Table of Contents
“You do look like a princess!” said Katie. “Greta is going to
Nicola's dress was a rich royal blue satin, with a big full skirt that rustled and swirled about her legs.
“Naturally, this dress is perfect for swimming,” said one of the Wardrobewhizonics.
“I beg your pardon?” said Nicola. “I wouldn't swim in this!”
“Well, you could hardly swim
it!” another Wardrobewhizonic giggled.
GROSSET & DUNLAP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700,
Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
(a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road,
Camberwell,Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre,
Panchsheel Park, New Delhiâ110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other
means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please
purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage
electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.Your support of the author's rights is
Bonatakis. All rights reserved. Published by Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. GROSSET & DUNLAP is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. .S.A.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.
eISBN : 978-1-101-02906-0
Under the light of two turquoise moons and a blazing starlit sky, a family relaxed peacefully in their backyard swimming pool.
The son was asleep, curled up on the water's surface, his thumb jammed in his mouth.
The daughter floated flat on her stomach reading a book and trailing one hand back and forth through the fizzy pink water.
The parents bobbed upright, sipping giant cups of blueberry tea while they watched the evening news on a large screen at the end of the pool.They frowned and made
noises as a redheaded princess wearing a rather grubby gown shook her head forcefully at the camera.
“She won't budge,” said the mother.
“She's a spoiled brat,” said the father.
“I hope you're not talking about me.”Their daughter didn't lift her eyes from her detective book.
“Of course not! We're talking about the princess,” said the father. “She wants to destroy a planet!”
“Earth,” answered the mother.
The daughter sat up straight, her book forgotten. “Earth! That cute little planet where you went on your honeymoon? But we're all going there on vacation for your anniversary! She can't do that!”
“I'm afraid she can,” said the father glumly.
“We have to do something about it!” said the daughter.
“We can't,” said the father.
“We can,” said the mother. “And we must.”
Honeyville Primary School, Honeyville, Sydney, Australia, Earth
Nicola Berry sat as still as concrete. Even when the fan at the front of the classroom rotated in her direction and everybody's hair whooshed back as if they were sticking their heads out of car windows, she didn't flicker an eyelash.
She was trying something new.
Her subject was her teacher, Mrs. Zucchini, who was scribbling furiously on the board and shouting something about oceans and seas. Nicola didn't know why Mrs. Zucchini was so upset about oceans and seas.They should have made her feel cool and refreshed.
Mrs. Zucchini's real name was Mrs. Zukker, but everyone secretly called her Mrs. Zucchini. It suited her, as she generally had such an “eeeeuuuuw” expression on her face, you would think she'd just that minute been force-fed a plate of mashed zucchini. She was in a bad mood every day of her life because she disliked children and she had a severe allergy to chalk. She also hated hot weather and was particularly cranky on steamy, humid days like today. Once, Nicola had written her an anonymous note.
Dear Mrs. Zukker,
I am writing to suggest other careers that might make you feel happier and less stressed. Possible interesting jobs include:
Jail warden (in an air-conditioned jail)
Dog trainer (of big snarly dogs who need to be yelled at)
Any job in a cold snowy country without chalk or children! Yours sincerely,
A Most Concerned Student
Nicola's dad said she should definitely send Mrs. Zucchini the note and then laughed so hard he choked on his ham and pineapple pizza and had to be thumped on the back. Nicola's mom said she thought Mrs. Zucchini might be offended and think that Nicola meant she wasn't a good teacher. Nicola said well, actually, that was exactly what she meant.Then her mom told her a long story about a horrible teacher
had at school, who turned out to have a kind heart and gave her a lemon meringue pie recipe or something. Nicola knew that Mrs. Zucchini actually had an evil black heart, but she didn't want to upset her mom, so she just patted her on the shoulder and said, “Thanks, Mom, that was really interesting and helpful.”
Yesterday, Nicola's older brother, Sean, had told her that whenever he didn't want to be picked by his teacher to answer a question in class, he just used mental telepathy. He said this was absolutely one hundred percent true and that he would do a lie-detector test if she wanted. Nicola said she didn't have a lie detector handy, and Sean said that was her problem and did a somersault in midair. (They were on the trampoline in their backyard at the time.)
Nicola was pretty sure that Sean was making it up, but it was worth a try. She was hoping to learn mental telepathy before her birthday, which was December first, just three days away. It would be so impressive. After everybody sang “Happy Birthday” and she blew out the candles, she would do a demonstration of her amazing new skills. Everyone would be astonished. Last year's birthday had been a little dull, to be honest, and she wanted to make this one especially memorable. After all, if
could do mental telepathy, she could, too.
“WHAT IS THE NAME OF THIS SEA RIGHT HERE?” hollered Mrs. Zucchini as if they were all a million miles away instead of sitting right in front of her. She banged the chalk next to the squiggly map she'd drawn on the blackboard.
A few people put up their hands, but Mrs. Zucchini ignored them. She didn't like it when someone knew the answer because that meant she couldn't yell. Her pink piggy eyes darted around the classroom, searching for a person who would get it wrong. Her chalk allergy made her skin red and flaky, and as she tapped the chalk in the palm of her hand, pieces of skin showered to the floor. It made Nicola itchy just looking at her.
“EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU SHOULD KNOW THE NAME OF THIS SEA!”
Nicola's eardrums throbbed.
“I SAID IT JUST FIVE MINUTES AGO. IF YOU DON'T KNOW, THEN YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!”
Nicola did not know the name of the sea.There wasn't even a name on the tip of her tongue.The only thing on the tip of her tongue was a frosty strawberry sensation from the iceblock she'd had at lunchtime.
If ever she needed mental telepathy, it was now.
She tried as hard as she could to beam her thoughts directly into the dark, swirly depths of Mrs. Zucchini's brain:
Don't pick me. Don't pick me. Don't pick me. Pick Greta Gretch. Pick Greta Gretch. Pick Greta Gretch.
Greta Gretch was Nicola's worst enemy. (Everyone knew Nicola and Greta couldn't stand each other because they'd had some rather loud arguments in front of the whole class. Nicola found Greta to be one of the bossiest, most annoying people she'd ever met.) Unfortunately, Greta was waving her hand frantically like a drowning swimmer, so Mrs. Zucchini was pretending not to see her.
Nicola saw Mrs. Zucchini dart a suspicious look at Tyler Brown.Tyler was one of Nicola's best friends and he was smart. Nicola guessed he probably knew the answer but was deliberately not putting up his hand. He looked back at Mrs. Zucchini with wide innocent eyes behind his round glasses and scrunched up his forehead as though he was trying to remember the name of the sea. Mrs. Zucchini would be thrilled to catch Tyler out with a wrong answer, but would she take the risk? What if Tyler was bluffing?
Don't pick me. Don't pick me. Pick Tyler! Don't say Nicola Berry. Don't say Nicola Berry. Say Tyler Brown. Don't say . . .
Nicola nearly jumped out of her skin. She couldn't believe it. She had been convinced the mental telepathy was working. It just went to show you couldn't trust a single word her brother said.
“Up to the blackboard, young lady!” Mrs. Zucchini could tell by the expression on Nicola's face she had a winner (in other words, a loser). She brandished the chalk. “Write down the name of the sea right here! If you've been listening, it should be a snap!”
Nicola sneaked a look over to the far side of the classroom and saw her other best friend, Katie Hobbs. Her face was filled with despair, as if Nicola had been sent off to fight in a dangerous battle. Katie's heart was as soft as marshmallow.
Nicola looked back to Tyler, who was slumped back in his chair as if he was all set for a midday nap. Hmmph!
wasn't very sympathetic! She stood up slowly behind her desk. Her arms and legs felt all droopy, like stretched-out plasticine.
“Oh, dear, you poor thing, I'm
sorry, it's such a terrible
the way to the blackboard!” Mrs. Zucchini mocked.