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The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall    by Tony Johnston order for
Spoon in the Bathroom Wall
by Tony Johnston
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Tony Johnston has created an enjoyable retelling of the Sword in the Stone legend for middle-readers in The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall. Poor little Martha Snapdragon (or Marthur according to the school bully) is relegated to live in her school's boiler room with her janitor father while constantly being berated by the principal. Aside from her desire to learn, the only thing that gets Martha through the day is her science class led by Mrs. Ferlin. Mrs. Ferlin makes learning fun which is why Martha wants to be a teacher some day.

However, Mrs. Ferlin has more that just teaching tricks up her sleeve; she is a wizard who has a pet Griffith and a carton of dancing dragon eggs. In an effort to stop being bullied, Martha steals the eggs from Mrs. Ferlin, but little does she know that doing so will lead to the coming of the king (which is proclaimed in a stone in a school hallway). When a spoon appears in the boys' bathroom wall, everyone knows that the king has almost come, and everyone wants a chance to be king! Martha will have to take everything she has learned from her favorite teacher to avert the disaster that is sure to happen if the spoon falls into the wrong hands.

Johnston has taken the classic Arthurian legend and turned it into a fast-paced, magical adventure that kids will love. Martha is the perfect modern-day Arthur - a lovable underdog who is destined to do great things without even knowing it. The villains are all characters that readers can relate to brutes from their own life, and perhaps this story will even help them to understand bullies better. Plus, Mrs. Ferlin is the type of teacher every kid wishes for, but she also teaches many valuable lessons.

The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall is a fun, quick read, but be sure to have a dictionary handy - Johnston loves to throw in big words that get readers learning while having so much fun that they won't realize it.

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