First period, and we’re reviewing a fairy tale in which an old woman captures Death up in her magic pear tree. This is good stuff; anything that involves tricking Death interests the kids.

“But,” I said, “Unfortunately there is no way to beat Death in real life.”

A little girl raised her hand. She’s young for sixth grade, and has an innocent and wholesome air to her, as if she’s just washed her face with soap. “I know how to defeat Death.”

I paused. She seemed so sincere. “Oh? And how do you do that?”

“Create a new life,” she said.

I thought of Dr. Frankenstein, of horribe lab experiments. “Oh?”

“Yes,” she said, nodding. “You can defeat death by having a baby.”

“That’s right,” I said, taken aback. Everybody began to murmur and agree. She smiled at me as if it were obvious. Which, I suppose, it was. “Well done! How very wise of you.”