Read Zoobreak Online

Authors: Gordon Korman


BOOK: Zoobreak
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Scholastic Inc.

New York Toronto London Auckland
Sydney Mexico City New Delhi Hong Kong

For Elizabeth Harding,
who steers the boat.

And special thanks to
Jennifer Hershey,
zookeeper to the stars.



Title Page










































CLOSING ARGUMENT: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the DEFENSE has shown that when Officer McElroy gave Mr. Drysdale a TICKET for UNSAFE DRIVING, this was NOT FAIR because:

(i) Mr. Drysdale was not breaking any laws.

(ii) Luthor Drysdale (dog) was hanging his head out the window, which every dog does.

(iii) Everyone in Cedarville knows that Cleopatra always rides on the back of Luthor’s neck, whether driving in a car or not.

Officer McElroy claims that Cleopatra could have fallen off, creating a TRAFFIC HAZARD. However, the defense has proven that capuchin monkeys are excellent GRIPPERS and have been hanging off of tree branches, dogs’ necks, etc. for THOUSANDS of YEARS. We therefore ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to return a verdict of NOT GUILTY so Mr. Drysdale won’t have to pay the fifty-dollar fine.

en Slovak looked up from the paper. “Do they have juries in traffic court?”

“Okay, I’ll change it to ‘Your Honor.’ ” Griffin Bing was impatient. “What about the reasoning? Perfect, right?”

Ben wanted to agree with Griffin. Life was so much smoother when you did.

“I guess so,” he said uncertainly. “But wouldn’t it be easier just to pay the ticket?”

“Never!” Griffin thundered. “There can’t possibly be a law against driving around with a monkey piggybacking your dog! The whole
thing comes down to that cop saying it isn’t safe. Who do you think knows more about animals — the cop or Savannah?”

No contest there. Their fellow sixth grader Savannah Drysdale was Cedarville’s greatest authority on animals. In addition to Cleopatra and Luthor, she was the housemate — she refused to call herself the owner — of cats, rabbits, hamsters, turtles, a parakeet, and an albino chameleon.

Ben looked distracted. “Listen, Griffin, I need to talk to you about something.”

“Later,” Griffin promised. “I want to get this over to Savannah’s. I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she reads our plan for her dad’s defense.”

Wordlessly, Ben followed Griffin down the street and up the Drysdales’ front walk. You didn’t argue with Griffin when there was a plan involved. In this town, Griffin Bing was The Man With The Plan.

Griffin marched up to the house and rang the bell. Almost instantly, the door was flung open and Savannah burst out onto the porch, eyes wild.

“You’ve got to help me!” she cried.

Griffin thrust the paper into her hand. “Don’t worry, we have a plan.”

Savannah stared at the closing argument like it was written in Martian. “What’s this supposed to be?”

“Your father’s defense for the traffic ticket!”

“Are you nuts?” Savannah wailed. “Nobody cares about the ticket! Cleopatra is


one?” Griffin repeated. “Gone where?”

Savannah could barely contain herself. “Well, if I knew that, I’d go get her back, wouldn’t I?”

“When did you last see her?” Ben asked with kind concern.

“She was puttering around the backyard, relaxing in the hammock and listening to NPR. And when I came out with her plantains, she wasn’t there anymore!”

“You mean you left her outside all alone?” Griffin asked. “She probably ran away.”

Savannah was indignant. “She’s a monkey, not a wild ani mal! Cleo knows where she lives. Some thing’s happened to her! She would never just leave like this.” She wiped at her watery eyes. “Poor Luthor!”

Ben was mystified. “If Cleopatra is the one who’s missing, why poor Luthor?”

She regarded him pityingly. “How would you like to lose
best friend?”

Ben assumed a stricken look and turned to Griffin. “I really need to talk to you about something, man!”

Before Griffin could respond, the door swung wide again, and out slunk Luthor.

Both boys froze, poised for flight. Savannah might have thought her dog was the mildest, sweetest creature on earth, but Griffin and Ben did not share her opinion. Luthor was a large brown and black Doberman with rippling muscles and jaws as wide as a small hippo’s. Not long ago, this animal had been a trained guard dog, mean as they come. It had taken all Savannah’s skills as a dog whisperer to bring him down to merely vicious.

But they could see right away that Luthor was not himself. His taut, athletic belly practically dragged on the floor, and his face sagged with sadness. From time to time, he would swipe at the back of his neck, as if feeling for the absent monkey. His constant threatening growl had been replaced by a sad whimpering sound.

“We’ve got posters all over town,” Savannah went on. “I can’t leave the house, in case somebody phones. You’ve got to do this for me!”

Griffin was cautious. “Do what?”

“I thought of a few extra places we forgot to search the first time around — places Cleo really likes. The jungle gym at Growing Minds Day Care; the blue box behind the Chinese restaurant where they throw out the empty pineapple tins; and the top of that shaky dryer at the Laundromat.” She stopped for breath. “Take Luthor. He’ll be able to pick up Cleo’s scent.”

She held out the big dog’s leash. They made no move to take it.

Griffin gulped. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

Savannah patted the dog sympathetically. “The poor, sweet baby needs to feel like he’s helping. He’s so upset he can’t even eat.”

“Can I get that in writing?” Ben asked nervously.

Dumpster-diving behind the Mandarin Palace was a smelly and sticky business. But Luthor had no interest in licking the sweet syrup from
the pineapple tins. Nor did the Doberman pick up any trace of his lost monkey friend.

“This is perfect,” Ben complained. “Hanging out in the garbage with a killing machine! Does he even know what he’s supposed to be looking for?”

Griffin held on to the leash with both hands, as if landing a fighting marlin. “Savannah says when he picks up the scent, he’ll practically go berserk.”

“And that’s a
thing?” Ben squeaked. “I like him this way — depressed, harmless. Let’s run him by the day care and the Laundromat before he gets his appetite back!”

“You think I’m thrilled about this?” Griffin said irritably. “I’m the one holding the leash. Look, Savannah’s our friend. You know how much animals mean to her.”

Luthor drooped beside the Dumpster and emitted a yawn that opened his mouth wide enough to accommodate a good-sized head.

“What if the monkey just ran away?” Ben asked shakily.

“Of course it ran away,” Griffin agreed. “But if Savannah needs to search every inch of Cedarville before she admits that, we have to let her. Come on, let’s hit the
day care before they empty out the Diaper Genie.”

There was no sign of Cleopatra at Growing Minds. And at the Laundromat, two cats were established atop the shaky dryer. No monkey.

Ben sighed with relief. “Okay, now we take Luthor home, right?”

They were halfway back to the Drysdale house when a sudden bark erupted from the Doberman. The next second, the leash was wrenched from Griffin’s hand as the big dog galloped across lawns and through flower beds.

“Savannah’s going to kill us!” Ben panted as they pursued the runaway. “First the monkey, now Luthor!”

“We can’t lose him!” gasped Griffin.

By the time they caught up with him, the Doberman was in such a state of excitement that they didn’t dare go closer than twenty feet. The animal leaped about, springing on powerful legs, an urgent high-pitched whine issuing from deep in his throat.

Griffin pointed. “What’s that in his mouth?”

Then the dog was off again, barreling down the street at breakneck speed. He vaulted
over the gate at the Drysdale home and ran full tilt into the front door. The thud seemed to echo off every building in Cedarville.

Griffin and Ben bounded up the walk just as Savannah appeared on the porch. Luthor deposited an object on the mat at her feet.

It was a blackened, squashed, half-eaten banana.

“Oh, my God!” Savannah quavered. “Cleo’s been kidnapped!”

Griffin was blown away. “It says that on the banana?”

“Don’t you see? It was used to lure her out of our yard!”

Ben chose his words carefully. “Yeah, but how do you know that isn’t just a regular banana somebody dropped?”

“Are you blind? Cleo’s scent is all over it! Why do you think Luthor’s acting this way?”

“He’s hungry?” Ben suggested feebly.

Yet it was obvious that the Doberman was not eating his find. His intention had always been to bring it to Savannah.

She was devastated. “This is even worse than I thought! Cleo isn’t lost! She’s been abducted! I’ve got to update the police!” She
wheeled and disappeared into the house, Luthor at her heels.

“You’re welcome,” Ben called after her.

Griffin turned to go. “Take it easy on Savannah. This is her worst nightmare come true. I even feel kind of bad for the mutt. Maybe he really is sad about losing his friend.”

Ben blanched. “Griffin, I have to go to boarding school,” he blurted.

“I mean, you wouldn’t think a hungry beast could have feelings, but —” Griffin pulled up short. “What did you just say?”

Ben’s expression was tragic. “There’s this special boarding school for kids with sleep disorders. I’m number one on the waiting list for the next open spot.” Ben suffered from narcolepsy, a condition which could make him fall asleep suddenly at any hour of the day or night.

Griffin was shocked. “But I thought that’s all under control! That’s why you take those special naps during the day.”

“The academy has the top experts in the country,” Ben explained. “They’ll know things to try that a doctor in a little town on Long Island might never even hear about.”
He made a face. “At least, that’s what my parents say.”

“But you’ll be
!” Griffin protested.

“Only to New Jersey. I’ll be able to come home some weekends.”

The pavement seemed to sway under Griffin’s feet. “That’s not good enough! What’s the point of having a best friend if you only get him ‘some weekends’? Do you want us to end up like Luthor, dragging around the house, lower than a caterpillar, barely able to scrape up the energy to bite the cable guy?”

Ben sat down on the curbstone, staring glumly at the scuffed toes of his sneakers. “You think I
to go to that dumb school? But if my folks say I have to, what can I do about it?”

Griffin was offended. “How can you of all people ask me that question? First, we come up with a plan….”


PROBLEM: Ben might have to go to the DuPont Youth Academy for Sleep Science.



riffin stared at the blank page on his desk at school. He’d started this plan in English class, and now math and social studies had come and gone. And here he was in science at progress point zero.

BOOK: Zoobreak
13.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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