351P: Fire Chief vs. Student in Spelling Bee (Solved!)

I’m trying to find a children’s book for a friend in which a fire chief or some other first responder goes up against a student in a spelling bee. One of the words they have to spell is barbecue. The book was probably published between the 1960s and 1980s.

3 thoughts on “351P: Fire Chief vs. Student in Spelling Bee (Solved!)

  1. Somehow, this didn’t seem to go through…

    This is very likely Double Trouble for Rupert (1958), by Ethelyn Parkinson, from Wisconsin. Each chapter is a separate story. In chapter 3, in the spelling bee, the sixth-graders are pitted against their parents – and the police chief. Also, in chapter 1, there’s always a missing line about the flower bulb given to Rupert – I found out that when someone asks him what he’ll do with it, he jokes that he’ll hide it in his mother’s vegetable soup, and then he asks what the other boy will do with his camera film. Parkinson’s last four books about Rupert are all novels.

    Double Trouble for Rupert, 1958
    Triple Trouble for Rupert, 1960
    The Terrible Troubles of Rupert Piper, 1963 (compilation of the above two, edited)
    The Operation That Happened to Rupert Piper, 1966
    Rupert Piper and Megan, the Valuable Girl, 1972
    Rupert Piper and the Dear, Dear Birds, 1976
    Rupert Piper and the Boy Who Could Knit, 1979

    Parkinson also wrote six non-Rupert books.

    • Wow…thanks so much and thanks for all of the extra information as well! It sure sounds like this is the right one. Just ordered it on ebay and can’t wait to see my friend’s reaction!

  2. Slight mistake – I think the first book was published in 1953. Anyway, you can download the book – and the sequel? – at one or two sites, but they can be tricky to track down.
    More for you:
    This is a 2005 reader review of another Rupert book.

    “Reflecting back, I realize why I loved Rupert. He was a boy who made mistakes and admitted when he was wrong, but always found a way to make things right. Compared to now, this book is a poignant reminder of idyllic childhoods…the kind one wonders if they ever existed, but wishes they did.

    “I read this book to my children, then ages 8 and 6, last summer. They were enchanted and hung on to every word. It’s funny that some books have a universal charm that transcends time and space. Yes, the gender roles are dated, but considering the publishing date (1950s), I’d expect them to be. Look beyond that aspect to find the simplicity of friendship and loyalty. Enjoy the many funny moments which will touch and endear Rupert to new generations of children and even adults.”

    And, from my tribute to Parkinson on her 100th anniversary in 2006:

    (Despite the campy, surreal dialogue and battles of the sexes)…the boys have a greater Boy Scout-sense of honor than most fictional/nonfictional kids would have these days, such as Rupert displays at the end of the fishing chapter. Or at the end of “Hobby Show.”

    Quotes from the 1950s books:

    “We spend a lot of time in school, and it’s certainly no man’s world
    there! We guys have one small corner in the schoolyard which belongs to
    us and to us alone, and that is the ‘No Dames’ corner. The girls can
    stand around and listen, but they cannot come in. This much respect
    they show us.”

    (Upon getting an invitation to Opal’s surprise party from Annabelle):
    At vacation time! Was I mad! “Now, Annabelle!” I said. “Vacation is for fun – not for going to parties or the dentist, or-”
    “Rupert Piper,” said my mom, “you be a gentleman!” Mom smiled at Annabelle. “Rupert will be delighted to attend, dear.”

    (Regarding Rupert’s own birthday party, to which his mother is forcing him to invite girls as well as boys):
    “Well,” Clayte said, “it could be worse. What are having to eat?”
    “Dear, dear ladies food,” I said. “We have to eat out of a dish, with a fork and spoon. We have to wipe our faces on our dainty napkins and say ‘No, thank you,’ if we are offered more.”

    The guys in the 6th grade were happy, our school was getting a new stove, until Smart Annabelle and Beautiful Sylvia dreamed up their dear-little-thank-you-note idea.
    All the girls were very happy, because it was worky. Work makes girls happy, and that’s OK. But they try to share their great happiness with others, and that is not OK.

    (In order to eavesdrop on the teachers) Milt had an idea. “Rupert, he said, “we have not been doing our manly duty. It is about time we helped clean erasers and wash blackboards.” “You are right, Milt,” I said. “It is our manly duty.”….The blackboard was very dirty behind Miss Carlman’s desk, so Milt and I washed it three times. We heard what was said, as we are not deaf.

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