Best friends Mike and Chas discover that sharp-tongued Miss Gratwick has feelings and is a teacher they can respect. Mike is smoldering with anger because ""Grat"" has blamed him for disturbing the class when he was actually trying to quiet them so that he could hear her. An encounter with Old Meg, who dabbles in fortune, telling, convinces the boys that Hallowe'en gives a curse special power: perhaps their anti-Grat chant will bring her bad luck. But when this wish seems to come true, Mike is conscience-stricken, visits Grat, and precipitates a confrontation between her and Old Meg (a former pupil) during which Grat understands for the first time that her students value her teaching even though her sarcasm provokes rebellion. Though the setting and some of the language are very British, children will be drawn by the suggestion of spooky doings. And the boys are an engaging, well--drawn pair: Chas, who is deceptively angelic; Mike, who gets in trouble because he doesn't ""have a serious face"" and knows that the worst that can happen is to become teacher's pet, yet recognizes that Grat's voice was not ""as kind as the nice-auntie voice of Miss Vass, but it was better value."" The boys' relationship with the two difficult adults is plausible and thought-provoking, and there are enough suspense and shenanigans to keep readers interested in this well-crafted story.