1.Daisha is the Mountain Person
It’s a real scary thing living next to the tallest mountain in the world. All I have to do is look out of my bedroom window and there it is, Mount Everest, standing there in all its splendid magnificence, just behind the gas station.
Both my daddy and my granddaddy are heroes, you know. My daddy is in the army and he is always away from home. He is working in the mountains in some far off country and I sure miss him. He calls on the computer once a week and Mom and I talk to him. My granddaddy was a soldier, too, a long time ago.
“Longer than I care to remember, sweet pea.” He’s forever telling me.
My granddaddy still has a taste for climbing in the mountains. “It never leaves you. It gets a man right here.”
That’s when my granddaddy makes a fist and hits on his chest where his heart is and then he says, “I’m going to make you a mountain person, too.”
I’ve always wanted to be a mountain person since I was knee high to a snowman. So I’m going to make sure I am ready for the mountain when my granddaddy says it is time to climb.
I know I can do this and I know people will think I’m crazy to want to climb the highest mountain in the world but it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Honest.
When you know your own heart, you know things are going to be all right. At least that’s what my daddy tells me all the time.
Marion is always trying to get the other kids in my class to say stupid things about me. There goes the crazy mountain girl, she shouts at me, but as my granddaddy is always telling me, what people say about me isn’t my business.
I remember one day Marion brought a book into school about mountains. I remember she said that the mountain behind the gas station wasn’t anything more than a hill. She told me there was a book that said that Everest was a long way away in China or Nepal or somewhere like that. Then she said that we didn’t live in China or Nepal or anywhere close by.
I told her she was lying but she was having none of it. Said I was a stupid kid who believed her stupid grandfather.
Then last Saturday guess what I saw? Go on guess. Give up? It was Marion pulling herself up a tree using ropes and stuff like that. She didn’t see me, so I just stood at the bottom of the tree until she got to the top and I said to her that she must like climbing.
Well she nearly fell off the tree she was so shocked. When she stood up, she told me that maybe she did like climbing and maybe she didn’t. I didn’t think that kind of talk cleared anything up as I was still confused.
When I told my granddaddy about Marion, you know what he said? He said, why didn’t I take Marion along with us to climb Mount Everest? Have you ever heard anything so crazy? Just in case he was right, I asked Marion and she said yes. So that is why the three of us are setting off to climb the highest mountain in the world.
I’ve packed soda and water. Marion baked some cakes with her mom helping. She says that there are animals called Yeti and they live in Mount Everest and they tend to like cakes. If you throw one to them, then they’ll leave you alone. We didn’t see the Yeti, so we just ate the cakes instead.
The climbing wasn’t as difficult as I thought, but I guess all those months of training helped.
When we got to the top, granddaddy planted a flag, the flag of the United States, and he said that we were the very first to get to the top. Marion started crying because she said she’d never been the first in anything. I gave her a hug and she said she felt better.
The other thing was that at the very top my granddaddy lifted me up on his shoulders and he said that if I looked hard enough, I could see my own daddy in the mountains where he was working.
I’m sure I saw him waving, so I waved back and when he talked to me on the computer last week, he said that he’d seen me waving.
I reckon everyone should climb Mount Everest.
2.The Lansdale Monster Hunters
Every Thursday without fail, well every Thursday since school finished that is, the Lansdale Monster Hunters meet in Stuart’s tree house for soda, candies and a monster meeting.
The gang have noticed that there has been a severe increase in monster activity within their area in the last few weeks. They are troubled that if they don’t do something soon, the whole problem will get out of hand. If the monsters take over, who’s to say that the gang won’t be able to control them.
“I hereby call this meeting to order.” Says Jane, who watches lots of movies about courts and court cases, too many according to her mom but then what does her mom know?
The meeting is duly brought to order and Jane introduces Mia as that evening’s monster hunter. Each week they take it in turns to report stories, footprints or if they are real lucky, photos of monsters that have caught their attention.
“Hi, my name is Mia.”
“Hi, Mia” say the whole gang. It is part of the meeting for everyone to greet that week’s monster hunter.
“You all know, Mrs Coutts” says, Mia.
“I don’t” said Melvin but that was because he stays in his house most free days playing computer games, except on Thursdays when he comes to the meeting.
“Everyone, apart from Melvin, knows Mrs Coutts. She lives on North Broad Street. As we all know there have been a few sightings of monsters in that area.”
Harry, the gang’s accountant, looks at a sheet and reports that there have been three sightings in Mrs Coutts’ area since January.
“Thank you, Harry.”
“You’re welcome” says Harry who goes back to reading a book about pirates.
Mia gives a very important cough before she starts talking again. She noticed her uncle do that before he gave a speech at a wedding. She coughs again just to make it seem doubly important.
“I believe that there is a monster hiding in Mrs Coutts’ shed.”
“Wooo!” Says the gang.
“Any idea which type of monster, Mia?” Asks, Hilary.
“I think it might be a first but I do believe that it is a three-headed-Jumbalee.”
“Wooo!” Says the gang, again.
Harry looks up from his book.”That’s just crazy talk, Mia. No one has ever seen a three-headed-Jumbalee, well no one except Andrew and we all know he disappeared soon after.”
Actually Andrew moved with his family to Philadelphia but that wasn’t as
exciting as being eaten by a three-headed-Jumbalee.
Mrs Coutts, whose shed the monster lived in, had heard from a friend of a friend that the gang might go looking in her shed. Not being one to want to disappoint anyone, she feels that if there wasn’t a three-headed-Jumbalee living in her shed then she might just have to make one, just as a backup.
Mrs Coutts goes down to the library and looks on the Internet and she can’t find anything about three-headed monsters. So she gets out her crayons and pencils and decides to invent her own.
What would a monster have? Five eyes on each head, she decides, so that it could see around corners, and maybe a nose at the front and a nose at the back so it can smell if any enemy are approaching. It will have lots of hair in the winter and none in the summer. It has seven ears on each head, some can hear music and some can listen for dogs barking. You see the three-headed-Jumbalee is frightened of dogs as they will bark at them. With so many ears, it is a bit painful to listen to.
Mrs Coutts goes home and makes a three-headed-Jumbalee from cloth and bits of plastic. It is so good that it almost scares Mr Coutts who finds it sitting on their bed.
Mr Coutts hides the monster at the back of the shed and then waits on the gang.
The gang pushes Mia in first to the shed as it is her monster, when she hasn’t been eaten, she calls out for the rest of them to join her. When all the gang are in the shed Mr Coutts does a very foolish thing, he taps on the glass of the shed.
Well you have never seen so many kids run so fast out of that shed and just for extra measure Mr Coutts roars like a Jumbalee would.
Mr Coutts laughs and laughs but Mrs Coutts says that the kids will probably have nightmares and he’d better go around to each of their houses and explain.
He tells all the parents what he has done and they think it is funny too.
Parents can be strange.
3. Caleb's Dad is a Spy
Caleb’s dad is so good at being a spy that no one knows.
Caleb knows, of course. He has decided to keep the whole story to himself, not even telling his best friend just in case he lets the story slip.
Caleb didn’t really notice that his Dad was a spy at first then his friend, Joshua had given him a book for his last birthday. It was called ‘How to Tell If You Have a Spy in Your Family’. He’d thought the book a bit far-fetched at first until he started studying it. If you look carefully there are signs everywhere.
For instance, his dad will go to an ATM and when he punches in a special code, instructions will come out. His dad will read those instructions, then fold up the paper and put it in his wallet. This is a very obvious indication of spying as mentioned in chapter fifteen of his book.
Caleb thinks that type of spying is dangerous, as the wallet might fall into the wrong hands but he also reckons his dad knows what he was doing.
Caleb’s dad is very clever with disguises. He makes people think that he works in a bank. It is a great cover because everyone believes it, not Caleb, obviously, but everyone else including Caleb’s mom.
He’d thought for a while that his mom was also a spy but her cover is just being a mom and that doesn’t seem very good. So he has scored her off the ‘possible spies’ list.
Caleb’s sister is only three, so she too has been taken off the list. That just leaves his aunt Patricia; she is his dad’s sister and probably comes from a long line of spies. Maybe his grandparents are spies as well? He will leave that investigation for another time.
Last week, Caleb’s teacher had spent an hour discussing with the class what their parents or guardians did outside the home or whether they stayed in the house. Caleb had to say that his dad was a banker but he was so wanted to say super spy.
“Is there something else you want to add?” asked his teacher.
“He’s not just a banker” said Caleb.
“This sounds interesting, Caleb” said his teacher “please tell us.”
“He’s a” but the word ‘spy’ wouldn’t come out. He knew it was a secret and that was that.
“He’s a great Dad, too” added Caleb but annoyed at himself.
On the bus home Robert, his best friend, asked him why he was so quiet. Caleb wanted to talk to Robert about his dad but he just said he was tired, that was all. Really Caleb was thinking through what would happen if the world knew his dad was a spy. Well it wouldn’t be much of a secret, so that was a good reason not to tell. Also his dad and family might be put in jail if he did things he wasn’t supposed to do because he was a spy. Caleb couldn’t think of any particular thing that his dad might have done, but he was sure that there must be something.
Everything comes to those who wait, that’s what Caleb’s auntie is always telling him and one day, in the week before New Years, the thing he had wanted more than anything happened.
Robert and Zoe, their other best friend and her dog, Toto were walking through the park. Zoe felt it was safe enough to let Toto run free for a time, she had seen her dad do the same but for whatever reason Toto was really jumpy that day and was rushing all over the place. Suddenly, as Zoe tried to get him back, he slipped down an embankment and slid onto the ice that covered the Whistledown Pond. No matter how much they called on Toto, she wouldn’t come back in and she just sat on the ice shivering and barking. Caleb’s dad had always told him to stay off the ice because the ice can crack and you can fall through. So Caleb called his dad on his phone hoping that he was nearby and not in Japan or some other country being a super spy.
Luckily Caleb’s dad was standing at the pond within five minutes.
Caleb’s dad had brought a rope with him. One end, he tied around a tree and the other around his own
waist. He handed his phone to Caleb and told him that if the ice should break that he was to call the fire station and let them know. Caleb took the ‘phone and stood proudly, ready to make the call. His dad, the super spy, had trusted him and no one else. One day I will be a spy too, thought Caleb.
Caleb’s dad then crawled onto the ice keeping his body very flat. Caleb thought that they must have taught his dad that at spy school although it didn’t mention it in his book. When Caleb’s dad reached Toto, she was shivering with the cold. Caleb’s dad gave her a hug and managed to get his arms around the dog and get her back on shore.
Caleb felt really proud of his dad that day and when Robert asked him where his dad had learned to go onto the ice like that, Caleb told him spy school.
Robert just laughed and Caleb smiled, happily.
Billy only had himself to blame.
If only he hadn’t spent the whole of the summer reading every book in the house that his mother had approved for him. She had meant Billy to read one or two books at most then spend the rest of the time playing with his friends. But no, Billy had to do what he always did and that was to give the whole exercise every minute of the day that was available.
Billy was always excited when he tried something new and now that he had discovered books again, he wanted to read everything. At least, he thought he did.
He had read so many books that he felt he couldn’t read another one. Not one more book or he would be ill. It’s just that he loved books so much and this is what made his predicament so difficult.
That night Billy lay awake imagining that there was writing on the ceiling of his bedroom and wondering what he should do next.
The idea must have come to him in the middle of the night, when he was asleep, because the next thing he knew, it was morning and he had the greatest idea ever in the history of greatest ideas.
Billy was going to write a book by himself, one that he could enjoy reading over and over again, because it would be his own story.
Now the only problem was what to write as a story. What did Billy like to read about? To be honest, he liked to read about everything. So that wasn’t much help. You couldn’t write a book about everything. So Billy would need to narrow it down to something easier. What though?
He would start by describing his own bedroom and see how that worked out.
My bedroom has a bed and three windows. It is painted in my favourite color and I have books and computer games.
Then Billy thought that describing himself might be a better idea to start with.
My name is Billy and I am nearly as tall as my bookshelf. I reckon I’m really good at sports, especially soccer. The walls of my bedroom are covered in posters of soccer players. I love to read books and magazines, I can’t help myself. When I go into book stores, I imagine the writers sitting on the shelf telling me to read their books. Imagine a book store full of people sitting on shelves rather than their books.
He could hear his uncle Raymond talking to his mother downstairs, so he thought that asking him what to write about might be a good idea.
His uncle Raymond was a large man who was always laughing and smiling. Billy liked to be around him and Uncle Raymond was always telling jokes. Not all of them funny.
“So my little nephew wants to write a book. I would say write about horses, definitely horses. Everyone loves to read about them, so I imagine they will be easy subject to write about. If you have any problems you only have to ask me.”
So Billy ran back up the stairs and started to write about horses, or rather he wrote the title, ‘Horses’ and then he was stuck. He had to be honest with himself and admit he knew nothing about horses. He didn’t want to upset his uncle so Billy sneaked along the corridor to Andy, his big brother.
Andy was always taller than Billy. I didn’t matter how much Billy grew, Andy also grew some more. Andy was Billy’s hero as he always helped him out with any problems he had. So he seemed as good a person as anyone to ask.
“Andy, if you could write a book what would it be about?”
“I could write about anything?” Asked, Andy.
“Anything” said, Billy.
“Then it would have to be about baseball. I mean everyone loves baseball, so it would easy to write about and if you had any problems you could always ask me.”
So Billy went back to his room and started on a new page with a story called, ‘Baseball’ but soon he was stuck again. He didn’t know anything about baseball.
Just then his wonderful Mom who always smelled of warm bread knocked on his door. “Billy?”
“Come in, Mom.” Billy called out.
“Your uncle says you want to write a book. How are you getting on?”
Billy had to admit that things hadn’t been going well. His uncle Raymond had suggested horses which he knew nothing about and then Andy suggested baseball which he knew even less about.
“What can I do, Mom?”
His mother thought for a while and then said, “What is it you love more than anything else in the world?”
That was a great question, thought Billy and so he considered it.
“The thing I love the most in the world is my family, you and dad and my big brother, Andy.”
“Then that’s what you should write about. Write about your family.”
This time when Billy wrote, ‘My Family’ he wasn’t stuck. This time, he just kept on writing.
My family is my dad, my mom, my brother Andy and my dog, Asterix, oh, and my uncle Raymond.
Asterix is a crazy dog who is never short of energy. My dog is always waiting on me to come home from school. He is brown and white and the friendliest dog in the world.
We live in a house on a really nice street called Sycamore Street. Our house has an upstairs and downstairs and last summer, my dad, my brother and me, painted the outside of the house in the color white.
Billy spent the rest of the day and most of the next day writing his very first story. This is going to be the best book ever, he thought.