The Troll Who Went to School
by Don Arthur Torgersen

When 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 begins anew.
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 gift—the 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.
Oftentimes, the 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 boy’s 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? I’d like to play with the kids at Grass Lake School?"
"Wha-wha-what?" stammered his father. "A troll go
to school? That’s unheard of." But then he paused and said, "Well, why not? I suppose you can learn things at school that you won’t learn in the forest."
The boy’s mother smiled. "And it would be nice to have
a scholar in the family."
"What’s a scholar?" asked the boy.
"A scholar 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."
"Yes, I sure want to be a scholar—as 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."
"And you must have your own name," said his father.
"Names keep the teachers from getting students mixed up."
"The teachers can call me Sonny like you and mom do."
"No. You should have a shrewd name because trolls are terrific and fabulous," said his father in a chortling voice.
"If trolls are terrific and fabulous, then I’d like to take the name Terrabulous Troll. That’s a nifty name."
"All right, Terrabulous Troll," said his father. "Tomorrow you can’t sleep late. You’ve 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.
"He lives 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 trolls.
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 halls.
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. Pedersen’s 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?
Mrs. Pedersen 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?"
Suzy rattled off the letters like a typewriter: "M-I-double S, I-double-S, I-double-P-I. She spelled it again twice as fast.
Ross complained, "You’re just a showoff, Suzy Smartypants, with all your double esses and pees."
"Who can 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.
"You’re next, Terrabulous," said Mrs. Pedersen. "Since you know the forest, why don’t you spell whippoorwill."
Terrabulous Troll hemmed and hawed and began to grow red in the face. "I don’t know how to spell whippoorwill," he said, "I don’t know how to spell anything."
"But I know what a whippoorwill is," he added cheerfully. "It’s 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, whip-poor-will.
The students laughed. Suzy quipped, "You don’t 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.
Mrs. Pedersen 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.
After school, 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:

Terrabulous Troll has a funny old nose,
Terrabulous Troll has a tail;
His nose is a long as a garden hose,
And his tail is a whale of a tail
Two girls jumped in and out of the rope, and rapped out another rhyme to tease the young troll:
Cockadoodle cockleshell,
Terrabulous Troll can’t spell!
Pollywonkle pimpernell,
Terrabulous can’t spell!