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Authors: Mike Knudson

Dancing Dudes

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Table of Contents
 
A volunteer
My hand shot up in an instant. I knew what Mrs. Gibson was going to say, and I was going to be the first to volunteer. She was about to ask for a volunteer to sit out. You know, not to be in the dance. I jumped up and down with my hand in the air.
“Raymond, you didn’t let me finish,” she said.
“I know, but whatever it is, I’ll do it,” I said.
“Great, that’s very nice of you, Raymond. It will help us all out,” she said. “Okay, since we have one extra boy, Raymond has volunteered to be my partner. Raymond and I will be teaching you the dance up here in front.”
WHAT?!
I screamed inside my head.
Dance with the teacher?
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Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
First published in the United States of America by Banjo Books in a slightly different form, 2007
First published by Viking, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2008
Published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2010
 
 
Text copyright © Mike Knudson and Steve Wilkinson, 2007 Revised text copyright © Mike Knudson, 2008 Illustrations copyright © Stacy Curtis, 2008 All rights reserved
 
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE VIKING EDITION AS FOLLOWS:
Knudson, Mike.
Raymond and Graham, dancing dudes / by Mike Knudson ; illustrated by Stacy Curtis.
p. cm.
Summary: Fourth-grade best friends Raymond and Graham write Valentine poems, perform a
hoedown, and learn how to be men.
eISBN : 978-1-101-18488-2
[1. Schools—Fiction. 2. Maturation (Psychology)—Fiction. 3. Valentine’s Day—Fiction.
4. Best friends—Fiction. 5. Friendship—Fiction.] I. Curtis, Stacy, ill. II. Title.
PZ7.K7836Raq 2008 [Fic]—dc22 2008008383
 
 
 
 
 
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume
any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

http://us.penguingroup.com

For Michael, Alex, Maddie, Adam, and
Abbie-all my dancing dudes—M.K.
 
For Brandon Kitchens—S.C.
Prologue
YOU CAN BE
called a lot of things in fourth grade. You can be called a wimp, a dork, and even a weenie and still survive. But there’s one thing you never want to be called: a baby. It’s a word so humiliating it could ruin your whole life, or at least your fourth-grade life. Fortunately for Graham and me, we had successfully avoided it all year so far. But in the fourth grade, everything can change in a matter of seconds. . . .
1
Corn Dogs and Crybabies
“OKAY, STUDENTS
. Let’s put away our math books,” Mrs. Gibson said. I wondered what was going on. We usually did math all the way until lunchtime.
Mrs. Gibson stood up and adjusted her huge glasses higher on her wrinkly nose. Then she picked up an old-looking book from her desk, opened it, and began reading.
“‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,’” she read. Then she paused and lowered her book, looking around the class. She looked me straight in the eye. I turned away quickly. It felt weird having an old lady say that and then look right at me.
She continued reading. It was a poem all about love and mushy stuff. Finally, she finished and closed the book.
“Why do you think I read that poem to you?” she asked.
“Because you’re a great reader and a great teacher and a great . . .” Lizzy said, trying to think of as many “great” things as possible. I can’t stand Lizzy. Not only is she the biggest teacher’s pet, but just looking at her annoys me. I mean, that bouncy curly hair, the big bow on her head, and that scrunched-up, snooty look on her face—everything about her bugs me.
“No, Lizzy,” Mrs. Gibson answered. “Why would I be reading this poem to you
at this time of year
? You all know what holiday is coming up on Thursday,” she said with a long, wrinkly smile.
“Christmas!” David yelled out, laughing.
Mrs. Gibson’s smile turned quickly to a frown. “David, remind me to move your desk up here by mine this afternoon,” she said. “Now who can
really
tell me why I read that poem to you?”
Everyone raised their hand. But no one was quicker than Graham. His hand shot up like a rocket, his fingers wiggling all over the place trying to get picked. Graham is my best friend. We do everything together. If he wasn’t a lot shorter than I am and didn’t have all those freckles and red hair, I bet people would think we were brothers.
“Graham,” Mrs. Gibson said.
“Because it’s almost Valentine’s Day, the holiday of
love
,” he said, making his eyebrows move up and down, up and down. Everyone laughed, including Mrs. Gibson. I could tell Graham was happy to have his eyebrow back after accidentally shaving it off earlier this year. It would have looked weird with only one eyebrow moving up and down.
“That’s right, Graham, and I’m glad you are so enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day,” Mrs. Gibson answered with a little chuckle. I was laughing, too, when all of a sudden I felt a slug to my arm.
“Ouch! What was that for?” I turned to David. It hurt so bad I almost started to cry. In fact, I had to hurry and wipe away a tear.
“That’s for your friend Graham doing that stupid thing with his eyebrows.” David could always think of a reason for punching me. “Hey, you’re crying!” he said, sticking his fat face in front of mine.
“I am not!”
“Are too! You’re such a baby!” he said. Heidi sat in front of me, and I’m sure she heard the whole thing. I didn’t want her to think I was a baby. I kind of liked her . . . you know, like a girlfriend. I thought she might like me, too, but I wasn’t sure.
I guess Mrs. Gibson heard the whole thing, too.
“David, why don’t you move your desk up here by mine right now, and you can keep it there the rest of the week,” she said.
“Baby!” David whispered as he got up to move his desk.
“I am
not
a baby,” I snapped back.
Besides,
I thought to myself,
who wouldn’t cry if they got slugged in the arm that hard?
David’s the biggest kid in our school . . . and the meanest. Once in the second grade, he was picking on Graham. I don’t know what got into me, but for some reason I had to go and open my big mouth. “Hey, why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” I yelled.
David turned from Graham and walked over to me. “Fine, how about you?” Then he slugged me in the arm. He’s been hitting me in the arm ever since. I learned quickly that if you punch him back, he just hits you again, but harder. So until I get really huge one day and can hit harder than he can, I just live with the daily slug.
Mrs. Gibson continued talking as David dragged his desk to the front of the room. “I just read to you a famous poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. With Valentine’s Day this week, I thought it would be a good idea to write some poems of our own. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
“I think it sounds like fun, Mrs. Gibson,” Lizzy said. “And I really—”
“Thank you Lizzy, that’s enough. Everyone, please make sure your books are in your desk, and you may line up for lunch.” We all ran up to the doorway and formed a line. I stood next to Graham, as usual.
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