Troll Who Went to School
Don Arthur Torgersen
the warm wind blows in April, it brings a wonderful change to Troll
Forest. The woods spring alive with the chatter of insects, the
croaking of frogs, and the chirping of birds. Squirrels climb out
of their nests to skitter-scatter through the woods. The sap wakes
up the trees, buds burst into life, and the greening of the earth
There was a young
troll who lived in this forest. He liked this time of the year because
he could do things to help make the forest a wonderful habitat for
wildlife. He gathered driftwood to help beavers build lodges in
the streams. He worked with his father to build waterfalls, and
helped his mother paint wildflowers and put color into lichens.
The young troll
was friendly with forest animals. He fed acorns to chipmunks and
squirrels. Birds flew to his hand to eat seeds. When the troll whistled,
he could whistle all the calls of the birds.
The young troll
had a very special giftthe gift of music. He had a wonderful
instrument which was made for him by Tollef the woodworker. It was
a violin with eight strings that had exceptional tone.
troll stood beside a waterfall playing his violin. When he drew
his bow across the strings, a beautiful melody glided through the
leaves of the trees. Bluebirds sang, and forest animals paused to
listen to the joy of music.
Why even the
gnomes were charmed. They were drawn out of their homes in rocky
caves and crevices because the boys music, they said, had
the pleasant sound of rustling leaves and falling water.
More often, the
music was gay and cheerful, but sometimes it was sad. Even though
the troll knew many forest friends, he longed for the friendship
of human children.
The young troll
lived in the woods where the oak trees and the hickories stood.
One day he stood on a knoll and watched a group of children playing
in the schoolyard at
Grass Lake School. He heard happy shouts and laughter.
The troll went
to his home in the woods and asked his parents, "Can I go to
school? Id like to play with the kids at Grass Lake School?"
stammered his father. "A troll go
to school? Thats unheard of." But then he paused and
said, "Well, why not? I suppose you can learn things at school
that you wont learn in the forest."
mother smiled. "And it would be nice to have
a scholar in the family."
a scholar?" asked the boy.
is someone whose mind is open to many paths in the world,"
said his father. "He reads books to get smarter and to understand
the facts of facts."
sure want to be a scholaras long as I can make friends and
play with those kids at school," said the boy.
His mother said,
"If you want to go to school, then you have to wear shoes and
pay attention to what your teacher says."
must have your own name," said his father.
"Names keep the teachers from getting students mixed up."
can call me Sonny like you and mom do."
should have a shrewd name because trolls are terrific and fabulous,"
said his father in a chortling voice.
are terrific and fabulous, then Id like to take the name Terrabulous
Troll. Thats a nifty name."
Terrabulous Troll," said his father. "Tomorrow you cant
sleep late. Youve got to go to school."
The next morning,
Doctor K, the principal at Grass Lake School, made an announcement.
She told the students, "Today you will meet a new student whose
name is Terrabulous Troll.
in the forest on the other side of the reed pond.
I think you will find that he is a little different from most of
you, but not entirely so. He wants to be a scholar. So be nice to
him and let him know he is welcome here."
The young troll
followed a trail around the reed pond to go to school. When he entered
the schoolyard, it caused quite a stir. The students had never seen
a real troll. They had only heard fanciful, far-fetched tales about
When the troll
entered the school, he was met by several teachers. Mrs. Young,
Miss Byrne, Mrs. Engelke, Mrs. Pedersen, and Miss Murray were there
to greet him and show him the lines, curves, and angles of the school
Grass Lake School
was built for math wizards. The outside of the building was shaped
like a rectangle. Inside, the halls formed a hexagon. In the center
of the hexagon was large circle called the Innerweb Learning Center.
For a troll who
was used to trails meandering in the forest, the hallways were no
mystery at all. He found his way to the Innerweb Learning Center
and saw the room was filled with books, desks, maps and computers.
Several students were sitting at computers, pretending to do research,
but probably chatting with their friends in far-off lands.
The new student
was assigned to Mrs. Pedersens class. He went to her room
and sat down at a desk. When she introduced Terrabulous Troll to
the class, the girls giggled and the boys snickered. Who had ever
heard of anybody with such a funny name?
asked several students to line up in front of the blackboard for
a spelling bee. Terrabulous Troll stood between Suzy and Ross. The
teacher said, "Who can spell Mississippi?"
off the letters like a typewriter: "M-I-double S, I-double-S,
I-double-P-I. She spelled it again twice as fast.
"Youre just a showoff, Suzy Smartypants, with all your
double esses and pees."
spell wheelbarrow?" asked the teacher. Ross jumped at the chance
and spelled it wheelbarrel, but had to be corrected because he got
his ows and els mixed up.
next, Terrabulous," said Mrs. Pedersen. "Since you know
the forest, why dont you spell whippoorwill."
hemmed and hawed and began to grow red in the face. "I dont
know how to spell whippoorwill," he said, "I dont
know how to spell anything."
"But I know
what a whippoorwill is," he added cheerfully. "Its
a bird that sings at night in the forest and sounds just like this:"
The young troll puckered up his lips and began to whistle whip-poor-will,
laughed. Suzy quipped, "You dont know how to spell, Terrabulous,
you only know how to whistle."
When he heard
the students laughing at him, the young troll felt so ashamed that
he wanted to crawl into a log.
scolded the students for being rude. After class, she gave the young
troll a special dictionary with a red cover called The Lickety-split
Lexicon, so he could find words real fast. She showed him how letters
form words, how to look up words, how to spell words.
the young troll went outside to play with the kids in the schoolyard.
He climbed in and out of the monkey bars, swung on a rope, and slid
down a long pair
of shiny bars called the daddy-long-legs.
A few girls were
skipping rope. Suzy "Smartypants" made up a rhyme that
made fun of her new classmate:
Troll has a funny old nose,
Troll has a tail;
nose is a long as a garden hose,
his tail is a whale of a tail
girls jumped in and out of the rope, and rapped out another rhyme
to tease the young troll:
Troll cant spell!