|Number in season:||10|
|Original Airdate:|| November 29, 2002|
February 5, 2003
|Written by:||Peter K. Hirsch|
|Storyboard by:|| Gerry Capelle|
"Return of the Snowball"
A fire destroys the teacher's lounge and forces Lakewood Elementary to close, prompting a range of reactions from the kids:
- Sue Ellen is heartbroken that her journal was destroyed.
- Binky tries to behave in a calm manner even though the flames terrified him.
- Buster feels totally left out because he slept through the entire thing.
- Mr. Read, at the school on a catering job, escapes safely, but now Arthur finds himself constantly worrying about his father's safety.
After that, the kids are sent to Mighty Mountain School.
It all begins as a beautiful normal spring day in Elwood City, as the kids prepare to head off to school. Sue Ellen places her new postcard she got from a friend in Bolivia in her precious journal; Arthur learns his dad will be catering a breakfast at his school and asks if he can get a ride with him; Muffy and Binky are also on their way to school; and Buster overslept as he didn't hear his alarm going off.
In the usual classroom at Lakewood Elementary School, Mr. Ratburn starts the day. But things begin to go wrong the moment he smells smoke. Right then, the fire alarm goes off and they begin to evacuate the building. But Sue Ellen forgot to get her journal, and has no time to get it. Binky catches a glimpse of the fire, making him very nervous.
Once outside, the parents all show up, the kids learn that the school janitor Mr. Morris had injured his leg in the fire, and he is taken to the hospital. Sue Ellen starts sobbing dreadful tears at the loss of her journal, and Arthur is worried about his dad, but is later relieved to see him get out just fine thanks to the firefighters. After everything's cleared up and the firefighters leave, Buster finally arrives—Francine explains what happened and Buster's dismayed that he actually slept through what was pretty much the biggest event of the year.
While hanging out at their tree house, the gang's talking about the fire: Francine finds it unbelievable that they were in the school just yesterday and now it's all burned up—also, it turns out that until Lakewood's done being rebuilt/renovated, Lakewood-students will now be attending Mighty Mountain Elementary School. Binky continues to try and cover up his fear of the fire after seeing the flames in school and Sue Ellen is still upset over her journal being destroyed. When Muffy, not understanding Sue Ellen's feelings, claims a journal is "just a journal" and that "you can buy them at any stationery store", Francine states that Sue Ellen's had that journal since first grade. Things don't seem to help when Binky watches a Bionic Bunny episode featuring the fiery villain Hothead, and Muffy tries to cheer up Sue Ellen with a brand new journal.
Buster also feels left out since he was not actually at the fire, so he begins exaggerating his "eyewitness" story to the Mighty Mountain students about how dramatic and scary the fire was. Arthur gets annoyed with Buster since his dad could've been really hurt in the fire. Buster's mom then gets an idea for him to do the next day.
That night, Arthur learns that his dad's next catering job will be at the aquarium for a deep-sea fishermen convention. Arthur is relieved that it will not be at another school. Arthur's dad then reminds him that schools are safe and he also says that the fire chief says the fire was caused by faulty wiring, which could happen anywhere. This still does not stop Arthur from having a nightmare about his dad being attacked by a squid at the convention.
The next day, Buster goes to the hospital to visit Mr. Morris, and when he discovers that they both have asthma and love chocolate, it looks like a new friendship has started.
The day after that, in their temporary classroom at Mighty Mountain, Buster talks to his friends about Mr. Morris, and Sue Ellen is finally pleased with a new journal Muffy bought for her (complete with personalized cover and a pen), saying she feels much better now.
The viewers see a mysterious gloved hand in the hallway which pulls the fire alarm. The alarm causes the students to gasp in fear.
Once evacuated, Francine explains that she overheard that it was just a false alarm and that someone had apparently pulled the fire alarm as a prank; Buster, disappointed again that he is the only who hasn't been through a fire, sees it as rotten luck, while Arthur points out that that's actually good luck. But then Francine reveals that it's not good luck for the person who pulled the fire alarm. Binky then comes up to them, asking if they saw the Mighty Mountain students running (while also calling the Mighty Mountain students a “bunch of scaredy-cats”). However, it turns out Binky was the one who pulled the fire alarm, as he accidentally gives himself away to the others when he says that he timed how long it took for the firefighters to get to the school, and remarks, “It’s nice to know they’re so fast.” He then realizes he's in big trouble when this earns him looks from Buster, Arthur and Francine; the fire chief and the Mighty Mountain Principal come up with his backpack they found near the alarm's pull station that he activated.
Binky writes a confession/apology to the Mighty Mountain principal and Mr. Haney. He still tries covering up the true reason why he did it to Mr. Haney, and his punishment is doing some clean-up work with Mr. Frensky in the park. While cleaning up, a group of firefighters drive by and it turns out that they know Mr. Frenksy—when Binky questions him on it, Mr. Frensky explains that he used to be a volunteer firefighter and even he admits that being around fires (like the one that happened at Lakewood) can be pretty scary.
Buster comes to visit Mr. Morris, who tells him the time he worked as a dog groomer, only for the dogs to run into a perfect circle made in a cornfield; surprisingly, Mr. Morris thinks it was caused by aliens, just like Buster. When Buster offers to get more soda for them both, Mr. Morris insists on getting it and says that he needs to get used to being on his crutches. When Buster figures that it won't take long for him to heal, Mr. Morris explains that while a kid Buster's age would heal fairly quickly, when you get that kind of injury at Mr. Morris's age, it can be pretty serious and the janitor notes that even once his leg heals up completely, it'll probably never be the same.
On the morning Arthur's dad is supposed to go to the aquarium, Arthur tries faking sick in order to get his dad to stay home. However, when David realizes that Arthur isn't sick and asks why his son is acting this way, he then realizes that Arthur is concerned about him because of the fire. David reveals that one time, when he was around Arthur's age, Grandma Thora had a car accident. Though she wasn't hurt, David feared for a long time that every time she got into a car after that, she'd have another accident. To help himself feel better, David would crumple up pieces of paper and throw them into a wastebasket, deciding that the more shots he successfully made, then Thora would come home safely. One day when David forgot to do it, Thora ended up being gone for three hours, but ultimately came home safely. Davis explains it's his job to worry about Arthur, not the other way around.
Sue Ellen then gets an idea that the kids should work together on a mural to paint outside Lakewood Elementary School while it is being fixed up, showing the fire, their thanks to Mighty Mountain, and then the school reopening. When the school is reopened, Francine makes a report for the school paper about how Sue Ellen managed to find a portion of the postcard she lost from the old journal, but Francine does not manage to get any newspaper content from Binky. It turns out that even though he's back in Lakewood Elementary, Binky can't stop remembering the fire and this scares him, so he runs out of the school.
Mr. Frensky finds him and when Binky finally tells him what has been bothering him, Mr. Frensky said that he had similar problems when he saw his first fire close-up, and that talking about it made him feel better. Binky feels better as well, but still doesn't want to go back to school, so Mr. Frensky calls Mr. Haney to let him know where Binky is, then invites Binky to do some of the garbage collection rounds with him.
In the new version of Mr. Ratburn's classroom, they have cake in the middle of class in honor of the reopening, and Buster learns from Mr. Ratburn that Mr. Morris is retiring. When Buster goes to Mr. Morris' house after school, the (now ex) janitor explains that he's moving in with his daughter, who lives on a ranch down in New Mexico. Buster offers to let Mr. Morris live with him and his mom, but Mr. Morris (though certainly touched by the offer), feels that it would be best for him to live with his daughter. However, before leaving, Mr. Morris gives Buster his old accordion as a present to remember him by (also admitting that his daughter never liked it).
That night, Arthur and Buster talk via walkie-talkies about the changes the fire has caused, including Mr. Morris' retirement and his friendship with Buster all being caused by the fire. Then as Buster plays "Clementine" on his new accordion for Arthur, his dad returns home from catering Mr. Crosswire's birthday, safe and sound.
This episode finishes with Sue Ellen writing in her new journal that it will have been one month since April 9th. Although she doesn't want to go through another fire again, Sue Ellen is happy that she and her friends made it through the situation and feels happy knowing that if they stick together, they can get through just about anything. After finishing, Sue Ellen turns her light off and goes to bed.
- Arthur Read
- Buster Baxter
- Binky Barnes
- David Read
- Mr. Morris
- Muffy Crosswire
- Oliver Frensky
- Sue Ellen Armstrong
- Bionic Bunny
- Bitzi Baxter
- Mrs. Barnes
- D.W. Read
- Firefighter No.3
- Francine Frensky
- George Lundgren
- Francis Haney
- The Brain
- Mr. Morris's paramedic
- Nigel Ratburn
- Mighty Mountain Player
- Sam Scarborough
- 3rd Grade Male Rabbit (Number 3)
- 3rd Grade Male Aardvark
- 3rd Grade Female Bear (Number 3)
- Mr. Armstrong
- Mrs. Armstrong
- Mighty Mountain principal
- Mighty Mountain teacher
- Bruno's Music worker
- Ed Billings
- Ed Crosswire
- Fern Walters
- Jane Read
- Jenna Morgan
- Kate Read
- Leah MacGrady
- Ed Billings
- Mrs. Lundgren
- Maria Pappas
- Millicent Crosswire
- Mr. Powers
- Prunella Deegan
- Mrs. Lancaster
- 3rd Grade Male Dog
- 3rd Grade Male Dog (Number 3)
- Beulah McInnerny
- 3rd Grade Male Rat (Number 2)
- 3rd Grade Female Aardvark (Number 5)
- 3rd Grade Female Aardvark (Number 2)
- 3rd Grade Male Cat
- This is the first time the fire department plays a major role.
- The name of the moving company is Tolon's Moving, a nod to the fact that Marc Brown's son's name and Marc Brown's own middle name is "Tolon."
- Buster and Mr. Morris remain friends following this episode. They talk to each other on the phone in "Buster Isn't Buying It", and they reunite in the Postcards from Buster episode "Alien Adventure".
- It is revealed that Mr. Morris is allergic to pollen, dander and peanuts.
- This episode shows the second and third times a fire alarm goes off in a school. The first time was in "D.W. All Fired Up", when D.W.'s preschool had their first fire drill, and in this episode, one goes off in Lakewood and the other goes off in Mighty Mountain (as a false alarm).
- Despite the title saying April 9th, the episode actually aired on November 29, 2002 in the U.S. and February 5, 2003 in Canada.
- In 2015, the episode was made available freely on the official Arthur website as part of the resilience section of a feature titled Arthur Family Health. The episode can be watched here. It is also available on the PBS KIDS Video app and website.
- This episode is a response to the September 11 attacks. The story was designed to show how people deal with tragedies in different ways.
- When Buster goes to deliver the flowers to Mr. Morris, there is an announcement over the intercom which calls 'Doctor Davis' and 'Doctor Blair.' The audio was taken from the Queensrÿche song 'I Remember Now' from their 1988 album, 'Operation: Mindcrime.'
- In the "And Now a Word from Us Kids" segment, a third grade class discusses fire safety and put information on the Arthur PBS website, however the link no longer exists.
- Despite it being referred to as a journal in this episode, Sue Ellen's diary is shown to be exactly the same titular book seen earlier in "Sue Ellen's Lost Diary."
- Buster remembers having asthma since "Buster's Breathless."
- This episode is the second time Mr. Morris injures his leg; the other was "The Half-Baked Sale."
- There are several references to "D.W. All Fired Up" in this episode — most notably the enforcement of fire safety.
- In season 7, a villain named Kodo is a rabbit who tricks Bionic Bunny to save her kitten, this event occurs again in this episode.
- This is the second time a sibling in the Read family dreams about a cephalopod eating a member of the Read family. Arthur dreams that his dad is eaten by a squid. D.W. dreams about an octopus eating Arthur in "D.W. All Wet."
- Almost a month goes by during this episode, meaning several episodes that aired before and after April 9th occurred during this time frame, such as "Arthur the Wrecker", which could have taken place either right before the fire, or in the weeks after it, as Lakewood Elementary did not appear in that episode. In addition, the events of "The Great MacGrady" would take place immediately after Lakewood Elementary reopened, as referenced by the calendar shown in that episode. The events of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" would also happen at the tail end of the time frame.
- Right before the title card, Mr. Ratburn's class is walking out of the building, but Francine and Brain are not with them.
- In one shot of the scene with the firetrucks outside Lakewood Elementary, Buster is in the crowd.
- Ms. Morgan can be seen in the crowd of people outside Lakewood when Arthur is talking to the firefighter.
- Her hair went from red in one shot to blonde in the next.
- When Mr. Morris was in the hospital, his cast was on his left leg, but for the rest of the episode, his cast is on his right leg.
- Francine mentions that Mr. Ratburn's classroom was badly damaged in the fire, but as the alarm went off, there were no flames anywhere in the room. Sue Ellen's backpack and journal also burned, so it is possible that the fire spread to their classroom after they evacuated.
- Arthur says that Buster only met Mr. Morris and became friends with him because of the fire, despite the events of "Arthur Accused!" and "Binky Rules." However, Arthur is correct about his second point.
- When the kids start walking into Mighty Mountain, Hothead can be see among them.
- Hothead's hand is layered on top of Fireball for a split second before her arm is there too.
Home video releases
- Main article: April 9th/Gallery