Saturday 4 November 2023

Beware the Fish! - Gordon Korman - MacDonald Hall Book 3

Beware the Fish!
MacDonald Hall Book 3
Gordon Korman
ISBN 9781443124942
eISBN 9781443128032

This book was the third published by Gordon Korman, it was published it when Korman was in Grade 12. Mid Last year, in 2022, Korman published his 100th book. Yes you read that correctly, his hundredth book. My introduction to Korman’s works was the 39 Clues back in 2009. Since then, I have read over 35 of his books. Barely a drop in the buck, but with each one I read I am entertained and often challenged. My son often reads these books to me or with me. I picked up this to read on my own to continue where it all began. I am currently bouncing around several of his series and from his most recent to oldest books.

My son and I started reading Gordon Korman books together a few years ago, when he was given one as an end of year gift by his teacher. She gave the whole class the same Scholastic edition and wrote a note to each student in their copy of the book. Prior to that I had a read a few of his contributions to the 39 Clues series and had enjoyed them. After reading book 1 in the Bruno and Boots or MacDonald Hall series I was hooked and know I will be reading all the volumes that Korman has written. And maybe trying to track down some of the older editions before there were updated. The series consists of:

Beware the Fish! 
The Wizzle War
         (formerly The War With Mr. Wizzle )
The Zucchini Warriors 
Light’s Camera, Disaster 
          (aka Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood)
The Jokes on Us
          (formerly Something Fishy at Macdonald Hall)

Book 6 was renamed in 2003 the stories were originally published between 1978 and 1995, though some have been rewritten to be more up to date. Three of the original 7 have been renamed at some point over the years. It should also be noted that the series was originally called Bruno & Boots and later rebranded MacDonald Hall. But back to the volume at hand. The current description of this volume is:

“Macdonald Hall's ivy-covered buildings have housed and educated many fine young Canadians. But Bruno Walton and Boots O'Neal are far from being fine young Canadians. The roommates and best friends are nothing but trouble! Together they've snuck out after lights-out, swapped flags, kidnapped mascots . . . and that's only the beginning.

Macdonald High is having some serious cash flow problems. Everything is being cut back - evening snack is gone, the lab equipment is decrepit and the dorms are freezing at night. Worst of all, Bruno Walton and Boots O'Neal are being moved in with Elmer Drimsdale - the science geek. There's even talk of Macdonald Hall being put up for sale! Could this be the end of Canada's finest boarding school or do Bruno and Boots have a plan?

Join two of Gordon Korman's most memorable characters in seven side-splitting, rip-roaring adventures! Macdonald Hall is the series that started it all, and thirty-five years later it remains a must-read for old fans and new, the young - and the young at heart.”

The chapters in this volume are:

      Beware The Fish!
      1: Much Ado About Spinach
      2: I Never Get Caught
      3: Attention, World!
      4: We’re Looking Into It
      5: Room 13
      6: An Uncommon Cure
      7: Operation Popcan
      8: A Question of Ownership
      9: Euclid is Putrid
      10: But Will It Fly?
      11: In the Name of the Law
      12: Take Cover!
      13: Hot Gazoobies!
      14: Featherstone Out

This is followed by a preview of the next volume. If I had not known this was Korman’s third novel I would have been very surprised when I found that out. This story came out the same year as Who is Bugs Potter?, and a year before Korman’s first standalone story, I Want to Go Home!. Now yes the story has been updated some over the years but the whole story is wonderfully written. Korman is truly a master of the Middle Grade and even Young Adult genres, his books are amazing for kids, tweens and teens. And even some of us older readers. C.S. Lewis in On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature stated: 

“It is very rarely that a middle-aged man finds an author who gives him, what he knew so often in his teens and twenties, the sense of having opened a new door.” 

I said in a previous review that Korman accomplishes that in this and all of his other books I have read. This was another excellent read! And is a critical piece of his canon. For many authors have a great first work and often it is not followed up well or even at all. And Korman did it while in Secondary School himself. This one is deeper than the earlier 2. And yet it is still a great fun read. 

Bruno and Boots have a knack for creating trouble, and for not getting caught. This time they are on a mission to raise save the school. They have heard through the grapevine that the school is in financial troubles. And that a developer is coming to look at the property. Bruno and Boots will not stand for this, they love MacDonald Hall and get all the other boys in on the plans. They need to make the school famous so that enrollment will go up and it will stay open. The story begins with this:


William R. Sturgeon, Headmaster of Macdonald Hall, a kind, understanding, yet firm administrator who is secretly very fond of his students.

An underground criminal leader who is using public communications to send messages to members of his evil organization.

A large labelled diagram of the Pacific salmon that hangs on the wall in the room of eccentric genius Elmer Drimsdale.”

And as much as they struggle with William R. Sturgeon, Headmaster of Macdonald Hall, and his rules. They truly love going to this school. With the aid of the girls from Miss Scrimmage’s Finishing School across the road, they hatch plan after plan. And as each one fails. Their hopes are dashed just a little bit. But Bruno does not know how to give up:

“Bruno stood up. “Well, it’s started, hasn’t it? It’s the beginning of the end.” He looked reproachfully at Wilbur and the others. “And you guys have the nerve to complain! I wasn’t trying to make you miserable! I was trying to save the Hall!” He pounded the table. “But it’s not too late! We may have lost a battle, but the war’s not over yet! Where would we be if Champlain had packed up and left because it got too cold here? Where would we be if Alexander Graham Bell had given up after the first wrong number?”

Bruno’s face was red. All eyes were on him. “So we’ve had a little setback! Good men don’t lie down and die because of one failure! If Macdonald Hall was worth the effort Friday night, it’s worth the effort now! By being out all night, our guys beat the system, and we can beat this developer too! We’re going to convince him that this is the last place anybody would want to build condos! We’ll chase him right back where he came from, and then some! We can defeat our enemies! We can overcome anything if we work at it! I know we can!”

Out of breath, he sat down amid thunderous applause from all present. Boys were standing on their chairs and chanting, “Can do! Can do!” In a far corner of the room, someone was leading a chorus of “We Shall Overcome.” Arms reached out to pat Bruno on the back.”

Can they pull it off? To find out you will need to read the book! The characters are wonderfully written. It is a very fun story guaranteed to entertain the young and the young at heart! It is another excellent read from Korman’s masterful pen! And the third story that started it all! A great read, I can easily recommend this book and series! 

Books by Gordon Korman:
MacDonald Hall Series:
The Wizzle War (1982)
         (formerly The War With Mr. Wizzle)
The Zucchini Warriors (1988)
Light’s Camera, Disaster (1991)
          (aka Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood)
The Jokes on Us (1995)
          (formerly Something Fishy at Macdonald Hall)

Bugs Potter Series:

Jeremy Bloom Series:
The D−Poems of Jeremy Bloom (1992)
The Last-Place Sports Poems of Jeremy Bloom (1996)

Monday Night Football Series:
The Quarterback Exchange (1997)
Running Back Conversion (1997)
Super Bowl Switch (1997)
Heavy Artillery (1997)
Ultimate Scoring Machine (1998)
NFL Rules! Bloopers, Pranks, Upsets, and Touchdowns (1998)

Masterminds Series:
Masterminds (2015)

Slapshots Series:
The Stars From Mars (1999)
All-Mars All-Stars/The Dream Team (1999)
The Face-off Phony (2000)
Cup Crazy (2000)
Ouch I got slapped (2023)
4-in-1 Slapshots: The Complete Collection (2008)

Nose Pickers Series:
Nose Pickers from Outer Space! (1999)
Planet of the Nose Pickers (2000)
Your Mummy Is a Nose Picker (2000)
Invasion of the Nose Pickers (2001)
4-in-1 The Ultimate Nose-Picker Collection (2006)

Island Series:
Shipwreck (2001)
Survival (2001)
Escape (2001)
3-in-1 Island Trilogy Collection (2006)

Son of the Mob Series:
Son of the Mob 2: Hollywood Hustle (2004)

Everest Series:
The Contest (2002)
The Climb (2002)
The Summit (2002)
Everest Trilogy Box Set (2002)

Dive Series:
The Discovery (2003)
The Deep (2003)
The Danger (2003)

On the Run Series:
Now You See Them, Now You Don't (2005)
The Stowaway Solution (2005)
Public Enemies (2005)
Hunting the Hunter (2006)

Kidnapped Series:
The Search (2006)
The Rescue (2006)

Swindle Series:
Swindle (2008)
Zoobreak (2009)
Framed (2010)
Showoff (2012)
Hideout (2013)
Jackpot (2014)
Unleashed (2015)
Jingle (2016)

Titanic Series:
Unsinkable (2011)
Collision Course (2011)
S.O.S (2011)

The 39 Clues Series:
Vespers Rising (2011)
The Medusa Plot (2011)
Flashpoint (2014)

Hypnotists Series:
The Hypnotists (2013)
Memory Maze (2014)
The Dragonfly Effect (2015)

Ungifted Series:
Ungifted (2012)
Supergifted (2018)

Slacker Series:
Slacker (2016)
Level 13 (2019)

Non Series Books:
Losing Joe's Place (1990)
The Twinkie Squad (1992)
The Toilet Paper Tigers (1993)
Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road (1994)
The Chicken Doesn't Skate (1996)
No More Dead Dogs (2000)
Maxx Comedy: The Funniest Kid in America (2003)
Jake, Reinvented (2003)
Born To Rock (2006)
Schooled (2007)
Pop (2009)
Restart (2017)
Notorious (2019)
War Stories (2020)
Game On (contains The Chicken Doesn’t Skate and The Toilet Paper Tigers (2021)
Unplugged (2021)
Linked (2021)
The Fort (2022)

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