Halrloprillalar (prillalar) wrote,

School days

One of the reasons the Harry Potter books appeal to me so much is that they combine three of my favourite childhood fiction genres: fantasy, mystery, and school stories.

My love of school stories began with Jennings & Darbishire, a set of books by Anthony Buckeridge. There was quite a row of them in the public library, all bound in red. I lived in a fairly small town and I think I was the only one who ever checked them out.

These are proper English school stories. Jennings, perpetually 11 or 12 years old, continually gets into scrapes, dragging his friend Darbishire in with him. They're always on the wrong side of Mr Wilkins, aka "Old Wilkie" (who was saying "Doh!" long before Homer Simpson).

These are in reprints now and I own several of them. They're a little on the young side, but I've enjoyed getting reacquainted with the boys.

Next there were Bruno & Boots, by Gordon Korman. The boys attend Macdonald Hall, a private high school just outside Toronto. Bruno is stark raving mad and Boots a nervous wreck from having to deal with Bruno's schemes. They never manage to get away with anything for long as the headmaster, Mr Sturgeon, aka "The Fish", is very smart and always catches them. Miss Scrimmage's Finishing School for Young Ladies is just across the road and the girls regularly join in the hijinks.

These books are very funny, at least the first four:
This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall!
Go Jump in the Pool!
Beware the Fish!
The War with Mr. Wizzle

I've often considered some Bruno/Boots slash, in an idle sort of way.

The Great Brain series, by J.D. Fitzgerald, contained one school story: The Great Brain at the Academy. Tom and Sven are off to Salt Lake City to attend a Jesuit academy. Tom, as usual, has some ideas to make more money and do less work.

I'm sure I read What Katy Did At School but I really can't remember it. I've read a few misc stories that I can't remember much about at all. And there were one or two books in one particular school that I wish I could recall the titles of.

The school was in England, I think, it was co-ed, and the students had this oddly socialistic council to mete out death and judgement to the student body. (Well, not death.) They had this system whereby if any student received any money, they had to put it in a communal box. If anyone wanted money, they had to make their case to the council who would decide if and how much would be doled out. (The council might have actually been all the students, rather than a subgroup.) It was strangely fascinating to me at the time; now I can't believe the kids put up with it.

A few years ago, I decided to read Tom Brown's School Days, just because. It was the most saccharine dribble I've ever seen. Tom ends up taking care of this younger boy called George Arthur or Arthur George or something, because the headmaster thinks it will steady Tom and make a man of him.

At some point, George Arthur Arthur George gets sick or hurt. His dying wish is that -- get this -- Tom no longer use a crib when he translates his Greek. And Tom gets all soppy and agrees. And then the kid doesn't die anyhow.

The only good thing to come out of Tom Brown is the bully Flashman, who was scooped up by George Macdonald Fraser and made the hero (and I use the term loosely) of his own series of historical novels.

Stephen Fry's The Liar has quite a large section that takes place at school. It's based quite heavily on his own life, as he writes about it in his memoirs Moab Is My Washpot. So, either (or, preferably both) makes a good read.

I regularly revisit Mike & Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse. Not only is this a ripping school story, it also kicks off the other post-school Mike & Psmith stories.

In this one, both boys are in their last term of school. They've both been taken from their usual schools -- Wryken for Mike and Eton for Psmith -- and placed at a smaller school whose name escapes me at the moment. The idea is that they'll buckle down and work. Mike, especially, is resentful and although he's a star cricketer, won't play for the school.

The glory of this book -- and the following series -- is Psmith. His attitude, his wit, his attire -- he scintillates. I've had a partially written Mike/Psmith slash story on my hard drive forever, but I despair of ever finishing because Psmith must be just so and his dialogue is very hard to get right.

Wodehouse wrote other school stories, including Mike at Wryken but I've never been able to find them.

That's all I can remember. Any recs or suggestions for further reading?

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