Authors: Megan McDonald
Rocky was already waiting for them at the manhole.
“Hey, Rock,” said Stink, “did you ever get your picture in the paper?”
“Sure,” said Rocky. “Bunches of times.”
“You did?” asked Judy.
“No, not really,” said Rocky. “But they did hang my picture up in the library one time.”
“See?” Judy said to Stink. “Even my best friend is famous.”
“Why’d they hang your picture up in the library?” asked Stink.
“My mom took me to the library to see this magician guy, you know? He did this trick where he took my Superman ring and made it disappear. Then he pulled it out of his sleeve along with a bunch of scarves. They took a picture of it and I’m the kid in the front row with my eyes bugging out. Not exactly famous.”
“Still,” said Judy.
When Judy got to school, Mr. Todd said, “Let’s go over our spelling words.” Spelling, spelling, spelling. The whole wide world was hung up on spelling.
Judy leaned over and whispered to Frank. “Hey, Frank, ever had your picture in the paper?”
“It’s no big deal,” said Frank. “I was three years old.”
Adam stood up and spelled the word, “R-E-C-Y-C-L-E.”
“What was it for?” whispered Judy.
Hailey stood up and spelled the word, “I-C-I-C-L-E.”
“I won the Grandpa Grape Coloring Contest in the newspaper. You had to color this dancing grape cartoon guy. He used to be on grape juice. I couldn’t even stay in the lines.”
Randi stood up and spelled, “M-O-T-O-R- C-Y-C-L-E.”
Even Frank Pearl was famous. For scribbling on a dancing grape.
“Everybody I know is F-A-M-O-U-S,” Judy grumped.
“Judy,” said Mr. Todd, “were you hoping to get a white card today?”
A white card! Three white cards in one week meant you had to stay after school! She already had two. And it was only Wednesday.
“Why don’t you spell the bonus word aloud for us?” Mr. Todd said.
? thought Judy. She hadn’t been paying attention. She, Judy Moody, was in a pickle. Pickle? Was that the word? “Could I have the definition please?” she asked.
The whole class cracked up. “It’s something you eat,” said Rocky.
Judy stood up. “P-O-P-S-I-C-L-E.
” she announced confidently.
“Very good,” said Mr. Todd. “For
. Unfortunately that wasn’t our bonus spelling word for today.”
“Jessica? Would you like to spell the word for the class?”
Jessica Finch stood up tall, holding her pointy head so she looked very queenly. “P-U-M-P-E-R-N-I-C-K-E-L.
” said Jessica, faster than necessary.
was one of those artichokey kind of words that only Pinch Face herself could spell.
I bet she can’t spell
aardwolf, thought Judy.
“Judy,” Mr. Todd said, “if you study your spelling words and pay attention in class, you can avoid getting white cards and we’ll both get along famously.”
There it was again.
It was almost time for Science, her best subject, so it would be easy for Judy to pay attention. She’d sit up straight and raise her hand a bunch, like Jessica Finch.
She, Judy Moody, would
get another white card.
Judy studied the squirming worm on her desk up close.
“As you all know,” said Mr. Todd, “we’ve been raising mealworms. Today I’m passing one out for each of you to examine. You can often find mealworms at home. Where do you think you would find them in your house?”
Judy raised her hand.
“They like to eat oatmeal and flour and stuff,” she said when Mr. Todd called on her. “So maybe in your kitchen?”
“Right. Good,” said Mr. Todd. “They are actually the larvae of a type of beetle. The flour beetle. Mealworms are nocturnal,” said Mr. Todd. “Who can explain what that means?”
Judy’s hand shot up again.
“They sleep in the day and wake up at night,” said Judy.
“Fine,” said Mr. Todd. “This kind of mealworm is called a
Everyone take a minute and count how many segments you find on your mealworm. Then write it down in your notebook.”
Judy counted thirteen segments, not including the head. She wrote it in her notebook right away. While she waited for the next question, she let the mealworm climb up her finger. She let it climb up her pencil. Rare! The mealworm perched on her eraser.
“Mealworms have an exoskeleton,” said Mr. Todd. “What do you think that means?”
Judy knew everything about bones and skeletons. Inside ones and out. She knew the answer again. Judy shot her hand straight up in the air. Judy forgot about the pencil in her hand. She forgot about the mealworm on the tip of her eraser.
Mr. Todd called on Rocky.
Judy watched her mealworm fly through the air. She watched it land smack-dab on Jessica Finch. She watched it crawl up the front of Jessica’s shirt and right up onto the tip of Jessica’s ponytail.
Judy forgot all about the white card. She waved her hand wildly at Jessica until Jessica looked up, then pointed frantically at Jessica’s head.
Jessica screamed worse than a hyena and flicked her hair to shake off the mealworm.
sailed through the air, hit the chalkboard, and fell to the floor. Class 3T went wild.
“Class!” said Mr. Todd, clapping his hands. “Everybody quiet down. Jessica,” he said. “I’ll not have anybody throwing mealworms in my classroom.” He wrote her name on the board.
“But I didn’t . . . it was . . . she did! . . .”
“That’s enough. See me after Science for a white card.”
Jessica glared squinty-eyed at Judy. Her pointy ears looked pointier. Her pinched-up face looked even pinchier. Judy faced front.
Judy knew it was all her own fault. But she did not want to get a third white card.
Jessica Finch probably never got a white card before,
thought Judy. She probably didn’t even know before today what it felt like to get in trouble. All Jessica had was one puny little white card, and one puny little white card never hurt anybody.
For the rest of the morning, Judy felt more and more like a bug. No, a louse.
After lunch, her neck started to itch. Then her elbow. She scratched her left knee. Her toe itched inside her shoe.
By the end of the day, Judy went to talk to her teacher. “Mr. Todd,” she asked, scratching her ankle, “do you think not telling the truth can make a person itch?”
Scratch, scratch, scratch.
“I think so,” said Mr. Todd. “Is there something you’re itching to tell me?”
“Yes,” said Judy.
“In Science today?”
“It was my mealworm.”
“Not Jessica Finch’s.”
Judy told the whole truth.
“Thank you,” said Mr. Todd. “I appreciate your coming to me with the truth, Judy. I know that’s not always easy.”
“Does this mean I don’t have to get a third white card?”
“I’m afraid not,” said Mr. Todd. “I still want you to learn to pay better attention.”
Mr. Todd erased Jessica’s name on the board and wrote Judy’s name in its place. Judy hung her head.
“Honestly, it’s not so bad staying after school with me. We’ll find something useful to do, okay? Like maybe clean out the fish tank.”
“Mr. Todd, is there a word for somebody who gets famous for all the wrong reasons?” asked Judy.
“Yes,” said Mr. Todd. “That would be . . .
Judy peeled a banana.
“Can I have that?” asked Stink. Judy handed him the banana peel.
!” said Stink.
Judy took a monster bite, then handed Stink the banana. She picked up a cherry instead.
“What are you writing?” she asked her dad, popping the cherry into her mouth.
“Garage sale,” said Dad. “I’m running an ad in the paper. It’s time to get rid of all that old stuff out there.”
“Old stuff?” asked Judy, perking up. Old stuff got people in the newspaper. Really really old stuff even got people on TV. “What old stuff?”
“Your old bike, Mom’s books from college, Stink’s baby clothes.”
“Don’t we have any old-old stuff?”