Strangeville School Is Definitely Not Cursed
Strangeville School Is Definitely Not Cursed is a part of the Strangeville School collection.
Get ready to laugh out loud at Strangeville Middle School, the wackiest (definitely not cursed) school ever! This highly illustrated new series is Sideways Stories from Wayside School for a new generation!
Smile! It’s picture day! Except maybe don’t smile, because there’s a glowing lost-and-found box that’s appeared in the cafeteria. Sure, coming to Strangeville Middle has been an adjustment for new kid Harvey Hill, but things seem to be going well. That is, until strange things happen that may or may not be related to a 50-year-old curse (if, of course, curses were real, which they definitely are not).
Luckily Harvey and his friend Stella are on the case. Their classmate Nevaeh seems to think there’s a logical explanation to the sentient robots, flooding hallways, and the glowing lost-and-found box, but Harvey and Stella aren't convinced. Is Harvey brave enough to solve the mystery of the curse (ahem, if there is one)? Or is Strangeville doomed?
“Strangeville School is totally hysterical! It’s like a lopsided, upside down, triple somersault Sideways Stories from Wayside School for a whole new generation.” -- Chris Grabenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and I Funny
An Excerpt fromStrangeville School Is Definitely Not Cursed
Good morning, Strangeville students, and welcome back! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend!
This is Vice Principal Capozzi speaking, filling in for Principal Gupta, who, three days into our game of hide-and-seek, has still yet to be found. Well done, Principal Gupta, although you can’t hide forever! Sooner or later, the wolves will sniff you out. . . .
Well, I hope you all remembered to wax your nostrils and shine your earlobes this morning, because it’s picture day at Strangeville School! I’d like to remind all students that blinking while being photographed is strictly forbidden. Any student caught blinking will receive a mark on their permanent record.
And not the good kind of mark, either . . .
In other news, the French club is holding their annual bake sale in the East Hallway this morning, so make sure to stop by and say “bonjour!” Lots of tasty treats will be available for purchase, including fresh croissants, chocolate éclairs, and homemade blood sausage!
Mmm, mmm. Blood sausage!
Moving on, it looks like the wart on my left foot has finally gone away!
And, finally, I’m excited to announce that our beloved lost-and-found box has, once more, mysteriously appeared in the cafeteria! Make sure to stop by before it vanishes into thin air yet again!
No need to worry about the strange, eerie glow coming from the lost-and-found box’s depths; I’m sure it’s all perfectly fine!
Nurse Porter has already recovered several missing bone saws from the box, and just this morning I found a pair of socks I’ve been missing since 1987! There are quite a few more holes in them than I remember, and the left toe is full of spiders, but still. What an exciting discovery!
That’s all for now, Strangeville. Have a great day!
I know the spiders will. . . .
In Mr. Sandringham’s first-period classroom, Stella Cho leaned forward in her seat, poking Harvey Hill in the back with a pencil.
“Ow!” Harvey said, turning around to look at her. “Did you just poke me in the back with a pencil?”
“Of course not,” Stella said innocently, slipping the pencil back into her sleeve. Stella was short for her age, with long black hair, 371 eyelashes, and a highly developed sense of curiosity. As lead reporter for the Strangeville School Gazette, she always had several writing utensils stashed about her person, just in case.
Harvey narrowed his eyes suspiciously at her. He was tall for his age, with wavy brown hair, 372 eyelashes, and a highly developed sense of caution. As lead photographer for the Strangeville School Gazette, he was never without the old-fashioned camera hanging from a strap around his neck.
Oh, and he also had wings.
(What, have you not read the first book?)
“We should check out the lost-and-found box after homeroom,” Stella told Harvey. “Get some pictures for the newspaper.”
“I don’t know,” Harvey said, tugging at his ear. “It sounds a little . . . weird. I mean, why is it glowing? And what’s the deal with it just appearing out of nowhere?”
Stella shrugged. “It’s just a box,” she said. “What could possibly go wrong?”
Harvey, who could think of at least sixteen things off the top of his head that could go wrong, opened his mouth to reply. But before he could speak, their homeroom teacher clapped his hands for attention.
“Eyes up here, please,” Mr. Sandringham said. “We have just enough time for a quick round of show-and-smell before the bell rings. Evie, I believe it was your turn next?”
Evie Anderson stood up and joined Mr. Sandringham at the front of the classroom.
“Hey, everyone,” she said, giving the class a wave. “So, for show-and-smell today, I was going to bring one of my brother’s dirty socks, but my dad did laundry last night. So instead I brought this, which I found in the back of our refrigerator.”
Reaching into her pocket, she unwrapped a crinkled piece of tinfoil to reveal a gooey, greenish-yellow lump of . . . something.
The smell was not good.
In fact, it was awful.
In fact, it was unbelievably, inconceivably terrible.
It knocked Harvey back in his seat, his eyes watering and his stomach heaving and his nose burning from the terrible stench.
“It smells like death,” Arjun Narula observed, pulling his T-shirt up to cover his nose.
“Yes, doesn’t it?” Mr. Sandringham asked in a strangled voice, coughing into the crook of his elbow. “How wonderful. Would anyone like to guess what it is that Evie brought today?”
Twenty-two hands shot up in the air.
“Curdled cottage cheese?”
“Rancid baked beans?”
“Ooh, ooh, I’ve got it!” Nicolas Flarsky said, bouncing up and down in his seat. “Is it a piece of Stinking Bishop cheese?”
Stinking Bishop, as everyone knows, is a soft, washed-rind cheese made from the milk of rare Gloucester cattle, matured in humid, cavelike conditions and sold primarily in the United Kingdom.
It is not unusual for there to be spots of mold on the leatherlike rind of Stinking Bishop, which is considered a delicacy by cheese enthusiasts worldwide. The cheese itself is an oozing, luscious paste with a surprisingly subtle, nutty flavor.
Enough about Stinking Bishop!
Let’s get back to Harvey.
He was turning slightly green around the edges.
“Actually, I’m not really sure what it is,” Evie admitted to the class. “But there’s one way to find out!”
As the rest of the students watched in fascinated horror, Evie popped the lump of greenish-yellow something into her mouth and began chewing thoughtfully.
After a moment, a strange look crossed her face.
Reaching up, she spit the something back into her hand and held it up for the class to see.
“Well,” Evie said. “It looks like I found one of my brother’s socks after all.”
The Lost-and-Found Box
Harvey was right: the lost-and-found box was definitely weird.
For one thing, there was the way it looked. Harvey had been expecting a cardboard box--square, or maybe even rectangular--with the words lost and found scribbled across the side in Sharpie.
Instead the lost-and-found box was an elaborately carved wooden chest, nearly three feet long and almost as tall. It looked old, the wood weathered with age and the sides strapped with thick iron bands.
There was also a strange, greenish light spilling from the top of the open chest: an eerie, otherworldly glow that seemed to somehow shimmer and pulse with a life of its own. Looking at it made Harvey feel cold and hot and sleepy and wide awake, all at once.
It also made his left armpit itch, for some reason.
“Cool,” Stella said, waving her hand over the lost-and-found. Her fingers turned green as she swished them back and forth in the strange, greenish light.
Harvey took a step back.
“Um, this thing looks really old,” he said nervously. “Are we sure it isn’t radioactive?”
“Lots of things are radioactive,” Stella told him, crouching down to poke through the open chest. “Smoke detectors, magazines, kitty litter . . . even bananas!”
“Oh,” Harvey said faintly. “That’s . . . comforting.”
He took another step back from the chest.
Stella sifted methodically through the lost-and-founds’ contents, poking through the jumble of discarded mittens and abandoned toys, misplaced sunglasses and winter hats.
Harvey scratched his armpit. “What are you looking for?” he asked, pushing himself up on his tiptoes to see over Stella’s head.
“I left half a peanut-butter-and-baloney sandwich in my desk last week,” Stella said. “But this morning it was gone. I thought someone might have turned it in.”
Harvey blinked. “Did you say peanut butter and baloney?”
“Of course,” Stella said, glancing over her shoulder. “Why?”
Harvey opened his mouth, and then shut it. “Never mind,” he said.
“Anyway,” Stella said with a little sigh, “it doesn’t look like it’s here. Can you grab a few pictures of the box before we go?” she asked. “The bell’s going to ring soon.”
Reluctantly he edged his way nearer to the lost-and-found.
Up close, the chest’s strange greenish light made his right armpit itch as well.
He raised his camera and took several shots of the lost-and-found box from different angles. The wooden box seemed to hum with a life of its own, drawing Harvey closer and closer.
Now that he thought about it, the eerie green light coming from the box was actually sort of . . . beautiful.
In fact, it was so beautiful that it was impossible to look away.
But why would Harvey want to look away?
The box was fantastic.
It was amazing.
It was mesmerizing.
It was-- Wait a minute.
At the very bottom of the chest, he caught a glimpse of something shiny.
Without realizing quite what he was doing, Harvey reached inside and lifted the something from the bottom of the box.
It was a compass.
The battered brass case, its surface dented with age, fit perfectly in Harvey’s hand.
It reminded Harvey of the compass his grandfather, a famous adventure photographer for National Geographic magazine, had once owned. Before his death, Harvey’s grandfather had traveled the world, scaling the highest mountain peaks and crossing the harshest deserts to capture the perfect shot.
Harvey had always wanted to follow in his footsteps one day.
Even though he didn’t particularly like heights.
Or, really, when he thought about it, adventure in general . . .
The compass caught the light, glinting dully in his hand. A warm glow washed over Harvey in response, enveloping him completely.
For a moment, everything felt . . . right.
It was almost as if the compass was meant for him.
Was it a sign?
Was it an omen?
Was it fate?
“What are you doing?” Stella called from the doorway, interrupting Harvey’s trance. “Come on, we’re going to be late for gym!”
Harvey swallowed, his fingers tightening around the compass.
“But don’t we have music class next?” he asked Stella, stalling for time. He knew that taking the compass was wrong.
But still . . .
Was anyone really going to miss it?
“That was last week,” Stella told Harvey. “This week we have gym next.” She paused, shaking her head. “I can’t believe your old school had the same schedule all year long. Talk about boring.”
Harvey wasn’t really listening.
After all, who knew how long the compass had been sitting at the bottom of the box, just gathering dust?
Wasn’t it better for someone to use it?
Harvey knew he was making excuses.
Maybe it was the way the compass fit perfectly in his hand.
Maybe it was the way it reminded him of his grandfather.
Maybe he just liked shiny things!
Whatever the reason, Harvey couldn’t help himself.
He slipped the brass compass carefully into his pocket.
“Coming,” he called to Stella, stumbling to his feet. As he left the cafeteria, he turned to give the lost-and-found box a final, uneasy glance.
Then, his armpits still itching, he followed Stella into the hall.
“Discipline!” Coach Johnson thundered, planting her fists against her sides and peering around the gymnasium. “Today you puny pustules will finally learn the meaning of the word! Today you will exhaust yourselves, both mentally and physically! You will push yourselves further than you ever thought possible! You will leave everything on the court!”
Harvey leaned over to Stella in alarm. “I thought we were playing Wiffle ball today.”
Stella gave Harvey a strange look. “We are playing Wiffle ball,” she said. “Why, how did you play it at your last school?”
Harvey swallowed hard.
He had been at Strangeville for less than a month and was still getting used to his new school.
“Never mind,” he said, leaning back. He could feel the compass he’d taken from the lost-and-found box shifting in his pocket as he moved.
What if the compass fell out? What if someone recognized it? What if they knew what Harvey had done?
The thought made the tips of his ears grow red and his palms dampen with sweat.
Harvey had never stolen anything before.
He was beginning to suspect that he wasn’t cut out for a life of crime.
“Discipline!” Coach Johnson barked again, making Harvey jump. “You will learn it; you will live it; you will love it! When it comes to gym class, and when it comes to life, discipline is the only thing that separates us from the animals!”
Stella raised her hand. “I thought opposable thumbs were what separated us from the animals.”
“Wait, I thought monkeys had opposable thumbs too,” Nicolas said, turning to look at Stella.
“Most primates have opposable thumbs,” Nevaeh corrected him knowledgeably. “Some monkeys have pseudo-opposable thumbs.”
Nevaeh was a tall, serious-looking girl who wore her hair in side puffs and flossed after every meal. In honor of school picture day, she was dressed in spotless white.
“Am I the only one who doesn’t know what ‘opposable’ means?” Evie asked.
“It means you can do this,” Arjun said, pinching his fingers and thumb together and pretending to grasp something. “I saw a show on Animal Planet about it.”
At the front of the room, Coach Johnson’s face was growing increasingly red. By the time Arjun had finished speaking, it was roughly the shade of a tomato.
Raising her whistle to her mouth, she let out a sharp, earsplitting fwwweeeet! “Insubordination!” she boomed. “Everyone, up and give me twenty!”
The students turned to peer at each other in confusion.
Nicolas raised his hand. “Er . . . twenty what, exactly?” he asked.
“A smart aleck, eh?” Coach Johnson bellowed. Her face had darkened from red to purple: by now it was roughly the shade of an eggplant. A ripe eggplant. “In that case, make it thirty! In fact, make it forty!”
Stella elbowed Harvey in the side. “Quick,” she said, scrambling to her feet. “Before she makes it a hundred!”
He quickly stood up and followed along as Stella began counting off jumping jacks. Next to them, Evie was doing push-ups, while Nevaeh and Nicolas had opted for synchronized deep knee bends.
“Five, six, seven, eight,” Harvey muttered to himself, scissoring his arms and legs through the air.
Harvey was unusually good at jumping jacks because of his wings.
(Yes, his wings. What, did you forget about them already?)
“You, there!” Coach Johnson boomed, pointing at Arjun with one wide, beefy finger. “Why aren’t you exercising?”
Arjun gave an idle shrug.
To Harvey’s surprise, Arjun began to hum. Softly at first, then louder and louder, a jaunty, cheerful tune.
Coach Johnson’s face turned a deep shade of plum. It looked like, well . . . a plum. “Delinquency!” she blustered, with another piercing blast of her whistle. “Defiance! Mutiny!”
Arjun ignored her. Opening his mouth, he began to sing: “Weigh, hey, blow the man down! Blow the man down! Blow the man down!” For an eleven-year-old, his voice was surprisingly deep; his baritone echoed nicely through the gym.