The X'ed-Out X-Ray

BOOK: The X'ed-Out X-Ray

Here’s what kids, parents,
and teachers have to say
to Ron Roy, author of the

“Do you know how much I
your A to Z Mysteries? More than 100 ice cream cones!”

—Becca S.

“Your books have changed my reading. Now I love reading.”


“I love your A to Z Mysteries so much that I take them everywhere, like in the car, on the couch, and in my room.”

—Ryan B.

“I read your books over and over again.”

—Nina C.

“For the first time ever, [my son] is excited about reading. Thank you for creating books that are so enjoyable and for making reading fun!”

—Liz S.

“Thanks for giving [my students] the confidence and love for reading that every child should possess. It was a great year with you in our classroom.”

—Ria M.

This book is dedicated to my good friend
Caitlin Lamphier. What a reader!

To Jesse

“I’m not dressing like a penguin and you can’t make me!” Josh said.

“Why not?” asked his friend Dink. “I’m doing it, and so is Ruth Rose.”

Dink’s whole name was Donald David Duncan. When he was first learning to say his name, it came out as “Dink.” That became his nickname.

Josh grinned. “So if you jumped off a bridge, would I have to do it, too?”

“Josh, everyone who goes to a Penelope Gwinn concert dresses like a penguin,” Ruth Rose said. “That’s
because PENGUIN is her stage name.”

Ruth Rose always dressed in one color. Today’s color was lime green, from her headband down to her sneakers. “Come on, Josh,” she went on. “It’ll be fun!”

“Eating is fun,” Josh said, popping the last of his sandwich into his mouth.

“Penguins like to eat, too,” Dink reminded Josh.

“Yeah, raw fish,” Josh muttered.

It was Friday, and the kids were in Ruth Rose’s backyard having lunch. Ruth Rose had just found out that she’d won four free tickets to Penelope Gwinn’s concert in Hartford.

“Be a sport, Josh,” Dink said. “All you have to do is wear a white shirt and black pants or shorts. They’re passing out penguin masks to everyone who goes.”

Ruth Rose gave Josh a sly look. “If you dress up, I’ll buy you a hot dog!”

Josh wiggled his eyebrows. “Make it
hot dogs and it’s a deal,” he said.

“Deal,” Ruth Rose said. “Be here tomorrow morning at eleven-thirty. My dad is driving us.” She started cleaning up the paper plates.

Josh grabbed the last cookie. “Hey, if you throw in a milkshake, I’ll even quack like a penguin.”

Dink pitched a wadded-up napkin at Josh. “Penguins don’t quack,” he said. “Only ugly ducklings like you do that.”

The next morning, Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose climbed into her father’s station wagon. Ruth Rose was wearing a white T-shirt, a black vest, and white shorts.

“Quick, call a doctor!” Josh teased. “Ruth Rose is wearing two colors!”

Josh’s shirt was black with white stripes going up and down. Below the shirt he was wearing black jean cutoffs. White gym socks peeked over the tops
of his black high-top sneakers.

“You’re supposed to look like a penguin,” Dink said, “not a zebra.”

“I like stripes,” Josh said.

Dink was wearing a black T-shirt and white jeans.

Mr. Hathaway was wearing a white
shirt, a black bow tie, and black trousers. “I don’t believe I’ve heard of Penelope Gwinn,” he said as he backed out of his driveway. “What kind of music does she play?”

“Rock and roll,” Ruth Rose said. “But she plays a violin while she sings.”

“Oh, great,” muttered Josh next to Dink in the backseat. “I got dressed like a bird to listen to violin music!”

“You could always stick your two hot dogs in your ears,” Dink suggested.

Twenty minutes later, they were in Hartford. Mr. Hathaway parked his car in a lot across the street from Bushnell Park, where the concert was being held.

“Look!” said Ruth Rose, pointing to a white trailer near the park entrance. Painted on the side of the trailer was a life-sized portrait of Penelope Gwinn. On the rear of the trailer was a picture of a real penguin.

“Does she live in that thing?” Josh asked.

“Not a big star like her!” Ruth Rose said. “I think she just travels in it to her concerts. I’ll bet she has the penthouse in that hotel!”

Across the street from the park stood the Parkview Hotel. It was twelve stories high, and its windows reflected the blue sky.

“Well, let’s find our seats,” Ruth Rose’s father suggested.

At the gate, Ruth Rose handed the tickets to a man wearing a penguin suit. He told them where to sit, then gave them each a cardboard penguin mask.

“Just fold on the dotted lines to make the beak stick out,” the man said. “Then poke out the eye holes so you can see.”

The kids and Mr. Hathaway stepped over a lot of feet and legs to get to their seats. Almost everyone was dressed in black and white and wearing a penguin mask.

A tall woman sat in front of Dink. He noticed that she was reading a thick autograph book. Her penguin mask was resting on top of her bright yellow hair.

“I feel like a jerk,” Josh said as he placed the mask over his face. His red hair spiked over the top of the mask.

“I think you look very penguin-like, Josh,” Mr. Hathaway said as he put on his own mask.

“These are excellent seats!” Dink said. The kids were only twenty feet from the stage. Penelope’s band members were all dressed like penguins. They sat at the back of the stage, tuning their instruments.

To the right of the stage was a green tent with a red cross painted over the entrance. Next to the cross were the words
Several food carts were parked along a path a few yards away.

A police officer on a horse moved
slowly through the crowd. She stopped and chatted with people and let kids pet the horse.

Josh leaned in toward Ruth Rose. “When do I get my hot dogs?” he asked.

“At intermission,” she answered.

At exactly one o’clock, the door of the PENGUIN trailer opened up and Penelope Gwinn stepped out. A tall, broad-shouldered man was with her.

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