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Welcome to Nancy Drew Book Reviews! Today, I'm reviewing Nancy Drew Notebooks #23, Alien
in the Classroom. It was first published in March, 1998. It contains eight illustrations
by Anthony Accardo.
The book begins with eight-year-old Nancy Drew having a sleepover with her friends,
George Fayne, Bess Marvin and Katie Zaleski. Katie brings her pet parrot, Lester to the
The girls do typical sleepover things, like listen to CDs and eat ice cream. At one point,
Katie brings out a tabloid magazine. The tabloid says the Queen of Zagon is coming from outer
space! Ah, aliens!
On Monday morning, the class learns that their teacher is sick this week, and they're getting
a substitute named Ms. Zagon. Naturally, the girls start to wonder if their teacher is
During lunch, nosy Brenda Carlton comes over and starts talking about worms. Ew, gross,
worms! Bess spills the beans about their alien hypothesis to Brenda. Brenda, being a jerk,
gives Nancy a challenge. Nancy has two days to prove their teacher is human. If she can't
do it, Brenda will write a scandalous newspaper article about their teacher, the alien. Nancy
accepts the challenge.
When class resumes, Ms. Zagon catches a student hiding candy, which means she must be an alien
with X-ray vision! Either that, or she's an adult in her early thirties, who is smarter
than a bunch of 8-year-olds that hide candy out in the open. Hm. I'm going with the alien
Besides, do you know what Ms. Zagon teaches about? OUTER SPACE. She loves talking about
outer space, and she talks about all of the planets, from Mercury to Pluto.
Oh, oh, Pluto. Oh, dear. Eight years after this book was published, scientists decided
that Pluto isn't a planet anymore. Poor, poor Pluto.
After school, the girls make a list of reasons why the teacher is a human, and why the teacher
is an alien. Then, the girls see some aliens outside! They follow the aliens to their secret
base, where it turns out the aliens are a bunch of boys. Ew, Boys! They're dressed up
like aliens, because they like some alien TV show. The boys shoot the girls with silly
The girls leave, and they see Ms. Zagon's car. Not only does Ms. Zagon have a license
plate which reads "2 EARTH", but she has a bag of marshmallows. You can't spell "marshmallow"
without "MARS", so she must be an alien!
Wow, that is the worst reasoning ever. That's like saying "you can't spell 'hatred' without
'hat', so if you wear a hat, it means you hate everyone."
Nancy looks up Ms. Zagon in the phone book. The next day, the girls go to Ms. Zagon's
house, and they use Lester the Parrot to spy on her. When Lester returns from inside the
house, he repeats what Ms. Zagon said: "vee gates deer gross mud der". It must be the
Lester also stole a piece of paper, which is a map of the school with the word "capsule"
on it. Could it be a space capsule?
The next day, the hamster is getting big and fat, just like in a random alien movie the
girls saw! Random movies are an important source of information for third graders. Nancy
has another confrontation with Brenda, who says she has one more day to prove the teacher
After school, Nancy and her friends go out with her puppy. In the spot marked on Ms.
Zagon's map, they find a time capsule from 25 years ago. Inside is a school yearbook,
which shows Diana Lynn Zagon as a small child. AHA! Since she was once a little girl, she
cannot be an alien. Mystery solved! Good thing she never got married and changed her name,
or we would have never solved this mystery.
Brenda is a meanie, so she publishes the newspaper article prematurely. The article is full of
lies about Nancy finding an alien, and as a result, Nancy gets summoned to the vice-principal's
Nancy explains the situation to the vice-principal, and in return, she gets an explanation. It
turns out that the class hamster is getting fat, because it's going to have babies. Ms.
Zagon has all these space things simply because she likes learning about outer space, and
when Nancy spied on Ms. Zagon, she was on the phone with her German grandmother. "Wie
gehtes dir, Grossmutter" is German for "How are you, Grandmother?".
When the class--woah, back up a second. Nancy just admitted that she looked up the teacher
in the phone book, then went to her house and spied on her with a parrot. And NOBODY
questions this. Really? Does the vice-principal ALWAYS let kids spy on their teachers, or
When the class learns that Ms. Zagon isn't an alien, they rip Brenda's newspaper into
pieces. They decide to make their own time capsule, and Nancy learns a lesson about not
believing every rumor you hear.
Post book followup.
I have no idea how to judge this book. It's clearly meant for third graders, and I haven't
read any books like this since, well, third grade. Any third graders out there are welcome
to post a comment below judging this book.
My girlfriend says the entire mystery is a bit contrived in and of itself. Really? If
Nancy doesn't solve the mystery, Brenda is going to write an article full of lies which
will likely get her in hot water. Come on. If I were Nancy I would have thought two steps
ahead and dared her to write it, rather than letting this useless threat cut into sleepover
time with the girls.
My girlfriend brings up a good point. Why DOESN'T Brenda get in trouble for handing
out newspapers that say the teacher is an alien? The vice-principal only calls Nancy
to her office. Weird.
The story does a good job of staying focused on the alien theme, and it has a fair amount
of plot points for a 72-page book. The explanation at the end is satisfying, even if it ignores
some things, like the marshmallow subplot. According to the back of the book, Lester
the Parrot is a major draw, and I will agree the scenes with the parrot were fun. Especially
when Lester called Brenda a snoooty pants.
There were some little touches I enjoyed, like the fact that tabloids are used to line
a parrot's birdcage. I also approve of the fact that this book has at least two instances
of foreshadowing. That is, they introduce two clues, before they become important. That's
more than I can say for OTHER Nancy Drew books.
All in all, there's not much to say. It's short and it has fun things the eight-year-old
readers will like. I give Nancy Drew Notebooks 23, Alien in the Classroom, a 8 out of 10.