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John Paulits

John Paulits, Author of Philip and the Superstition Kid

    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.



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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 Poll!


2010 Winner of the Preditors and Editors readers Poll for Children's Books, John Paulits, Philip and the Superstition Kid  2011 Top Ten P&E Readers Award--Children's Novel  2012 P&E Readers Poll Top Ten Winner 2013 EPIC eBooks Awards Finalist2013 Top Ten Children's Category  2014 P&E Readers Poll top ten

New Title(s) from

  Philip and the Superstition Kid by John Paulits Philip and the Angel by John Paulits Philip and the Haunted House by John Paulits Philip and the Monsters by John Paulits Philip and the Deadly Curse by John Paulits Philip and the Thief by John Paulits Philip and the Girl Who Couldn't Lost by John Paulits Philip and the Fortune Teller by John Paulits Philip and the Loser by John Paulits The Golden Mushroom by John Paulits The Revenge of the Critches by John Paulits Philip and the Sneaky Trashmen by John Paulits Emmaline Gremlin by John Paulits Planet Zoron by John Paulits Rescue form Zoron by John Paulits Philip and the Miserable Christmas by John Paulits

 

 

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Philip and the Superstition Kid by John Paulits   

    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 disaster―follows 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!

                                                                    Excerpt
Word Count:
20,000
Pages to Print:
85
File Format: PDF                  Price:
$3.99

    

 
   
Philip and the Angel byJohn Paulits 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?






                                                                  Excerpt
Word Count:
12,250
Pages to Print:
53
File Format: PDF                  Price:
$3.99

    


   
Philip and the Haunted House by John Paulits 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!

                                                                                   Excerpt

Word Count: 13650
Pages to Print: 62
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
Congrats on being a finalist in EPIC 2013 eBook Awards!
     


   
Philip and the Monsters by John Paulits 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.


                                                                                    Excerpt
Word Count: 16100
Pages to Print: 67
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
      


   
Philip and the Deadly Curse by John Paulits 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 charm.


                                                                                         Excerpt
Word Count: 12,500
Pages to Print: 54
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
     


   
Philip and the Thief 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.

                                                                                      Excerpt
Word Count: 11,800
Pages to Print: 51
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
       

   
Philip and the Girl Who Couldn't Lose by John Paulits 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?

                                                                                 Excerpt
Word Count: 12,600
Pages to Print: 54
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
    

   
Philip and the Fortune Teller by John Paulits 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!

                                                                             Excerpt
Word Count: 16000
Pages to Print: 68
File Format: PDF
Price: 3.99
 
     


   
Philip and the Loser by John Paulits 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?

                                                                              Excerpt
Word Count: 15510
Pages to Print: 62
File Format: PDF
Price: 3.99
 
    

   
The Golden Mushroom by John Paulits 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.

                                                                                     Excerpt
Word Count: 16800
Pages to Print: 73
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
      

   
The Revenge of the Critches by John Paulits 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!

                                                                             Excerpt
Word Count: 19100
Pages to Print: 76
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99

 
    

   
Philip and the Sneaky Trashmen by John Paulits 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!

                                                                          Excerpt
Word Count: 15400
Pages to Print: 70
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
     

   
Emmaline Gremlin by John Paulits






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 continuation.

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?

                                                                                 Excerpt
Word Count: 29568
Pages to Print: 117
File Format: PDF
Price: $ 4.99

 
    

   
Planet Zoron by John Paulits 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.

                                                                                       Excerpt
Word Count: 13351
Pages to Print: 53
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99

        

   
Rescue from Zoron by John Paulits
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!

                                                                          Excerpt
Word Count: 12700
Pages to Print: 49
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
      

   
Philip and the Miserable Christmas by John Paulits 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.

                                                                                          Excerpt
Word Count: 16450
Pages to Print: 71
File Format: PDF
Price: $ 3.99
 

     

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   


EXCERPTS



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?”
     “Yeah.”
     “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 you’re asleep.”
     “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?”
     Emery shrugged.
     “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

                                                              Chapter One

     “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 of me?”
     “I have to clean and you’re always in the room I’m cleaning next.”
     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 show me.”
     “Good idea,” said his mother as she bustled out of the living room.
     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 again.
     The girl’s forehead pressed against the living room window screen.
     “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 nervous.
     “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 school.”
     “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.”
     “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.”
     “A dachshund.”
     “Why do you have it?”
     “That’s my surprise. My dad got it for me. It’s my new dog.”

                                                                                  Back to Philip and the Angel

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 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 reading lesson.

“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. Cool!”

“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 topic.

“Weird, though,” said Emery.

“What’s weird?”

“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 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 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.

                                                                    
Back to Philip and the Haunted House
 
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 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 reading lesson.

“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. Cool!”

“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 topic.

“Weird, though,” said Emery.

“What’s weird?”

“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 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 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.
                                                                                                                                          Back to Philip and the Haunted House 
 
Philip and the Monsters
Chapter One

“Boo!” shouted Emery. Philip’s heart shot up, and his stomach tumbled. He spun to face his friend.

“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 me?”

“Can we go back to the beginning?” Philip asked slowly, still giving Emery his coldest stare.

“The beginning?”

“Did you ask me to come over so we could do our homework together?”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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? When?”

“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 your report?”

“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 fast.

“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.”

“What list?”

“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.”

“Disgusting!”

“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.”

“Your turn.”

“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 finished writing.

“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 real.”

“I’ll put it anyway.”

“Under my name?”

“Sure.”

“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 Curse

Chapter One

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 answered.

“May I ask what is so important it takes you away from what we’re doing?”

“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. Why?”

“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 good luck.
Back to Philip and the Deadly Curse     
 
Philip and the Thief

Chapter One

“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 over?”
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 it.”

“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.”

“Go on.”

“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 of Emery’s.”

“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 face.

“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.”

“What teamwork?”

“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 about you.”

“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 the Great.”

“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 Couldn't Lose

“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 caught it.”

“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 counting.”

“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 to—usually.

“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 ball.”

“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.

“What!”

“You threw mine away, remember?”

“That was two weeks ago.”

“So?”

“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 a balloon.

“You still owe me a ball,” said Emery
Back to Philip and the Girl Who Couldn't Lose
 
Philip and The Fortune Teller

Chapter One

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 nearer.

“Emery! Emery!”

Emery stopped and looked around.

“Philip?”

“Yeah.”

“Where are you?”

“Here.”

“Here, where?”

“Here, here.”

“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?”

Philip explained.

“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 Jersey.”

“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 believe him.

“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

                                                           Chapter One

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 him in.

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 before.

“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 booms?”

“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 was.”

“It wasn’t. That boy?”

“Yeah?” said Philip.

“He’s my cousin Leon, the one I told you was moving a block away from me.”

“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 of brotherhood.
Back to Philip and the Loser
The Golden Mushroom

                                                          Chapter One

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 me.”

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

                                                          Chapter One

“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 street.”

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.”

“We do?”

“Of course we do. Let’s go. Don’t waste time. Get the flashlight.”

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 budge.

“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 than before.”

“What made those scrape marks, you think?” Billy asked softly.

“Something.”

Billy turned to his friend. “Oh, really? Something?”

“Definitely something.”

“Like what kind of something?”

“How do I know? But something.”

“Something. Great. We gotta look underneath. Maybe we’ll see something.”

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 the dark.

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 today.”

“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 warned.

“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 this house?”

“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

                                                         Chapter One

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 morning?

“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 do.”

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.”

“Hey guys.”

“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 closet cleaning?”

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 your room?”

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
 
Emmaline Gremlin

Chapter One

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, buster?”

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 I said.”

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 said.”

“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 you say?”

“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 local Acme.

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?”

“Who? Where?”

“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 orphan.”

“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 me.”

Shanks shifted the grocery bags again. He’d forgotten about them in his glee at sending Emmaline into her usual rant about being an orphan.

“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 told him.

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 toward Shanks.

“Sandwich. I’ll make us a sandwich. That’s all I said.”
Back to Emmaline Gremlin
Planet Zoron

Chapter One

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 headed out.

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 became visible.

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 vanishes.

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!

Chapter Two

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

Chapter One

“Fentar. Fentar!”

“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 Tappa Ray.”

“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 away!”

“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 by.

“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 dimensions…”

“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 it?”

“Those bursts of light—green light—came from Zoron. From the Tappa Ray.”

“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 street.

“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 mistake.”

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.”

“Maybe?”

“Uh, I guess I did.”

“You guess?”

“All right. I did. I did. The Tappa Ray worked in reverse,” said Fentar, ashamed.

“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 setting?”

“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 darkness.
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Philip and the Miserable Christmas

                                                                    Chapter One

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 word Christmas.

“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 alongside Philip.

“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 we?”

“I don’t know. We’ll see. They’re bringing Francis’s presents with them.”

“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.

“Tomorrow night.”

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 same time.

“What’s up?” he asked, nodding toward the dining room. Mrs. Felton’s arms waved through the air.

“Francis is coming.”

“Who’s Francis?”

“Oh, I’m glad you boys are here,” said Mrs. Felton. “Hi, Emery. Did you tell Emery we’re having a guest?”

“Not yet.”

“You boys will have to entertain him.”

“Entertain who?” asked Emery.

“Francis,” said Philip.

“Who’s Francis?”

“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 very likable.”

“Who’s a crazy nut?” Emery asked.

“Francis,” Philip cried.

“Who’s Francis?” Emery insisted, flapping his arms in frustration.

“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.”
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