Four Stupid Cupids (Hamlet Chronicles Series #4)

Overview

When four reckless mythical flying babies break loose from the ancient urn Fawn's aunt sent her from Greece, the boys in Fawn's class squirm in their seats -- and the girls start scheming. With help from these cupids, the members of the all-girl Tattletales Club could make this Valentine's Day a memorable one for their heartbroken teacher, Miss Earth. Little do they know just how crazy Valentine's Day will be, now that four cupids with rusty shooting skills are on the case! ...
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Overview

When four reckless mythical flying babies break loose from the ancient urn Fawn's aunt sent her from Greece, the boys in Fawn's class squirm in their seats -- and the girls start scheming. With help from these cupids, the members of the all-girl Tattletales Club could make this Valentine's Day a memorable one for their heartbroken teacher, Miss Earth. Little do they know just how crazy Valentine's Day will be, now that four cupids with rusty shooting skills are on the case!

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This holiday entry in the Hamlet Chronicles stars four mythical flying and bow-carrying babies who escape from an ancient Grecian urn and help some students mend the broken heart of their teacher. Ages 8-12. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The cupids in question are sealed inside an antique Greek amphora that was sent to Fawn Petros in Hamlet, Vermont. Fawn brings it to school for show-and-tell, and the adventure begins. The vase is accidentally broken while the teacher, Miss Earth, is out of the room. Four tiny cupids fly out! They quickly prove that "cupids are smart," even very young ones, and they learn basic English very quickly. Their leader, Rhoda, was babysitting the others—twins, Milos and Naxos, and their little brother Kos. They were enchanted into the vase when the twins tried to make a witch fall in love with a herd of goats. When did all this happen? "A week ago my own mother shot an arrow at Alexander the Great," says Rhoda. The class (probably fourth grade) ultimately decides that the cupids should try to help Miss Earth fall in love, and they (the class) will help the cupids get back home to Greece. The story isn't brilliant, but the portraits of the children are terrific. Feuds between the boys' and girls' clubs (Copycats and Tattletales) bring such realistic dialogue that it sounds as if a tape recorder was turned on in the classroom and left on for a month. No matter how fondly (or not) you remember Valentine's Day, the disastrous events in Miss Earth's class will bring it all back to you. Descriptions of adult business, from Mrs. Petros' hair salon to Principal Hetty Buttle's box of chocolates to Mayor Grass's taste in reading, are all described as children would. Secondary stories take the spotlight occasionally, but the main one is always there—will the class discover the way to send the cupids back to Greece? A totally fun read. 2000, Clarion, $15.00. Ages 8 to 13. Reviewer: JudySilverman
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-In the fourth book in the series, the students in Miss Earth's class are grappling with Valentine's Day, which is made more complicated with the arrival of four tiny young cupids that are accidentally freed from a vase they've been imprisoned in for more than 2300 years. Like all of their ilk, they use arrows to make people fall in love, so Miss Earth's students decide that she is overdue for a little romance. However, the inept archers cause her to fall in love with a frog and a television. All's well that ends well-the homesick cupids get back to Greece and Miss Earth begins (without outside help) to see the charms of a man she had previously spurned. Although the Tattletale and Copycat Clubs are still battling, this is really the story of Fawn Petros, who misses her father in far-off Antarctica. By caring for the little visitors, she begins to gain self-confidence and even learns to stand up to her sassy classmates when they casually call her "stupid." Miss Earth is made to play the fool with her cupid-wrought crushes, but her slightly acerbic professional manner and dry wit allow her to emerge with her dignity unscathed. The tongue-in-cheek humor and glimmers of real emotion in this installment will please both fervent fans and newcomers to the series.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Having faced ghosts, aliens, and deadly Siberian snow spiders in previous adventures, the fifth graders at Josiah Fawcett Elementary take on a very different sort of challenge when a Grecian urn from Fawn Petros's aunt shatters, releasing four bright-eyed cupids from a 2,300-year nap. Naturally, the students immediately hatch a plot to hook up their television-despising teacher Miss Earth, still grieving over her lost love, Rocco Tortoni, with someone, anyone—how about TV newscaster Chad Hunkley? Unfortunately, the obliging cupids are a bit rusty with bow and arrow. Maguire gives shy, underachieving Fawn several chances to shine as he piles sidesplitting complications atop the customary stresses of Valentine's Day ("What if nobody sends me a card? What if somebody does send me a card? ... A certain variety of panic clutched many sets of guts"). By the end, seeming none the worse for having fallen madly in love with the school janitor, then a balloon in the shape of cartoon personality Cap'n Trueheart, the class frog, and finally television, Miss Earth sports a small ring, perhaps from previously diffident suitor Timothy Hay, the town's young mayor. With profound relief, the students mail the cupids back to Greece."Midsummer Night's Dream" this is not, but rarely have the arrows of love gone more hilariously astray. (Fiction. 10-12)
From the Publisher
"'Midsummer Night's Dream' this is not, but rarely have the arrows of love gone more hilariously astray." Kirkus Reviews

"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064410724
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/2001
  • Series: Hamlet Chronicles Series , #4
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Lexile: 660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.57 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is the popular author of many books for children, including the Hamlet Chronicles for Clarion, as well as several adult books, including WICKED (HarperCollins), upon which a Broadway musical was based, and its sequel, CONFESSIONS OF AN UGLY STEPSISTER (Regan Books). He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

Biography

Raised in a family of writers (his father was a journalist and his stepmother a poet), Gregory Maguire grew up with a great love of books, especially fairy tales and fantasy fiction. He composed his own stories from an early age and released his first book for children, The Lightning Time, in 1978, just two years after graduating from the State University of New York at Albany.

Several other children's book followed, but major recognition eluded Maguire. Then, in 1995, he published his first adult novel. A bold, revisionist view of Frank L. Baum's classic Oz stories, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West places one of literature's most reviled characters at the center of a dark dystopian fantasy and raises provocative questions about the very nature of good and evil. Purists criticized Maguire for tampering with a beloved juvenile classic, but the book received generally good reviews (John Updike, writing in The New Yorker, proclaimed it "an amazing novel.") and the enthusiasm of readers catapulted it to the top of the bestseller charts. (Maguire's currency increased even further when the book was turned into the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Wicked in 2003.)

In the wake of his breakthrough novel, Maguire has made something of a specialty out of turning classic children's tales on their heads. He retold the legends of Cinderella and Snow White in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999) and Mirror, Mirror (2003); he raised the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge in Lost (2001); and, in 2005, he returned to Oz for Son of a Witch, the long-awaited sequel to Wicked. He has reviewed fantasy fiction for the Sunday New York Times Book Review and has contributed his own articles, essays, and stories to publications like Ploughshares, The Boston Review, the Christian Science Monitor, and The Horn Book Magazine.

In addition, Maguire has never lost his interest in -- or enthusiasm for -- children's literature. He is the author of The Hamlet Chronicles, a bestselling seven-book series of high-camp mystery-adventures with silly count-down titles like Seven Spiders Spinning and Three Rotten Eggs. He has taught at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and is a founding member of Children's Literature New England (CLNE), a nonprofit organization that focuses attention on the significance of literature in the lives of children.

Good To Know

In our interview, Maguire shared some fun facts with us about his life:

"While I pride myself on trying to be creative in all areas of my life, I have occasionally gone overboard, like the time I decided to bring to a party a salad that I constructed, on a huge rattan platter, to look like a miniature scale model of the Gardens of Babylon. I built terraces with chunks of Monterey jack, had a forest of broccoli florets and a lagoon of Seven Seas salad dressing spooned into a half a honeydew melon. I made reed patches out of scallion tips and walkways out of sesame seeds lined with raisin borders. Driving to the party, I had to brake to avoid a taxi, and by the time the police flagged me down for poor driving skills I was nearly weeping. ‘But Officer, I have a quickly decomposing Hanging Gardens of Babylon to deliver....' Everything had slopped and fallen over and it looked like a tray of vegetable garbage."

"My first job was scooping ice cream at Friendly's in Albany, New York. I hated the work, most of my colleagues, and the uniform, and I more or less lost my taste for ice cream permanently."

"If I hadn't been a writer, I would have tried to be one of the following: An artist (watercolors), a singer/songwriter like Paul Simon (taller but not very much more), an architect (domestic), a teacher. Actually, in one way or another I have done all of the above, but learned pretty quickly that my skills needed more honing for me to charge for my services, and I'd always rather write fiction than hone skills."

"I steal a bit from one of my favorite writers to say, simply, that I enjoy, most of all, old friends and new places. I love to travel. Having small children at home now impedes my efforts a great deal, but I have managed in my time to get to Asia, Africa, most of Europe, and Central America. My wish list of places not yet visited includes India, Denmark, Brazil, and New Zealand, and my wish for friends not yet made includes, in a sense, readers who are about to discover my work, either now or even when I'm no longer among the living. In a sense, in anticipation, I value those friends in a special way."

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    1. Hometown:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 9, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Albany, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My Bloody Valentine

"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.
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Table of Contents

Prologue vii
1. My Bloody Valentine 1
2. The Ugly Vase 8
3. Miss Earth's Broken Heart 14
4. A Meeting of Matchmakers 18
5. Show-and-Tell 24
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
13. Cap'n Trueheart 104
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
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