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Authors: Dan Gutman

The Talent Show

BOOK: The Talent Show
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The Talent Show


Also by Dan Gutman

The Homework Machine

Nightmare at the Book Fair

Return of the Homework Machine

Getting Air

Race for the Sky

Back in Time with Thomas Edison

Back in Time with Benjamin Franklin

The Secret Life of Dr. Demented


The Talent Show




An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events,
real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names,

characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's

imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or

persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2010 by Dan Gutman

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in
part in any form.

Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please
contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or

[email protected]

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Book design by Krista Vossen

The text for this book is set in Edlund.

Permission to use “Stacy's Mom“

Lyrics by Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood

Copyright © 2003 Monkey Demon Music/Vaguely Familiar Music

Manufactured in the United States of America

0410 FFG

2    4    6    8    10    9    7    5    3    1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Gutman, Dan.

The talent show / Dan Gutman—1st ed.

p. cm.

Summary: After a devastating tornado destroys much of Cape Bluff,

Kansas, residents come together as a community to put on a talent show as a fund-raiser.

ISBN 978-1-4169-9003-1 (hardcover)

[1. Talent shows—Fiction. 2. Tornadoes—Fiction. 3. Community

life—Fiction. 4. Kansas—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.G9846Tal 2010



ISBN 978-1-4391-5827-2 (eBook)


To all the folks at Simon & Schuster



Thanks to Wendy and Jason Blau, Yonca and Jean Gerlach, Beth and Eric Levin, Meg Gallwitz, Mike Wilson, Kathleen Delaney, Nina Wallace, Donna Tambussi, and Caroll Stoner.

Chapter 1

When the Tornado Hit …

  • Paul Crichton,
    a fifth grader at Cape Bluff Elementary School in Cape Bluff, Kansas, was alone in his basement with his Fender Stratocaster guitar, trying to master the intro to “Stairway to Heaven.”
  • Julia Maguire,
    a Cape Bluff fourth grader, was on pointe at The Fontaneau Ballet Studio, rehearsing her relevés and tour jetés for the grand allegro in
  • Elke Villa,
    a sixth grader, was in the shower, belting out “I Will Survive,” Gloria Gaynor's
    1978 disco anthem, into a loofah that she was pretending was a microphone.
  • Richard Ackoon,
    a third-grade aspiring rap star, was sitting on his back porch, paging through his rhyming dictionary, and trying to find a word that rhymed with “humiliate.” He looked up and saw his father in the distance, working in the fields on his small farm.
  • Dan Potash,
    sixth grader, was listening through headphones while watching a stand-up comedy DVD,
    Jerry Seinfeld: I'm Telling You for the Last Time.
  • Lucille Rettino,
    the fifty-five-year-old mayor of Cape Bluff, was being photographed with the members of the Cape Bluff Garden Club at their annual fund-raiser.
  • Jon Anderson,
    the principal of Cape Bluff Elementary School, was at a desk in his office doing paperwork and sipping coffee.
  • Justin Chanda,
    a multimillion-selling pop star who grew up in Cape Bluff, was a thousand miles away at a recording studio in Los Angeles, overdubbing vocals for his next album,
    Back to Kansas
  • “Honest Dave” Gale
    was on the lot of his car dealership, Honest Dave's Hummer Heaven, trying to talk a reluctant customer into buying a Hummer H3T pickup.
  • Mary Marotta,
    a stay-at-home mom and proud member of the PTA, was watching
    while making peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches for her two young children, who had just come home from school.

in Cape Bluff, Kansas, stopped what they were doing when the tornado alarm sounded.

Chapter 2

Cars Were Flying
Around Like Frisbees

The animals were the first to realize something was wrong. They always are. At 3:48 p.m. that Tuesday afternoon, the birds in Cape Bluff suddenly stopped singing. Cows huddled close together in the field. Dogs began running around erratically.

Animals have a sixth sense about these things. Maybe it's infrasound—low frequency rumbles that are below the threshold of human hearing.

Anyway, the animals knew before the people. They just knew.

To anyone's eyes in Cape Bluff, at first it looked like a whopper of a thunderstorm was approaching. The cumuliform clouds that dotted the sky all morning had, without anyone noticing, joined
into one gigantic darker cloud mass covering the sky and blocking out the sun.

But there was something different this day. The sky took on a sickly yellow/greenish hue. At the local weather station a few miles down the road, a meteorologist jotted down the time in his logbook.

The rains came down for a while, not too heavy. There was even some hail. Then there was an eerie quiet.

Richard Ackoon, the young rapper sitting on his porch, looked up. There had been a sudden change in pressure. The air felt heavy, and hot, like it was too close to his face. He found it hard to breathe.

The enormous cloud was moving fast, and then, suddenly, the wind stopped. It was peaceful. The leaves in the trees tilted up gently, as if they were looking at the sky.

No funnel cloud was visible. Not yet. There was a subtle swirling mist, but nobody could see it. The tube of air was horizontal at first, but gradually the rising air pushed it vertically, until it resembled a spinning top.

Elke Villa, the girl who had been singing in the shower, suddenly stopped when she heard a tornado siren go off in the distance.

Cape Bluff is in the heart of Tornado Alley, a vast area that stretches from parts of Texas to Minnesota. Everyone who lives within that region knows what to do when the tornado siren blares. In school they had tornado drills once a month.

BOOK: The Talent Show
2.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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