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Authors: Dori Hillestad Butler,Jeremy Tugeau

The Case of the Fire Alarm

BOOK: The Case of the Fire Alarm
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The Buddy Files, #4
The Case of the Fire Alarm

Dori Hillestad Butler
Pictures by Jeremy Tugeau

Albert Whitman & Company

Chicago, Illinois

For the Nano Rebels,

the best friends a writer or dog could ever have!

Table of Contents

1. Starting School

2. Trouble

3. Fire!

4. Clues

5. Telling Lies

6. Late Night Secrets

7. It’s Hard to Talk to Humans

8. Missing!

9. What Happened to Zack?

10. Who Pulled the Fire Alarm?

Starting School


My name is Buddy.

I used to be a detective. I used to solve mysteries with my old human, Kayla. But Kayla moved to Springtown, and now I have new humans. Their names are Connor and Mom.

I’m giving up the detective business because I have a new job to think about.

I’m going to be a THERAPY DOG! That means I’m going to sit, lie down, stay, and come when I’m called. I’ll walk nicely next to Mom, and I won’t pick up treats on the floor unless someone says I can. I won’t even speak to other dogs. And I’ll make friends with lots and lots and lots of humans.

I also get to ride IN THE CAR every time I go to my job. In fact, I am IN THE CAR right now. I LOVE the car. It’s my favorite thing!

And I’m sitting next to Connor. I LOVE Connor. He’s my favorite boy!

“Ew! Buddy!” Connor says, wiping his face. “No lick!”

Connor, Mom, and I are all on our way to SCHOOL. I LOVE school. It’s my favorite place! It’s where Connor and Mom go every day. And now
get to go there every day, too, because that’s where my new job is.

Except ... the car is stopping and we are not at school. We’re at Mouse’s house. Why are we stopping at Mouse’s house?

I stick my head out the window. “Mouse!” I call. “Hey, Mouse! Are you coming to school with us?”

Mouse is my friend. He’s a dog, not a mouse. In fact, he’s the biggest, loudest dog on our street. Hey, maybe he’s going to be a therapy dog, too!

Mouse pokes his head out of his doghouse. “NO, I’M NOT GOING TO SCHOOL,” he says. It sounds like he’s yelling, but he’s not. He talks this loud all the time. “THERE’S A NEW BOY AT MY HOUSE. HE’S THE ONE WHO’S GOING TO SCHOOL. NOT ME.”

“You have a new boy?” I say.


Mouse’s humans bring home new boys and girls a lot. I don’t know where they get them all. Most of the kids are nice, but the last one they had threw rocks at Mouse.

“Is this a nice boy?” I ask nervously.

“OF COURSE HE’S A NICE BOY,” Mouse says.

I think Mouse forgot about the kid who threw rocks.

I see Mouse’s new boy, but I can’t smell him yet. He’s walking toward our car with Jack. Jack is the alpha human at Mouse’s house. He smells like cars and gasoline.

The boy is about Connor’s size, and he has long, shaggy hair. There’s something shiny in his right earlobe.

Mom rolls down her window when he and Jack get close.

“Good morning, Sarah,” Jack says to Mom. “This is our new foster son, Michael.”

“Nice to meet you, Michael,” Mom says. She tilts her head toward the backseat. “This is my son, Connor. I think you two are in the same grade.”

Jack opens the back door, and Michael climbs in next to me.

“Hey,” Connor says.

Michael just grunts.

I sniff Michael all over. He smells like peanut butter toast and dirt and ... I’m not sure what else. I hope he’s not another rock thrower.

Mom waves goodbye to Jack and backs out of their driveway.

“So,” Connor says to Michael, “where are you from?”

“Minneapolis,” Michael says, gazing out the window.

“I’m from Los Angeles,” Connor says. “I just moved here, too. My mom and dad got divorced, and my dad is still in California.”

Michael doesn’t say anything to that, so Connor asks another question. “What do you like to do?”

Michael shrugs.

“Do you play baseball?” Connor asks. “Basketball? Soccer?”

Michael shrugs again. I don’t think he’s much of a talker.

Connor keeps trying. “What about music? Do you play an instrument? Do you like to read? Do art? Play computer games?”

“I like ghost stories,” Michael says finally. “Books ... movies ... anything with ghosts in it.”

“Yeah?” Connor says. “Then you’ll like our school. We’ve got a ghost!”

A ghost?

“Connor!” Mom makes why-would-you-say-such-a-thing eyes at Connor in the rearview mirror.

“What?” he says. “It’s true. There was a fire at our school a long time ago, and part of the school burned down. This girl—her name was Agatha Curry—she got burned up in the fire, and now her ghost haunts the old part of the school.”

Mom shakes her head. “That’s just a story, Connor,” she says. “It’s not true.”

“Yes, it is,” Connor insists. “Kids have seen her, Mom. So has the janitor.”

“Mr. Poe likes to tell stories,” Mom says. “And he likes to get kids all riled up. There’s no such thing as a ghost, Connor. You know that.”

I didn’t
there was any such thing as a ghost. But I’m glad to hear Mom say it.

We pull into the school parking lot, and Mom parks the car. I see kids playing on the swings ... kids playing chase—I LOVE chase. It’s my favorite game! Oh, and over there I see kids hitting a ball around a pole. That looks even better than chase!

“Let me out!” I say, scratching at the door. “I want to PLAY BALL!”

Mom opens the door, and Connor hands her my leash.

“Is that our new therapy dog?” a girl about Connor’s age calls out. She and a bunch of other kids run toward us.

Oh, boy! New friends. I LOVE new friends!

“Yes, this is Buddy,” Mom says.

I am trying to sniff and lick all these kids, but there are too many of them. And they are all petting me! I LOVE getting petted!

“I need to take Buddy inside now,” Mom says as she tries to lead me away.

Aw ... so soon?

“Bye, Buddy,” Connor says. He and Michael race toward that pole with the ball.

“Where are you taking him? Where is he going to be?” a boy with a missing tooth asks.

“He’ll be in my office most of the time,” Mom says. “But once he settles in, Mrs. Warner will have him in the library sometimes, too. You’ll be able to sign up for reading sessions with him.”

“Yay!” the kids cheer.

Mom opens the door to the school. “This way, Buddy,” she says, guiding me down the hall. My toes make a funny clicking sound as we walk. Just like at the vet’s office.

There are so many interesting smells in this place. Pancakes ... sausage ... I LOVE pancakes and sausage. They’re my favorite foods!

I also smell shoes. Lots of shoes. And dirt. And perfume. And coffee. I think we are moving closer to the coffee. And farther away from the pancakes and sausage. Too bad!

Mom leads me into a room with a desk and table, plants, and lots of windows. There are two ladies in here. One of them is sitting at the desk. She’s an older lady with curly hair, and she smells very nice. Like liver treats. I LOVE liver treats. They’re my favorite food!

“Ellie,” Mom says to the lady, “this is Buddy.”

Ellie smiles at me. “Hi, Buddy.”

I rest my chin on Ellie’s desk. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a LIVER TREAT! She hands the treat to me, and I gobble it up. Mmm. I think Ellie and I are going to be good friends.

I’m not so sure about the other lady. She smells like hot pepper and pineapple, and she’s looking at me like
the one who smells bad.

“I can’t believe the school board approved this,” the hot-pepper-and-pineapple lady tells Mom. “Dogs don’t belong in schools.”

“Buddy is well trained, Mrs. Argus,” Mom says, scratching my ears. “And I think there’s a lot of good that can come from having a dog at school. Studies have shown that simply petting a dog lowers heart rate and blood pressure—”

“Yes, I read the information you passed around,” Mrs. Argus says. “But that doesn’t mean I agree with it. I’ll be watching this dog.” She points a finger at me. “One wrong move, and he’s out of here!”


One wrong move?
What does

“Don’t worry, Sarah,” Ellie tells Mom after Mrs. Argus leaves. “Mona is slow to warm up to new ideas. But she’ll come around. In time.”

“I hope so,” Mom says. She brings me into a smaller room across from Ellie’s desk, then takes off my leash. There’s a desk and chair in the middle of the room, two chairs on the other side of the desk, a big fluffy pillow under the window, and a water bowl next to the pillow.

Everything in here smells like Mom. This must be where she works. And when Mom points to the pillow, I know this is where I’ll be working, too.

I turn two circles on the pillow, then plop down and wait for Mom to tell me what to do next. Does she want me to sit? Will she throw a piece of hot dog on the floor and tell me to leave it? What does she want me to do?

I watch as Mom sits down at her desk, turns on the computer, and starts writing on some papers.

I let out a small woof, in case she’s forgotten I’m here.

“What’s the matter, Buddy?” Mom asks. “Do you need to go outside?”

“No,” I tell Mom with my eyes. I just want to know what I’m supposed to do.
I don’t want to make a wrong move.

“You were just outside before we got here,” Mom says. “You shouldn’t need to go outside already.”

I already said I don’t need to go outside.

“You just lie there and be a good dog,” Mom says.

That’s it? That’s all you want me to do? Lie here and be a good dog? I can do that!

I rest my head on my paws and let my eyes close. I think about how much I like my new job already. I’m not going to get into any trouble while I’m here. I’m going to make new friends. Maybe I’ll even make friends with Mrs. Argus. That would be nice ...

BOOK: The Case of the Fire Alarm
10.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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