Three Rotten Eggs (Hamlet Chronicles Series #5)

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Trouble is brewing in Hamlet, Vermont, when a new kid named Thud Tweed enrolls in Miss Earth’s class. He’s an oversize lug with a bad attitude that soon starts affecting his classmates—especially after he tinkers with the outcome of the spring egg hunt and pits the rival Copycats and Tattletales against their own members. When three genetically manipulated eggs appear on the scene and begin to hatch, the children begin spinning lies to keep them a secret. Soon they are caught in their own web, and they realize ...

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Overview

Trouble is brewing in Hamlet, Vermont, when a new kid named Thud Tweed enrolls in Miss Earth’s class. He’s an oversize lug with a bad attitude that soon starts affecting his classmates—especially after he tinkers with the outcome of the spring egg hunt and pits the rival Copycats and Tattletales against their own members. When three genetically manipulated eggs appear on the scene and begin to hatch, the children begin spinning lies to keep them a secret. Soon they are caught in their own web, and they realize that they must all join together—even Thud—if they want to find a way to right their wrongs.
With themes ranging from the ethics of gene splicing and nature-versus-nurture to bullying and parenting, this fifth installment of the Hamlet Chronicles explores dark territory. At the same time, it introduces outrageous new characters and sparkles with Gregory Maguire’s patented tongue-in-cheek humor and hilarious one-liners.

The students of Miss Earth's class in rural Vermont experience an eventful spring when they become involved with a bullying new student, a competitive egg hunt, and genetically altered chicks.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
There is nothing subtle here; silly puns and slapstick humor carry this broad farce. Maguire captures the social politics of middle schoolers, and conveys the message that cooperation rather than cliques, solves problems. School Library Journal

The tone throughout is characteristically deadpan, the humor thoroughly sophisticated...maintains a quirky freshness that fans and new readers alike will welcome.
Kirkus Reviews

Both newcomers to the series and long-time fans will enjoy this book and look forward to upcoming installments.
Booklist, ALA

With a digressive plot, ridiculous character names, cornball gags and insult-peppered dialogue, Three Rotten Eggs feels like the transcription of a week's worth of improvisational bedtime tales told by a slightly crazy uncle.
The New York Times Book Review

Children's Literature
The fifth book in Maguire's "Hamlet" series features three genetically altered chickens, a new bully in town, an ongoing rivalry between the boys and the girls in Miss Earth's class, and a lot of laughs. It all starts when Professor Wolfgang Einfinger gets pulled over for speeding, claiming his briefcase has been stolen by a motorcyclist and the security of the nation is dependent on catching the thief. These eggs, part of a plot by the corporation Geneworks to reverse evolution, are thought destroyed when a bolt of lightning strikes the motorcycle. Three self-declared class outsiders find the eggs during a school charity egg hunt and decide to hatch them. Bully Thud Tweed, wannabe leader Lois Kennedy the Third, and immigrant Salim Bannerjee get more than they bargained for when the eggs hatch and the chickens start breathing fire. Miss Earth's class conspires to hide the truth when Professor Einfinger comes back to town to recover the chicks. Three Rotten Eggs reads like a combination of Shakespeare and Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories from Wayside School. The residents of Hamlet, Vermont, are ridiculous yet loveable, and adults will enjoy the puns Maguire uses in his characters' names. Through humor, Maguire brings about important lessons like nature versus nurture, honesty among friends, and getting what one deserves. 2002, Clarion Books,
— Carlie Kraft
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-This fifth in the series continues to recount the rivalry between the girls, the Tattletales, and the boys, the Copycats, of Miss Earth's class in rural Vermont. It's an eventful spring for them, with a bullying new student, Thud Tweed; a Spring Egg Hunt; and three genetically altered eggs that hatch fire-breathing chicks. A company called Geneworks is attempting to reverse evolution to create a large, unquestioning workforce that can be rented out at great gain. While seven of the genetically altered eggs, tucked in a briefcase, are en route to researchers at Dartmouth College, a member of Mother Nature's Avengers steals the briefcase just before his motorcycle is struck by lightning. Unbeknownst to anyone, three of the eggs survive, and they are discovered by three of Miss Earth's students during the egg hunt, a competitive fund-raiser for a new fire engine. Miss Earth's class wins, but then is disqualified for lying and cheating. To redeem themselves, the students join together to raise money by putting on a concert by wildly popular country-and-western singer Petunia Whiner, who just happens to be Thud's mother. There is nothing subtle here; silly puns and slapstick humor carry this broad farce. Maguire captures the social politics of middle schoolers, and conveys the message that cooperation, rather than cliques, solves problems. Of the three chicks, one dies, but two remain, one in captivity and one on the loose in the wild. Will they turn up in the next Hamlet Chronicle? Fans of the series will be anxiously anticipating the next delightful romp.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Genetically engineered chicken eggs provide the narrative motor for this, the fifth, entry in the "Hamlet Chronicles," as Miss Earth's fifth-grade class lurches into spring. The eggs in question, stolen by an activist group from a lab outside of Boston, arrive in town on the same day as Thaddeus "Thud" Tweed, a student who challenges even the saintly Miss Earth's sense of equilibrium. "I've tried every kind of schooling for Thaddeus except prison," his mother tells Miss Earth, "and I'd try that if he were old enough to qualify." Thud rapidly upsets the delicate balance of power between the Copycats and the Tattletales, founding the Three Rotten Eggs with Salim Bannerjee and Lois Kennedy III, disaffected former members of the established clubs, when they discover three mysterious eggs during Hamlet's annual Spring Egg Hunt. Tongue stuffed firmly in cheek, Maguire (Four Stupid Cupids, 2000, etc.) deftly weaves together the strands of his story, from the hapless Professor Einfinger's odyssey through small-town Vermont to recover the eggs, to the hatching of the extraordinary chicks (christened "Flameburpers A, B, and C"), to a benefit concert given by the legendary Petunia Whiner ("Baby Needs Burping"), and on to the slow emergence of Thud's better self as well as Salim's and Lois's explorations of the nature of friendship. The tone throughout is characteristically deadpan, the humor thoroughly sophisticated; after five installments one might think the formula would wear thin, but, the title notwithstanding, this offering maintains a quirky freshness that fans and new readers alike will welcome. (Fiction. 9-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618096558
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Series: Hamlet Chronicles Series , #5
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire
Spinning fantastical tales for adults and children alike -- from the hit kids' series The Hamlet Chronicles to the decidedly more grown-up adventures played out in Wicked and Mirror, Mirror, Gregory Maguire has cast a potent literary spell on readers of all ages.

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:

First Chapter

Three Rotten Eggs

Chapter One

Highway Robbery

"Those clouds look positively packed with lightning," said Miss Earth to her students. "Inside, class. On the double."

The children were tying plastic Easter eggs onto a forsythia bush by their classroom window. But the sudden clouds did have a close, gonna-getcha feel to them. With unusual briskness, Miss Earth's students obeyed their leader and tumbled into the classroom.

Miss Earth went immediately to the radio to see if there was an emergency storm watch. The radio screeched with static. Then it settled and picked up a country-western song. The new hit by Petunia Whiner, Miss Earth's favorite singer. The teacher waited for the song to end, hoping for a weather update.

"Ya got a little baby and ya gotta treat it right.
Ya gotta rock the cradle so your baby sleeps tight.
Baby needs a diaper change, Baby has a poo.
If Baby wakes and burps a lot, whatcha gonna do?
  Just cuddle cuddle cuddle till the cows come home."

In a corner of the room, under cover of the sound of music, two girls resumed the argument they'd been having at the egg bush.

"I never get to be in charge!" said one. "Thekla Mustard, spring has arrived. It's time for a change. Why don't you take a vacation from being Queen Bee all the time? That'd be a big change."

"Lois," said the other, "face it. You're not me. You're nice enough in your own drab way, but you're not me. And I am the one who annually gets elected Empress. So if we girls are going to form a classroom girls' team at the annual Spring Egg Hunt, I get to govern it as I govern everything. With surprising mastery."

"You're such a power hog. I'd hate to see what you're going to be like when you grow up. Some crazy dictator."

"We'll see," said Thekla. "It's always an option."

"Girls," said their teacher. "Shh! Here comes the weather."

Thekla simpered. Lois frowned. There had to be some way to unseat the bossy Empress. Sooner or later Lois would find out how.


Vermont State Trooper Hiram Crawdad wheeled his cruiser around the cloverleaf linking Interstate highways 89 and 91. He was listening to the latest Petunia Whiner hit on Vermont Country Radio. Her whiskey-raw voice seemed like a soundtrack to a made-for-TV movie. Starring himself, of course. Tapping the time on his steering wheel, he listened and sang along.

"Ya got a little baby and ya gotta treat it right.
Ya gotta kiss your baby and teach it not to bite.
Baby starts to cry a little, Baby cries a lot.
Ya gonna throw the baby in the garbage? Not.
Just cuddle cuddle cuddle till the cows come home."

Trooper Crawdad was just emerging from the curve when he saw a snazzy orange coupe roaring along from the direction of New Hampshire. Doing eighty-five miles an hour, easy. "How-de-do, what's your hurry?" said the trooper. "You've just netted yourself a hefty fine, stranger. Welcome to Vermont." He accelerated as he left the interchange. The deejay cut in. "That was Petunia Whiner in her hit single 'Baby Needs Burping.' Now a weather update from WAAK, the Voice of Vermont. Severe thunderstorm alert for the Upper Valley. Could change to snow—who knows. Spring is fickle around here."

Three Rotten Eggs. Copyright © by Gregory Maguire. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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