmm!
My wonderful fifth grade year, which I waited for all summer, is off to a really revolting start.