Miss Laney is Zany is the eighth book in the My Weird School Daze series.
A.J. and his classmates learn that their school is having financial problems. His teachers are losing their jobs, supplies are getting scarce, and the new speech teacher is given an office in the girls' bathroom. A.J. and his friends attend class with Miss Laney, a flamboyant instructor who loves game shows and makes her students repeat all sorts of difficult tongue twisters. As the budget cuts continue to affect the school, the students try to think up ways they can earn a million dollars. Miss Laney suggests that they put on a play but as soon as she casts the parts, she is laid off. All looks hopeless until she finds another way to raise money that involves one of her favorite game show
The book begins with AJ saying that he hates school, but has to go anyway, because his friend Billy told him that if you don't go to school, you might get thrown in jail. On Monday morning, AJ and his friends talk about a game show called "Win Money or Eat Bugs", where contestants win money if they get an answer right, or eat bugs if they get an answer wrong. Everyone has to go to the all-purpose room for a "surprise" assembly. Mr. Klutz, the principal, says that the economy is in bad shape. The school has been trying to save money ever since their budget was cut, but Mr. Klutz got a call from the Board of Education that Ella Mentry Elementary School will be closing. And not for a few weeks, but forever. AJ, Ryan, Michael, and Neil are excited about not having to go to school, but Mr. Klutz tells them that they still have to go to school, but the other schools are farther away. The whole staff in the school will be fired, even Mr. Klutz himself. So everyone has to find ways to save money, but unfortunately, it will cost a million dollars to keep the school open.
When AJ and his classmates return to their classroom, two men in overalls are carrying Mr. Granite's desk away. Even though he does not have a desk anymore, Mr. Granite still has to give his math lesson. Everyone is sad about the school closing down, so Mr. Granite isn't in the mood to teach math, while the kids aren't in the mood to learn anything. In art class, Ms. Hannah tells the class that due to budget cuts, they have to save money on supplies, so they make postage stamps from pieces of cardboard.
When the kids return to their classroom, Miss Patty makes an announcement over the loudspeaker that AJ, Ryan, Andrea, and Emily should report to the girls' bathroom.
They go down to the girls' bathroom, where Andrea opens the door. In the girls' bathroom, they meet Miss Laney, the new speech teacher of Ella Mentry Elementary School. Miss Laney says that because of budget cuts, they can't afford to give her a real office, so she had to make do with the girls' bathroom. So now the girls have to go to the boys' bathroom, while the boys have to go to a porta-potty near a big tree outside.
Miss Laney tells the kids that even though they already know how to talk, they have a little trouble with their speech. AJ has trouble understanding idioms, Ryan sometimes has difficulty pronouncing R sounds, Emily has trouble with the letters T and D, and Andrea occasionally has trouble with grammar.
Miss Laney decides to test the kids with their speech skills by playing a game with them called "I Bet You Can't Say This!". The game is like a game show, with Miss Laney as the host. Before the game starts, she gives an infomercial on her new speech-helping book. Then the game starts. The kids have to say some tongue twisters. AJ goes first. Miss Laney says a tongue twister, but AJ has trouble repeating it. Emily comes next, but she can't repeat a tongue twister Miss Laney tells her either. Then Ryan comes next, but when he is given a tongue twister, he repeats it too slowly. Then it's Andrea's turn. She repeats a tongue twister that Miss Laney gives her successfully. Her prize is a pack of scented stickers of her choice. She picks a pack of grape-scented stickers. The kids play three rounds of the game, and after three rounds, Andrea wins the game. Miss Laney allows her to choose a prize, and she picks a solar-powered calculator, while AJ, Ryan, and Emily are allowed to take a lollipop. As the kids leave, Miss Laney thanks the kids for playing the game and reminds them to buy her speech-helping book.
The next day, while AJ and his friends are waiting in line in the cafetorium, they see some kids talking to Mr. Loring and Ms. Hannah. They go check it out, and Mr. Loring and Ms. Hannah tell them that they're starting to fire the teachers. Mr. Loring and Ms. Hannah are the first ones to go, because people think art and music are not very important for learning. Ms. Hannah says that after she gets fired, she'll make dresses out of old pot holders and sell them on the Internet. Mr. Loring says after he gets fired, he might get back with his old rock band and go on tour. AJ and his friends take their trays and find seats. Since the school is closing, the kids are not in the mood to eat lunch. Suddenly, they see two men in overalls taking the salad bar out of the cafetorium. The kids look out the window, and they see that on the playground, two other men are moving the monkey bars.
AJ decides that if Mr. Klutz said that it would cost a million dollars to keep the school open, then he and his friends will have to get some money of their own. So on the playground, they count the total of cash they have. Alltogether, they have one dollar and four cents. They decide if the add a million more to it, then they would have a million dollars. Then they come up with ideas on how to get a million dollars. Just then, Mr. Tony comes out onto the playground. He says that due to budget cuts, they're closing down the after-school program, so he has to be on recess duty. He has an idea on how to get a million dollars to help the school. He gets the children huddled together and shares his plan. They will tell the government that their school is the biggest school in the country. Once the government knows that, they will know the school will be too big to shut down and they'll let the school remain open. AJ is not so sure about that.
After recess, Mr. Granite gives another lesson on how to save energy. AJ decides to skip class by writing on a sheet of paper, "Ask if we can go see Miss Laney". He passes it to Ryan. Ryan asks Mr. Granite if he can go see Miss Laney, but no matter how hard he tries, Mr. Granite won't let him. So AJ has another idea. He pretends that his speech is broken so he can go see Miss Laney. Then Ryan, Andrea, and Emily decide to do the same thing so they can go see Miss Laney as well. Mr. Granite falls for it, and he sends the kids down to the girls' bathroom. AJ knows that it wil be more fun to play games with Miss Laney than learn more about saving energy with Mr. Granite.
When the kids get there, they see Miss Laney combing her hair and looking in a mirror while saying "shampoo" in many different ways. AJ fake coughs so Miss Laney would notice the kids. When she does, she asks what they're doing. Ryan says that they wanted to play "I Bet You Can't Say This!" again. But this time, Miss Laney wants to play a different game. She pulls out a puppet named Ollie the Octopus. She starts a new game called "Name The Letter". Miss Laney tells them in order to play, they have to guess letters that they can pronounce. Andrea answers the first question correctly, but AJ guesses almost all the answers correctly, making him the winner of the game. Miss Laney allows him to choose a prize. AJ picks a paddleball. Then Miss Laney starts a new game called "What's in The Stall?" In the game, AJ has a choice. He can either keep the paddleball, or pick a bathroom stall to win a different prize. He decides to take what's in the second stall, but it turns out, his prize is a toilet bowl plunger, much to his annoyance.
The next day, while AJ and Ryan are walking to school, they tell each other that they don't think Miss Laney is their real speech teacher. When they arrive at class, they see two men taking Mr. Granite's whiteboard off the wall. Emily asks Mr. Granite to do something, but Mr. Granite says he can't because he's still got to find a way to save money. At that very moment, Miss Laney comes into the classroom. She decided that they could save the school by putting on a play. Miss Laney explains that the play isn't a musical. They were going to perform the Shakespeare play "Romeo and Juliet". AJ asks if there will be kissing in the play. MIss Laney tells him there isn't, and she and Mr. Granite tell him that Romeo and Juliet is a very violent story, and both of the main characters die at the end.
Everyone gets parts for the play, with both AJ and Andrea playing the lead roles. Each of the kids read a line from the play, just to warm up and be ready for it. But while the kids are practicing for the play, Mr. Klutz comes in. He tells them that they didn't earn enough money to save the school, and Miss Laney now has lost her job, much to everyone's dismay.
During the week, everyone tries to get over the disappointment with Miss Laney being fired. By now, more teachers are getting fired. Mrs. Yonkers, Ms. Coco, and even Miss Jafee. During another "surprise" assembly, Mr. Klutz says that he lost his job as well, which makes everyone upset. Suddenly, Miss Patty tells Miss Lazar to turn on a TV. Miss Lazar comes in with a TV and turns it on. It shows the game show "Win Money or Eat Bugs". The host, Dickie Blinkbarker, greets the viewers. Everyone realizes that the contestant of the day is Miss Laney herself! This makes everyone go bonkers.
Dickie tells the audience that Miss Laney won ten thousand dollars in round one and didn't have to eat a single bug. Miss Laney says that she is playing for the school, and that every dollar she wins goes to it. Dickie then gives Miss Laney a choice. She can eat one bug at the start of round two and leave with the ten thousand dollars she won, or keep going. But if she gets an answer wrong, she'll have to eat a whole plate full of bugs. Dickie then tells her that the questions get harder in round two. So Miss Laney decides to keep going. Miss Laney answers two of the final questions correctly, and everyone hopes that she'll win a million dollars. But when Dickie gives her the final question, Miss Laney forgets the answer to it. Now she has to eat a plate full of bugs, much to everyone's disappointment. Before she can eat the bugs, Miss Laney gives her infomercial about her speech-helping book. Miss Patty goes to her front office to check Miss Laney's website. Once Miss Laney finishes her infomercial, she starts eating the bugs, much to everyone's disgust. One by one, Miss Laney eats the bugs, and while she does that, Miss Patty announces how much dollars Miss Laney got worth of orders of her book. Once Miss Laney gets to the cockroach, Miss Patty announces that Miss Laney sold a million dollars worth of her speech program. AJ knows what that means. The school can remain open.
As everyone celebrates, Dickie gives Miss Laney a check for playing even though she didn't win. She is then given a choice. She can take the money, or take the prize that's behind the curtain. She decides to take what's in the curtain. It is revealed that Miss Laney's prize is a boat. Miss Laney and Dickie jump into the boat and pretend to row it even though there isn't any water. Now the school doesn't have to close after all. Then AJ thinks of the things that happened previously in the book, and wonders what might happen next.
A few running gags in this book are:
- Everyone talking about boats.
- AJ mistaking the word "acoustics" for "a cue stick".
It is revealed that Mr. Loring used to be part of the rock band "The Rolling Stones".