Bruno and Boots are two characters from a series of childrens' novels written by Gordan Korman. They are two best friends who attend a Canadian boarding school together called MacDonald Hall. Their various (mis)adventures include adding alka-seltzer into a swimming pool, setting up an illegal tollbooth, and sneaking the girls from across the way out of their school from under the nose of their new assitant-headmistriss, who only recently left the military.

The wacky adventures make great reading for kids, and the uinque ways of thinking of the characters make these books memorable. Their unique quirks (such as sneezing first thing every morning) made these characters very solid and realistic.

The series included:

The recurring characters of the Bruno and Boots series:
  • Bruno Walton - What we know of Bruno (and the rest of the characters) is indicative of Korman's understanding of children. We never find out exactly where Bruno's from, his parents' names, his siblings names (if any), or his favorite movie, book, band, or song. Most kids don't care about these little facts, but they do care about what a person's like, if they would make a good friend or not. Bruno, Boots' roommate (in Room 306, Dormitory 3, at the famous McDonald Hall) and best friend, is undoubtedly the adventurous one in the pair. He has a flare for the dramatic, takes charge, and has big plans that because of his fearlessness, are usually followed through (whether or not they succeed.) Take for example, this typical quote from The War With Mr. Wizzle.
    "A petition!" raved Bruno. "We'll get up a petition!" ... "And demonstrations!" added Bruno, warming to the subject. "We'll organize lots of protest demonstrations! And we'll burn a whole stack of ties in front of the Faculty Building!"
    Bruno shares many complex relationships with other characters. He alternates between liking and disliking Mr. Sturgeon, who secretly likes Bruno but would never let him know. Boots, along with all of the other boys at the school like him because of his wit, spotlight persona and big plans, but then again, they're always weary of Bruno's "dumb idea." Lastly, Bruno is seen mirrored across the road at Miss Scrimmage's Finishing School in Cathy Burton.

  • Melvin "Boots" O'Neal - As with Bruno, what we know of Boots is less superficial than in his actual personality. Boots is "the sobering yin" to Bruno's "raging yang." He's cautious, but loyal to a fault. In the first book of the series, This Can't Be Happening at McDonald Hall, Mr. Sturgeon spells out for the reader what they're undoubtedly thinking: Bruno is a bad influence on Boots. In truth, this is probably right. In The War With Mr. Wizzle, in which Bruno and Boots fight to get the strict Mr. Wizzle to leave school, Boots tells Bruno that if he didn't spend so much time trying to get Mr. Wizzle out, Bruno would barely even notice him.

    In ways, Boots is better liked than Bruno. Because of Bruno's tendencies to leadership, he never seems to be completely straight with his friends, and they always seem to harbor a bit of uncomfortableness with him. Boots may not be as popular as Bruno, but is more "one of the guys." Mr. Sturgeon is fond of Boots as well, but in this case we see a neutral relationship: where Bruno hates or loves Sturgeon, and Sturgeon loves Bruno, Boots likes Sturgeon, and Sturgeon likes Boots. Once again, Bruno is the man of extremes, while Boots is the man of neutrals. Lastly, like Bruno, Boots's "equal" is across the road at Miss Scrimmage's, in Diane Grant, Cathy Burton's roommate and best friend.

    It should probably be noted here, as well, how much Bruno and Boots are defined by their friendship with eachother. This is, again, a beautiful representation of children, because its true: Most young kids define themselves not through who they are, but who their friends are, and how they relate to them.

  • William "The Fish" Sturgeon - Mr. Sturgeon is the Headmaster of McDonald Hall. He is generally feared by his students, and was nicknamed the Fish not only because of his last name, but also because of his "cold, fishy glare." The students view him as strict and overbearing, but we see an intelligent man who cares deeply for his students (but would never let them know, for fear they would stop obeying him.) The Fish is (presumably) about 50 years old, and often appears on the scene of late night or early morning mishaps in a red bathrobe. He is married to Mildred Sturgeon, whom the students love because she is always convincing the Fish to lessen their punishments.

    In some ways, an older Bruno/Boots relationship can be seen in Mr. and Mrs. Sturgeon. While Mr. Sturgeon goes on tirades, giving his students harsh punishments in the heat of his anger, Mrs. Sturgeon is cautious and tones him down. The most notable difference is, of course, that Mr. Sturgeon usually gives in and at least compromises with Mrs. Sturgeon. Then again, this is probably just another sign of maturity, and it's very possible that Mr. Sturgeon likes Bruno so much because he sees much of his younger personality in him.

  • Cathy Burton - Cathy Burton is Bruno's "counterpart", attending Miss Scrimmage's Finishing School for Young Ladies, located conveniently across the road. Her relationship with her best friend and roommate, Diane Grant, is near identical to the Bruno and Boots dynamic. The only really discernable difference I can find is the fact that Cathy and Diane often, sadly, seem subservient to Bruno and Boots' mischief. For example, in The Zucchini Warriors, Cathy poses as a quarterback for the McDonald Hall football team, to please Hank "The Tank" (their temporary football coach), who has promised the boys a new rec hall if they perform well on the team. While Cathy and the girls do get to use the rec hall once its built, it is essentially a McDonald Hall venture. Most poignant, however, is when Cathy wins $3000 for a cake recipe in Go Jump in the Pool, and donates the whole of the money to McDonald Hall.

    Now, before we rush to conclusions and declare Gordon Korman a sexist pig, it should be noted that there are often extenuating circumstances. The $3000 was donated to the "Pool Fund," which (without getting into details) was going to keep Bruno, Boots, and "the gang" from being forced to transfer to a different school. This would, of course, be extremely unfavorable to her, and therefore could justify her donation. In fact, the girls could appear to be "subservient" to the boys, simply because the boys are the main characters, and the girls are there simply to aid the plot, which is of course, focused on the boys. Just a point to note.

    Probably the most notable trait of Cathy is her self confidence. Unlike Bruno, who despite all of his bravado is afraid of the Fish, Cathy holds her headmistress, Miss Scrimmage, in the palm of her hand. Where Bruno and Boots are often caught sneaking from the Hall to Cathy and Diane's room, Cathy and Diane often sneak down to the school's kitchen (well after light's out) to wheel a tea cart of food to their room. Cathy is barely ever in trouble, although she causes almost as much trouble, if not more than, Bruno. She's entertained an intoxicated male gym teacher, caused numerous riots, attacked a police officer, sprayed an entire room and Miss Scrimmage with a fire extinguisher, and it just goes on from there.

  • Diane Grant - Diane is Cathy's roommate, and beyond that, almost all we know is that she is Boot's "female" counterpart. She, unlike Cathy, is afraid of Miss Scrimmage, but no more than Boots. Despite her ambiguity as a character, Diane is a fixture of the boy's nightly visit to Scrimmage's.

  • Elmer Drimsdale - Elmer is something of a stereotype, but always amusing. He is another boy at McDonald Hall, residing in Dormitory 2. Put quite simply, Mr. Sturgeon once called him "The most brilliant boy in Canada." This may well be true, in some aspects. Throughout the course of the books, his inventions and discoveries (and just the ones we're told about!) are quite amazing. A partial list:
    • A possible cure for the common cold - After it was administered to a test subject incorrectly, he seems to abandon it.
    • An "earthquake" machine - In The War With Mr. Wizzle Elmer creates such a machine, capable of creating sounds of a very low wavelength. They use it to simulate earthquakes, and indeed, it causes damage to a house!
    • A broadcasting system - In Beware The Fish Elmer creates a camera-television system which would broadcast anything seen on the camera to a television in another part of his room. Inadvertently, this system disrupts transmissions for miles around and the images are seen on everyone's television.
    • A "flying machine" - Again, in Beware The Fish, Elmer creates a spectacular flying machine. It's basically a metal saucer, quite small, that can fly, controlled from the ground by remote control.
    In addition to all of this, Elmer is always working on several side projects (he once told Boots that in total, he was currently working on 15). His interests seem to be anything involving science or mathematics.

    Beyond these facts, the character of Elmer is pretty boring. He's the stereotypical "nerd," complete with a tie and thick glasses. He clams up around girls but always gets involved in Bruno's schemes because the boy's always need someone smart around. In truth, he's just a nice, shy, smart boy.

  • The Stereotypes - Many of the supporting characters in the Bruno and Boots books can be nicknamed "the stereotypes," simply because they are. The recurring stereotypes:
    • Wilbur Hackenschleimer - The big, eating machine. Very gentle, but of course everyone is afraid of him. Always in on the big plans.
    • Larry Wilson - A nice boy. He works in the Faculty Building, so he always knows when something is "up," and often delivers discipline notes to boys.
    • Chris Talbot - The artist. From posters to political cartoons, he does it all, willingly, with a business-like air and grace.
    • Sidney Rampulsky - The klutz. He can't seem to do anything without injuring himself, but then again, therein lies the charm.
    • George Wexford-Smyth III - The stuck up rich kid. Pretty much everything except for money is "uncouth" to him. A spectacular hypochondriac and inside stock trader.

  • Miss Scrimmage - Miss Scrimmage is the headmistress of Miss Scrimmage's Finishing School For Young Ladies. (Yes, I'm aware that it sounds more like a coffee/burger joint than a prestigious school). She is quite old, and despite all evidence to the contrary, considers her girls weak and delicate. Her most distinguishing trait is that she keeps a shotgun for "protecting" her students, a fact which Mr. Sturgeon makes allusions to time and time again.

    Her relationship with Mr. Sturgeon is simple: They detest each other. Whenever Bruno and Boots "visit" Miss Scrimmage's, and are occasionally seen and heard by Miss Scrimmage, she calls Mr. Sturgeon, ranting and raving about his "gang of marauders" who were "terrorizing" her girls. He hates her because she accuses him of being a bad headmaster; she hates him because he doesn't concede that he is one.

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