Mallory is really excited when she finds out that her new Short Takes class is going to be all about children's literature. She still loves kids books, still wants to write them someday, and is really looking forward to studying the topic thoroughly. Her teacher is Mr. Cobb, who's fairly new to Stoneybrook (and SMS). All the girls think he's hot stuff, and Mallory isn't exactly upset when she finds out that she's been assigned to his Short Takes group. From day one, though, the class isn't exactly going the way Mal had hoped it would. Mr. Cobb tells them right off the bat that they won't be doing much writing; the class will mostly be based on participation. Things aren't any better the next day. In fact, they get worse. Mallory waits politely with her hand raised to answer questions and share her opinions, but Mr. Cobb bascially ignores her. There are several boys in the class who just speak up whenever they have something to say, and he seems to focus on those students. Finally, he asks Mal to read Green Eggs and Ham to the class, but she's so rattled that she makes a mess of the whole thing. Mr. Cobb also gets Mallory's name wrong...according to him, she's Valerie. She finally sets him straight during a later class, but only with the help of another student who speaks up for her. Mallory has absolutely no confidence in Mr. Cobb's class, and she can't seem to get it together. She kind of blames him for her lack of ability to participate; she thinks he's favoring the girls over the boys, especially when it comes to letting the boys speak out of turn. When he stops her after class and asks her if anything's wrong, though, Mal doesn't say anything at all.
Things aren't all bad for Mallory at school; she and the other 6th grade officers are busy with their fundraising week. Mal is in charge of all the booths, and her fellow officers are much more respectful and encouraging than her Short Takes classmates. When Mal is glancing over some past 6th grade meeting minutes, she discovers that the 6th grade class of five years ago raised $1000 for a student lounge in the library...and the money was used for building repairs instead. Mal and the other officers go talk to Mr. Taylor, who agrees to refund the money...if the class can raise another $1000. They raise the money and then some, and the library is finally going to get their lounge. This is thanks in large part to Mal's efforts with the fundraisers, and the the success that she has there inspires her to talk to Mr. Cobb. She accuses him of favoring the boys, and blames his teaching style for her lack of participation. Mr. Cobb isn't happy, and Mal leaves feeling like the meeting didn't exactly go well. Things change in class from then on out; Mr. Cobb makes everyone raise their hands and wait to be called on, and he makes more of an effort to encourage the quieter kids to speak up. Things aren't perfect, but they're better than before.
Also, Buddy Barrett is upset about not being able to march in the town Memorial Day Parade because he isn't part of a group. So, he starts his own: the Buddyy Barrett Marching Band.
Thoughts and Things
- I really wasn't on Mal's side. Mr. Cobb didn't favor the boys over the girls; he favored outspoken kids over quiet ones, and Mal's class just happened to have lots of outspoken boys in it. Also, he DID give her chances to participate, and she dropped the ball. While I do agree that Mr. Cobb wasn't particularly patient with the shyer kids, I also don't think Mal shoudl have laid all the blame on him.
- Claudia has Cheez Whiz hidden in her room in this one. My deep, dark secret? I actually like the stuff. :)
- There are lots of mentions of past stuff in this one: not only is Mal being secretary a main focus, but her Young Author's Day Award gets a mention, too. So does the band that the kids made in #56.
- I wish Hodges would stop putting Mal in pink clothes; it's really not her color.
- Mr. Cobb looks like he's about 45, yet he's supposed to be fresh out of college. Whatever.