This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall
is a 1978 novel by Gordon Korman
Gordon Korman is a Canadian author, primarily of novels for children and young adults. He lives in Long Island's Great Neck, New York, with his wife and three children....
. It is the first installment of the Macdonald Hall series, and was the first written work of Korman. It is dedicated to his English teacher, Mr. Hamilton.
The book was republished in 2003 with a new look and updated text (updated to match today's economy and slang). The title was also shortened to This Can't Be Happening!
. The rest of the books in the series would all eventually be republished. Cover photos and illustrations were done by Rodrigo Moreno, Luis Borba and Yüksel Hassan.
The two main characters, Bruno Walton and Melvin “Boots” O'Neal are two small-time troublemakers who share a room at the boarding school Macdonald Hall. Across the road is a girl's boarding school, Miss Scrimmage's Finishing School For Young Ladies. Best friends, they play mischievous pranks on the school, faculty and other students. They are constantly under the watch of Headmaster William R. Sturgeon, nicknamed “The Fish” due to his surname but also due to the trademark stern, fishy-like stare he implores on his students whenever he disapproves of them.
Following the abduction of an overweight cat mascot of a rival hockey team (in an attempt to demoralize them), Sturgeon comes up with the decision to forbid them from seeing each other and separating them completely. Bruno moves in with the school genius, Elmer Drimsdale, while Boots is placed with wealthy hypochondriac George Wexford-Smyth III. The two both realize they can't stand their new roommates and decide to meet at a cannon at night to discuss ways of getting back into their old room together.
The two prominent ideas they have, including having both Elmer and George complain to the headmaster to get them to move elsewhere, and then framing their roommates to have themselves moved away from them, only get them into more trouble.
Eventually they come up with the idea to study hard to get into the Honor Roll
Honor Roll may refer to: HIGH GRADE STUDENT* Grade Point Average over 3.5* A list of honors students.* A similar academic honor, such as a Dean's List.* Honor Rolls of Baseball* Honour Roll Clasp of the Army – A decoration of Nazi Germany...
to show they're capable and should be able to move back in together as a reward, but the plan backfires after Sturgeon attributes the boy's resulting high marks as the result of him separating them.
In desperation they meet again, but while en route to the cannon, they spot an entangled hot air balloon stuck in a nearby tree and find a boy stuck up there. They rescue the boy (named Francisco) using a volleyball net and take him to Sturgeon, who realizes he's the son of an important Ambassador from Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...
who got lost in a balloon during the day. They are then interrupted by Elmer Drimsdale, who had witnessed the balloon in his telescope and had concluded it was a UFO. He goes off and causes a massive disturbance between both schools.
The next morning, the Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....
arrives at the school to retrieve his lost son and goes on to honor the people responsible for rescuing him – Bruno, Boots, and Elmer, who receive medals from the RCMP, the Ontario Provincial Police, and from the Ambassador himself, who is ironically representing the country of Malbonia, the country of which flag Bruno and Boots had used in a prank earlier on in the novel. For Macdonald Hall to honor them, Elmer receives a new telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...
and Bruno and Boots get their wish – to share a room again.