- Grades: 9–12
About this book
An English teacher who liked to play mind games with his students, a mysterious barrel of something unknown, and a missing friend who'd been kicked out of class and disappeared. Does it all add up to murder?
It was math class, and Mr. Dantley was walking up and down the aisles giving everyone a number, and you were supposed to give him the square root. When he got to Tommy, he said, "Nine." Now that was so easy it was insulting, and yet he knew Tommy couldn't answer it. Tommy had a speech impediment and couldn't say three. It was something about the th and the r back to back, it came out too quick, too loud, and just plain wrong. And Dantley knew it.
I turned around to see what Tommy would do, and he flipped his desk! He put his palms under the edge of it and threw it up in the air. All his stuff went flying, and the desk came crashing down. We all just sat there looking stunned, and then Dantley started yelling, and people were peering in at the door, wanting to see what all the noise was about. Finally Dantley told Tommy to pick up the desk and get his things and report to Trever, the assistant principal.
We figured we'd see him the next period, which was science, but he didn't show up. That's why we assumed he was in serious trouble, maybe suspended. But he never showed up.
Then when we got to English class, there was Haberman standing in front of a big blue plastic barrel. He had a wooden bat in one hand. Turned out there was something in the barrel, and each of us was supposed to hit it and guess what it was. No one got the right answer, and Haberman started his lecture, and we all zoned out like usual. At the end of the class, Bones, Mixer and I were set on getting out the door, but Haberman called us back and told us to take the barrel out to his car.
It was so heavy we could barely manage it. We got to the car and no way was that barrel going into the trunk. So we sort of dumped what was inside into the trunk, and Haberman pushed at it till it all fit in. We still couldn't see what it was - something wrapped in old blankets and duct tape. It looked like it had lumps or humps in it, but Haberman just slammed the trunk before any of us could get a good look. Just the same, the way it looked under the blankets, it didn't look like a thing, it looked more like it was a body wrapped up in those blankets.
Why would Haberman put a blanket-wrapped body in his trunk? We knew he was strange and into serious head games, but this went way beyond strange.
This booktalk was written by Dr. Joni Richards Bodart, university professor, writer, consultant, and well-known booktalking expert.