John Paulits is a former teacher in New York City. He
has published five other children’s novels, four about Philip and Emery,
as well as two adult science fiction novels, HOBSON’S PLANET and
BECKONING ETERNITY. His previous Gyspy Shadow book, PHILIP AND THE
SUPERSTITION KID, was voted best children’s novel of 2010 in the
Preditors and Editors readers poll.
Learn more about John here:
Congratulations, John, for Winning first place in
the 2010 (Philip and the Superstition Kid), top Ten in the 2011
(Philip and the Angel) Preditors and Editors Readers Poll for Children's Novel, top Ten in the 2012 (Philip and the Fortune Teller), 2013 Preditors
and Editors Readers Poll for Children's Novel and top ten in the 2014
(Philip and the Sneaky Trashmen) Preditors and Editors Readers
New Title(s) from
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Emery’s clumsy and monumentally unlucky cousin Leon
is coming to visit for a whole week! Philip and Emery, best
friends, are desperate to find ways to keep Leon out of their way, but
Leon’s bad luck―and
them everywhere. Rabbits’ feet don’t work. Homemade remedies
don’t work. And when Emery and Philip have an extraordinary spell
of bad luck themselves, they’re certain that Leon’s bad luck is
contagious. They plot and plan to convince Leon that the safest
place for him is in his own home. In a panic, Leon gets his mother
to end his visit early but promises to return for a night a week from
Friday, when he hopes he’ll be over his bad luck.
Triumphant, Philip and Emery laughingly decide to
circle that unlucky date on Emery’s calendar, but when they do they get
a shock. The thirteenth of the month. Friday the thirteenth!
And they have to spend it with Leon!
Pages to Print:
File Format: PDF
||How is Philip ever going to get a pet, the
one thing he wants most in the world, when his parents say no to
his every request? Angel, a very smart neighborhood girl, gives
Philip a plan to change his parents’ mind, but the plan ends in
disaster, and Philip’s parents say no louder than ever. With
Angel’s help Philip tries again. Philip knows it’s his last
chance. How will this plan turn out? Will Philip’s wish come
true, or will he meet with disappointment again?
Pages to Print:
File Format: PDF
||Philip and Emery are scared out of their
wits when they learn their community service assignment involves
dealing with a haunted house, but it gets worse! Circumstances
force the boys to sneak inside the haunted house, and when they
do, they receive the shock of their lives!
Word Count: 13650
Pages to Print: 62
File Format: PDF
|Congrats on being a
finalist in EPIC 2013 eBook Awards!
||Could the Frankenstein monster, Dracula and
the Wolfman actually move into someone’s respectable
neighborhood? Philip and his best friend Emery are convinced it
has happened when a suspicious new family moves in down the
block. The boys have seen the vampire bat; they’ve heard the
werewolf’s growl; they’ve witnessed the coffin delivery to the
house. When Emery’s mother invites the new family to dinner,
Philip and Emery have no choice but to prepare for the worst.
Word Count: 16100
Pages to Print: 67
File Format: PDF
||Philip runs into an awful streak of bad luck
at the same time as his best buddy Emery runs into a streak of
good luck. When Emery reveals that he's been using a newly
acquired luck charm, Philip sets out to find one of his own, but
what he finds turns out to be more deadly curse than good luck
Word Count: 12,500
Pages to Print: 54
File Format: PDF
||After Philip solves a few neighborhood
mysteries, he decides to open a detective agency with his best
pal Emery. Their classmate Jason starts making fun of their
efforts, though, and being a detective suddenly isn’t so much
fun. But soon Jason is accused of stealing money from the
teacher, and Emery encourages Philip to solve the case and get
Jason thrown out of their class. Philip sets to work and shocks
the class when he reveals the solution to the mystery.
Word Count: 11,800
Pages to Print: 51
File Format: PDF
||Philip runs into Jeanne, a new girl in the
neighborhood, who defeats him at every game they play. Philip
enlists his best pal Emery to help him, but even when they join
forces, they lose to Jeanne. In his frustration, Philip
foolishly assures Jeanne that he will win the poster contest
being run at the mall. She laughs off his challenge, certain
first prize will be hers. Philip cannot allow himself to lose
again to this girl, but how in the world will he ever defeat The
Girl Who Couldn’t Lose?
Word Count: 12,600
Pages to Print: 54
File Format: PDF
||Philip and Emery are granted three wishes by
a gypsy from the circus sideshow, but to get these wishes, they
must perform a chore for the gypsy. They must recover some
jewels, including a magical scarab, from a dangerous location.
They undertake the chore, but soon regret their decision.
Disaster looms. Yet, if they can set things right quickly, all
will be well. But the police are on their trail!
Word Count: 16000
Pages to Print: 68
File Format: PDF
||Philip and Emery dread their school
assignment: perform an activity demonstrating brotherhood.
Philip gets an inspiration, though, when a neighbor tells him
about her women’s club fair which will raise money for charity.
He and Emery decide to create a game for the fair and donate the
money they collect. Creating a game proves more difficult than
they thought, especially when Leon, Emery’s unlucky cousin,
shows up to help out. Can Philip and Emery deliver their game on
time, or will Leon’s monumental bad luck prove their undoing?
Word Count: 15510
Pages to Print: 62
File Format: PDF
||Soon-to-be fifth graders, Paul Drummond and
Billy Sparks’ summer vacation at the beach with Lige Drummond,
Paul’s grandfather, is interrupted when Lige’s best friend Jess
Hubbard disappears, and the boys are off to find him in Shumbus,
a strange land deep within the Earth.
Word Count: 16800
Pages to Print: 73
File Format: PDF
||Things did not stay peaceful long in Shumbus
after Paul and Billy’s summer adventure there. The Critches are
out for revenge. The Golden Mushroom is in danger and so is the
very city where the Shumians have lived forever. With Jess
Hubbard planning to help the Critches, they are sure to succeed
unless Paul, Billy, and Argo can come up with something fast!
Word Count: 19100
Pages to Print: 76
File Format: PDF
||Philip begins his summer in a bad mood. His
mother insists he clean his room. But when Philip allows Leon,
the clumsy jinx-boy of the neighborhood, to help, it sends
Philip and his best friend Emery off on the wildest summer
adventure they’ve ever had. Missing jewelry, stolen pants, a
crazy Aunt, and secret trips to the police station keep Philip
and Emery hopping until the night when it all explodes!
Word Count: 15400
Pages to Print: 70
File Format: PDF
|At stake—the deed to The Clifton Heights
Home for Children. Emmaline Gremlin wants to close the
orphanage. Her runaway husband wants to turn the deed over to
Mr. Bloober, Superintendent of the Home, to ensure its
Mickey Allston, age nine, and his friend Warren Towers, who is
visiting from the Clifton Heights Home for Children, join forces
with Mr. Camden Chatsworth, owner of a marvelous collection of
old toys, and the runaway Mr. Gremlin, newly arrived in
Pennypack and living under the name of Montague Dobson.
As the Monday deadline looms, Emmaline steals the deed, but as
the clock ticks down, Warren hatches a clever plot which Camden
Chatsworth, Montague Dobson, and the two boys attempt to pull
off in the library of the Home as the deadline looms. Will they
succeed? Can they reclaim the deed in time to save the Home?
Word Count: 29568
Pages to Print: 117
File Format: PDF
Price: $ 4.99
||While sitting at his bedroom window staring
at the moon, a burst of green light whisks Mark Foy away to
Planet Zoron, where Prince Zincor and Princess Zayla need Mark’s
help to regain the prince’s throne from Blaylock and Fentar, two
evil councilors to his late father.
Word Count: 13351
Pages to Print: 53
File Format: PDF
|Mark Foy has returned home from his
surprising trip to Planet Zoron. Prince Zincor’s throne is safe.
But is it? Who shows up but Zincor’s Uncle Blaylock, still
determined to take over Zincor’s throne, and his partner, the
evil scientific genius Fentar? They’ve been mistakenly
transported to Mark’s very neighborhood by the Tappa Ray and now
have Mark in their sights, certain he knows something they
don’t—the way back to Zoron. Blaylock’s quest for Prince
Zincor’s throne is not over!
Word Count: 12700
Pages to Print: 49
File Format: PDF
||Philip’s Christmas turns into a disaster
when his troublesome younger cousin Francis shows up to stay for
a few days. Nothing is safe, not the Christmas tree, not the
presents, and certainly not the good cheer of the season. Philip
enlists his best friend Emery to help out in entertaining
Francis but even a trip to the local mall to admire the
decorations turns into a misadventure of epic proportions. Can
anything bring some Christmas joy for Philip? Christmas morning
holds the answer.
Word Count: 16450
Pages to Print: 71
File Format: PDF
Price: $ 3.99
Philip and the Superstition Kid
Philip looked out his bedroom window and smiled. Splashes of sunshine
glinted off the windows of the houses across the street. The summer
breeze blew gently through the window screen, just strong enough that
his hair tickled his neck a little as the breeze ruffled it. Philip
usually associated good smells with chocolate and bakeries, but right
now the sweet aroma of somebody’s newly mown lawn made Philip inhale
deeply. Today was the first official day of summer vacation; fourth
grade was a thing of the past; and the long, beautiful,
wonderful-smelling summer lay ahead, day after endless joyful day.
Below and to his right Philip saw his best friend Emery
step out of his front door. Philip hurried from his room, dashed down
the stairs, and bolted outside. He waved to Emery and crossed the
street. Emery walked toward him.
“Emery.” Philip smiled and opened his arms wide.
“Welcome to summer vacation.”
Emery glared at him unresponsively.
Philip lowered his arms. Now what? he wondered. “Summer vacation,
Emery,” he reminded his friend.
“I dreamed a dream last night,” Emery said gloomily.
“So what? Everybody does that.”
“Not like this they don’t. There goes the summer.”
Emery moved his hand like he was shooing away a fly.
Mrs. Logan lived at the corner, and there was an empty
space inside the thick bushes near the back of her house Philip and
Emery used as a hidden clubhouse. Mrs. Logan rarely left her house—Emery
insisted she was a hundred and four years old, but Philip said that was
impossible—so no one bothered them when they sat in the shady coolness,
unknown to the world. They were on their way there now out of habit.
“Emery, vacation just started,” Philip said
impatiently. “How could a dream spoil the summer? It’s only the first
day for Pete’s sake.”
“You know those stupid rabbits’ feet we all got at
Kevin’s party last week?”
“They’re not good luck.”
“Whoever said they were?”
Emery looked at Philip sadly. “Everybody knows that a
rabbit’s foot is supposed to bring luck. That’s why people chop off the
rabbit’s foot—to get good luck.”
Philip winced at Emery’s description.
“That’s just make believe,” Philip argued.
“It’s not. Look it up. Why would people keep chopping
off rabbits’ feet just for make-believe?”
“Stop talking about chopping off feet, okay?” Philip
said, his voice rising.
“I carried my rabbit’s foot around since the party, and
I didn’t have any bad luck.”
Philip waited. Then he asked, “Did you have any good luck?”
Emery shrugged. “I got promoted,” he offered.
Philip could feel his exasperation beginning to build
as it always did when Emery started acting weird. “I got promoted, too,
and I don’t even know where my stupid rabbit’s foot got to. And I didn’t
have any bad luck this week either. And everybody got promoted.”
“The babies didn’t cry as much this week,” Emery
argued. Emery had two infant sisters.
“They’re getting older. They’ll cry less anyway. What
about the dream?”
“I figured that if I got good luck during the day
carrying the rabbit’s foot, then I was wasting it at night just leaving
it on my bureau, so last night I decided to put it under my pillow to
get good luck when I was sleeping.”
Philip shook his head and in a loud voice cried, “What
kind of good luck can you have when you’re asleep? Nothing happens when
“I didn’t fall out of bed,” Emery said.
“Did you ever fall out of bed before?”
Emery thought a minute. “I don’t remember that I did.”
“So there. You wouldn’t fall out of bed anyway. I
didn’t fall out of bed. My mother and father didn’t fall out of bed. A
zillion million people didn’t fall out of bed. What did the rabbit’s
foot have to do with it?”
“The dream?” Philip said impatiently.
The boys had reached the corner and, with a quick look
around to assure themselves that no one was watching, ducked alongside
Mrs. Logan’s house and crawled into their hideaway.
“It was weird,” Emery said reluctantly, looking at
Philip. The boys sprawled on the sparse grass in the deep shade.
Philip pressed his lips together as if he was going to
burst. When Emery saw Philip’s eyes widening, he said, “Okay, I’ll tell
you. I dreamed that me and you . . .”
“I was in the dream?”
Emery nodded. “I told you it was awful.”
Philip frowned. “What does that mean?”
“Me and you were somehow on a bouncing boat. I don’t
know how we got there. But we were going up and down and up and down.”
Emery moved his hand in time with his description.
Philip grabbed Emery’s hand and lowered it. “Up and down, yeah?”
Back to Philip and
the Superstition Kid
Philip and the Angel
“Philip, why don’t you go out and play? The rain
stopped half an hour ago.”
Philip lay on the sofa reading The Sorcerer’s Stone. He
looked over to the window then up at his mother. “Do I have to? Harry
Potter’s in trouble.”
“Yes, yes, yes. You have to or pretty soon you’ll be in
trouble. Here.” She took his book and spread it open upside down on the
coffee table to save his page. “Get some air. You haven’t been out of
the house all week except to go to school.”
“It’s been raining all week. Are you trying to get rid
“I have to clean and you’re always in the room I’m
Philip sighed. Emery, his best friend, had called
earlier to say he had a secret to show him. He couldn’t simply tell him
about it so Philip shouldn’t even ask.
Philip did ask but no matter how many times Philip
begged his friend to stop being so mysterious, Emery wouldn’t. He kept a
secret better than anybody Philip knew.
“I’ll go see what Emery’s doing. He’s got something to
“Good idea,” said his mother as she bustled out of the
Philip swung his feet to the floor and put on his
sneakers while he listened to his mother doing the housework. It didn’t
look like much fun being a grown-up, but then fourth grade wasn’t all
that much fun, either. School would be over in another month, though,
and then summer. He finished tying his sneakers and left.
The wet grass glistened and puddles shimmered
everywhere. The sun felt good. Plus a rainbow arced across the sky!
Philip walked along toward Emery’s house and studied the rainbow, a
really colorful one, a rainbow better than any Philip remembered ever
seeing. He followed it across the sky until it disappeared behind the
house in front of him. He noticed someone in the window of the house
waving to him. Philip waved back before realizing it was that girl
The girl’s forehead pressed against the living room
“Hi,” she called.
Philip stopped walking. Who was this girl? She’d moved
to the neighborhood a while ago, yet he never saw her in school. He’d
only seen her at different windows of her house staring out at the
neighborhood. She’d begun waving to him, and he waved back. Now, she
wanted to talk to him.
“Wait,” she called and disappeared from the window. A
moment later she came out the front door. She looked about the same age
as Philip and had long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. As she
stood there in her jeans and pink T-shirt looking at him, Philip felt
“I’m allowed out a little today,” the girl said.
“Because the rain stopped?” Philip asked.
“No. No. I feel better today.”
“Were you sick?”
“I’m always sick.”
This confused Philip.
“Where do you go to school? I never see you at my
“I don’t go to school. I have a teacher who comes to my
house on mornings when I feel all right.”
“You never go to school?”
The girl shook her head, and the ponytail waggled
behind her. “What’s your name? I know where you live. The white house
down there. Your father drives the blue car.”
“Philip. I’m Philip Felton.”
“Hi, I’m Angel.”
The girl shrugged. “It’s what my parents named me.
Angel. We moved here a little while ago.”
“I know,” said Philip. He remembered being awakened one
Saturday morning by the noise of a giant truck unloading furniture.
A woman appeared at the front door. “Angel. Don’t stay
out too long. Come on back now.”
“My mom. Thinks I’m made of glass or something. Gotta
go. I’ll watch you from the window,” said Angel, and she turned and
walked back inside the house.
Philip continued on to Emery’s house. She didn’t go to
school because she was always sick? She doesn’t look sick, Philip
thought. And her mother lets her out for five minutes at a time? Weird.
Emery’s voice interrupted Philip’s thoughts. “Philip,
don’t turn around. Don’t turn. Don’t turn.”
Philip froze. “Why can’t I turn, Emery?”
“I have my surprise with me.”
There was a small noise. “Erf.”
“Okay, you can look.”
Philip turned and saw Emery walking a tiny black and
brown dog with a long body and short legs.
“What’s this?” Philip asked in surprise.
“It’s a dog.”
“I know it’s a dog.”
“Why do you have it?”
“That’s my surprise. My dad got it for me. It’s my new
Back to Philip and the Angel
|Philip and the Haunted House
The rumble of a heavy truck caused
Philip to turn in his bed and open his eyes. He felt his heart
pounding. He had been trapped in some dark, awful house. He
immediately recognized his own bedroom and sighed in relief.
Only a dream! The sound of the truck stopped briefly and started
up again. Turning a corner, thought Philip. As he listened, the
truck noise ended suddenly, instead of fading little by little.
Philip guessed the truck had stopped somewhere in his
He sat up in bed, turned, put his feet on the floor, and
stretched. A long Saturday loomed ahead of him. No school. What
a great feeling! Philip thought of his dream again. Yesterday,
his teacher Mr. Ware read the class the part of The Adventures
of Tom Sawyer where Tom and Huck look for treasure in the
haunted house. While they’re looking, they hear someone coming
and run upstairs to hide. One of the two men who enter the
haunted house turns out to be Injun Joe, who wants to kill Tom
for identifying him as Doc Robinson’s murderer at Muff Potter’s
trial. Injun Joe gets suspicious, takes out his knife, and
starts to climb the stairs. Tom and Huck lie frozen in fear on
the floor, peeking through a chink in the wood as Injun Joe,
step by step, gets nearer and nearer. Then, CRASH! The old,
rotten stairway collapses and tumbles Injun Joe to the floor.
When Mr. Ware read it, he’d shouted the word “crash” as loud as
he could. Everyone, including Philip, jumped out of their
chairs. For once he’d been paying close attention, and the
teacher rewarded him by almost giving him a heart attack. Philip
blamed Mr. Ware for his frightful dream.
How could Tom and Huck even want to go inside a haunted house,
Philip wondered, even if they thought they’d find some buried
treasure? Buried treasure. Philip thought he might go into a
haunted house to get rich, but not for fun. No way. He decided
he’d go back to daydreaming in school next week and stop
listening to the teacher’s heart-attack reading lessons.
Philip dressed and went downstairs. His father lay on the sofa
reading the newspaper.
“Well, look who’s awake,” his father said, sitting up. “Your
mother went to the supermarket. Becky’s still sleeping.” Becky
was Philip’s baby sister. “Emery called twice already.”
“What time is it, Dad?”
“A little after ten.”
He had slept a long time. Maybe if he’d gotten up earlier he
wouldn’t have had the dream about the haunted house. Stupid
“Give Emery a call, and I’ll get your cereal.”
Philip called Emery, who said he’d be right over.
As Philip dropped his cereal bowl into the sink, Emery walked
into the kitchen.
“Are you sick?” said Emery.
“No, I’m not sick. Why?”
“You slept so long. I only sleep long if I’m sick. My two baby
sisters cry so much I can’t sleep late anyway.”
“No, I’m not sick. I had this weird dream, though.” Philip led
Emery into the living room.
“You, too, eh?”
“Me, too? You had a dream?” Philip asked in alarm. Maybe
something’s going around, he thought.
“No, I mean putting the dishes in the sink.”
“Oh. Yeah, something new.”
“My mother, too. She must have talked to your mother. They do
these things together sometimes. What did you dream about?”
“The haunted house Mr. Ware read about yesterday.”
“Oh, yeah. When the stairs crashed, and he made everybody jump.
“I didn’t jump,” Philip lied.
“Well, everybody else did. Haunted houses are spooky.”
“Only around Halloween,” Philip said boldly.
“All the time,” Emery replied with a sharp nod.
Philip felt he’d established his bravery, so he dropped the
“Weird, though,” said Emery.
“A big truck pulled up around the corner, and they’re taking
everything out of the junky, empty house.”
“The one with all the grass growing around it?”
“Yeah. It’s still got a “Sale” sign on it so I guess nobody
bought it yet. That’ll be an empty house now and look even more
Philip pictured the house—dark, empty, and surrounded by tall
weeds. It could be haunted for all he and Emery knew; and there
it sat—right around the corner from where they lived.
“Want to go watch them take stuff out?” Emery asked.
“They’re still there?”
“Yeah. They only got there a little while ago.”
Philip thought of the truck that woke him up.
“Okay,” Philip said. He’d go now, but once they’d emptied the
house and left it empty and lonely and scary looking, he planned
to stay away from it. Far away.
Philip and the Haunted House
The rumble of a heavy truck caused Philip to turn in his bed and
open his eyes. He felt his heart pounding. He had been trapped
in some dark, awful house. He immediately recognized his own
bedroom and sighed in relief. Only a dream! The sound of the
truck stopped briefly and started up again. Turning a corner,
thought Philip. As he listened, the truck noise ended suddenly,
instead of fading little by little. Philip guessed the truck had
stopped somewhere in his neighborhood.
He sat up in bed, turned, put his feet on
the floor, and stretched. A long Saturday loomed ahead of him.
No school. What a great feeling! Philip thought of his dream
again. Yesterday, his teacher Mr. Ware read the class the part
of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer where Tom and Huck look for
treasure in the haunted house. While they’re looking, they hear
someone coming and run upstairs to hide. One of the two men who
enter the haunted house turns out to be Injun Joe, who wants to
kill Tom for identifying him as Doc Robinson’s murderer at Muff
Potter’s trial. Injun Joe gets suspicious, takes out his knife,
and starts to climb the stairs. Tom and Huck lie frozen in fear
on the floor, peeking through a chink in the wood as Injun Joe,
step by step, gets nearer and nearer. Then, CRASH! The old,
rotten stairway collapses and tumbles Injun Joe to the floor.
When Mr. Ware read it, he’d shouted the
word “crash” as loud as he could. Everyone, including Philip,
jumped out of their chairs. For once he’d been paying close
attention, and the teacher rewarded him by almost giving him a
heart attack. Philip blamed Mr. Ware for his frightful dream.
How could Tom and Huck even want to go
inside a haunted house, Philip wondered, even if they thought
they’d find some buried treasure? Buried treasure. Philip
thought he might go into a haunted house to get rich, but not
for fun. No way. He decided he’d go back to daydreaming in
school next week and stop listening to the teacher’s
heart-attack reading lessons.
Philip dressed and went downstairs. His
father lay on the sofa reading the newspaper.
“Well, look who’s awake,” his father said,
sitting up. “Your mother went to the supermarket. Becky’s still
sleeping.” Becky was Philip’s baby sister. “Emery called twice
“What time is it, Dad?”
“A little after ten.”
He had slept a long time. Maybe if he’d
gotten up earlier he wouldn’t have had the dream about the
haunted house. Stupid reading lesson.
“Give Emery a call, and I’ll get your
Philip called Emery, who said he’d be
As Philip dropped his cereal bowl into the
sink, Emery walked into the kitchen.
“Are you sick?” said Emery.
“No, I’m not sick. Why?”
“You slept so long. I only sleep long if
I’m sick. My two baby sisters cry so much I can’t sleep late
“No, I’m not sick. I had this weird dream,
though.” Philip led Emery into the living room.
“You, too, eh?”
“Me, too? You had a dream?” Philip asked
in alarm. Maybe something’s going around, he thought.
“No, I mean putting the dishes in the
“Oh. Yeah, something new.”
“My mother, too. She must have talked to
your mother. They do these things together sometimes. What did
you dream about?”
“The haunted house Mr. Ware read about
“Oh, yeah. When the stairs crashed, and he
made everybody jump. Cool!”
“I didn’t jump,” Philip lied.
“Well, everybody else did. Haunted houses
“Only around Halloween,” Philip said
“All the time,” Emery replied with a sharp
Philip felt he’d established his bravery,
so he dropped the topic.
“Weird, though,” said Emery.
“A big truck pulled up around the corner,
and they’re taking everything out of the junky, empty house.”
“The one with all the grass growing around
“Yeah. It’s still got a “Sale” sign on it
so I guess nobody bought it yet. That’ll be an empty house now
and look even more haunted.”
Philip pictured the house—dark, empty, and
surrounded by tall weeds. It could be haunted for all he and
Emery knew; and there it sat—right around the corner from where
“Want to go watch them take stuff out?”
“They’re still there?”
“Yeah. They only got there a little while
Philip thought of the truck that woke him
“Okay,” Philip said. He’d go now, but once
they’d emptied the house and left it empty and lonely and scary
looking, he planned to stay away from it. Far away.
Philip and the Haunted House
“Boo!” shouted Emery. Philip’s
heart shot up, and his stomach tumbled. He spun to face his
“Are you crazy? Are you really crazy? Why did you do that? I
walk into your house and you jump out like a maniac? You almost
gave me a heart attack.”
Emery laughed and waved a hand at Philip. “Get out. We’re too
young to have heart attacks. Unless,” said Emery in a spooky
voice, “your arteries are clogged with the cholesterol of fear.”
Philip stared at Emery.
“What?” Emery asked.
Philip continued to stare.
Emery smiled nervously and shrugged.
Philip didn’t move a muscle.
Emery blinked and blinked again.
Philip continued to stare and refused to blink.
“Say something, please,” said Emery in a small voice. He waited.
Philip said nothing. “Come on, you’re scaring me.”
Philip kept on staring and counted to himself. When he reached
three, he threw his arms in the air and shouted, “BOOOO!”
“Ahhh!” Emery burst out. “Why did you do that? Are you crazy,
too? You were scaring me and then you scared me. Why’d you scare
“Can we go back to the beginning?” Philip asked slowly, still
giving Emery his coldest stare.
“Did you ask me to come over so we could do our homework
“Yes, I did,” said Emery, paying very close attention to
Philip’s questions. He didn’t want Philip to start staring and
BOO-ing him again.
“Did you tell me you would leave the front door open, and I
should just walk in?”
“Yes, I did.”
“So I could jump out and scare you.”
“Then you admit it!” Philip cried. He tried to stay calm. “Why
did you want to scare me?”
“Uh, because you said I could.”
Philip stared at Emery again.
“Are you going to do the staring Boo! thing again, because . . .
?” Emery stepped back, arms out, hands waving slowly.
“No, stand still,” Philip said softly. “When did I say you could
jump out at me and try to give me a heart attack? When? When did
I say it?”
“You said we would do our homework together, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, so? Is giving me a heart attack doing our homework
together?” Philip shouted.
“No, but scaring you is. I’m doing my report on how people act
when they get scared. You have to do a report too, you know. The
class report we have to do about a feeling. Remember?”
“What was the stuff you said before?”
“Before. About the arteries and the clogging.”
Emery laughed. “Did you like it? I made it up. I read this
newspaper article about good heart health, and I read a
different article about how peoples’ hearts beat faster when
they get scared.”
“You didn’t have to read about it. I could have told you.”
“Yeah well, I put the two things together and I said . . .”
“I know what you said. What does cholesterol have to do with
“Nothing. I made a joke, for Pete’s sake.”
“Some dumb joke. Next time, save it for Pete.”
“Never mind the joke. Tell me what you felt when you got
scared.” Emery scrambled to the floor and lay on his stomach,
pencil in hand and notebook open. “Go on.”
Philip tried the best he could to remember everything he felt
when Emery jumped out at him. As Philip talked, Emery wrote
“Good,” said Emery, his pencil zipping across the paper. “Good.
Now let me write what I felt when you scared me.”
When Emery finished writing, Philip said, “Lemme see.” Emery
handed him the notebook.
Philip read, “When Philip first scared me by staring, I got
scared because I didn’t know what he was doing. I felt scared
because I didn’t know what would happen next. When Philip jumped
at me, I felt really scared, heart-beating scared.”
Philip looked at Emery, impressed. “Pretty neat. You got scared
a different way each time.”
“Yeah, it’s great for my report. Now I need you to add things to
“My list of things people get scared by. Tell me what things
scare you. You know, to see or think about. Know what my mother
said? She said hairy people scare her. You know with hairy hands
and arms and eyebrows and nose hairs and hair where it shouldn’t
be, like on warts and stuff.”
“Yeah, but scary. Go on, what scares you?”
“What did you put for yourself?”
Emery flipped back a few pages. “I put waking up in the dark in
a strange place.” Philip agreed. No argument there. It happened
to him. “Watching scary movies in the dark when my parents are
out.” Philip agreed again. Still no argument. “Being alone in
the house. Sometimes. Like at night. That’s all.”
“They’re all good ones.”
“You took all the good ones.”
“You have to give me something different. Come on.”
“The haunted house scared us. Going inside it, remember?”
Emery wrote it down.
“Somebody finally moved in there, you know,” Emery said, when he
“I heard. My dad told me. At least we won’t have to mow their
lawn anymore. The new people can mow their own lawn.” He and
Emery had beautified the deserted house by mowing its lawn as
part of a community service project.
“Give me one more. A good one. How about monsters? Are you
afraid of monsters?”
“What kind of monsters?”
“Regular monsters. You know. Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman.”
“Everybody’s supposed to be afraid of them, but they’re not
“I’ll put it anyway.”
“Under my name?”
“No, no,” Philip scoffed. “I don’t want everybody in the class
to think I’m afraid of Dracula. Put your cousin Leon’s name
instead of mine. He’s afraid of everything.”
“All right. All right. So there. Only one more person to
interview and I’m done making a list. I’ll ask Mrs. Moriarty
later what she’s scared of.” Mrs. Moriarty was their favorite
neighbor. “Fourth grade projects aren’t so bad. You pick yours
yet?” Emery closed his notebook and tossed it on the sofa.
“No,” said Philip.
“You better hurry up. Want to go see what the new haunted house
family looks like?”
Philip looked out the window. It was early December and darkness
arrived early. Philip checked his watch, hoping Emery got the
message and would suggest a time with more daylight available.
Back to Philip and the Monsters
Philip and the Deadly
Where is it? Philip wondered in exasperation as he moved every
book in his school desk from one side to the other. He’d lost
another Jolly Rancher, the second this week. No one could have
taken it because he hadn’t been away from his desk all morning.
Philip looked over his classmates to see whether anyone looked
suspicious. His eyes finally settled on his best friend Emery,
who sat directly across the aisle from him.
“Did you see my Jolly Rancher?” Philip whispered.
Emery shook his head and pointed to the front of the room.
“Did you lose something, Philip?” asked Mr. Ware, Philip’s
fourth grade teacher. “I haven’t seen your head above the top of
your desk for some time now.”
“I thought I left something here, but I can’t find it,” Philip
“May I ask what is so important it takes you away from what
“My Jolly Rancher.”
Mr. Ware scrunched up his face. “You lost a happy farmer?”
The class giggled.
“No, no. It’s candy.”
“Candy. Well, if anyone sees Philip’s candy, please return it to
him. Now if you can return your attention to me, Philip, I’ll be
a jolly teacher.”
Reluctantly, Philip sat up wondering if this bad luck of his
would ever stop. Mr. Ware spoke to him nicely, but Philip knew
when he’d been scolded; and he’d just been scolded. Where could
his candy be? Philip began to slide down in his seat to look
through his desk again, but caught himself. He’d already
searched twice, and the next time Mr. Ware caught him, he would
probably scold him with the louder voice the class never giggled
at, and Philip had no desire to add more bad luck to his growing
mountain of bad luck so he sat up and tried to pay attention. He
couldn’t, though. The only thing interesting his brain at the
moment was the bad luck following him everywhere lately.
When Philip met Emery for their usual walk to school that
morning, Emery said hello and immediately bent over to pick up a
quarter from the grass right near Philip’s left foot. Philip
watched, astounded. Who knew how long the quarter had been lying
there and how many times he had walked past it and not seen it?
Emery shows up and one second later, he’s a quarter richer. He
considered telling Emery he had a hole in his pocket and the
quarter slipped through and fell out, but Emery might ask to see
the hole. Philip had no choice but to congratulate Emery on his
lucky find and silently bemoan his own bad luck.
Now his candy had disappeared, and Philip was fed up with one
piece of bad luck following another and another and another.
What could he do about it? Nothing. He sat back dejectedly and
listened to Mr. Ware drone on about common denominators.
Walking home with Emery later, Philip decided to share his
problem with his friend.
“Emery,” Philip began.
“Hold it,” Emery cried and ran across the street. He bent down
and picked up something, then ran back to Philip. A big smile on
his face, Emery held up a hard, pink air ball. “Here, catch.”
Philip grabbed the ball. “This is what you ran over there to
get?” He bounced the ball and found it in very good shape.
“Didn’t you see it laying right along the curb?”
Philip shook his head and handed the ball back to Emery, who
shoved it into his coat pocket.
Philip looked at him in sad wonder and said, “You found a
quarter this morning and a good ball this afternoon.”
Emery shrugged and smiled. “Lucky, I guess.”
“Yeah, but why? Today I lost my Jolly Rancher. Mr. Ware yelled
at me. I lost another Jolly Rancher Monday. I didn’t find the
quarter, and I didn’t find the ball. All I have is bad luck.
“Maybe you need a good luck charm, like mine,” Emery said.
Philip stopped walking. “A good luck charm? You have one?”
Emery nodded. “Sure. Come on. It’s cold.”
“Show me,” Philip said.
“I’ll show you at my house. It’s in my pocket. I don’t want to
undo my coat out here.”
Philip wondered what could possibly be giving Emery all of this
Back to Philip and the Deadly Curse
Philip and the Thief
“Philip the Great,” shouted Philip Felton as he bounced noisily
down the stairs from his bedroom to the living room, purple
Jolly Rancher in hand.
“Philip, you’re so humble,” said his father, looking up from the
sofa, where he lay reading the Saturday newspaper.
“Philip, don’t talk like that,” said his mother as she passed
through the living room, carrying Philip’s little sister Becky
on her way upstairs. “It sounds very impolite. If anybody heard
you . . . and candy again?”
His mother’s voice trailed away as Philip watched her climb the
steps. He walked over to his father. “That’s not what I meant. I
didn’t mean great like better than everybody, Dad.”
“Well, you are great, Flipper. Even if your tongue is purple.”
He reached over and messed Philip’s hair.
“I meant like Nate the Great,” said Philip. “He solves the
neighborhood’s mysteries. You read me a couple of the books.”
“I know Nate the Great well,” said Mr. Felton. “He’s a fine boy.
Since you’re using his name, you better have solved a mystery or
two to back it up.”
“I did!” exclaimed Philip. “Remember last night when Emery came
Emery Wyatt was Philip’s best friend, except for when they
argued. He sat across from Philip in Mr. Ware’s fourth grade
class at the Donovan Elementary School.
“I remember. Take the candy out of your mouth when you talk.”
Philip removed the Jolly Rancher and said, “We were upstairs in
my room. I gave him a candy bar, a Snickers. He only ate half of
“A half of a candy bar went uneaten?” said Mr. Felton. “That’s a
mystery right there. I thought you guys didn’t stop until you
devoured every candy bar in sight.”
“He might have been filled up from the two Milky Ways and the
Baby Ruth he already ate.”
“Ah, I see. Mystery solved.”
“That’s not the mystery, Dad. I woke up this morning and
remembered the half a candy bar, but I couldn’t remember what
Emery did with it. I knew he didn’t eat it.”
“He didn’t take it home, either,” said Philip, “because I
remembered his hands were empty when he left. Then I saw a brown
fingerprint on my wall, and it had to be a chocolate fingerprint
“Why Emery’s fingerprint and not yours? And clean the wall
before your mother sees it.”
“I will,” said Philip. “Emery’s because I gave Emery the soft
candy bars and he got all chocolaty. I ate the hard ones.”
“Very cunning of you. Then you could tell your mom Emery made
the mess, not you.”
“Dad, stop. I found the fingerprint on the wall next to my
bureau. I looked around, but I didn’t see the candy bar
anywhere. Only my three Nate the Great books were on top of the
bureau. I read them again after Emery went home and left them
there. Threw them there, actually. Since I threw the books on
top of the bureau, I figured maybe the books knocked the candy
bar behind the bureau and when I looked, I saw the candy bar
stuck halfway down.”
“So where is the evidence now?” Mr. Felton asked.
“I ate it.”
“You ate the evidence?”
“After I washed a little dust off it,” said Philip.
“Sounds kind of gross to me,” said Mr. Felton, making an ick
“I couldn’t waste a whole half a candy bar, Dad. I said I washed
it before I ate it.”
Philip’s father smiled. “And you owe your success to teamwork
between you and Nate the Great.”
“Nate’s inspiration and your careless aim.”
The doorbell rang and Philip ran to get it. When he opened the
door, Emery walked in.
“Emery, hello,” said Philip’s father. “We were just talking
“I lost my Superball,” Emery moaned dejectedly. “And I had to
pester for it, too. My mother said I pestered her so much she
only bought it to keep me quiet. Now I can’t even find it.”
Philip and his father looked at each other. Another mystery!
“Emery,” said Mr. Felton, “I have good news for you. Philip the
Great will help you find your missing ball.”
“Who’s Philip the Great?” Emery asked.
“Me, Emery. Me.”
“What makes you so great?”
“Explain it to him, Philip,” said Mr. Felton. “I have to go.
Good luck finding your ball, Emery. See you later.”
“My dad’s joking. I solved a mystery the way Nate the Great
does, so that makes me Philip the Great.”
“Find my Superball,” said Emery sadly, “and I’ll feel like Emery
“Let’s go over your house,” said Philip. “Tell me what happened
and maybe I’ll be able to find a clue.”
“I hope so.” And the boys left.
Back to Philip and the Thief
Philip and the Girl Who
“Why didn’t you catch it?” Emery asked for the tenth time. “He
threw it right to you. Your team could’ve won.”
“Yeah, ninety-nine miles an hour he threw it to me. How could
anybody catch a ninety-nine-miles-an-hour football?”
“The other kids did.”
Philip threw his arms over his head in frustration. “The other
kids are way older. I didn’t see you catch anything.”
“They didn’t throw me anything. If they did, I’d probably’ve
“You didn’t catch it last game.”
“It hit me in the nose! How could anybody catch a ball that hits
you in the nose?”
The two boys walked a short distance in silence.
Then Emery said softly, “I guess we’re lucky they let us in the
game at all.”
“The only reason they let us play is ‘cause none of them wants
to stand on the line with his hands up and count to ten.”
“I guess, but at least my team won.”
“You didn’t have anything to do with it. You just stood there
“I ran out for passes.”
“They didn’t throw to you. At least they threw one to me.”
“And you missed it.”
“If they used a smaller football like the one we play with . .
“The big kids don’t want to play baby football.”
“Oh, Emery, be quiet!”
The bigger boys had allowed Philip and Emery to join the touch
football game for the exact reasons the boys described; to
either count to ten before running after the quarterback—and
never catching him—or to run out for a pass—and never get thrown
“So what do you want to do?” Emery asked a moment later.
“I don’t want to go home. My father’s watching the football
game.” It was a Sunday.
“His team usually loses so he’s always yelling at the
television, and afterward he’s grumpy the rest of the day.”
“Maybe some guys are in the schoolyard playing punch ball.”
Philip felt his frustration rise.
“Don’t start with punch ball,” he warned.
“Hey, I like punch ball. I won every game this week.”
“Your team won; you didn’t win.”
“Your team lost; you really didn’t win.”
Philip glared at his friend, but Emery walked on.
“Want to play wall ball?” Emery asked. “But I don’t have a
“I have one.”
“No, wait. I don’t like to play wall ball with you. You get mad
when you lose.”
Philip felt an angry little snake start to crawl up his back.
“I’m not going to lose, Emery. And I don’t get mad. Here, I have
a new ball.” He took the ball out of his pocket.
“Let me see it,” said Emery.
Philip tossed the hard, air-filled pink ball to his friend.
“This is the ball you owe me,” said Emery.
“You threw mine away, remember?”
“That was two weeks ago.”
“That was two weeks ago.” It was the only thing Philip could
think of to say. He and Emery had been playing wall ball behind
Emery’s house. Emery had been way ahead, and Philip got angry
and told Emery the ball was no good and threw it so wildly it
missed the wall and sailed past the house into the street. A
gigantic truck rolling by ran over the ball and exploded it like
“You still owe me a ball,” said Emery
Back to Philip and the Girl Who
Philip and The Fortune Teller
Philip cowered in the bushes that jutted out near the old
woman’s garage and gently moved some twigs aside to peek out.
There she stood, dressed in a long, ragged black dress, her
scraggly gray hair blowing about her shoulders, holding onto her
porch railing and looking out over her yard for him.
All he had done was to toss his ball against her garage door as
he walked past her house. Bang went the ball and bang went the
old lady, bolting out of her rocking chair, pointing at him, and
cackling at him to get away; stay away; don’t come back. The old
woman took him by such surprise that his ball bounced off his
knee and into the street and rolled down the sewer. A perfectly
good ball only two weeks old, wasted.
This old lady had already phoned his house twice before with
stupid complaints about him. Once, she said he stuck his tongue
out at her. Ridiculous, Philip thought, as he kept his eye on
her. Emery had given him a piece of the sourest candy he’d ever
tasted. He’d spit it out and waggled his tongue around, trying
to get the sourness to go away.
The other time the old woman told his mother he’d made a nasty
gesture at her. Ridiculous again, Philip thought. He and Emery
had walked by, and Philip saw a mangy cat sitting on the roof of
the porch where the old woman rocked on a chair directly under
the cat. The cat’s tail seemed to wag in time with the old
lady’s rocking. Philip pointed to show Emery. Who wouldn’t point
at such a funny sight?
The old woman jumped up, cackling as always, and a moment later,
she bustled inside to her telephone. Philip’s father told him to
use another street to get where he was going and stay off Van
Kirk Street, where she lived. Philip didn’t want a third phone
call, so he dived into the bushes before the old woman could get
a good look at him. He hoped.
A whistling noise caught his attention, and he turned and saw
Emery walking down the sidewalk. Philip waited for Emery to get
Emery stopped and looked around.
“Where are you?”
“You can’t be here. I’m here. You must be there.”
Philip clenched his jaw. Emery was starting up already.
“Cut it out, Emery. In the bushes.”
Emery stepped closer to the bushes and saw Philip.
“What are you doing in there?”
Philip shushed him and pointed.
“Oh, her again. Let me in.”
Philip shuffled over, and Emery scrouched in next to him.
“Why are you hiding?”
“You sure she didn’t recognize you?” Emery asked.
“I don’t think she did. I pulled my hat down real fast. That’s
why I missed the ball, and it rolled down the sewer.” Philip
wore a red Phillies cap.
“Hide your cap, and let’s go out that way. She won’t see us.”
Philip followed Emery’s suggestion, and a few minutes later the
two boys walked calmly down a different street. It was Wednesday
morning, the fifth day of summer vacation, and both boys were in
a good mood.
“Wait’ll you hear,” said Emery.
“Wait’ll I hear what?”
“I got a wish.”
“Everybody’s got wishes. I wish that old lady would move to New
“No, no. I made a wish come true.”
Philip sighed. He couldn’t wait to hear Emery explain this.
“Go ahead,” Philip muttered. “Let’s hear.”
“I just came from where they’re setting up the circus. You seen
all the posters, right?”
“I guess I have. They’re hanging on every street in the
neighborhood. There’s one there. It says it starts today.”
The boys examined a brightly-colored poster attached to a
telephone pole. Cole Brothers Circus and Carnival. It had a
picture of a tiger jumping through a fiery hoop; a lady riding a
bicycle on a high wire; a pharaoh in a tall headdress; and a
gypsy who wore a dangling hoop earring and whose head looked
like it was wrapped in a towel.
“Why’d you go there? It’s not open in the morning.”
“I didn’t have anything to do so I went to see.” Emery ran to
the telephone pole and put his finger on the gypsy. “See this
guy? He talked to me. He called me over to his tent. I made a
wish, and he granted it.”
Philip’s confidence in Emery plummeted.
“He told you to make a wish; you, nobody but you, and he granted
it like a genie who popped out of a bottle?”
“Yeah, I wished I could see the circus, and look.” With flair,
Emery pulled a ticket to the circus from his pocket. “I didn’t
even have to pay.”
Philip studied the ticket. This put things into a different
light. With Emery waving the ticket under his nose, he had to
“How’d you get it? For free, really?”
“Didn’t I say how I got it, and didn’t I say it was for free?”
“You did. You did. But why’d he pick you?”
“Let me tell you what happened.”
Back to Philip and the Fortune Teller
Philip and the Loser
Philip slumped at his desk. The teacher eyed him coldly, so he
quickly sat up. When the teacher looked elsewhere, Philip
slumped again. Will this class never be over? he wondered. Will
lunch time never get here? Fourth grade had to be the most
boring thing in the world, and September hadn’t even ended yet!
The teacher looked his way a second time, so Philip took the
trouble to wriggle upright again. Mr. Sagsman wasn’t their real
teacher. He only came into the class twice a week to teach about
feelings, conflict resolution, brotherhood, and stuff like that.
“And so, kids, what I want you to do is find an example of
brotherhood somewhere in your own lives,” Mr. Sagsman went on.
Philip quietly moaned and glanced at his best friend Emery, who
sat next to him. Brotherhood; oh, brother, Philip moaned
inwardly. He had one baby sister, and Emery two baby sisters.
Why didn’t Mr. Sagsman teach about sisterhood and how to put up
with it? That would have been something worth learning, instead
of his making the class write a whole page about some kind of
brotherhood in their lives. Philip didn’t even know what Mr.
Sagsman was talking about. He hoped Emery would be able to clue
Suddenly, a jolting crash came from outside the classroom.
Philip sat up again. At last! Something interesting to break the
monotony. Mr. Sagsman walked over and opened the classroom door,
and from where he sat, Philip saw a boy lying on top of an
upside-down, single desk, trying to get untangled from the four
upright legs of the desk.
“What in the world happened?” Mr. Sagsman asked, stepping
outside to help the boy to his feet.
Philip noticed Emery put his head down on one arm and cover the
top of his head with his other arm. Philip looked back at the
doorway. Mr. Sagsman led the boy into the room.
“Are you all right?” Mr. Sagsman asked. “What happened?”
The boy smiled, and Philip could see one of his big front teeth
had a chip out of it. The boy’s hair looked like his mother
forgot to make him comb it. The boy gave a loud sniff, scratched
above his right ear, and said, “I fell down.”
The class laughed. Mr. Sagsman shushed them. “What do you mean
you fell down?”
“Well,” the boy said slowly, scratching the other side of his
head above his left ear. “I was pushing this desk to Ms.
Bethal’s class. She’s my new fourth grade teacher, and this is
my first day here, and that’s gonna be my desk.”
New in school, Philip thought. No wonder he hadn’t seen him
“I was pushing it and . . . and . . .” The boy wobbled his hands
around in front of him for a few seconds. “. . . it fell over.”
The class laughed again.
“You were pushing the desk, and it fell over?”
“Yep,” the boy nodded. “It went . . .” He flipped one hand over
the other. “. . . over. Boom!” The boy smiled at the laughing
children, pleased to be entertaining them.
Mr. Sagsman looked at the class and shook his head. “Stop.” He
turned back to the boy. “Are you hurt?”
“No, I didn’t go . . . boom! The table went . . . boom!” He said
‘boom’ real loud and gave a loud “yuk yuk” after the second
boom, and the class laughed ever harder.
“All right. All right, enough,” said Mr. Sagsman. Philip
wondered why teachers didn’t have the same sense of humor as
their students. Mr. Sagsman, especially. “Come on. Let me help
you.” Mr. Sagsman took the boy into the hall and righted the
desk for him. “Be careful now.”
The boy stared back into the classroom and said, “No more
“No more booms,” Mr. Sagsman responded over the laughter of the
class. He turned away from the boy and reentered the classroom.
The boy followed Mr. Sagsman to the door. “Boom!” he cried again
and joined in with the wildly laughing children in front of him.
“Young man,” Mr. Sagsman began. Philip saw this boy knew what
‘young man’ meant. The boy turned away and got behind the desk
and pushed it out of sight. “All right, class. We still have ten
minutes. Let me finish explaining your assignment.”
Philip saw Emery raise his head. The class hadn’t quieted yet,
so Philip quickly said, “You missed everything. Why’d you have
your head down? It was pretty funny.”
Emery shook his head. “It wasn’t.”
“It wasn’t. That boy?”
“Yeah?” said Philip.
“He’s my cousin Leon, the one I told you was moving a block away
“That goof’s your cousin?”
“Quiet, there,” said Mr. Sagsman.
Emery nodded at Philip and faced the teacher. Philip faced
front, too. That was Emery’s cousin? The cousin Emery never
wanted to talk about? The one Emery’s mother said they’d have to
play with every day? Philip glanced at Emery, who sat with his
head cradled in one hand. Philip knew if Emery had to play with
him, he would have to play with him, too. Philip cradled his
head in one hand while Mr. Sagsman droned on about the wonders
Back to Philip and the Loser
The Golden Mushroom
An old man peered through the curtains which covered the front
windows of his house. He saw no cars coming from either
direction, so he went out on the porch, sat in his rocking
chair, and lit his favorite pipe.
This old man, Jess Hubbard by name, lived in the town of
Seaview. The Atlantic Ocean rolled up onto the beach less than a
block from his house, and during the quiet hours of evening, he
liked to sit and smoke and listen to the crash of the waves. To
him it sounded like a weary giant breathing heavily and slowly.
During pleasant weather, Jess liked nothing more than to take
quiet walks along the shore.
A green car drove by and stopped a few houses away. Jess stopped
rocking, took his pipe out of his mouth, and made a sour face
when he saw two children tumble from the car, followed by their
parents lugging suitcases. The summer season approached.
Seaview, his town, would fill up with the kind of people now
getting out of the green car. Families with noisy, annoying
children. He had put up with it for years, but now something
better had come along, and he wouldn’t have to put up with it
much longer. He had pondered for a long time over what he
planned to do and where he meant to go before he reached a
decision—a firm, unshakeable decision.
He turned away from the newly arrived family, the screeching of
the children ringing in his ears, and began to rock. He closed
his eyes and pictured his bright and happy future out of
Seaview. He smiled and felt quite pleased with himself.
~ * ~
Paul Drummond rejoiced as a long and boring year in fourth grade
came to an end. Spelling tests, math tests, social studies
tests, citywide tests. Tests, tests, tests! Nothing but tests.
But no more now! His mother had recently gone back to work—his
father had always worked—and so his parents planned to ship him
off to his grandfather’s house for the summer in a beach town
called Seaview. Paul invited along his best friend Billy Sparks.
Billy didn’t have a father, only a mother who worked all day and
who happily gave her permission, when Paul’s mother asked for
it, to allow her son to spend the ten weeks of summer vacation
with Paul at his grandfather’s house.
Suitcases already packed and in the car, Paul’s mother met them
outside the schoolyard as soon as school let out for the summer,
and they drove off to Seaview.
~ * ~
Lige Drummond, Paul’s grandfather, woke early as he always did
and took his usual before-breakfast walk along the beach. After
breakfast he went out to sit on his porch. Jess noticed him from
across the street and decided to join him.
Both men had white hair, but Jess Hubbard had a lot more of it.
He was a little taller and much heavier than his friend Lige. He
often bragged to Lige about his sharp eyesight. Lige Drummond
would adjust his spectacles and respond with his usual, “Good
for you.” Both men smoked pipes. Jess liked to talk, and Lige
Drummond didn’t mind listening. They got along well.
“Good morning, Jess,” said Grandfather Drummond.
“Morning,” replied Mr. Hubbard, stepping onto the porch. They
sat in silence and smoked for a while.
“The town’s really filling up with summer coming, isn’t it?”
remarked Grandfather Drummond.
Jess watched two cars drive by. “What? Oh, yes. Be too crowded
for me soon. I like it best when summer’s over, and these people
go home. Then the town is quiet and peaceful, the way it should
be, with no one to bother us.”
“These people don’t bother me. Things get mighty lonesome and
quiet here during the winter. Heh, heh. Look there.”
Half a dozen children crossed the street in front of Grandfather
Drummond’s house. The smallest of the group, a girl about four
years old, got tangled up in her baby blue, plastic inner tube
and fell down, the tube ringing her neck as if someone had
thrown it there hoping to win a prize. The other children
laughed, and the little girl started to cry. The oldest of the
group, a teenage girl, picked up the crying child and, carrying
her in one arm and the inner tube in the other hand, continued
across the street, the child’s cries slowly dying away.
Jess rolled his eyes, and the two men returned to their pipes.
“Lige,” said Jess, “ever think about going away? Far away. To a
different place. No worries, no troubles.”
“Why would I do that? Don’t have many worries or troubles right
here,” said Grandfather Drummond. “Seaview’s good enough for
Jess’s pipe had gone out so he spent some time relighting it.
The two men chatted for a while about the way Seaview used to be
until Jess rose and said, “I’ve got a bunch of things to do, but
I’ll see you again, I hope.”
Grandfather Drummond chuckled. “I certainly hope you do, Jess.”
The two men parted.
Grandfather Drummond also had a number of things to do. His
grandson and his grandson’s friend would arrive soon, and he
looked forward to having them around. It had been a long, lonely
winter, and he’d enjoy the company.
He finished grocery shopping by one-thirty—he remembered how
young boys could eat—and returned to his porch to await the
boys’ arrival. He lazily watched the cars drive by until the red
Jeep carrying the boys pulled in front of his house. Paul and
Billy piled out and ran shouting to him. After some hugs and how
are yous, the boys carried their suitcases upstairs as
Grandfather Drummond made lunch for his guests.
Their appetites would have shrunk considerably, though, if
they’d seen the angry look on Jess Hubbard’s face as he stared
at them from across the street through his front window. The
mumbled word, “Traitor,” slipped from his lips. It won’t be long
now, he told himself. Tonight is the night.
Back to The Golden Mushroom
The Revenge of the Critches
“Did you fellows hear anything odd last night after you went to
bed?” Grandfather Drummond said to his grandson Paul and Paul’s
best friend, Billy Sparks.
“Like what, Grandfather?” Paul replied, not much interested.
“Like someone banging things around. I could swear I heard
something in the middle of the night.”
“It wasn’t us,” Paul said. “We were asleep.”
“I know it wasn’t you. It seemed to come from across the
Paul and Billy exchanged looks, now very interested.
“You mean your friend’s house?” Paul asked.
“As a matter of fact, yes, but it couldn’t have come from there,
could it? Jess Hubbard has been gone all summer, and you say
he’s not coming back.”
“That’s what he told us, Mr. Drummond,” Billy chimed in.
“I might have even heard it the night before too, but I was half
asleep. I don’t know. If I hear anything tonight, I may just go
across the street and have a look. I checked this morning before
you two woke up, but nothing’s changed over there. Finish your
breakfasts. I’m going out for groceries, and when I get back,
we’ll go down to the beach.” Grandfather ruffled his grandson’s
hair. “It won’t be long now until your mom comes to pick you up
and ships you off to fifth grade.”
Paul and Bill ate quietly, and as soon as Grandfather
disappeared, they carried their cereal bowls to the sink.
“We better go look,” Billy suggested.
“My grandfather said he already looked.”
“He doesn’t know what to look for. We do.”
“Of course we do. Let’s go. Don’t waste time. Get the
Paul Drummond and Billy Sparks were spending the summer with
Paul’s grandfather at his seashore house in Seaview. An
extraordinary adventure had kept the boys busy during the first
week of their visit. When Grandfather Drummond’s neighbor and
best friend Jess Hubbard disappeared, the boys traced him to an
unimaginable place called Shumbus. They had traveled to Shumbus
by accidentally tumbling down a mudslide hidden under Jess’s
house. The boys had heard nothing of Shumbus; nothing from
either Argo, the Shumian they had helped to rescue the Golden
Mushroom from the horrible Critches, or from Mr. Hubbard since
their return to Seaview.
The boys crossed the street to Jess’s house and went around to
the back door. Billy put his hand through the empty window he
had broken nearly two months earlier and opened the door.
Paul got a solid kitchen knife from a drawer and knelt in the
corner next to the trapdoor which led to the mudslide to
Shumbus. He tried to pry the door open, but couldn’t lift it.
“Help me,” he said to Billy.
“What for? You know even if we open it, it’s blocked off with
another piece of floor.”
“I’m checking. Get another knife.”
Billy got another knife and tried to help, but the door wouldn’t
“This lifted up last time,” said Paul. “Somebody locked it up
good since then.”
“Let’s go out and look underneath,” Billy suggested.
“Wait, Billy, look. The kitchen floor’s way more scratched up
“What made those scrape marks, you think?” Billy asked softly.
Billy turned to his friend. “Oh, really? Something?”
“Like what kind of something?”
“How do I know? But something.”
“Something. Great. We gotta look underneath. Maybe we’ll see
A space barely large enough for a person to crawl through
separated the kitchen floor from the damp ground beneath it.
One small window, also broken by Billy on their first visit,
looked into this space.
“Shine the light,” said Billy as both boys knelt and peered into
Paul aimed the light at the far corner. The muddy hole they’d
slid down before looked undisturbed, but the yucky, oozy mud
under the house made it hard to tell whether anyone had been
there lately or not.
“Look here,” said Paul. He pointed to dried mud stuck to the
window frame. Paul touched the mud, and it dropped off in little
flakes. “Is this still here from the beginning of summer?”
“I don’t know. That’s a long time ago. The trapdoor wasn’t
locked before. Somebody had to be here to lock it. You think
maybe somebody held on here to slide himself out from under the
house? You think somebody came up from . . .” Billy couldn’t
finish his sentence. He and Paul had tried many times to talk
about their adventure, but since Argo gave them the special tea
to drink, they could say nothing of what happened during those
three days in Shumbus, and they could say nothing now.
“I know what you mean,” said Paul. “Let me knock all the mud
off.” Paul ran his shirt tail across the edge of the window
frame. “If there’s mud here again, we’ll know it happened after
“Good idea. You think maybe Mr. Hubbard came back?” Billy asked.
“I don’t know. If he did, why would he have to sneak around? He
could start living in his house again and make some excuse about
being away all this time.”
“I guess. Then it has to be someone else.”
“Yeah, but who?”
The boys’ eyes met, but neither had an answer.
“We can’t let your grandfather find out about this,” Billy
“Suppose he hears noises again tonight? He’ll come look, he
said. Wait, what’s that?” Paul shone the light on a large,
square piece of wooden flooring tossed into a corner of the
muddy space beneath the house.
“It looks like the underneath part that blocked the trap door
opening before,” Billy cried.
On their first visit at the beginning of the summer, they
managed to pull open the trapdoor in the kitchen only to reveal
another piece of wooden floor beneath it blocking their way—the
piece they now shone their light on.
“Shall we go under?” Billy asked.
“No, we’ll get muddy, and my grandfather’ll want to know how.
What if we try to stay awake tonight as long as we can and watch
“Yeah! We’ll keep watch. We might see . . . something.” Billy
cast a nervous glance at his friend. “Let’s get back before your
grandfather gets home and asks us where we’ve been.”
The boys hurried across the street.
Back to The Revenge of the Critches
Philip and the Sneaky Trashmen
Philip Felton sprawled on the grass in the backyard of his
house. What a miserable beginning to summer vacation. He had
gotten through fourth grade successfully and now looked forward
to almost three months of glorious . . . well, glorious anything
he wanted. So why did things have to start out so badly this
“Philip, your room is a disgrace. I want it clean and neat by
the end of the day.”
“Mom, I . . .”
“Mom, I nothing. Clean and neat. Or else. Your Aunt Louise will
be here tomorrow, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s
my sister looking down her nose at my housekeeping.”
Philip tried to look down his nose. “Why don’t you just let her?
It only hurts your eyes.” He tried again, and it hurt again.
“By the end of the day!”
He watched his mother stalk away and scratched his head. Why
would his aunt even go into his room while she was here? Glumly,
he made his way to the backyard lawn.
Philip heard a noise, lifted his head, and saw his best friend
Emery Wyatt walking his way.
“What are you doing back here?” asked Emery. “Your mother said
you were cleaning your room, but I knew you weren’t. You never
Philip glared. “And you do?”
“No, I don’t clean your room. Why would I clean your room?”
Philip rested his head back on the grass. “Not my room, dummy.
Your room. You don’t clean your room.”
“I do when I have to. I know when it gets messy enough to make
my mother twitch.”
Philip raised his head again. “Your mother twitches?”
“When my room gets messy she does.”
“I don’t even know what that means.”
“It means I clean it before she goes from twitchy to screamy.”
Philip rolled his eyes and lay back. “Twitchy to screamy,” he
mumbled. Aloud he said, “I gotta clean my room or else.”
“Or else what? Twitchy to screamy?”
“Something like that.”
“So clean it.”
“I hate cleaning it! After I clean it, I can’t find anything.”
“Don’t tell me that’s Leon,” said Philip.
“Yup. It is,” answered Emery.
Emery’s unlucky, clumsy cousin Leon came into the backyard, his
wide smile showing off his chipped front tooth. He had once been
jumping up and down on his bed, missed his landing, and went
flying off into his bureau, leaving behind a pool of blood and a
piece of his tooth.
“I thought I heard you guys talking. No school till September.
Ain’t it great?”
“Yeah, great, Leon,” said Emery.
Leon stared at Philip lying on the grass. “What’s wrong with
him? Got no bed?”
“His mother said to clean his room.”
“Who’d she say it to?”
Philip lifted his head and looked at Leon. “She said it to me,
Leon. To me. Who else would she say it to?”
“My mother never says it to me,” Leon said proudly. “I’m a good
cleaner. I heard my teacher tell my mother I can’t do much, but
I’m a good cleaner. Mrs. Furfman let me do all the classroom
closet cleaning this year.”
Emery gave a snort. “So you got 33% in spelling and 100% in
Leon gave his goofy laugh. “Yuk, yuk. They don’t give marks for
closet cleaning. The spelling, though . . . Doesn’t matter. Mrs.
Furfman passed me, didn’t she? You want me to help you clean
Philip sat up. “You mean it?”
“Sure. I’m a good cleaner. I already told you, didn’t I?”
Philip got to his feet.
Emery slid next to him and whispered, “I wouldn’t let Leon help
me do anything. He’s a jinx, a disaster-maker. You know that.”
“Yeah, but I hate cleaning,” Philip whispered back. “Sure, Leon.
You can be my cleaner.”
Leon started toward the back of the house. As he walked, his
head went from side to side as he sang, “I’m gonna be Phil-ip’s
cleaner. I’m gonna be Phil-ip’s cleaner.”
Philip and Emery shared a glance.
“You’ll be sorry,” said Emery.
Back to Philip and the Sneaky Trashmen
Mr. Bumbey, owner of a large grocery store in the small town of
Pennypack, Pennsylvania, inspected the credit card. “Mastercard.
Very well, Ms. Gremlin.”
“Grem-line. Grem-line. Emma-line Grem-line. Can’t you read,
Mr. Bumbey, a short, round, not-so-young man with a pleasant,
smiling face and very little hair on his head, glanced at the
woman in embarrassment.
“It’s Bu-bumbey not bu-buster, ma’am,” he stuttered. He checked
the credit card again. G-r-e-m-l-i-n—Gremlin. How can Grem-lin
be Grem-line? Mr. Bumbey wiped his nervous hands on his white
apron, an apron he wore for no particular reason since his two
hired workers stocked the shelves and cleaned up, smiled
uneasily, and said, “Ah, yes. So sorry, Ms. Grem-line.”
“Humph!” the woman snorted and called, “Shanks! Shanks, where
are you?” Emmaline stalked off to look for her companion, and
Mr. Bumbey stared at the back of the short, thin, hunched-up
woman. He would not—could not forget her face any time soon, and
he shuddered as he ran the credit card through the machine. She
sported a hint of a mustache and wore a baggy black dress, the
bottom of which dusted the floor as she moved. Fire-engine red
lipstick illuminated her lips and spotted her teeth, and when
she opened her mouth, it looked as if a three-year-old had taken
a red crayon and gone way outside of the lines. She had muddy
brown eyes, and one eye seemed to have settled closer to her
crooked, bumpy nose than the other eye. Her teeth seemed to have
had an argument and turned their backs on one another. Her hair
hung down like overcooked black spaghetti.
As Emmaline shuffled back toward Mr. Bumbey, a tall, slow-moving
man trailed behind her. She lifted both hands to her head and
ran her claw-like fingers through her scraggly, midnight-colored
spaghetti hair. The man she called Shanks dressed in black also,
and to Mr. Bumbey he looked like an undertaker. A long face with
a black goatee flecked with tiny bits of gray crowned his tall
thin body. His droopy eyes stared sadly out at the world, and
when he walked, the thick ring of keys he carried in his pocket
made a chungly sound.
“Take the bags, Shanks,” Emmaline commanded, staring up at him.
Shanks muttered to Mr. Bumbey, “Carry, carry, carry.”
“Excuuuse me, Shanks. What did you say?” Emmaline demanded in a
voice high and mighty.
“Don’t worry. I said don’t worry,” Shanks answered. “That’s all
Emmaline gave a queenly sniff and ran the index finger of her
right hand lovingly across her wispy little mustache. Shanks
touched his own ear and shook his head, indicating to Mr. Bumbey
Emmaline’s creeping deafness.
Mr. Bumbey pushed a bag of groceries across the counter. “Here
you go, Mr. Shanks, sir.”
In a soft voice Shanks said, “Armitage Shanks. She calls me
Shanks. You can call me Armie.”
“What are you saying there, Shanks?” Emmaline demanded.
“I’m saying thanks. Thanks,” Shanks answered. “That’s all I
“Take the bags and follow me,” Emmaline commanded.
“She is a gremlin,” Shanks muttered to Mr. Bumbey.
Emmaline spun around and stopped. “Excuuuse me, Shanks. What did
“Just reminding him you’re a Grem-line and not a Grem-lin.
That’s all I’m doing.”
Emmaline gave a quick, sharp nod, licked her lips, and said loud
enough for only Shanks to hear, “Remember, Shanks, I have papers
on you. I give those papers to the right people and . . .” She
snapped her fingers and headed to the door.
Shanks meekly slid the second bag of groceries into his other
arm and hurried to catch up.
“Come again, Mr. Shanks, Ms. Grem-line,” Mr. Bumbey called after
them, hoping in his heart they would do their shopping at the
Emmaline paused when they reached the first corner. Shanks,
looking over the top of the heavy paper bags, stopped next to
her. The tiny woman pointed at three children walking down the
other side of the street.
“What do you think, Shanks?” she said. “Do they look like
orphans to you?”
“There, there, you blind boob,” and she reached up and twisted
Shanks’ head in the proper direction.
Shanks gave his grocery bags a little shake-up and studied the
children, two girls and a boy.
“No, they don’t.”
Emmaline faced him. “Why not?”
“Because they’re laughing. They’re smiling. I have never seen
you do either.”
“That’s because I was an orphan, Shanks. A poor unfortunate
“Then you should be kind to other poor unfortunate orphans,
don’t you think?”
Shanks began this same conversation whenever Emmaline got on his
nerves as she had back in Mr. Bumbey’s store. It always ignited
a red-faced reaction in Emmaline, which delighted Shanks. He
mouthed the words along with the angry, sputtering woman.
“I will never . . . never be kind to those who were unkind to
Shanks shifted the grocery bags again. He’d forgotten about them
in his glee at sending Emmaline into her usual rant about being
“Can we go?” he asked. “These bags are heavy.”
Emmaline would ignore his plea, he knew, until she finished her
standard arm-waving speech.
“The other orphans despised me. They wouldn’t play with me. They
teased me. They called me . . . ugly! Do you believe it, Shanks?
Me? Ugly! The orphan-keepers wouldn’t stop them. They sent me
back for more. They all despised me, and I will never forget.”
She lifted her right arm and waggled her index finger.
“Despised you,” Shanks muttered. “I wonder why?”
“Excuuuse me, Shanks. What did you say?”
“Oh my. I said oh my. That’s all I said.”
Emmaline gave a satisfied snort and started across the street.
She and Shanks headed for the furnished house on Clabber Street
they’d rented earlier that week. The house, old and thin, and a
little scary-looking, suited the two of them to a T. Emmaline
claimed the rooms on the first floor, leaving Shanks to take
what comforts he could find on the second floor.
“You can deal with the stairs, Shanks. You’re young enough,” she
Shanks didn’t argue. He knew better.
“Do you think we’ll find him here?” Shanks asked. Since Emmaline
took quick short steps and Shanks took long slow steps, they
strolled along in harmony.
“We’ve traced him here, Shanks. He must be here, and we have to
find him. There’s only a week to go. He’s here. I know he’s
here. I will have the deed out of him or know the reason why,
and when I get it, see what I do to those who have done to me.”
She lifted her right hand and waggled her finger again.
“Why don’t you get another copy of the deed?” Shanks asked,
tired to death of trailing this man from town to dreary town.
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, Shanks.
It has both of our signatures, and it needs both of our
signatures. It’s worthless without them. If I give him a new
deed to sign, he won’t do it. If he gives me another deed to
sign, I won’t do it. Whoever holds the original deed will
control the rights to the orphanage come next Monday at noon. If
we miss this chance, Shanks, my chance for revenge will be lost
forever! Forever, Shanks! No, no, I must have the original deed
and no other.”
“What do you want with an orphanage anyway?”
“Orphanage smorphanage. I don’t want it. I’ll close it down.
I’ll be a big bad wolf and blow it down. Blow it up; blow it
down; any direction will do.” She cackled, pleased with her
sense of humor. “Then I’ll build myself a new house there and
play and cavort and enjoy every moment on very spot where I was
despised and hated in childhood. And you’ll be there with me!
Think what fun it will be, Shanks!”
“Oh, great fun, I’m sure,” Shanks muttered.
Emmaline glared. “Excuuuse me, Shanks. What did you say?”
“There’s one for sure. That’s all I said.”
“One what? Where?”
“An orphan.” Shanks pointed with his foot. A young boy ran down
the sidewalk, a grown-up a little ways behind.
“He’s not an orphan, you nincompoop. Let’s get home. My lipstick
is wearing thin.”
Three blocks farther on, they turned up the cement walkway of
their rented house.
“We’ll have lunch, Shanks, and afterwards we’ll explore this
little town of Pennypack. He’s here somewhere, Shanks. We’ll
find him and gouge the deed out of him if necessary.”
“Old witch,” Shanks muttered.
“Excuuuse me, Shanks. What did you say?” Emmaline took a step
“Sandwich. I’ll make us a sandwich. That’s all I said.”
Back to Emmaline Gremlin
Mark Foy, ten years old, tossed his books on the table beside
the front door, shouted hello to his mother, and raced up the
stairs to his bedroom, relieved another boring day of school had
ended. What would usually be another boring evening at home
loomed ahead. Not tonight, though, not tonight. Mark hurried
straight to his bedroom window. The sky wouldn’t darken for
another three hours yet, he knew, and even then the moon
wouldn’t appear until an hour later. He rechecked his almanac.
He didn’t want to make a mistake and miss it. The moon would
rise in the night sky at seven twenty-seven, he read, and he
would be there to greet it.
He found his library card in the pants he’d worn on Saturday,
crumpled but not ripped. It wasn’t like him to be so careless
with his library card, one of the few things that kept his
boring life from driving him crazy. He’d planned to stop at the
library on his way home from school, but when he didn’t find his
card in his wallet, he had to retrace his steps from the
weekend. Now, he’d have to make another trip, because he needed
something interesting to keep himself occupied until the moon
rose tonight. Mark tucked the library card into his wallet and
After dinner, Mark went upstairs to his room. He angled his
digital clock so he could see it with barely a twist of his
head. He would not miss seven twenty-seven. He moved his desk
chair to the window, ready when he needed it. He plumped up a
pillow and sat back in bed to look over the books he’d brought
home from the library—two mysteries, two science-fiction, and a
book about Robin Hood he’d never seen before. He chose Robin
Hood and opened to page one.
As he read, Mark thought about what a great time that must have
been to be alive. Robin and his Merry Men never had to worry
about feeling bored. Living in a forest. Fighting the Sheriff’s
men. Robbing the rich people stupid enough to travel through
Sherwood Forest. Always winning. Never doing anything wrong.
Good strong friends. If only his life would be so interesting.
He glanced at the clock—six fifty-four. In about half-an-hour,
it very well might be. At least for a little while.
When the clock clicked to seven-twenty-five, Mark turned his
book upside down on the bed, turned out the light, and moved
into his desk chair. He opened the window and stared into the
dark sky from his dark room as the top edge of the moon slowly
A week ago, as he casually glanced from his bedroom window, Mark
had noticed a strange green glow flash from the upper edge of
the moon a few minutes after it appeared. He’d looked for it the
next night and each night thereafter, and each and every night,
for a few seconds only, the green flash appeared and disappeared
as quickly as a lightning bolt slices through the sky and
When he told his school friends about it, they weren’t
interested. They laughed and said he was seeing things. Even
after he told them the right time to watch the moon, no one ever
came back to him and said they’d seen the green glow. No one
believed him. He’d even mentioned the green glow to his teacher,
but she merely smiled and said, “Interesting.” Interesting? What
good was telling him it was interesting if she didn’t check it
out for herself? Mark knew what he knew, though, and chose to
ignore all of them. Now, as the blue numbers of the digital
clock turned to seven twenty-seven, Mark concentrated on the
moon as its white, shiny curve appeared.
Then, there it was! A tiny circle of green light sparkled like a
tiny dancing leprechaun. What caused it? Mark wondered. He
couldn’t possibly be the only person in the whole world to
notice. He should have asked for a telescope last Christmas
instead of the double volume 101 Arabian Nights.
He sat up straight. What was happening? The green light got
brighter—brighter than ever before. Mark leaned forward. The
shimmering light lingered. He heard his mother’s footsteps
coming up the stairs. Suddenly, the green light froze and burned
steadily. Mark heard his mother’s hand jiggle his doorknob. His
bedroom light clicked on, and from the corner of his eye, he saw
his mother’s leg as she stepped into the room.
“Mark,” she said, “can I . . .”
Then the room exploded in a flash of green light. A thousand
bees buzzed in his ears, and he was gone!
Mark tumbled head over heels, and when he stopped rolling and
sat up, he felt like he’d been whirled around at an amusement
park. Dizzy, dizzy, dizzy. Sand! Sand? And so bright! Where had
the night gone? And what was with all this sand? What in the
world happened to him? Where in the world was he?
Back to Planet Zoron
Rescue from Zoron
“Yes, Blaylock,” came a voice from the dark.
“Where are we, Fentar? What’s happened to us?”
“It was the Tappa Ray, Blaylock. We were both caught in the
“The Tappa Ray! But where are we?”
“We must be on Earth, Blaylock.”
These two men—Blaylock: tall, thin, with horrid yellow and black
teeth, and Fentar: a scientist, short and nearly as ugly—had
tumbled through space, victims of their own evil plan. When
Prince Zincor’s father died, they’d seized the throne from
Zoron’s young prince. They locked both him and his twin sister
Princess Zayla in the palace dungeon, but a faithful servant of
Zincor’s father helped Zincor escape into the desert surrounding
the walled city where the palace stood.
Fentar had fired the Tappa Ray over and over into the desert,
hoping it would strike the prince and send him off into space,
so he would no longer be a threat to Blaylock’s position on the
throne. But Fentar had not yet perfected the powerful ray, and
instead of sending Prince Zincor to Earth, it had snatched Mark
Foy, ten years old, from his bedroom window on Earth where he
sat watching what he thought were strange, green sparkles of
light coming from the moon.
Mark and Zincor met in the desert and with help from Bazel, aged
councilor to Zincor’s late father, who had also been exiled into
the desert by Blaylock, managed to upend Blaylock’s plan to rule
in Zincor’s place. In the final battle, which took place in
Fentar’s laboratory inside the palace, the Tappa Ray had sent
Blaylock and Fentar to Earth where they now stood in the dark,
puzzled and angry.
“You idiot!” roared Blaylock. “We were supposed to send them
“Yes, yes. I know,” the timid Fentar agreed. “It was a nasty
turn of events.”
Blaylock saw someone in the distance walking down the sidewalk
toward them. He pulled Fentar back from where they stood on a
lawn in front of a house.
“Back there, back there,” Blaylock whispered, pointing. He
dragged Fentar behind some bushes against the wall of the house,
and both men watched in silence as a man walking his dog passed
“Did you see how he dressed?” whispered Fentar. “We’ll need
clothing like his or else we’ll never be able to be seen in
public.” The two men dressed in black baggy shirts and pants,
appropriate enough on Zoron, but out of place on Earth.
Blaylock glared with his greasy eyes. “And where do you think
we’ll get clothes like that? We have no money, no nothing. But
since it’s your idea—and a good one, I compliment you on it—why
don’t you go and get us some?”
“Me? How? Where?” From the look on Blaylock’s face, Fentar knew
better than to argue. “All right. All right.” He slunk out from
behind the house and checked the street. Empty.
“Well?” Blaylock said.
Fentar sighed helplessly. He knew he’d have to go, so he tiptoed
across the lawn and walked slowly down the sidewalk.
Blaylock nestled himself behind the bush and against the wall
and waited. Fentar circled the block until he saw some things
waving in the breeze behind one of the houses. When he
investigated, he saw clothing hanging from ropes stretched
across the backyard. He crept quietly past the side of the house
and took what he needed. He rolled everything into a ball and
hurried back to Blaylock. The two men changed, stuffing their
old clothes into a trash can.
Fentar, quite pleased with himself for solving their problem,
pointed at the moon hanging full and bright in the sky. “That’s
where we came from. Zoron is in another dimension between Earth
and its moon. The Tappa Ray broke through the dimensions. I knew
I’d be able to make it do that. And…and here we are.”
Blaylock narrowed his eyes and stared at his partner. “Have you
noticed one little flaw in your plans?”
“No,” Fentar said thoughtfully. “I knew I could get through the
“We’re here instead of the prince,” Blaylock growled from
between clenched teeth.
“Oh, that. Well, it wasn’t my fault. That strange boy. It was
his fault. His fault and Prince Zincor’s. They landed us here…
Look, did you see it?” Fentar grabbed Blaylock’s arm as both men
stared at the heavens. “There. There. Did you see it, Blaylock?
Did you see it? The moon! Watch the moon!”
“Yes, I see it.” Blaylock focused his attention on the moon and
saw pinpoints of green light burst from its surface. “What is
“Those bursts of light—green light—came from Zoron. From the
“What? Why…?” Blaylock asked in confusion.
A lightning quick burst of green in the nearby night sky caught
Fentar’s eye. He
stepped onto the lawn and studied the houses on each side of the
“That burst of light was right above us,” said Blaylock. “What
does it mean, Fentar?”
“I know! The strange boy! That’s why he seemed so strange. He
must have come from Earth! We brought him to Zoron from Earth by
Blaylock glared. “When you say ‘we’…”
“Well, maybe not we. I guess it was me,” Fentar said softly.
“Are you telling me…do you mean before you corrected the Tappa
Ray, you brought an Earth boy to Zoron by mistake?”
“Uh, well, maybe I did.”
“Uh, I guess I did.”
“All right. I did. I did. The Tappa Ray worked in reverse,” said
“But Blaylock, those flashes. Especially the one nearby. I think
the boy’s returning. Yes, they’re sending him…they’ve sent him
back to Earth. He must be here in one of these houses.”
“Yes, but which house?” asked Blaylock. “Look for him. Look for
him. Maybe he landed outdoors like we did. Maybe he’ll even pop
up in the same spot as us.”
Both men stepped out onto the lawn, hoping to see Mark Foy
materialize where they had materialized. They spun in slow
circles, eyes eager, both ready to pounce on the boy.
“Where is he? Where is he?” Blaylock said.
Fentar stopped circling. “Oops,” he mumbled.
Blaylock stood still. “Oops? Did I hear you say oops?”
“Perhaps I shouldn’t have changed the Tappa Ray setting to
confuse the boy when I thought we were sending him away.”
“Explain?” ordered Blaylock, staring at his nervous companion.
“Well, I wanted to… I didn’t know it would… How could I tell we
would be the ones…?”
“Stop blathering, you imbecile. How much did you change the
“Only a few points. Two.”
“Is two points a lot? Does that mean he returned near here?”
“Oh, yes! Very near here. You saw the green burst.”
“But where did he land? In what direction?”
Fentar shrugged his shoulders.
“Ahhrrgh,” Blaylock sputtered. “We’ll never find him in the
dark. We need a place to spend the night. We’ll search for him
in the morning when we can see what we’re doing. And you, Mr.
Brilliant Scientist, better come up with some way to get us back
to Zoron so I can even things with Prince Zincor. I don’t want
to spend the rest of my life here…wherever here is. I want his
throne, Fentar. I want the throne of Zoron.”
Fentar nodded in agreement and followed Blaylock off into the
Back to Rescue from Zoron
Philip and the
Philip stared at the Christmas tree standing near the living
room window of his house, already lit in the middle of the
gloomy day. Red bulbs, green, blue, yellow bulbs reflected off
the shiny silver balls his father had hung on the tree. At the
top of the tree, a baby blue ball dangled from a branch. His
mother had glued and glittered his name and birthdate on the
ball and hung it up on his first Christmas and every Christmas
afterward. In another four days, on Wednesday, presents would
appear under the tree. His mother insisted the presents not show
up until after Philip went to bed on Christmas Eve. Philip
didn’t mind. The pleasant shock of coming downstairs Christmas
morning and seeing what had appeared under the tree overnight
never grew old. His mother’s voice caught Philip’s attention.
She leaned against the dining room wall, her cell phone pressed
to her ear, a grim look on her face.
“Are you sure there’s nothing else you can do with him, Joanne?”
Philip knew Joanne was Aunt Joanne, his mother’s cousin. They
didn’t see one another very often, but she did give him a
present every Christmas. Him could only be Francis, Philip’s
seven-year-old cousin. Philip hoped it wasn’t him, but who else
could it be? He saw Francis, who was really his second cousin,
his father explained once, only a couple times a year, but even
one visit from Francis was too much to take; way too much.
Second cousins must be twice as much trouble as regular cousins,
Philip guessed. Francis was a real . . . His mother spoke again.
“How long? Until Christmas?” His mother’s voice squeaked at the
“I know, I know you’ll bring his presents, but . . . but . . .
yes, spending Christmas day together would be nice, but . . .”
Mr. Felton, Philip’s dad, entered the room and stood listening
“Dad, they’re talking about Francis. Aunt Joanne’s going to dump
him here for Christmas!”
Philip’s father waved a hand at him. “Shhh. Let me hear.”
“I suppose so,” said Mrs. Felton. She looked toward her husband
and Philip and rolled her eyes. “I understand. No, of course.
It’ll be fine. Okay, then, I’ll talk to you later.” She ended
the call and lowered her phone.
“We have to take care of Francis for a while,” she said.
“Mom . . .”
“Honey . . .”
Mrs. Felton raised her hand. “Joanne and Cliff have to go away.”
“Over Christmas?” Mr. Felton asked.
“A wedding in Idaho. They’ll be back Christmas day to pick him
up. Joanne said it was unavoidable. Cliff’s family. Cliff will
leave his car at the airport, and they’ll come here as soon as
they land,” Mrs. Felton explained.
Philip panicked. “We don’t have to wait to open the presents, do
“I don’t know. We’ll see. They’re bringing Francis’s presents
“You sure they don’t just want a quiet Christmas morning alone?”
asked Philip’s father.
“They’re flying across the country on Christmas morning,”
Philip’s mother said, her eyes narrowing.
“When are they bringing him here?” asked Mr. Felton.
Mr. Felton frowned. “Can’t they leave him with a friend nearer
where they live, so he can go to school on Monday?”
“He can’t go to school. He’s suspended until the new year.”
“Suspended! He’s seven years old. What did he do?”
“Joanne wouldn’t tell me.”
“Did you ask?”
“Of course, I asked.”
Philip, listening carefully, calculated. He’d be at school on
Monday, at least, so that eliminated Francis for most of one
day. Then only two days until Christmas, and Francis would be
gone. An opinion Philip rarely held flashed through his mind.
Thank goodness for that one day of school.
The doorbell chimed.
“I’ll get it,” Philip said. “It’s probably Emery.” Emery had
been Philip’s best friend since second grade. They’d been
classmates for three years in a row and lived on the same block
of the same street. Philip welcomed him.
Emery noticed Philip’s parents talking together, both at the
“What’s up?” he asked, nodding toward the dining room. Mrs.
Felton’s arms waved through the air.
“Francis is coming.”
“Oh, I’m glad you boys are here,” said Mrs. Felton. “Hi, Emery.
Did you tell Emery we’re having a guest?”
“You boys will have to entertain him.”
“Entertain who?” asked Emery.
“Francis,” said Philip.
“You boys’ll have a lot of fun together,” Mrs. Felton promised.
“He’s a crazy nut,” said Philip.
“Philip, stop that. He may be a little high strung, but he’s
“Who’s a crazy nut?” Emery asked.
“Francis,” Philip cried.
“Who’s Francis?” Emery insisted, flapping his arms in
“Take Emery up to your room,” Mrs. Felton suggested. “I need to
talk to your father.”
“Come with me, Emery, and I’ll tell you who Francis is.”
The last thing the boys heard was Philip’s mother saying, “I
can’t help it if she’s my cousin. You can’t pick your family,
and your family’s no picnic, either.”
Back to Philip and the