In my upcoming novel, Ebenezer's Locker, an ordinary public school has some unruly spirits floating around. I've been thinking a lot lately about the prominence of schools in middle-grade literature. On the face of it, you'd think kids wouldn't want to read about schools. I mean, reading fiction is their chance to escape. So why pray for snow days even in April, yet choose books---especially books with fantastical elements---that take place in school?
But I've noticed a recurring theme in the more popular MG novels about schools: They all make schools into an extraordinary thing. Look at Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society, where a handful of students are specially recruited into this boarding-school-cum-adventure-operation. The same sort of thing happens in Gitty Daneshvari's School of Fear, in which the kids' oddest characteristics are turned into their greatest strengths.
Oh, and I've heard a few mentions of another series that's met with some success... Something about a school for wizards?
My theory is that kids long for the day when going to school is an amazing experience. They want it to be a place where they feel special, as if they have unique abilities that are necessary for saving the world. Of course, they really do, but schools don't always make kids feel that way.
What other middle-grade fantastical novels have you read that are based in schools?