Tom LaPorte

Every Word Counts

Hembree Heist

What’s one of the most used tools in an elementary classroom?  Why pencil sharpeners, of course!  What happens when all the electric pencil sharpeners in an entire elementary school wind up missing?  Madness!  Who’s behind this bizarre scheme to drive the administration and teachers crazy?  Could it be three unassuming 5th grade girls?  Perhaps it’s the troublesome trio of 5th grade boys.  There are some pretty suspicious adults lurking the hallways at Hembree Elementary, too.  This mystery is not as easy to solve as one might think!

Hembree Hologram 

Life’s an adventure worth living and valuing.  That’s what a group of fifth graders at Hembree Elementary learn when their teacher commissions a charming yet mysterious Artist in Residence, Magi.  Hired to depict “life at Hembree” through a mural on the computer lab wall, Magi works his magic to illustrate art is alive and living at Hembree Elementary!  The students quickly discover there’s more to Magi and his artwork that meets the eye.   Intrigued and enchanted by his final product, the mural itself draws the students into an unknown world that seems like paradise. 

Is there such thing as paradise in an elementary school?  Who could ask for more than wide screen televisions in every room; expanded playground with extra equipment and basketball goals; indoor tennis and soccer in the gym?  In this place students come to hang out and have fun; live the easy life by kicking back and having a good ole time.  Paradise?  Possibly?  The real question is, what’s the price for paradise?

Hembree Hopefuls

The first semester at Hembree Elementary School was filled with intrigue and mystery as three mischievous fifth grade boys learned a valuable lesson about themselves. The first-year school, under the supervision of the disciplined, yet encouraging principal Mrs. Silly-Willie, had a bizarre situation where electric pencil sharpeners were missing. The boys, along with their female classmates, had an interesting winter, too. A mystifying mural, created by an enigmatic artist Magi, catapulted the students into a fantastic world where fantasy and reality were difficult to tell apart. Now, with spring fresh in the air, Mr. Puffy's class participates with a partner school across town in the district-wide science fair. The group of students creates a most unusual project. This project catapults them into a yet another captivating adventure where their writing and reasoning skills will be significantly challenged.

Hembree Haunting

An enraged woman, Mrs. Hembree, demands the new Hembree Elementary School be torn down.  It turns out the school was built on an ancient Native American burial ground.  Mrs. Hembree warns that if the building is still there by the first full moon in May there will be a haunting, a terrible Hembree Haunting.  This is a short 25 page story that brings the first academic year at Hembree Elementary to an end, and possibly the entire school with it.

Hembree Hearts

The first year at Hembree was filled with excitement and controversy and is long over.  The summer holds long days and no clear indication of what will come in the next school year.  In a time that should be filled with joy, travel, fun and happiness all the students and teachers of Hembree are longing for something.  What is it they need?  What can satisfy their Hembree Hearts?  Van, the new student from Vietnam, knows loneliness and he seeks to help his friends and teachers break its awful bonds.

Hembree Hieroglyphs

            Only the school is the same.  Everything else has changed.  It’s a new school year at Hembree Elementary with new students and new adventures.  Mr. Puffy has a new class and in the first week of school they follow in Hembree tradition as they encounter a madcap escapade.  Miss Frankenstein, Mr. Puffy’s teacher friend from another school, arranged for both classes to be the very first group to visit the Ancient Egypt Living Exhibit.

            The field trip affords tons of excitement as the students come face to face with creepy crawling things like scorpions, scarabs and snakes.  Robotic mummies add to the mayhem and modern day tomb robbing thieves give an unexpected thrill.  The wildest part of the excursion comes as the students have to decide whether to save the priceless Ankh of Akhenaten or themselves.