Given the hokey assignment of grading Scholastic's (NASDAQ:SCHL) latest quarterly performance, I would probably give it a B+. Now before you start in with accusations of "teacher's pet" or wonder how dashing I would look sporting a dunce cap, let me explain. Yes, I'm aware that earnings for the November quarter fell by 10% and that margins contracted. But I'm grading on a curve here. From my vantage point, Scholastic made out nicely on its fiscal mid-term.

Reports on Scholastic's results are bound to play up Harry Potter's disappearing act -- trade sales were cut nearly in half for the Potter franchise -- but that was expected. This year's Harry Potter money was made in the prior quarter with the summer's release of Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.

That's old sorting hat. Wall Street knew this and had figured that earnings would be down for the period, despite being smartly higher when you compare the last two quarters with the first half of the 2003 fiscal year.

So why the generous grade for Scholastic? Well, the knock on Scholastic has been the lull in its bread-and-butter book fair and educational publishing markets. And rightly so, while hit properties like Goosebumps and now Potter add a little faddish sizzle to the stock, investors should pay attention to how the company is doing in its core readings.

Surprisingly buried in the quarterly report is the fact that not only did Scholastic hold more book fairs during the quarter than the year before, but -- more importantly -- produced higher revenue per fair. And its educational publishing business, having languished as penny-pinching schools chose not to rock their budgets, was up by a healthy 13%. As a matter of fact, revenue rose in all four of Scholastic's operating segments.

So, yes, we're all mad about Harry. From the Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) movies to the Mattel (NYSE:MAT) action figures, we're smitten with the precocious wizards of Hogwart's. But there's more to life than the great works of J.K. Rowling. Scholastic? Move to the head of the class.

Are you anxiously awaiting the sixth installment in the Harry Potter series or next year's theatrical release? Where would the sorting hat land you if you were to attend Hogwart's? What is quidditch, and is it anything at all like macramé? All this and more -- in the Sirius Black's Muggle Friends discussion board. Only on