Showing posts with label chapter books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chapter books. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent by Grandma Beans Chapter 10

Chapter 10

   Scruffy woke up in a sterile, white room with stainless steel fixtures. It smelled like rubbing alcohol and antiseptic cleanser. Belle sat next to his bed with her leg in a cast.
   “Ooohhh man, I’m so stiff. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. Wait a minute, I was run over by a truck. Hahaha, I kill myself.” He put the only paw not in traction to his mouth and giggled like a puppy.
   Trusty sat across the bed from Belle. “Do you think he’s had enough pain medicine?”
   Belle smiled. Trusty laughed.
   Scruffy tried to sit up in bed but got dizzy.
   “Easy fella, you had a rough day yesterday.” Belle gently pushed him back down to his pillow.
   “Dude, you broke up the dog napping ring we’ve been trying to infiltrate for the last two months.” Trusty shook his head. “I’d like to know how you pulled that off.”
   “Thanks to you, we returned all the dogs to their families.” Belle shifted her cast.
   Scruffy smiled a weak smile. Belle treated him like he wasn’t a doofus for the first time since they’d met. “But what about Faux Paw? He got away.”
   “Not to worry. I switched out one of his cuff links with a tracking device. Remember when you provided that marvelous distraction this morning.”
   “The mailbox? That is one of my better disguises.”
   “Dude, he’ll be in custody before you leave the hospital.” Trusty said.
   “It seems you’ve been holding out on us, Scruffy,” Belle said.   "When did you learn the Ninja moves? And how in the world did you stop that truck?”
   “I don’t know exactly. I see a flash of light, then a diagram in my head and my body just sort of takes over.” Scruffy’s forehead wrinkled into four rows of fur. “That doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it’s the drugs talking.”
   Belle and Trusty looked back and forth at each other and then at Scruffy.
   “What?” Scruffy giggled and snorted. “What is it? You both know something.”
   “I had my suspicions when I saw you fly into action in the barn,” Belle said.
   “Suspicions?” Scruffy thought something was wrong with him.
   “Do you remember when you got your chip?” Trusty scooted his chair closer to the bed.
   Scruffy closed his eyes for a minute. “Everything’s blurry, I . . . don’t . . . I’m not sure. I think it was at the shelter, before my family took me home.”
   “We think you’re the dog Faux Paw was looking for.” Belle pulled out Scruffy’s adoption papers. She showed Scruffy the name of the vet who implanted the chip. “This is the same doctor who developed a top secret microchip for law enforcement dogs. Faux Paw had plans to use it himself—he’d be unstoppable. He tried to steal it before it got implanted.”
   Trusty added, “Dr. Hudson wanted to test it on some German shepherd puppies at the shelter, but the last one got adopted. When Faux Paw made his move, Dr. Hudson had to put it in the first pup he saw. That was you,”
   “That’s kind of cool,” Scruffy said. “I’d chase my tail if I could find it.” He wiggled this way and that way but couldn’t get ahold of it.
   Trusty laughed. “Yes and no, Scruff.”
   “Huh? This is great, right?”
   “Sort of. You’re a great dog and so far it’s working like it’s supposed to,” Belle said. “But . . .”
   “But,” Trusty said. “We don’t know what the long term side effects might be.”
   “Or how and when it’s activated,” Belle said.
   Mrs. Whiskers leaped upon Scruffy’s bed. “It’s going to make you a target, Scruff, at least until we get Faux Paw in custody.”
   “Mrs. Whiskers, you’re in on this too? How come I never knew about you all before?”
   “Need to know, son.” Mrs. Whiskers put her nose in the air. “And you didn’t, until now. By the way, you’re under my command.”
   “You mean I get to work with you guys?”
   “That’s not all,” Trusty said. “While the doctor was patching you up, we had him install a magic pocket inside your fur. We’ll be able to stock everything you need for our next mission.”
   “I must be dreaming. This can’t be real. I’ve always wanted to be a spy, more than anything!” Scruffy was so excited that he tried to get out of bed.
   “All in good time.” Belle eased him back down.
   “First, you need some training. You’re off to obedience school, then we train you to be a spy.” Mrs. Whiskers’ tail swished in Scruffy’s face.
   He sneezed so hard it blew Mrs. Whiskers off the bed. She stuck her nose in the air and sauntered to the door. “And do something about those allergies.”
   Scruffy’s tail wagged in spite of being sore. “I’m so excited. . . I don’t think. . . I’ll ever be . . . able to . . . fall . . . a--.” Scruffy snored.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent by Grandma Beans Chapter 9

Chapter 9

   Scruffy snarled and growled at the bulldogs and the evil fox. Without thinking of the consequences, he flung himself at them. He karate chopped everyone and everything. He spun around and whirled. He punched the air with his fists.
   “Hiiii-yah!” Scruffy kicked Fluffy in his chest and knocked him down.
   Ralph threw broken crates to the right and left clearing a path to Scruffy.
   Faux Paw ran for the door dragging Belle by her collar. Scruffy saw her face contort with pain, but she didn’t cry.
   As Ralph came for him, Scruffy dove between his legs. He almost made it to the door when Fluffy grabbed him by the neck and threw him down snarling and growling.
   The evil fox threw Belle into the back of the white panel truck and locked the door down. He jumped into the driver’s seat and turned the key. The motor made a grinding sound but wouldn’t start.
   Scruffy knew he had to act fast. He couldn’t let that truck leave the farm. His mind filled with more ninja pictures and his body took over. He knocked Fluffy’s legs out from under him and flipped him over in one move.
   Ralph came at Scruffy with his teeth bared, his ears flat against his head.
   Scruffy picked Fluffy up by his hind leg and swung him around and around. He let go and Fluffy flew right into Ralph knocking them both out cold.
   The truck started up with a bang. Scruffy burst out of the barn doors as the truck shifted into gear.
   Scruffy growled. “Oh no you don’t! You’re not getting away if I can help it!” He grabbed ahold of the rear bumper with his teeth and dug in his heels.
   The wheels spun as Scruffy dug himself in deeper. Dirt flipped him in the face, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t going to let go, no matter what.
   Faux Paw furiously turned the steering wheel back and forth. The front wheels of the truck lifted off the ground .
   Sirens sounded in the distance. Scruffy held tighter than ever, but how long could he last?
   Faux Paw shifted into reverse. The truck lurched backwards and ran right over Scruffy. He fell off the bumper. Faux Paw ground the gears into first and the truck jumped forward.
   Two police cars and the dog catcher squealed to a stop blocking the exit to the farm. The truck spun out of control into the center car crashing to a stop.
T   rusty came running from one of the police cars. “Scruffy, dude, what were you thinking?”
   “What are you doing here, Trusty?” Scruffy could barely keep his eyes open.
   “When Belle never came home, I thought maybe you were telling the truth this time.”
   “You believe me now? But how did you know where to find us?”
   “The GPS in Belle’s collar.”
   Scruffy’s brow wrinkled. “You have to save her. She’s in the back of that truck,” he whispered. “She has a broken leg and it’s all my fault.”
   “We’ll take care of her. In the meantime, stay with me dude. The ambulance is coming.”
   The German Shepherds opened the cab of the truck with their tasers set to stun. Faux Paw had disappeared. The Police dogs tore out the seat and the floor mats looking for him. He was gone.
   “No!” Scruffy wanted to howl but only managed a whisper. He tried to move. He had to get up. He had to find Faux Paw. The Police let him get away.
   The shepherds released all the dogs from the back of the truck.
   The last thing Scruffy saw was Belle leaning over him.
   “You’re a hero, Scruff! You saved us all!”
    Everything faded to black like someone pulling the down the blind in a window.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

McScruff:Top Secret Agent by Grandma Beans Chapter 8

 Chapter 8

   “It’s ok, Belle,” Scruffy whispered. “I’m just pretending. How’s your leg?”
   “It hurts like crazy, but I think I can drag it.”
   “We need a plan to get us out of here. Faux Paw is going to sell these dogs to the lab.”
   “Faux Paw?” Belle sat down next to Scruffy. “We suspected as much. That’s why I was having brunch with him. You almost blew my cover.”
   “What do you mean ‘we,' and 'your cover'?”
   “I’ll explain later. Why is he going to sell these dogs to the lab?”
   “Getting rid of the evidence, I suppose. He’s looking for some sort of magic chip. He tested all the dogs. So far, none of them have it.”
   “Why not just let them go?”
   “He can’t send them back, plus he can make a few bucks.”
   “That’s horrible.” Belle unbuckled her collar and pulled a big pin from the lining.
   “What’s that?”
   “Haven’t you ever seen a lock pick before?” She put her paw through the slats of the crate and angled the pick into the lock. Belle wiggled it back and forth. After two clicks the padlock fell open.
   Scruffy’s mouth hung open this time.
   “You’re not the only one with skills.” Belle pulled the lock off the door. “Speaking of skills, how did you tie Fluffy up so fast?”
   “I don’t know. It was like watching a video in my head then my body took over.”
   “Hmm . . .” Belle’s forehead wrinkled.
   Ralph and Fluffy came back, grabbed another crate, and took it out to the truck.
   “Now what?” Scruffy asked.
   “We need to rescue the rest of these dogs.” Belle looked around the barn. “It looks like more than half got away.”
   “We don’t know how many they caught outside.”
   “Good point. We have to keep them busy until we can get the other dogs out of the truck. Get the rest of the crates open. Take this in case there are more padlocks.” Belle handed him the lock pick.
   Scruffy looked at the pick, then at Belle. “I don’t know what to do with this.”
   “I have a feeling you didn’t know how to tie up Fluffy either. You’ll figure it out.” Belle held the door open for him. “I’ll stay in the cage since my leg is useless. Release the other dogs, but watch out for Ralph and Fluffy.”
   Scruffy nodded. He quietly closed the pen door and climbed down the other crates.  He opened doors, unlocked locks, and hid when the henchmen returned. He managed to get some of the dogs out two and three at a time. He had to be careful and quick. Ralph and Fluffy weren’t the brightest dogs he’d ever met, but they’d figure it out all too soon.
   The barn door squeaked. Scruffy dove behind the bale of hay expecting the henchmen. In walked Faux Paw with his fancy gold bling. He held a mirror in one paw, admiring himself while he twirled his big, black mustache with his other paw.
   “I should’ve rescued Belle first. Rats!” Scruffy shook his fist.
His nose started to itch. He held his breath, he covered his mouth, and he tried pinching the skin under his nose. It worked for a little while then “Ka-blooey!”
   The sneeze exploded with such force that it threw Scruffy backwards against the wall. Slivers of hay from the loft above rained down on him. Poor Scruffy, his eyes watered and he sneezed twenty times.
   Belle rolled her eyes.
   “Quick, load up the rest of the crates!” Faux Paw barked.
Ralph and Fluffy stopped and went straight for Scruffy.
   “Don’t bother with him.” Faux Paw held Belle by her collar. “He won’t do anything as long as we have his little Fifi.”
   “Put her down!” Scruffy used his deepest, toughest bark. “Put her down NOW!”
   “Or you’ll do what, exactly?” Faux Paw grinned from ear to ear.
   Scruffy’s temperature rose. His paws formed fists.
   “Don’t do anything stupid, please don’t do anything stupid,” Belle whispered.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent by Grandma Beans Chapter 7

Chapter 7

   Was he safe to proceed with his search? He held his breath again and listened. He heard feet landing on the gravel, footsteps, and the door opened again.    
   Ralph and Fluffy kicked up dirt every time they entered the barn. Scruffy wondered if they couldn’t pick up their feet, being bull-legged bulldogs. They grabbed another crate and back out to the truck.
   Scruffy looked around at all the cages. He couldn’t see Belle anywhere. He didn’t know what to do. He had to find her, but he couldn’t let these other dogs go to the lab. That sounded worse than the pound. He had to save them all. He needed a distraction.
   An idea popped into his head. He went from cage to cage unlatching the doors. Some of the cages had padlocks. Maybe he could get the key from Ralph somehow, so he wouldn’t notice it was gone.
   “Don’t open your doors until I give a signal. You’ll all have a better chance of escaping if you run at the same time,” Scruffy explained.
   The dogs nodded their agreement.
   He spotted Belle. She was asleep in a cage that was stacked on top of five other cages in the center of the barn. He looked above her in the rafters. An old rope hung over the center beam that ran the length of the barn.
   In a flash of light, Scruffy saw a geometry equation diagramed in his mind like he was looking at a chalkboard. It showed him how to use the rope and the beam to rescue Belle.
   He found a ladder and climbed up to the hayloft. The loft was full of empty crates. The barn doors squeaked again, so Scruffy laid down flat. He looked at the beam—all he had to do was climb those crates and he’d be able to reach the rope. He’d grab both ends of the rope and quietly lower himself down to Belle’s cage. Next, he'd tie one end of the rope to her cage and pull on the other end lifting her up to the loft where he could hide her.
   He saw it in his head, diagrams and angles, it was all there. He’d save the day and be the hero, just like in his adventures.
   This was a brilliant plan, but he didn’t know how much time he’d have before the bulldogs came for the next crate. He shoved all the crates together to make them more stable.
   Scruffy climbed the first crate and realized some of the wood was old, rotted splinters.
   Half way up, the barn doors creaked open. Scruffy froze in place.    He held his breath hoping the bulldogs wouldn’t look up. They grabbed another crate and out they went.
   Scruffy wiped his brow. “Whew.”
   He knew this could be dangerous, but he couldn’t see another way to rescue Belle and the other dogs.  Slowly, so carefully he put one foot above the other. The slats bowed under his weight, but they held. He climbed the next crate and then the next.
   Finally, he pulled himself up and over the last crate. He stood and slid his feet across the top one step at a time. So far, so good, he thought. Scruffy made it to the edge when his nose started to itch. 
   He held his breath but it was too late.
   Just as he was about to leap for the rope he sneezed a big one. His left foot broke through the crate. He lost his balance and started to fall. He reached for the rope, and grabbed one end, but the other end slipped through his paws.
   This would be the loudest crash he’d ever made so he yelled, “NOW, everyone.”
   The barn door creaked open. Scruffy and his crate crashed into Belle’s cage. Then the crate beneath Belle, and the one under that, and the next one under that, like a crazy kind of dominoes.
   A pile of jagged splinters and a coil of rope buried Scruffy and Belle. A big splinter pierced Scruffy’s paw.
   The other dogs opened their cages. At least twenty dogs were barking, jumping, and yapping all through the barn.
   Some of the dogs escaped through the missing planks. Some of the dogs dug their way out under the wall, and bigger dogs broke their way through the smaller holes.
   Two of the smaller dogs ran right under Ralph’s legs and out the front door.
   “Look here, see.” Ralph barked his toughest, deepest bark, but no one heard him. He managed to grab one of the older dogs and put him back into an unbroken crate.
   Fluffy dropped a Pomeranian and howled, “He bit me!”
   “Don’t be such a puppy, see.” Ralph snarled and nipped at Fluffy.

   “Oh dear,” Belle said.
   “Don’t worry, Belle. This is nothing. I’ll just bite it out.” Scruffy chewed and spit out the chunk of wood.
   Belle rolled her eyes. “No, I meant this.” She dangled her left foot. “I don’t think I can walk.”
   “I’m sooo sorry Belle. I’m such a dork-brain.” Scruffy hit himself in the forehead.
    Scruffy put his arm around her waist and they picked their way through the broken crates. They made it to the wall.
   “After you, Belle.” Scruffy tried to be thoughtful and lifted the plank of shards so Belle could go first. 
   Belle shook her head. “Uh, Scruff…”
   He looked at her leg again.
   “Ahhchoo.” All the commotion kicked dirt and straw into the air making Scruffy sneeze. “Maybe I should go first and pull you through.” He blushed and grinned and sneezed three more times.
Scruffy dug his way out then reached back under for Belle’s paw. She pulled away from him.
   “Oooooowww,” Belle howled.
   Scruffy peaked through a knot hole. Fluffy muzzled Belle and drug her back to another crate.
   That was it! Scruffy had had enough! He scrambled back under the wall, baring his teeth. His legs twitched and before he knew what happened his body went crazy, as if he had no control over himself. He went after Fluffy, running faster and jumping higher than ever before.
   “This is soooo cooool,” Scruffy said.
Fluffy’s mouth fell open dropping a gallon of drool. He let go of Belle’s muzzle and she hopped out of the way.
   Fluffy looked for a weapon, anything he could find. He grabbed the rope and started swinging it over his head.
   In a flash, Scruffy had him all tied up in knots.
   Then wham! Ralph hit Scruffy across his head with a large, metal feed bucket. Scruffy staggered and fell.
   “Scruffy,” Belle cried.
   Ralph shoved Scruffy into the first unbroken crate he could find. He threw Belle in with him, and locked it with a padlock.
   “Quit goofing off, Fluffy. We’ve got to round up the rest of these mutts, see.”
   “Well then, help me.” Fluffy rolled around biting at the knots.
   “I don’t believe this, see.” Ralph grabbed one end of the rope and drug Fluffy outside.
   The barn door creaked shut.
   “I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you, Scruff.” Tears gathered in Belle’s eyes as she licked his face. “You have to wake up. You just have to.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent Chapter 6

Chapter 6

  Scruffy tightened his grip on the rat. He threw open the door of the salon so hard that it knocked him in his back side as it closed. He tripped and almost dropped Blab.
  The receptionist giggled. “May I help you?” She touched a button on her desk.
  “Earlier you told me that my friend, Belle, didn’t come into the salon with me.” Scruffy held Blab up on the counter. “I brought an eye witness. Go ahead Blab, tell her what you saw.”
  At that moment the two bull dogs pushed through the swinging door.
  Blab struggled to get free. “I saw nothing, nothing my friend.” He bit Scruffy’s paw.
  “Hahahahaha,” the two bulldogs laughed.
  “What the . . .” Scruffy dropped the rat and he scurried out of the salon as another customer opened the door. Scruffy ran after him.
Blab jumped into the closest can still shaking all over.
  “No bag for you, you . . . you dirty rat.”
  “Could not be helped, my friend.” Blab rubbed his eyes with the back of his paws.
  “Explain yourself!” Scruffy grabbed the rat by his neck.
  Blab looked back and forth, and twisted his head all the way around. “Not here.”
  “Fine.” Scruffy carried him to the alleyway behind the City Gas Station.
  Blab went to bite Scruffy again. Scruffy tightened his grip.
  “What do you think you’re doing?”
  “Ok, ok. You win.”
  Even as he said that Scruffy knew Blab was lying. “I’ll let you go when you tell me what’s going on.”
  “Very well, my friend. Uh, what was the question?”
  Scruffy shook his head with disbelief. The rat still tried to wiggle his way out of talking.
  “Spit it out, Blab, and I’ll let you go. Why did you freak out when you saw those bulldogs?”
  “They aren’t just any bulldogs. They work for that evil genius, Faux Paw, the fox.”
  “Who is Faux Paw, the fox?” Scruffy laughed. “That silver-tipped, red-tailed fancy pants I’ve seen around town?”
  “One and the same. Faux Paw runs things around here. He’s not just clever, he’s diabolical. You don’t want to get in his way.”
  “Does he own the Perky Pooch?”
  “Yes, and most of the stores in this town. He just bought that abandoned farm on Maple.”
  Scruffy sat down on the curb to think things out. That truck at the farm was probably Faux Paw’s too. What does a fox want with an abandoned farm?
  Scruffy didn’t know what to do next. Trusty doesn’t believe him and Belle is in some real trouble. He needed a plan.
  Blab squirmed. “Say, my friend, you said you’d let me go.”
  “I did, didn’t I?” Scruffy set Blab down and he ran off down the alley, back to the café.
  Scruffy decided an investigation of the Maple Street farm was in order.

*          *          *          *

  Scruffy rustled through the dry yellow weeds outside the rustic, pine pole fence. Every now and then he had to jump up to see over the weeds. The big white truck was gone.
  He wished Trusty was with him. He wished they were running through the grass, chasing grasshoppers like they did last summer.  He crawled under the fence when he got close enough to the barn.
  Scruffy heard all sorts of howls, yaps and barks. It reminded him of the dog pound he lived in before his family adopted him. He quivered inside, but he knew he had to keep going. Funny, Scruffy thought, Belle and I didn’t hear any noises this morning.
  Scruffy squeezed through a hole in the barn wall where two planks were missing. Straw covered the dirt floor and made his nose itch and his eyes water.
  Stacks of wooden dog crates lined the barn walls in rows. In the center of the barn, empty broken crates laid about in splinters.
He heard a big truck screech to a stop, so he crept to the front door. It was the same truck he’d seen earlier. The truck doors opened and slammed shut. Someone was coming.
  The barn door creaked open. Scruffy dived behind a bale of straw. It was the bulldogs. They were so close he could hear them slobber and drool when they spoke.
  “The Boss said to load them all backup, see.”
  “What for? Huh, huh?”
  “He made a deal with that laboratory over in Thistle, see.”
  “I don’t get it Ralph. Tell me huh, huh, tell me huh.”
  “They’ve all been tested and none of them are the dog he’s looking for, see.”
  “What’s he looking for, huh, huh?”
  “I don’t know exactly, see. Some magic chip thing, see.”
  “What’s a chip thing, huh, huh?”
  “It’s supposed to give the dog who has it some kind of super powers, see. The boss could rule the world with a chip like that, see. Now get back to work, Fluffy,” Ralph barked.
  Scruffy put a paw to his mouth to stifle his giggles. “His name is Fluffy? Hehehe. More like toxic Fluffy.”
  Ah-oh, here they come. The barn door creaked open. Scruffy flattened himself against the bale of hay as the two bulldogs stood next to him.
  They both lifted the first cage and hauled it out to the truck. The poor greyhound puppy inside trembled all over and whined.
  Scruffy felt a sneeze coming on. He held his breath and buried his nose into his left elbow. The barn doors closed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent Chapter 5

Chapter 5

  Scruffy stood at Trusty’s front door, panting. He rang the doorbell. He laid his head against the door and pounded with his fist. He couldn’t stop shaking.
  Trusty opened the door. “Wow. What a mess. What have you been up to?” He laughed. “No wait, let me guess, another adventure?”
  Scruffy looked down at his fur caked with dry mud. “I haven’t got time to explain. I took Belle to the salon a couple of hours ago, we were both going to get baths, only Belle never came out. When I asked about her they pretended they’d never heard of her.  They sicced their bulldogs on me and threw me out of the salon.”
  Trusty grinned.
  “This isn’t a joke, Trusty. Belle has been missing for two hours now. The longer you laugh at me, the farther they’ll take her.”
  “This is classic Scruffy, except you’ve upgraded your pretend adventure. You know the one where all the dogs go into the salon, but no one comes out. Now you’ve added Belle.” Trusty shook his head, laughing. “She’s going to love this.”
  Trusty laughed and laughed. He turned and shut his door right in Scruffy’s face.
  “Trusty, wait. This is for real, honest!” Scruffy pounded on the door, but it was no use.
  “I guess I deserve this. I must have pretended too many times.” He said aloud to himself. He hit his head against Trusty’s front door a few times and turned away.
  Scruffy paced back and forth on the sidewalk in front of their houses. “What am I going to do?” He paced some more. “Belle is in real trouble. . . I’ve always wanted to be a real detective . . . It’s time to go to work!” He pounded his fist into his other paw. He went home and got his spy kit.
  He ran to town while a plan formulated in his mind. He’d start in the alleys around the salon.
  Scruffy tippy-toed around the back alley behind the outdoor café.  He spied Blab, the rather round and squatty rat, sifting through the garbage cans.
  “Pssst, Blab.” Scruffy tried to be as quiet as he could be.
  Blab kept digging.
  “Blab,” Scruffy said a little louder.
  Still Blab ignored him.
  “BLAB!” Scruffy yelled this time.
  Poor Blab just about jumped out of his skin. He lost his footing and fell to the bottom of the can. “Keep your collar attached. I heard you, my friend.” Blab’s lisp echoed.
  “I need to talk to you.”
  “Indeed? How much is it worth to you?”
  “Time is food my friend.” Blab licked his lips. “Why don’t you get me out of here, and we’ll chat.”
  Scruffy grabbed Blab by the knap of the neck and set him down on top of a closed can.
  “So, what have you to trade with me?” Blab rubbed his front paws together like he was washing his hands.
  Scruffy didn’t trust those beady little black eyes, but a little encouragement couldn’t hurt. He looked around the alley and spotted a take-out bag from the café. He picked the bag up and the bottom almost fell out. Gross. The bag reeked.
  He held his nose up out of the way and didn’t see the banana peel in the middle of the alley. Swoosh. He slid into a couple of garbage cans. Bang. Crash. Kaboom.  
  “Hmm, dinner and a show.” Blab clapped his little paws.
  Scruffy grinned and picked himself up. He peeled the yucky, black banana peel off his foot. He’d have to go roll in the dirt for that. That’s how boy dogs take a bath.
  Blab started to shake.  The closer the bag came to him, the more he shook and twitched his nose.
  Scruffy thought this might be below even Blab’s standards, but apparently not.
  “Here you go Blab.”  As he held the bag out, Blab’s whiskers went sproing and his nose twitched. Blab went to grab the bag.
  “Not so fast.” Scruffy pulled the bag back at the last moment. “I want to know what you know about the salon next door.”
  “They do a lot of business.” Blab trembled.
  “You can do better than that. What else?”
  “It’s mostly for rich pets, my friend, not for the likes of us.”
  “Notice anything unusual lately?”
  “Like what, exactly?” Blab reached for the bag again, but Scruffy pulled it away. “Like dogs who get their nails polished?” Blab snickered.
  “Ever notice dogs going in that don’t come out?”
  Blab shook his head, “Too busy looking for food.”
  “Did you happen to see me and Belle go in earlier today?”
  “What if I did?”
  Scruffy dangled the bag in front of Blab. “Did you see Belle or not?”
  “Very well, I saw her with you.”
  “Yeah?” Scruffy grabbed Blab again. “They won’t believe me inside. You’re going to tell that receptionist you saw Belle go in there, then you get the bag. Understand?”
  “Yes.” Blab wiggled to get free. “You know, my friend, Belle can take care of herself. She could take you.”
  “Is that right?”
  “I’m telling you, my friend, I saw her kick some other dog’s trash just last week. And Trusty, he’s got skills too.”
  “What? He’s smaller than I am.”
  “Size does not matter, my friend.” Blab patted his large, round tummy. “Belle taught him.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent Chapter 4

Chapter 4

  Scruffy wanted to leave the instant he and Belle walked through the front door of the Perky Pooch Salon. Rhinestone collars and leashes lined chrome and glass shelves--definitely a girly place.
  And the smells…he tried not to breathe. It was like a mixture of antiseptic and bacon-scented cologne.
  The doorbell annoyed him. It sounded like a bunch of little fairy wind chimes. Boy dogs hate goofy scented baths, and bling, and fairies, except they might be fun to chase.
  They checked in at the front desk.
  Scruffy studied the large menu above the desk. He whispered to Belle, “This place is creepy.”
  Belle elbowed him in his ribs. “Will you stop?” She turned to the cocker spaniel behind the desk. “Two all-over body washes with blow dry and massages, please.”
  “Very good, madam.”
  “What?” Scruffy pulled away. “Boy dogs don’t get massages.”
  “You’ll love it. You’ll feel like a whole new dog.”
  Scruffy tugged at his collar again. He did not like this. He did not like this one bit!
  Belle giggled. “You’re not afraid of an itty bitty little old massage, are you?”
  “Me? I’m not afraid of anything.” Scruffy puffed out his chest and threw his head up.
  Belle turned Scruffy around and helped him find a seat in the waiting area. She sat down next to him and opened a magazine, Wags Weekly.
  Scruffy’s paws clenched the bottom of his chair. He didn’t want to go into some back room and let someone else give him a bath. His kids had a swimming pool in their back yard. He could splash around anytime he wanted.
  A large, pink poodle wearing a white lab coat came through double swinging doors. She walked up to the front desk and picked up a clipboard.
  “Belle,” she called.
  Belle set down her magazine and stood up.
  Scruffy grabbed her paw. “Don’t go, Belle. Something’s wrong. I just know it, please.”
  “Will you relax?” “I’ll be back before you know it.” She turned to follow the poodle.  
  Scruffy waited and waited. He tried looking at Belle’s magazine, but put it down. He stood up, and stretched. He paced the floor, back and forth, back and forth. He checked his watch for the one-hundredth time.
  “It’s been an hour and a half. Baths can’t possibly take that long, massage or no massage,” Scruffy thought to himself.
  He went up to the front desk and asked the receptionist, “How much longer is this going to take?”
“  Who are you waiting for, sir?”
  “Belle, the cute little beagle I came in with.”
  The receptionist scrolled down her computer screen. “I’m sorry, I don’t show any ‘Belles’ today.”
  The pink poodle in the lab coat came through the doors.
  “You, you’re the one that called Belle back for her bath over an hour ago. Where is she?”
  “Who?” She looked at the receptionist with one eyebrow raised.
  “He’s looking for his girlfriend,” the cocker spaniel said.
  “She’s not. . .I mean. . . we’re not. . .she’s not my girlfriend.” Scruffy looked from the receptionist to the poodle and back again.
  “I’m sorry, sir. She’s not here,” the Poodle said.
  “She is, and I’m not leaving without her!” Scruffy rushed for the swinging doors. He hit the doors open and ran head first into two black bulldogs. One of them was a lot bigger than him, the other smaller. Both were drooling and growling. They grabbed Scruffy up under his arms and drug him backwards out of the salon. They threw him out onto the sidewalk. The smaller bulldog’s toxic fluffies dazed Scruffy.
  “What did you eat?” Scruffy coughed. He couldn’t move.
  The bulldogs laughed and snorted. They turned back to the salon giving each other high fives.
  When Scruffy got his strength back he ran home as fast as he could. In fact, he had never run faster in his life. He’d find Trusty. Trusty would know what to do.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent Chapter 3

   Scruffy pretended to be sleeping when Belle hopped up on his porch.
   “Race you to the farm, Scruff.” She licked his face then turned and ran.
   Scruffy had some running to do to catch up. They ran all the way down Elm Street and turned the corner onto Maple. Two more blocks and they were there.
   The old farmhouse had some broken windows, some boarded up. Across from the house stood the big, faded-red barn. It leaned a little to the left, maybe because of the missing planks. It looked sort of like a grin missing some teeth. A rusty plow and the skeleton of an old tractor sat behind the barn partially buried in dried, yellowed weeds.
   “This is my favorite place to play,” Belle said.
   “Me too.” Scruffy wagged his tail. “Just like last summer.”
   They chased grasshoppers and butterflies. They chewed Johnson grass as they sat in the shade of an old oak tree. They watched ants drag half of a cricket carcass to their hill.
   Scruffy spotted a frog at the edge of a swampy mud puddle that used to be the duck pond. He snuck up behind the frog practicing his stealthy ninja moves. The frog did not jump.
    “I should be getting home. My kids will be out of school in an hour.” Belle got up and started for the fence.
   “Me too. Just one more minute.” Scruffy sniffed at the frog hoping to make it jump. He nudged it with his nose, but the frog wouldn’t move.
   “Belle, wait.” The frog jumped. Scruffy jumped.
   Belle watched him land ker-plop into that mud puddle. She laughed right out loud. “You’re funny, Scruffy.”
   He pulled himself to the edge of the puddle.
   “You look like a dinosaur trying to escape the tar pits.”
   Scruffy crawled out of the gooey slime. He stood there panting, and dripping black, stinky mud all over. Then he shook off covering Belle with the sticky stuff.
   Belle howled, “Oh Scruffy, I just had my hair done last week. Now look at me.”
   Scruffy snickered. He knew he shouldn’t have, but she looked funny, too. Scruffy raised his arms like a monster. “Grrrowl, roar.”
   Belle did not laugh. She nipped in his direction.
   “What’s the big deal? Come to my house and I’ll hose you off.”
Belle actually barked at him and stormed off. Scruffy thought she might’ve bitten him if he stood any closer to her.
   “Ok, ok, sorry.” Scruffy rolled over in front of her and wagged his tail.
   “Go away, Scruff.”
   “Don’t be mad, Belle. I didn’t mean to make you all. . . blech looking.” He shuddered at the mess.
   Belle stopped and turned around. “Do you mean that?” Her eyebrow arched.
   “Of course.” Scruffy’s tail wagged again.
   “Prove it.”
   “Take me to the Perky Pooch for a nice warm bath. We have just enough time before the kids get home.”
   “That’s not a good idea, Belle.”
   “Hmm. I thought you’d say that.” She pointed her nose in the air and trotted toward home.
   Scruffy ran ahead of Belle and turned in front of her. He got down on his two front paws wagging his tail like he wanted to play. Belle kept her head up and didn’t look at him.
   “Oh, come on Belle. I watched other dogs go in there all morning and none of them came out.”
   “We both know that was just pretend.”
   “No really. I’m telling you, something is going on there.”
   Belle folded her arms and wouldn’t budge.
   Scruffy kicked at the dirt. “Oh, alright, if it means that much too you.”
   “And you’ll get a bath too?”
   “What?” Scruffy tugged at his collar and gulped. “That wasn’t part of the deal.”
   “It is now. You’re muddier than I am, Scruff, and you smell awful.” Belle grabbed him by the paw.
   A big white truck turned into the gravel driveway and parked next to the barn. Scruffy and Belle ducked under the lodge pole fence.
   “I thought this place was abandoned.”
   “Me too.” Belle scratched at her collar. “Maybe someone is moving in.”
   “Maybe.” Scruffy made a mental note to check this out later.

Thank  you for your constructive comments!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Review of Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh

Martha Speaks series
by Susan Meddaugh

Martha is a talking dog. Her family discovered that feeding her alphabet soup gives Martha the ability to speak because the letters all go to her brain instead of her stomach. They also learned that they need to feed her alphabet soup everyday
or the effect wears off.
At the end of each book is a vocabulary list of new words from the story. Kids learn all kinds of new things through Martha's eyes.
This is a fun chapter book series and it has its own PBS show.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

McScruff: Top Secret Agent Chapter 2


   Tall oak trees lined the street where Scruffy lived. Crunchy red and yellow leaves danced and twirled in the autumn wind. As Scruffy turned the corner onto his street he saw Belle and Trusty talking on their way to Belle’s house.
   “How did you get here so fast?” Scruffy panted. “You were downtown. I saw you. You’re not even out of breath.”
   “What are you talking about? I’ve been with Trusty all morning.”
   Trusty nodded agreement.
   Scruffy scratched at his collar. “I was so sure that was you. You were at the café with that fancy fellow you’re always going on about.”
   “Really Scruffy, that pretend imagination of yours is getting out of control.” Belle shrugged her shoulders.
   Scruffy decided to let it drop. She must have had her reasons. It was better to change the subject. “You guys should’ve seen me in action this morning,” Scruffy said.
   “Sorry Scruff,” Belle said. “We have to get back to work.”
   “Don’t you want to hear about my latest adventures?” Scruffy jumped in front of them, walking backwards. “I stopped a bank robbery with my top secret ninja moves. I rescued four puppies from a blazing fire, then I spied on the Perky Pooch Pet Salon,” Scruffy reported.
   Trusty snickered. “What happened at the Perky Pooch?”
   Belle rolled her eyes. “Don’t encourage him,” she whispered.
   “I can’t put my paw on it, but something’s going on. Lots of dogs went in, but no one came out.”
   Belle said, “I get my nails done there all the time.”
   “I know what you’re thinking. I’m usually the one who buries waffles in the flower bed, or eats bugs, or…”
   “Chases your tail,” Trusty laughed.
   “Or barfs up the bugs.” Belle shuddered.
   “Or knocks things over.”
   “Ok, ok. I get it. Someday you’ll both believe me.”
   “We believe you, Scruff.” Trusty wagged his tail. “We’ve got to go. We’ll play with you another day, okay?”
   “You believe me, don’t you Belle?”
   “About the Perky Pooch? I don’t know—sounds like your other stories.”
   “This one is real, I can feel it.”
   “I was just there yesterday, and nothing happened.”
   “That was yesterday.”
   “Why don’t you go see what Mrs. Whiskers is up to,” Trusty said.
   Mrs. Whiskers was the old, Burmese cat that allowed Scruffy’s family to live with her.
   “Boring. She’s so lazy she won’t even drink from her own bowl. She lays on my bed and dips her paw in the water and lets it drip into her mouth.”
   “Tell you what, Scruff,” Belle said. “If you let us finish our work I’ll go with you to the farm and find something to chase like we did last summer. Deal?”
   “What is it you guys do all the time? I could help you finish, then we can play sooner.”
   “NO!” Trusty said. “I mean, it’s okay. We’ve got this.”
    “I’ll come get you the minute I’m done. Promise.” Belle crossed her heart with her paw.
   Belle and Trusty resumed their walk to Belle’s house.
   “I really could help. I’m good at some things.” Scruffy said as they disappeared behind Belle’s wooden fence.
   Scruffy scratched behind his ear. “I wonder what they’re up to. Why won’t they let me help?” He kicked up a couple of leaves.
   An interesting idea occurred to Scruffy, though he knew he shouldn’t spy on his friends. He decided to see what was more important than playing with him.
   Scruffy tippy-toed to his side of the fence and found a great knothole for his super-dooper bendable spy scope. He bent the scope this way then that way looking all over Belle’s backyard.
There they were, right next to her little blue and white doghouse, laughing. Laughing at him, maybe?
   They looked around to see if anyone was watching. The whole house tilted backward like it was on a giant hinge. When the dog house settled back down to the ground, Belle and Trusty disappeared.
   Scruffy shook his head in disbelief. What just happened? One minute they were standing right next to the doghouse; the next minute they were gone. Scruffy looked through the telescope again, but he couldn’t see them anywhere.
   This called for an investigation. Scruffy tippy-toed around the fence to Belle’s dog house. He sniffed all the way around, twice. They were definitely there. He went inside and sniffed some more. Back outside, Scruffy tried to tip the house. He pushed on all four sides, but it didn’t budge, not even a little.
   Scruffy sat down in the doorway, propping his head up with his paws. “This is most perplexing,” he thought.
   He sat and waited, and waited, maybe for an hour. Scruffy heard a mechanical sound from underneath him. “I’d better get out of here fast. If Belle catches me she’ll chew my hind leg off for real.”    
   He ran as fast as he could without making any noise. He laid down on his own front porch to catch his breath before Belle came to get him.

Thank you for your constructive comments!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Review of The Crook Who Crossed the Golden Gate Bridge by Steve Brezenoff Illustrated by C B. Canga

In San Francisco on a field trip, James (Gum) Shoo and his friends get caught up in a wave of pickpocketing.

The Crook Who Crossed the
Golden Gate Bridge
Field Trip Mystery Series
by Steve Brezenoff
Illustrated by C. B. Canga

Four kids on a field trip solve a mystery while
visiting San Francisco.
The names of the four friends are throwbacks from famous detectives of the past, or their nicknames; doubtful that children would get "Gum Shoo," but it makes it fun for adults who read it.
At the end of the book is "A Detective's Dictionary" with new words from the story, the main character's written report about their field trip, "further investigations" or thought questions kids can answer in their own journals, and journal prompts that kids can write in their own "detective's notebook."
This was a fun chapter book to read.

You can find it Here

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

McScruff: TOP SECRET Agent by Grandma Beans

Chapter 1

            A pair of black binoculars under a brown fedora peeked around the corner of City Mercantile. Scruffy was not the biggest dog ever, but today he wore his lucky trench coat. He practiced agility and stealth by tippy-toeing through crunchy autumn leaves.
            “Special Agent McScruff reporting in,” Scruffy whispered into his wrist communicator. It was really a patch of black fur. “Come on back to me, H. Q.—over.”
            Scruffy loved being a spy. Last month he ordered a spy kit from Amazon. It came complete with disguises, observation equipment, and three kinds of decoders. Yep, Scruffy had everything a good spy needed; everything but friends.
            He had two best friends in the whole world. Well, at least they used to be best friends. Belle, the Beagle lived next door on the right, and Trusty, the Jack Russell terrier lived to the left.

      The three of them spent the entire summer playing at the abandoned farm—together. Now, neither of them had time to play with him. They were always going somewhere or just too busy.
It seemed to Scruffy that Belle and Trusty were always busy at the same time. Maybe they were playing without him. Maybe they were busy. Either way
Scruffy had to make up his own adventures. Today he is a super hero spy.
            “Informant Blab is making his way through this morning’s garbage. Check.” Scruffy snuck across the alley and hid behind the dumpster at City Bank and Trust. His toes made squeaky sounds. He tightened his overcoat. He put his binoculars away and got out sunglasses with a nose and mustache.
            “All quiet at the bank.” Hmm, Scruffy thought. “Maybe too quiet.”
            Just then, two Doberman Pincers backed out of the bank’s front door. They wore black hats and dark glasses. They held guns and bags of money.
            “H. Q. we have a situation, at the bank.” Scruffy ran up behind the bank robbers jumping in the air. He kicked one of the robbers in the chest. He karate chopped the other one just seconds before the police arrived.
            Scruffy grabbed the two dogs by their collars. He tossed them into the dog catcher’s truck. “Here you go officers.” He dusted off his paws.
            “Yay for McScruff. He’s done it again,” the German Shepherds said.
Next, he tried the City Library. Nothing.
            KA-BOOM! The library burst into flames. Scruffy didn’t think twice. With one paw over his mouth and nose he ran into the raging inferno. His super sensitive ears perked up.
            He heard three, no four, whimpering puppies. He ran through smoke and flame and found all four puppies. He rushed them outside as the fire department drove up.
            “McScruff saves the day again,” the Dalmatians shouted. “Hooray for McScruff.”
Next to the library was a park with a playground. He could usually find something to chase; a bug, a stray ball, his tail, or Belle and Trusty, but not today.
            “Wait a minute!” Scruffy dove into the tall hedge that surrounded the City Center Plaza. All the city streets led from the Plaza out like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. A large, marble fountain bubbled and sprayed in the middle of the Plaza.
            Thorns in the hedge scratched and poked at Scruffy. Good thing he wore his trench coat. Fountain mist sprayed the right side of his face. Scruffy didn’t like to get wet. His idea of a bath was rolling around in a pile of dirt.
            The tip of his hat surfaced above the hedge. He aimed his binoculars at the front window of The Perky Pooch Pet Salon and Day Spa.
            “H. Q., this is Special agent McScruff. There’s a lot of activity at the Perky Pooch, this morning—over.”
            He leaned out of the hedge just a little to get a better view through the large front window. A little more. . . just a little bit more. . . and he toppled over the hedge onto the sidewalk across from the salon.
            Scruffy heard giggles coming from inside. Some of the dogs pointed at him. He quickly picked up his hat and binoculars and made a spectacular bow like he meant to do that.
            “Yup, dogs go in, but don’t come out. Something is definitely going on at the Perky Pooch.” Scruffy disappeared behind the hedge. He sat on the marble bench that surrounded the fountain. He pulled out his old newspaper with eye holes cut in it and pretended to read while watching The Perky Pooch.
            He hid behind one of the trees and looked in his mirror when a major bling caught his eye. He hopped inside the mailbox at the curb for a closer look. Squueeeaakk, his binoculars peered out from the trap door at the top of the box.
           Sitting at a wrought iron table outside the City Café was the fanciest animal Scruffy had ever seen. His fur looked like plush red velvet dipped in silver. He threw his head back in laughter at something his lunch companion said. He twisted the largest, curliest black mustache with his left hand.
          “That’s the most ridiculous disguise I’ve ever seen,” thought Scruffy. “At least mine is believable.”
          “Hold on—who’s his companion? It can’t be. That’s Belle. What’s she doing with this character? So this is why she couldn’t play today. I bet he smells like bacon, too.”
           This must be the fox she’s always talking about. Belle said he was a fox, but Scruffy thought she meant he was cute. He’s a real, red-tailed fox. He probably glows in the dark—a real mister fancy pants with his starched collar and cuffs.
          “H. Q., this Special Agent McScruff requesting a background check on one red-tailed fox. He's about four feet tall, wearing gold cufflinks and a laughable mustache—over.”
           Scruffy tried to move the mailbox closer for a better look when he realized he was stuck and stuck good. He pushed his arms side to side, but the box didn’t give. He began to teeter. He held his breath for fear of tipping over. If he fell, Belle would see him and think he was spying on her. She’d never play with him again.
           Scruffy pushed in the opposite direction. He teetered and he tottered like a red, white, and blue robot without legs. He lost his balance and fell over with a loud crash. People eating their lunches at the City Café jumped at the sound and their mouths dropped open. They laughed and pointed at him.
          The fox laughed at him, twisting one end of his mustache. Belle didn’t laugh. She turned her head and shaded her eyes. Scruffy almost wished she had laughed instead. He wiggled out of the top of the box. He hurt more than arms and legs.
           Luckily, his disguise was still intact so maybe no one else knew who he was. He grinned at the lunch crowd, set the mailbox upright, and stuffed some stray letters back in the box. He dove back into the hedge and made a most humble get-a-way.
         “Yep, that mustache is a fake, like the rest of his getup.” Scruffy packed up his gear and went home.

I welcome your constructive comments!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2 Fun Five-Star First Grade Book Series

This post contains affiliate links
The A to Z Mysteries
by Ron Roy
illustrated by John Steven Guerney
Includes all 26 books in the series from A to Z: The Absent Author, The Bald Bandit, The Canary Caper, The Deadly Dungeon, The Empty Envelope, The Falcon's Feathers, The Goose's Gold, The Haunted Hotel, The Invisible Island, The Jaguar's Jewel, The Kidnapped King, The Lucky Lottery, The Missing Mummy, The Ninth Nugget, The Orange Outlaw, The Panda Puzzle, The Quicksand Question, The Runaway Racehorse, The School Skeleton, The Talking T. Rex, The Unwilling Umpire, The Vampire's Vacation, The White Wolf, The X'ed-Out X-Ray, The Yellow Yacht, and The Zombie Zone.
Edition #6

This is granddaughter 3.1's favorite of the series because she got to meet the Queen.
3.1 liked the entire series. It appears there are 6 editions of the A to Z Mysteries.

Also by the same author:
Calendar Mysteries

There's a tricky new mystery every month for these intrepid kid detectives.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Grandson 3.3's Favorite Books

This post contains affiliate links
Grandson 3.3's Favorite Books

3.3 loves
Flat Stanley's World Wide Adventures
by Jeff Brown
Illustrated by Macky Pamintuan

When Stanley Lambchop wakes up one morning, his brother, Arthur, is yelling. A bulletin board fell on Stanley during the night, and now he is only half an inch thick! Amazing things begin happening to him. Stanley gets rolled up, mailed, and flown like a kite. He even gets to help catch two dangerous art thieves. He may be flat, but he's a hero.

3.3's favorite book in this series is book 4:

The Intrepid Canadian Expedition
(Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #4)

Flat Stanley goes north!
Stanley Lambchop and his family are in British Columbia, Canada, for some skiing and winter fun. But when Stanley and his new friend Nick go snowboarding—with Stanley as the snowboard, of course—they take a midair tumble just as the wind picks up . . . and find themselves floating in an amazing Canadian cross-country journey that might just be Stanley's wildest adventure yet!

3.3 also enjoys:

The Last Dragon Chronicles
by Chris d'Lacey

When David moves in with Liz and Lucy, he discovers a collection of hand crafted, clay dragons that comes to life and has magical powers. David's personalized dragon, Gadzooks, can forecast the future, and inspires him to write a story which reveals the truth behind an unsolved mystery close to home. The story has an unhappy ending, and when David realizes the consequences of it he is angry. Then David finds Gadzooks crying and near death, and he discovers that these special dragons die when they are not loved. Soon David is forced to save his friend and unlock the powers of the fire within.

The Cam Jansen Series
by David A. Adler

No mystery is too great for super-sleuth Cam Jansen and her amazing photographic memory!Can Cam help catch the diamond thief? Cam and her friend Eric are sitting at the mall when the jewelry store is robbed. Cam sees the thief, but the police arrest the wrong person. Now it's up to Cam to catch the real criminal!

The I Survived Series
by Lauren Tarshis

The most terrifying events in history are brought vividly to life in this new fictional series! In book 1, ten-year-old George is trapped on the Titanic -- how will he survive?

Ten-year-old George Calder can't believe his luck -- he and his little sister, Phoebe, are on the famous Titanic, crossing the ocean with their Aunt Daisy. The ship is full of exciting places to explore, but when George ventures into the first class storage cabin, a terrible boom shakes the entire boat. Suddenly, water is everywhere, and George's life changes forever.

Lauren Tarshis brings history's most exciting and terrifying events to life.
Readers will be transported by stories of amazing kids and how they survived!