________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 33. . . .April 27, 2012


This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall!

Gordon Korman.
New York, NY: Scholastic (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 1978/2011.
116 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-28924-5.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Sherry Faller.

**** /4



At four that afternoon Bruno hurried to his room with a jar containing the last of the five hundred and fifty ants he owed Elmer. As he was about to open the door, a loud scream erupted from within, followed by an enormous crash. The door flew open and out shot Elmer, his expression wild, his nose bleeding. He ran full-tilt into Bruno, knocking him down and sending the jar of ants spiraling into the wall, where it shattered. Once again Dormitory 2 was crawling with insects.

“My ants!” Bruno shrieked, in perfect imitation of Elmer.

“Skunk!” cried Elmer. “What’s a skunk doing in our room?”

Bruno had been waiting all day for that question. “I’m a skunkologist,” he explained. “My world is the skunk world.”


Although This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall! was first published in 1978, Gordon Korman’s crazy, mischievous duo of Bruno and Boots can still cause the kids of today to laugh right out loud. Actually the whole idea of students sharing rooms in a dormitory is not so strange after years of reading about Harry Potter in Hogwarts. Harry just had to deal with black magic while the whole school and the girls’ school across the way have to deal with the antics of Bruno and Boots. These boys cause so much trouble that the principal, Mr. Sturgeon, a.k.a. The Fish, orders them to not talk to one another, and they have to ‘break in’ new roommates. The new roommates have to endure skunks in the room, runaway ants, a used stamp collection and more. The boys’ plan to be roommates with each other again goes the way most of their plans do – wrong. Finally, they accidentally become heroes and not only save the day, but they have their way as well.

     The new edition’s cover is a marked improvement over the other editions in 1978 and 2003. The latest sports a large skunk standing innocently in a school hallway with students running away in the background. Students surveyed claimed they probably would not choose the old covers, but they scrambled to be the first to take out the newest. Back in 1978, the mention of a mini computer and earphones really dated the book with the spurt of new technology. The more recent editions include the Internet and use of online sources.

      The font has been changed in this edition, smaller but with less text on a page. Perhaps this change will encourage more reluctant readers to give it a try. There is also an up-dated photo of the author near the back of the book as well as a Q & A with the author section.

      Students love to hear about someone else breaking rules and getting caught in a humorous way. It reassures them that they have made better choices and hopefully would never do anything like Bruno and Boots have done. This book is still recommended as a great out-loud read in classrooms and in elementary school libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Sherry Faller is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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