My Weirdest School #1: Mr. Cooper Is Super!

by Dan Gutman, Illustrated by Jim Paillot

Clock Icon 4 minute read

My name is A.J., and I hate it when an alien spaceship lands in the middle of the playground.

You probably think that’s some kind of a joke. But it’s not. A joke would be, like . . .

Q: Why do seagulls fly over the sea?

A: Because if they flew over the bay, they’d be bagels.

Get it? Seagulls? Baygulls? Bagels? Anyway, the point is that it was no joke. The other day at Ella Mentry School, an alien spaceship actually landed in the middle of the playground! For real!


Let me explain. It was right after lunch. Me and the gang were at recess with our teacher, Mr. Granite. I borrowed a football from Michael, who never ties his shoes. I was throwing it back and forth with Ryan, who will eat anything, even stuff that isn’t food. Michael was playing on the monkey bars with Alexia, this girl who rides a skateboard all the time, and Neil, who we call the nude kid even though he wears clothes.

“Hey, A.J.!” Michael shouted. “Give me the football back. It’s my turn.”

“In a minute!” I hollered. “We’re not done yet.”

“You should give Michael his ball, Arlo,” said Andrea Young, this annoying girl with curly brown hair. She calls me by my real name because she knows I don’t like it. “When you borrow something from somebody, you should return it when they ask for it.”

“When are you going to return your face to the ugly person you borrowed it from?” I asked Andrea.

“Oh, snap!” said Ryan.

“That’s mean!” said Emily, Andrea’s crybaby friend.

It was none of Andrea’s beeswax. I could tell she was going to say something mean to me, but she didn’t get the chance. Because that’s when the weirdest thing in the history of the world happened.

“Look! Up in the sky!” shouted Michael.

“It’s a bird!” shouted Ryan.

“It’s a plane!” shouted Neil the nude kid.



No, actually, it was a bird and a plane. You see birds and planes in the sky all the time. What’s the big deal? I went back to throwing the football around with Ryan.

But a minute later, I noticed Mr. Granite. He was staring up at the sky. He had a weird expression on his face.

“Look! Up in the sky!” shouted Alexia.

“It’s a bird!” shouted Ryan.

“It’s a plane!” shouted Neil.

“No, it’s a spaceship!” shouted Michael.

Yes, it was a spaceship. You probably still think I’m making all this up. But it’s true!

When Mr. Granite became our third-grade teacher a million hundred months ago, I suspected that he was really an alien from another planet. There were two reasons. First, our principal, Mr. Klutz, told us there was a flying saucer in the teachers’ lounge.* Second, I noticed that Mr. Granite didn’t have any hair growing out of his nose or ears.

My dad has hair growing out of his nose and ears. He even has this little machine he sticks in his nose and ears every few days so he can give himself a little haircut in there. All men have to trim their nose and ear hair. It’s the first rule of being a man. But Mr. Granite didn’t have any nose or ear hair at all. Clearly, he was not from planet Earth.

To see if my theory was right, the gang and me snuck over to Mr. Granite’s house that day. We were like spies. It was cool. And guess what we saw? Mr. Granite was building a spaceship in his garage! The spaceship was powered by microwaved potatoes. We caught him red-handed.

Mr. Granite admitted to us that he was born on the planet Etinarg, which is “granite” spelled backward. He told us he was planning to blast off and go back to Etinarg the next day. The only problem was that a cow bumped into his spaceship just as it was taking off. Mr. Granite parachuted out before his spaceship exploded, and he was forced to stay on Earth and teach third grade to us. It’s a long, sad story.*

So anyway, back to what happened the other day during recess. We were all looking up in the sky. The spaceship was coming down, slowly. It was round and silver and spaceshipy-looking.

“Run for your lives!” shouted Neil the nude kid.

“I’m scared!” said Emily, who is scared of everything.

“This is cool!” I said.

At first I thought that maybe we were just having some kind of a drill. Like, we have fire drills all the time in case there’s ever a fire at school. Maybe this was a drill in case there’s ever an alien spaceship coming to take over the earth.

But it wasn’t a drill. It was the real thing! A spaceship was about to land in the playground. You should have been there! We got to see it live and in person!

Smoke poured out of the spaceship as it hovered over the playground.

Colored lights were flashing.

There was a weird humming sound.

The spaceship touched down gently.

All the smoke and lights and humming stopped.

I looked at Michael. Michael looked at Ryan. Ryan looked at Neil. Neil looked at Alexia. Alexia looked at me. Then we all looked at Mr. Granite. He was staring at the spaceship.

A ramp slid down from the bottom of the ship. And you’ll never believe in a million hundred years who walked out.

I’m not going to tell you.

Okay, okay, I’ll tell you. But you have to read the next chapter. So nah-nah-nah boo-boo on you.

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