Margie Jones glumly compares the dull computerized education she gets with the wonderful social world of schools described in an old book (on paper!) her friend Tommy discovers.

As with “Nightfall,” Asimov was rather mystified by the popularity of this story, for which he received more requests for anthologization than any other. In part, of course, that’s because it lends itself so well to being put in grade school literature texts, but it is a nice story. Its prediction of the future of computerized education is rather off—for some reason, Asimov has his heroine spend time learning how to manually punch what appear to be Hollerith codes rather than typing directly into her computer—but his main concepts are right on. For that matter, he understands exactly the fundamental point of the American education system, which is socialization more than learning—but that’s another discussion.

This is definitely a tale appropriate for younger readers, and not entirely inappropriate for older ones, too.

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