Authors: Dan Gutman
I was feeling great when I walked into the school store the next morning. I was bopping along with the iPod I bought on eBay with all the money I earned selling poems.
It was the last day of April. I sold so many poems that I had more money than I could spend.
“Pencils for everyone!” I announced. “I'm buying!”
Most of the kids in my class were in the store. I showed the guys my iPod.
“That's cool!” said Neil the nude kid.
“I'm glad you like it,” I said. “After all, you paid for it.”
“Where did you get
, Arlo?” asked Andrea. “You always say you don't have any money.”
“None of your beeswax,” I told her.
The bell rang and it was time to go to class. The girls went running off, and all the boys gathered around me.
“I need one more poem, A.J.,” Michael said.
“Me too,” said Ryan.
“One at a time, guys,” I said as I pulled some poems out of my notebook. “There are plenty to go around.”
I gave them all poems and they gave me their lunch money. My pockets were so stuffed with coins that it was hard to walk! Man, I was gonna miss National
“Well, we did it!” Miss Daisy said as she collected our poems. “The students at Ella Mentry School wrote a thousand poems! This afternoon we're going to have an assembly with a real live poet! Isn't that exciting?”
“Yes!” yelled all the girls.
“No!” yelled all the boys.
All morning I wasn't thinking about the assembly, or math, or social studies. I was thinking about what I would buy next with the money I earned selling poems. Maybe I'd get a new skateboard or some cool posters for my room.
It was hard to enjoy my lunch in the
vomitorium that afternoon. Ryan and Michael and the other guys were staring at my food the whole time. I felt a little bad taking their lunch money, so I gave them some of my cookies.
“Line up in single file,” Miss Daisy said when we got back from lunch. We walked to the all-purpose room for the assembly. Andrea and her annoying
friends sat in the row behind me.
After the whole school had arrived, Mr. Klutz got up on the stage.
“Wow, a thousand poems!” he said. “You know, Ms. Coco tells me we have a very talented poet right here at Ella Mentry School. Will you please come up on stage, A.J.?”
Everybody turned and looked at me. Then they started clapping and cheering. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do. I thought I was gonna die.
“Get up there, dumbhead!” said Ryan.
Michael and Neil the nude kid pushed me out of my seat. I walked up onto the stage. Ms. Coco came up there too. She
looked at me with her goo-goo eyes and hugged me. Then she handed me a sheet of paper. It was my poem about weird animals.
“Read it,” she told me. “With
“You won't see a dog or a cat with a beard,
but animals, if you ask me, are weird.”
When I finished, everybody gave me a standing ovation.
Animals Are Weird
will be the title of our poetry book!” Ms. Coco announced.
“And in honor of A.J.,” Mr. Klutz said, “I have decided that tomorrow will be Sit Around and Do Nothing Day.”
“Tomorrow is Saturday,” I reminded him.
“Exactly,” said Mr. Klutz. “So you can sit around and do nothing!”
When I got back to my seat, I couldn't resist. I stuck my tongue out at Andrea.
“I hate you,” she said.
“âHate' isn't a very nice word,” I told her. “You shouldn't say that, dumbhead.”
“Well, students,” Mr. Klutz said. “National Poetry Month is over.”
“Boo!” yelled all the girls.
“Yay!” yelled all the boys.
I couldn't decide if I was happy or sad. I'd made a lot of money during National Poetry Month, but now at least I could go back to being a normal kid again.
“I promised that if you wrote a thousand poems, I'd invite a real poet to visit our school,” Mr. Klutz said. “Well, I always keep my promises.”
“I'm so excited!” Andrea whispered
behind me. “I wonder who it will be.”
Ugh. This was going to be the most boring assembly in the history of the world. We would have to sit and listen to some dumb poet for the next
. I should have brought a pillow.
The curtain behind Mr. Klutz opened.
Everybody got quiet.
You'll never in a million hundred years believe what happened next.
I'm not going to tell you.
Okay, okay, I'll tell you. But you'll have to wait till the next chapter. So turn the page, dumbhead!
First this weird purple smoke started pouring onto the stage.
Next the sound of drums started pounding out of the speakers.
Then the lights went out and laser beams started shooting all over the place in different colors.
The drums got louder! The lights got
brighter! Then this guy ran onto the stage.
He had on a baseball cap, and he was wearing this long purple cape with sequins all over it. He had on sunglasses too, even though he was indoors.
It was Mr. Hynde, our old music teacher!
He quit after he went on that TV show
and became a famous rapper!
“He's not a poet!” Andrea complained.
“Yo! Yo! Yo!” Mr. Hynde shouted. “Let's get down and get funky! 'Cause I'm so hunky! Let's all do the monkey!”
Mr. Hynde did a monkey break dance move, spinning on his head. Then he got up and started rapping again:
“It's good to be back at the Ella Mentry shack.
This school is whack, like water off a duck's back.
Quack, quack, quack, quack!”
Everybody went crazy! Mr. Hynde started hitting Mr. Klutz's bald head like a bongo drum while he sang a rap version of
Green Eggs and Ham
Mr. Hynde is out of his mind!
Ms. Coco started dancing around like a nutcase. All the kids got up and started dancing too. Except for me. I was afraid all that money was going to fall out of my pockets.
It was great to see Mr. Hynde again. After the assembly he gave us autographs and copies of his new CD. Then we had to go back to class. It was almost time for the three o'clock bell to ring.
Everybody was tired from all that
dancing. Ryan and Michael looked like they were about to faint.
“What's the matter, boys?” asked Miss Daisy. “You don't look very well.”
“I'm hungry,” Michael said.
“I'm starving,” Ryan said.
“Didn't you boys eat lunch?” asked Miss Daisy.
“We didn't have any money,” said Neil the nude kid.
“Why not?” asked Miss Daisy.
Michael looked at me. Ryan looked at me. Neil the nude kid looked at me.
the boys were looking at me.
That's when the most horrible thing in the history of the world happened. I
guess all those coins were too heavy for my pockets or something. They must have ripped a hole in them, because at that very minute, coins started sliding down my pants. They spilled out the bottom and clattered all over the floor.
I thought I was gonna die.
“I knew it!” Andrea shouted. “Arlo has been selling poems and taking the boys' lunch money!”
“Is that true, A.J.?” asked Miss Daisy.
I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do. I had to think fast. So I did the only thing I could do.
I ran out of there.
And I'm not going back.
I'm going to go to Antarctica and live with the penguins.
Maybe I'll finally get kicked out of the gifted and talented program. Maybe I'll get kicked out of school forever. Maybe next year we'll have National Skateboarding Month. Maybe Mr. Hynde will come back to school and teach music again. Maybe Andrea will stop being so annoying. Maybe Ms. Coco will stop thinking I'm a poetry genius. Maybe I'll
be able to convince her that I'm just a regular kid who threw some flash cards up in the air.
But it won't be easy!