Authors: Beverly Cleary
Amy's Third Dandelion
Amy and The Audio-Visual Aids
A Bad Time for Mitchell
Mitch and Bernadette
Amy's Feathered Friend
itchell Huff's day began like any other summer dayâwith a squabble with his twin sister Amy. At breakfast Amy grabbed a cereal box top and said, “I'm going to send away for the plastic harmonica that looks like an ear of corn.”
“Oh, no you don't!” said Mitchell. “It's my turn to get the box top.”
“It is not!” said Amy. “You got the last one.”
“But it wasn't a good box top,” said
Mitchell. “How come you get all the good box tops?”
“I don't,” said Amy. “You sent away for the pedometer.”
“Yes, but it broke the first time I used it,” said Mitchell.
“That wasn't my fault,” said Amy.
“It's no fair,” said Mitchell. “You always grab the good box tops, and then don't send away for things.”
“Be quiet, both of you,” said Mrs. Huff, “or I shall serve hot oatmeal every morning, three hundred sixty-five days of the year, and you won't have any box tops to send away.”
Mr. Huff, who had to catch a bus to the city, glanced at his watch and said, “That ought to settle this morning's squabble.”
“Okay, Mom. You win,” Mitchell said amiably.
“Oatmeal, ick,” said Amy.
After breakfast Mitchell went out to the patio to work on the skateboard he was building out of an old board and a roller skate while Amy went to her room and began to play her cello. That's funny, thought Mitchell, sawing the board in two, nobody told her to practice. There was something familiar about the catchy tune his sister was playing, and Mitchell grinned when he recognized that it was not her lesson, but the
music from a television commercial. That Amy!
In a few minutes the cello was silent, but Amy's tune ran through Mitchell's head half the morning. He was pounding the last nail around the half of the skate fastened to the front of the board when Amy came out the back door.
“I thought I heard Marla come through the gate,” Amy said. She picked a dandelion that had gone to seed in a flower bed and held it up to examine it more closely.
Mitchell gave the nail a final bang with the hammer and sat back on his heels, waiting for Amy to say something about his skateboard, but Amy was looking at the ball of dandelion fluff as if she found it a thing of magic and, while Mitchell watched, she closed her eyes to make a wish.
Mitchell looked at his sister standing there in her play clothes with her knees bruised, her brown hair falling to her shoulders, and
her summer freckles bright in the September sunshine. Her lips were puckered beside the dandelion's white head as if they had been drawn up by a string. He saw her chest rise as she drew a deep breath and held it for a moment.
Suddenly the temptation was too great for Mitchell. Gathering his breath he rose and moved swiftly and silently across the concrete on his rubber soles.
Mitchell blew as hard as he could and sent every one of Amy's dandelion seeds dancing off into the sunshine.
Amy's eyes flew open, and for a moment she stared at the empty stem in her hand. Then with a yell of rage she flung it onto the patio. “Mitchell Huff!” she shrieked. “You spoiled my wish! I'll get you for this!” There was nothing dreamy about Amy as she began to chase Mitchell. Around and around the patio they went, sneakers pounding up on the bench and down on the concrete again,
Mitchell ducking and sidestepping Amy and always managing to stay just out of her grasp.
“You're despicable!” cried Amy, who already read on the fifth-grade level or even higher, although she was about to enter the fourth grade. Mitchell felt his sister's fingers on his shirt and jerked away. Around and around they went, and as they grew short of breath they both began to laugh.
Mrs. Huff opened the back door and stepped into the patio with a jar of peanut butter and a knife in her hand. “You two,” she said. “Stop it.”
The chase slowed and came to a halt. “He blewâthe fluff offâmy dandelionâwhen I was about toâmake a wish,” said Amy, giggling and gasping and appealing for justice.
“I couldn'tâhelp it,” panted Mitchell. “She was justâstanding thereâall puckered up with her eyes closed and suddenly
something came over meâ”
“Something comes over you altogether too often.” Mrs. Huff spread a gob of peanut butter on a pinecone tied to the branch of a crab-apple tree outside the dining-room window. “I saw the first chickadees of the season this morning, and I thought if I started putting peanut butter out again we might persuade them to stay with us for the winter. Amy, pick another dandelion, and I'll stand guard while you make your wish.”
“It won't be the same,” said Amy, but she found a second dandelion.
“Mitch, if you blow the fluff off Amy's dandelion this time, I'll spread you with peanut butter and leave you for the chickadees,” said Mrs. Huff, as she smeared peanut butter between the scales of the pinecone. Since Amy had made a bird feeder out of the pinecone for a Brownie project in the third grade, Mrs. Huff had become interested in bird-watching. “Mom's feathered friends”
her children called the juncoes, sparrows, and chickadees that grew fat on her peanut butter.
“I'll try to control myself,” said Mitchell, when his mother had finished with the pinecone. “It will be a struggle, but I'll try.” He noticed that this time Amy did not shut her eyes; she remained vigilant until with one breath she had sent all the dandelion seeds flying out across the patio. “What did you wish?” he asked.
“As if I would tell you,” said Amy.
Mrs. Huff screwed the lid back onto the peanut-butter jar. “I know what I wish. I wish you two would stop bickering. I'll be glad when school starts.”
“Mom! You said a bad word,” said Mitchell. “It begins with
.” He was about to try standing on his skateboard when Marla Brodsky came through the patio gate.
“Hi, Amy. Hello, Mrs. Huff.” Marla stopped when she saw what Mitchell had
been working on. “How come you built a skateboard when you already have a skateboard?” she asked.
“I just wanted to, is all,” answered Mitchell.
“I know,” said Marla. “I like to make things, too.”
Mitchell already knew she did. Marla and Amy were always making things when they were not pretending something. He stepped carefully onto his skateboard and hoped it would bear his weight. Bending nails around the skate halves had not been easy. Nothing cracked and nothing fell off. He bounced to test the strength of his skateboard, and still it held. It was sturdy enough to hold a sixty-seven-pound boy.
“It looks like a fine job to me,” said Mrs. Huff. Mitchell felt this comment was generous of his mother, who thought all skateboards were dangerous.
“Do you suppose it will really work?” Amy asked.
Mitchell stepped off his board and picked it up. “I think I'll go road test it. So long, Mom.”
“You mean sidewalk test it,” answered his mother. “You stay out of the street with that thing.”
“Sure, Mom.” Mitchell knew his mother was nervous, because all the streets in their neighborhood were hilly and winding and only a few had sidewalks.
“And please don't break your neck,” said Mrs. Huff, “and don't run down any little old ladies.”
“You can count on me, Mom.”
Mitchell carried his homemade skateboard through the patio gate, down the steep driveway to a gently sloping street with a sidewalk. Mitchell felt good. It was a bright, clear day. Down below he could see the red
tile roofs of the University, and across the bay he could see San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. He had built himself a skateboard that was probably going to work, and in a few days he and Amy would go into the fourth grade. Why shouldn't he feel good? He had everything to feel good about. He set his skateboard on the sidewalk, stepped onto it, and began to coast slowly down the sloping concrete.
“Yea!” Mitchell cheered out loud. The skateboard he had built himself really did work! Of course, it did not steer easily like the skateboard he had saved his allowance for, but it worked and that was the important thing. Not often did something that Mitchell had built really work. His sister Amy was different. She was always making something that workedâa crocheted pot holder or a bird feeder out of a pineconeâbut Mitchell doubted if even she could build a working skateboard.
The sidewalk curved, and although Mitchell tried steering by shifting his weight, the skateboard headed for the street. He jumped off and caught the board before it coasted off the curb. Around the curve he set it on the sidewalk once more, and feeling pleased with himself, his skateboard, and the sunny day, he coasted on down the sidewalk past a small boy who was sitting out in front of his house on his tricycle.
“Hi there, Johnny,” said Mitchell, as he coasted by.
“Why don't you thut up?” said Johnny.
“Okay, Johnny.” Mitchell knew Johnny was wishing he was old enough to have a skateboard, and Mitchell wished Johnny were too. His neighborhood was full of little boys and teenage boys, girls of all ages, but no nine-year-old boys. Next Mitchell had to stop for a lady who was backing out of her driveway. “Did you build that yourself?” she asked.
“Yes, I did,” said Mitchell modestly.
“Well, you did a fine job,” said the lady, as she backed out into the street, “but be careful you don't break your neck.”
Mitchell coasted to the end of the slope in the sidewalk, and on his way he met the mailman, a milkman, and a lady who was setting a sprinkler on her lawn. They all told him to be careful not to break his neck, but this attitude did not surprise Mitchell. All grown-ups expected all boys on skateboards to break their necks. When he came to the level part of the sidewalk, he picked up his skateboard, walked back up the slope, and started all over again.
“Hi there, Johnny,” he said, coasting toward the little boy on the tricycle once more.
Johnny took two fingers out of his mouth. “You thut up,” he said.
Mitchell grinned and coasted along, holding his arms out for balance. He felt good to
be so much older than Johnny on his tricycle, to be old enough to ride on a skateboard he had built himself. Mitchell felt so good he decided he might even use his other skate to build a skateboard for his sister.
Amy had really been pretty good lately, and she hadn't tattled when he helped himself to more than his share of the cookies she had baked. Of course, Amy had been mad a little while ago, but he couldn't say he blamed her. He knew he shouldn't tease his sister so much, but he couldn't seem to help himself. He would think he wasn't going to tease her, and then he would see her doing something like making a wish on that dandelion and something just seemed to come over himâ¦.
The funny part was, although he wouldn't want Amy to know, Mitchell liked being known as one of the Huff twins. “Mitchell Huff?” people would say the first time they met him. “You must be one of the Huff
twins,” as if being a twin was something special. And Mitchell felt that being a twin was something special. Special but sometimes difficult.
The sound of skateboards approaching behind him interrupted Mitchell's thoughts. Boys! Someone to play with! He jumped off his own board beside the bus-stop sign, turned, and saw two boys, both of whom he recognized, coasting toward him in the street. The older boy, Dwight Hill, usually called Dwight Pill, was going to start junior high school and had been famous at Bay View School, when he was in the sixth grade, because he was the first person to bring a battery-powered eraser to school. Mitchell was not surprised to see him riding the longest, most expensive skateboard manufactured.
The second boy, Alan Hibbler, was riding a medium-priced skateboard. Alan was a
good-looking boy who was about to enter the fifth grade and who was the son of a famous scientist at the University. The whole school knew about Alan's father, Judson Hibbler, who was so famous that his picture had been in