Teasing Trouble is a book in the Hopscotch Hill School series.
Chapter One: Giggles and Wiggles
It is the beginning of a new school day, and Miss Sparks and the children are sharing news. Miss Sparks calls on Spencer to share first, and he tells the class a new joke: “Knock knock? Who’s there? Who. Who, who? Is there an owl in here?” All the children begin laughing and hooting like owls, and it takes Miss Sparks a while to calm the class down.
Then it is Hallie’s turn to share, and she reveals that she has two loose teeth. She tells the class about how she will put them in her special tooth pillow for the Tooth Fairy. Hallie is also very excited to have her picture on the Tooth Club wall, where Miss Sparks hangs the pictures of the children who have lost their teeth.
The other children are impressed that Hallie has not one, but two loose teeth, and Spencer cracks a joke that he wishes that he were a “two-loose-toother” too. Then he says that his ears are loose, which gains him plenty of laughs.
At lunchtime, Spencer shows Hallie that she should eat her sandwich like she is playing a flute, and then asks her if she has a “tooth-a fish sandwich”. Nathan asks Hallie to wiggle her teeth, impressing the children again, despite Spencer insisting that her teeth will get tired. Suddenly, Hallie’s tooth falls out.
Spencer imitates Miss Sparks and declares that Hallie is now a Tooth Club member, then pretends to be a cheerleader and gets everyone to cheer for Hallie. He is happy to have so many people laughing at his jokes.
Chapter Two: Two-Tooth To-Do
At recess, Spencer suggests that the class play Hopscotch, but everyone is too busy looking at Hallie’s tooth to notice. The children line up to look at it, but Spencer gets their attention again by pretending to be Hallie pulling out her tooth. Spencer is relieved that he is once again the center of attention, and continues the show.
At that moment, Hallie’s second tooth falls out, eliciting cheers from the class. But Spencer shouts that “Hallie has a hole in her head!” Some children laugh, but most are annoyed. Gwen tells Spencer that he is hurting Hallie’s feelings, but he simply shrugs her off, joking that she has a hole in her head, too—“your nose!”
Spencer sings a song about Hallie and the hole in her head, but by this point all the children are fed up and want Spencer to leave Hallie alone. Hallie blushes and hopes that he will stop, but he continues to sing louder and louder in the hopes that he will garner attention and make the children laugh.
>When the class goes inside, Hallie shows Miss Sparks her two lost teeth, and she promises to put two stars next to her Tooth Club picture to remember that she lost two. Spencer is annoyed that Hallie is receiving so much attention from everyone just because two of her teeth fell out. So he follows her to the art table, and when he spies her drawing a fairy picture for her tooth pillow, he mocks her, saying that the Tooth Fairy will be mad that she has to carry two teeth instead of just one.
Hallie becomes sad at Spencer’s remark, and the other children become unhappy as well. Skylar sticks up for Hallie, but Spencer just tells her that the Tooth Fairy is for babies. The children gasp, shocked that Spencer would say something so mean. Hallie decides to ignore Spencer for the rest of the day.
However, Spencer is not through with his teasing yet. He begins imitating Hallie’s voice, which has been altered by her missing teeth, which annoys her. Spencer follows Hallie around performing imitations for the rest of class, not realizing that nobody finds him funny anymore.
Chapter Three: Funny and Nice
At the end of the day, the children line up to go home. Hallie clutches her tooth pillow and shows it to Miss Sparks, but Spencer imitates her again. This time, however, Hallie whirls around and asks him to stop, only to have Spencer mimic her. Finally fed up with Spencer’s mean impressions, she calls him a bully . Spencer is shocked and, in that moment, doesn’t feel funny at all.
Miss Sparks hurried over to find out what happened. Hallie tells her that Spencer has been acting like a bully, which confuses Spencer, whose idea of a bully is “someone who picks on littler people and pinches and punches them.” Hallie tells Spencer that though his jokes were funny at first, eventually they went over the top and he wouldn’t leave her alone. Miss Sparks teaches Hallie that the next time something is bothering her, she needs to speak up, and teaches Spencer to stop and think before he jokes. Spencer is still upset, wishing that he knew a way to make Hallie feel better. Miss Sparks reminds him that he can be both funny and nice.
The next day at school, Spencer apologizes to Hallie, saying that he should not have teased her about how she looks and talks. When he twirls around, Hallie notices that he is dressed up in fairy wings and has a sign pinned to his back that says “Tooth Fairy’s Helper”.
Then Spencer tells Hallie his new joke: “Knock, knock. Who’s there? To. To who? To you. I want to give this toothbrush to you.” With that, he hands Hallie a toothbrush with a big pink bow. Hallie apologizes for calling him a bully and tells him that he is funny, which makes him so happy that he flutters his wings. He decides from then on, he will be both funny and nice.
The “Dear Parents” for Teasing Trouble was divided into three sections about kindness, appropriate humor, and bullying.
Kind and Considerate
Gave parents suggestions for teaching their children about thoughtfulness:
- Play “Read My Face” to teach children about reading facial expressions.
- Model thoughtfulness by doing such things as collecting clothes for shelters and preparing food baskets, and invite your child to participate.
- Give your child chances to care about others.
- Care for your child out loud by expressing sympathy.
Wise Wit or Wisecrack?
Gave parents suggestions for teaching their children about humor and the boundaries of jokes:
- Talk with your child about when jokes are okay and when they’re not okay.
- Read Teasing Trouble again with a pretend “pause button” your child can hit when they see Spencer’s jokes going too far.
- Model gentle, wise wit instead of wisecracks for your child.
- Encourage your child to tell jokes or riddles that will make you both laugh and feel great.
- Talk about ways your child can apologize to a friend.
That’s Not Funny!
Gave parents suggestions for teaching their children about dealing with bullying:
- Give your child steps on what to do when faced with a bully.
- Help your child practice “I messages”.
- Teach your child the rule of “ask three before me”—ask the teaser to stop three times before calling in help.
- Teach your child about letting put-downs bounce off of them using a Ping-Pong ball.
- Encourage your child to spend time with children who make her feel good, not bad.