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The students' scheme to find a love match for their beloved teacher on Valentine's Day turns into a comedy of errors when four stupid cupids from Ancient Greece try to help.
"The tongue-in-cheek humor and glimmers of real emotion in this installment will please both fervent fans and newcomers to the series." School Library Journal
"Children who read Six Haunted Hairdos (1997) or others in the series will find some pitch-perfect if far-fetched silliness." Booklist, ALA
"I hate you!"
"I hate you double!"
Thekla Mustard and Sammy Grubb stared at each other. Everyone else in the classroom fell silent, watching the test of wits.
"I hate you to the ten-billionth power," said Thekla.
"I hate you to the ten-billionth-plus-one power," Sammy answered.
"I hate you until the end of time," she said.
"I hate you until the end of time and a week later," he replied.
"I hate you to the farthest depths of space."
"I hate you to the farthest depths of space and a mile farther."
"I hate you"-Thekla Mustard paused for inspiration"I hate you more than I hate homework."
"Wow" Sammy Grubb was impressed. He couldn't beat that. "You must really hate me a lot. But may I borrow your red crayon anyway? Mine is all used up."
"Sure, why not?" said Thekla, and handed it over.
Miss Earth, the teacher, said, "Thekla and Sammy. Such loud scorn for each other! Sometimes people who show dislike so publicly are really trying to hide their affection. Did you ever think of that?"
Sammy Grubb and Thekla Mustard clamped their mouths shut. Not another word! How awful if anyone imagined that the famous rivals actually liked each other. Both of them would prefer to suffer an instant painful death than to be thought-shudder-in love.
"Now, children," said Miss Earth. "Today is Wednesday. Saint Valentine's Day is on Friday. We're going to make Valentine's Day cards."
The sun slid behind a cloud. The room went chilly. The snow seemed to grip the windowsills with frozen white mittens. The hearts of about a dozen kids sank atexactly the same instant. Valentine's Day. What if nobody sends me a card? What if somebody does send me a card? What'll I do then? A certain variety of panic clutched many sets of guts. Valentine's Day was supposed to be a holiday, but sometimes it seemed like a nightmare. Love was scarier than spiders, ghosts, and aliens put together.
Miss Earth, generally alert to the mood of the classroom, today seemed a bit out to lunch. She blathered on. "I want to make sure that everyone gets a valentine and nobody is left out, so we're going to have a drawing. People, write your name on a sheet of paper and crumple it up. Put it in this bag. That's it. Everybody? Good."
"We had Valentine's Day in India," said Salim, who was the new student this year. "What's the holiday like in the United States, I wonder?"
"Who wants to tell Salim about Valentine's Day?" said Miss Earth.
The boys sat on their hands. All the girls except Pearl waved their arms around hysterically. "Fawn Petros," said Miss Earth. "You say what you know."
"Valentine's Day is when cupids fly through the air and they, like, have these arrows," said Fawn. "Like poisoned darts or something. They hit you and-kabow-it's love at first sight."
"Sounds pretty stupid to me," said Salim.
"Don't say stupid," said Miss Earth. "That's rude. Say puzzling."
Fawn continued. "You can't control yourself. You, like, start kissing frogs and stuff."
Salim looked doubtfully at the frog in the terrarium. The frog was named Kermit in honor of the famous Muppet. The students called him Kermit the Hermit. He was a nervous sort and liked to be left alone. He went and hid behind his rock. "Kissing frogs'?" said Salim. "I hope not."
"Fawn is telling you part of a legend," said Miss Earth. "The ancient Greeks honored a spirit they called Eros, who was usually pictured as a handsome young man with wings. He could make people fall in love with each other. The ancient Romans called the same figure Cupid; eventually, cupids came to be pictured as small winged children who liked to cause romantic mischief. But that's all storytelling. Historically, Saint Valentine was an early martyr of the Christian church. His life had no connection with the kind of greeting cards we send. Long ago, people believed that birds first began to mate on the day that was later chosen for Saint Valentine's feast day. So now we have come to think of Valentine's Day as a time for sweethearts of all sorts. Nice that it comes in cold February, isn't it? Our hearts are warmed by this simple custom. We show our friends that we love them by sending cards. Okay, end of commercial.
"Now, class, each of you will draw a name from this paper bag. If you pick your own name, please put it back. Then you can make Valentine's Day cards while I read aloud."
One by one the tense hearts relaxed. This was affection by lottery, so nobody could lose. One by one the students came forward and pulled scraps of paper out of Miss Earth's paper sack. "What if a boy gets a boy's name?" said Stan Tomaski.
"Valentine's Day is for friends as well as sweethearts," said Miss Earth firmly.
"What if a secret admirer wants to send a card to me?" said Thekla Mustard, tossing her curly hair prettily. The entire class said, "Ooooooooooh."
Miss Earth said, "Secret admirers keep their affection secret. That's the whole idea. They'll have to do it on their own time, Thekla. Now, my little sweethearts, get to work. Remember, be kind."
The class drew and painted hearts while their teacher sat in the reading rocker and began to read a story from the book of fairy tales. The girls drew perfect red hearts, surrounded by cupids doing target practice. The boys drew lots of hearts, too-hearts stabbed with knives, hearts ripped from chests, hearts still beating, dripping blood. The red crayon was very popular.
Sammy Grubb groaned. The slip of paper he had pulled from the sack said Thekla Mustard. Thekla Mustard was the Empress of the Tattletales, a club made up of girls in the class. "Be mine, Frankenstein," he wrote. Then he improved on it. By the time he was done he had a whole little poem. It went like this:Four Stupid Cupids. Copyright © by Gregory Maguire. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
|1.||My Bloody Valentine||1|
|2.||The Ugly Vase||8|
|3.||Miss Earth's Broken Heart||14|
|4.||A Meeting of Matchmakers||18|
|6.||Four Stupid Cupids||34|
|7.||Cupids in the Hamlet House of Beauty||47|
|8.||Roses and Regrets||59|
|9.||The Sting of a Cupid's Arrow||66|
|10.||The Sting of Milos||72|
|11.||Kissing Kermit the Hermit||83|
|12.||The Sting of Naxos||94|
|14.||The Several Stings of Rhoda||114|
|15.||The Janitor Prince||127|
|16.||The Sting of Baby Kos||133|
|17.||The Couch Potato of Hamlet||140|
|18.||Candy Hearts and Poison Darts?||146|
|19.||An Emergency Book Report||153|
|20.||Frozen and Unfrozen||169|
|21.||Happy in Hamlet||173|