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Hamlet Chronicles Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Hamlet Chronicles Books

Seven Spiders Spinning (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Six Haunted Hairdos (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Five Alien Elves (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Four Stupid Cupids (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Three Rotten Eggs (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Couple of April Fools (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
One Final Firecracker (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon

“Hamlet Chronicles” is a series of children’s novels by American author Gregory Maguire who is best known for his revisionist works of children stories. The debut novel of the “Hamlet Chronicles” was the 1994 published title “Seven Spiders Spinning” that was so popular that it spawned six more titles culminating in “One Final Firecracker” that came out in 2005. Gregory was born in New York as the fourth child of seven siblings. He went to a Catholic high school before proceeding to State University of New York, where he got his bachelor in English, Simmons College for his master in Children’s Literature, and Tufts University for his doctorate in American Literature and English. From 1979 to 1986 he served as co director and professor at the Department for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College. He has been a board member and co-founder of several children’s and literary organizations including the Concord Free Press, the Boston Public Library, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and National Children’s Book and Literary Alliance. He published his first children’s novel “The Lightning Time” in 1978 aged only 24 and has never looked back, going on to write over twenty novels and short stories. He has lectured all over the world on culture and literature and is a contributor and reviewer with the Sunday New York Times Book Review. He lives with husband Andy Newman a painter and their three adopted children in Boston Massachusetts.

“The Hamlet Chronicles” series of novels follows the life and times of the students of Miss Earth’s class. The students come from Hamlet Village of Vermont USA. The class has two cliques of students according to personality and temperament: the copycats are led by Chief Sammy while Empress Thekla leads the Tattletales that is mostly composed of girls. One girl named Pearl Hotchkiss considers herself a freethinker and does not involve herself with any of the Tattletales or Copycat cliques of her classmates. As is common when there are groups in a class, there is bound to be rivalry and the same is true for Miss Earth’s class. Miss Earth is dismayed when the two rivals constantly pull pranks and compete with each other to see who can embarrass or humiliate the other more. The Copycats tend to keep to their own devices and will not scheme as much as the Tattletales. Each novel focuses on different students making for some in-depth characterization of the students in all their immature nature. For instance, the novel “Four Stupid Cupids” is all about Fawn Petros school and family life. Fawn is easily the dumbest student in the class which makes her the target of constant derision. With her father and mother away for research in Antarctica, she has pretty much no one to turn to for support.

The “Hamlet Chronicles” go against the usual uni-cultural model for a small town story as the students in Miss Earth’s class are fairly multicultural. Moreover, the small town has computer lab and a college all of which have many students and workers some of whom have moved to the small town from other cities across the United States and Europe. The children though are not divided on these lines but rather by their class rivalries. Conversely, they are unified by their love for Miss Earth their teacher who is a sometimes stern but encouraging, no nonsense, and kind teacher. She absolutely loves her students and they do love her too but this will never stop her from trying to stop them from behaving and them from causing mischief. She is a die hard fan of Petunia Whiner, a fictional western and country singer whose funny and often dreadful lyrics pepper the pages of the novels. Maguire’s treatment of his children character including the teacher is gentle, amusing, and sometimes irreverent, which makes for quite the light tone to the series. The children naturally grow up and mature through learning about morality and morals, through didactic tales and lessons offered by Miss Earth. The novels have a lot of allusions to some common literary works such as Ms Frazzle, who is perhaps a reference to Ms. Frizzle of “The Magic School Bus”.

“Three Rotten Eggs” is a novel about Thaddeus Nero Tweed, who loves to go by the name Thud. He recently moved to the town of Hamlet, Vermont and likes to style himself as a person with no interests, one that doesn’t need friends, and the ultimate bully. But he soon gravitates towards Lois and Salim two other kids cast away from their cliques to make for an unlikely trio of children, that love to look after fire breathing chickens. The “Easter Egg Hunt” is on the horizon bringing with it a cacophony of meddling scientists and raging conspiracies. The classroom becomes the hotbed of secrets with lies enough to bury every student in a seasons worth of eggs. Salim, Lois, and Thud need to band together to protect their chicks, repay losses, and reunited friends. The novel is something of the “Sideways Stories” of the popular Wayside School though they have less of that wacky vibe and are a little violent and graphic. Combining ridiculous dialogue, over the top antics, silly character names, and dark images makes for some very entertaining narratives.

“A Couple of April Fools” is an enchanting novel set in Springtime Vermont where strange things are happening in the small town of Hamlet. With April Fools Day on the horizon, the students of Joshua Fawcett school busy composing their April Fools pranks and jokes for their friends and family. But they have to put aside their pranks when their class teacher Miss Earth disappears. Rumor has it that Miss Earth may have fallen victim to a mysterious creature that stalks local farm animals that had been seen in town a few days past. Another theory is that her esteemed fiance Mayor Grass may be somehow involved. The students get together to try to find answers to these questions so that they can get back their teacher before something bad happens. It is an excellent installment full of suspense and humor, though it talks of more serious themes such as family relationships and adolescence.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Hamlet Chronicles

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