Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wilson and Miss Lovely by John Stadler

Wilson loves school. The main reason? Miss Lovely. After only one week of school, Wilson already knows it’s the place for him. All he can think about is, “Miss Lovely! Miss Lovely! Miss Lovely!” He’s too excited to sleep and too excited to stay in bed one minute more. He’s up early – washed, dressed, and fully fed – all by himself.

But he’s not the only one up early.

As Wilson prepares for his next day of school, readers look behind a foldout page to see the other early riser. (Or just a part, anyway.) One foot, green, possibly scaly, certainly large, with three sharp claws, taking one step closer to Wilson.

Wilson leaves for the bus, only to find the world quietly deserted. There’s no one at the bus stop, and no bus arrives. Why is he alone?

Only we readers know better. He is not alone. Another fold out reveals one long tail, definitely scaly, green, with spikes all the way to its tippy-tip.

Wilson runs to school to find all the busses neatly lined up as if they’ve already dropped off their students, but no students. The hallways are deserted. The classrooms and desks are all empty. No one but Wilson is present. Something is wrong, he thinks.

“And somewhere, not so very far away at all, something was approaching. Nearer, nearer, nearer it came!” we read in the next foldout. This time it’s a hand, again it’s green, with webbed fingers and sharp, pointy claws wiggling menacingly.

Wilson continues throughout his day alone. He does the lessons. He goes to recess. He even sends himself to the principal’s office when his behavior becomes unruly.

And all the while, the mysterious stalker closes in.

Kids will have number of reactions to John Stadler’s back-to-school mystery. Some will wonder why there’s nobody at school. Some will guess the real reason. Some, however – the kids like me – will guess it’s because the monster stalking Wilson has already devoured the other unsuspecting bunnies and is about to finish the job by finishing Wilson.

But all readers, even the most morbid among us, will be surprised by the ending, just as Wilson is surprised to finally see Miss Lovely.

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