Read an Excerpt
The Case of the Cool-Itch Kid
By Patricia Reilly Giff, Blanche Sims
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1989 Patricia Reilly Giff
All rights reserved.
Dawn Bosco looked around her room. "What a mess."
Boxes were all over the place.
So were clothes.
Orange and white T-shirts.
A shiny red bathing suit.
Blue plaid socks.
"Hurry," said Noni, her grandmother. "Get dressed. Everything has to go into the suitcase."
Dawn sat on her bed. "I think I changed my mind."
Her mother popped her head in the door. "Camp day. Camp Wild-in-the-Woods."
"I guess I'm not going after all," said Dawn.
"Just think," said Noni. "Swimming in Lake Wild-in-the-Woods.
Dawn shivered. "Snakes."
"Walks in the woods," said her mother.
"Bears," said Dawn.
Noni looked up at the ceiling. "Horseback riding."
"I forgot about that," Dawn said.
"Cookouts with marshmallows," said her mother.
"You're right," said Dawn.
She pulled on her Polk Street School T-shirt.
She yanked on her sneakers.
She stood up and hopped over her suitcase.
She landed on her Polka Dot Detective Box.
The box sailed across the room.
Dawn sailed with it.
She banged her head on the floor.
"Rub it hard." Noni clicked her teeth. "Why are you taking that detective box anyway?"
"I never went to western camp before."
Noni smiled. "You never went to any camp."
"I know." Dawn swallowed. "That's why I have to take everything."
Dawn's father came down the hall. "Hurry. You'll miss the bus."
"Ready?" asked Noni.
Dawn looked around. "Not ready."
Noni sighed. "Now what?"
"My hat. The one that says POLKA DOT PRIVATE EYE."
"The bus is across the street," her brother, Chris, yelled. "It's in front of the Polk Street School."
"Hurry," yelled Noni.
Dawn crawled under her bed.
She dived into her closet.
Last winter's boots were there. An old coloring book. Her tulip costume.
She held up the costume. "Maybe I'll bring—"
"There isn't even room for a toothpick," Noni said.
Dawn reached deeper into her closet. "Here!"
She shoved the hat into her detective box.
She took a breath. "Now I'm ready."
Her father picked up her suitcase.
"I think the bus is leaving," said her mother. "Run."
Noni reached out. "Quick. Take this. It's a Remember Me Bag."
"Thanks." Dawn grabbed the paper bag. She raced down the hall.
"Don't open it until there's nothing to do," Noni called after her.
Dawn sped down the stairs.
"Don't miss that bus," Chris said. "My summer will be ruined."
Dawn wrinkled her nose at him.
She whooshed up her mouth.
It was her anteater face.
Then she dashed out the door.
She could see the bus. It was red. The license plate was the same as her house: 195.
Jill Simon stuck her head out the bus window. "Hurry," she screamed.
Dawn raced across the street. She climbed up the steps of the bus.
Her father handed her the suitcase.
"Wait," she said. "I think I forgot something."
The doors closed. The bus started up.CHAPTER 2
Dawn headed down the aisle.
She pushed her suitcase ahead of her.
She passed Miss Perry, the counselor.
Miss Perry was as skinny as a pretzel. She winked at Dawn and waved her whistle.
The bus was filled with girls.
Not one boy.
That was because Camp Wild-in-the-Woods was a girls' camp.
Almost all the girls were wearing blue T-shirts.
They said COOLIDGE SCHOOL.
Dawn sounded it out.
The Cool-Itch Kids didn't look friendly.
No, not friendly at all.
Dawn bumped down the aisle.
"I saved you a seat," Jill Simon yelled.
"Coming." Dawn sighed. Jill Simon was the only girl she knew.
Dawn wished some other girls from her class had come, too.
Everyone else had something to do.
Emily was at her grandmother's house.
Sherri was at the beach.
Linda had a sprained wrist.
Dawn gave her suitcase a push.
It smashed into a girl's leg.
"Watch out, Polk Street." The girl had a fresh face with a pointy nose.
Dawn gritted her teeth. "I'm trying, Cool-Itch."
She slid into the seat next to Jill.
Jill smiled at her. "I'm the one who always bumps into things."
Dawn smiled back. Jill was a good friend.
She had four braids, a round face, and a huge western hat, Dawn clicked her teeth.
She wished she had thought of a western hat.
What else had she forgotten?
She couldn't think of it, though.
Dawn wished she had a window seat.
She leaned across Jill.
It was hard to see.
The window was cracked ... cracked like a spider web.
Someone yelled, "Time to sing."
Dawn turned around.
It was a girl with a thousand freckles.
"I always go to this camp," said the girl. "I know all about it." She opened her mouth.
"'Home. Home on the range ...'"
Dawn sang, too.
She was glad she had a nice loud voice.
She banged the top of the seat in front of her.
Where the deer—BANG
And the an-te-lope play.
The fresh face kid turned around. "In a minute I'm going to punch you in the nose."
Fresh Face looked big. She looked strong.
Dawn stopped banging.
She sat back and closed her eyes.
She was sick of this ride.
It was bumpy.
It was taking forever.
It was time to look at Noni's Remember Me Bag.
There was nothing else to do.
She pulled out the fat paper bag. It was tied with green wool. "Good stuff in here," she told Jill.
Jill leaned over. "Something to eat, I hope."
Dawn untied the wool. She dug into the bag.
A package of butterscotch candy with a note: "Brush your teeth after this."
Homemade chocolate chip cookies.
A pink and purple I LOVE MY GRANDMOTHER pin.
And best of all, a mirror ... a mirror with beautiful beach shells around the edge.
"Gorgeous," said Dawn.
"Lucky," said Jill.
"Double lucky," someone said. It was a girl with gold fingernails. She was leaning across the aisle.
Dawn reached deeper into the bag. "There's more, I think."
"Rest stop," called Miss Perry.
Bump! The bus stopped to let them out.
Dawn handed a butterscotch candy to Jill.
She shoved one in her own mouth.
She put the bag on her seat. They'd look at the rest later.
Outside, everyone began to run around.
Some kids played hide-and-seek.
Some kids went into the girls' room.
The rest lined up at the Triple Dipple Gum Machine.
"That's for me," said Jill.
Dawn shook her head. "I need a drink."
She stood in line in back of Fresh Face.
She made an anteater face when Fresh Face wasn't looking.
Then Miss Perry blew her whistle.
It was time to get back on the bus.
The bus drove around the circle to meet them.
It bumped over the curb.
It screeched to a stop.
Dawn climbed up. She stopped at her seat. "You first," she told Jill.
"Look," Jill said.
Dawn looked down.
Her Remember Me Bag was a mess.
Things were all over the floor.
"Oh, no," she said.
"Oh, no," Jill said, too.
They scrambled to pick things up.
A pink swirly pencil.
A box of Cool Cat writing paper.
The pink and purple I LOVE MY GRANDMOTHER pin was gone.
So was her mirror ... her beautiful beach shell mirror.
A chocolate chip cookie had a bite in it.
Dawn swallowed. She felt like crying.
Jill looked as if she were going to cry, too.
"Horrible," Dawn said. She held up the cookie with two fingers. "How could anyone eat my food?"
"Maybe someone was hungry?" Jill said.
"Gross," said Dawn.
"Very hungry?" Jill asked.
"No," said Dawn. "They should have asked." She frowned. "There's a thief on this bus. A grandmother pin thief. A beach shell mirror thief."
Jill's lip was quivering. "A real thief?"
"Of course, a real thief," said Dawn.
She looked around. It was a good thing she was the Polka Dot Detective.
She had a mystery to solve.
And as soon as she solved it, she was going straight home!CHAPTER 3
The bus driver beeped his horn.
"Here we are," yelled Miss Perry.
Dawn looked up.
She saw old wooden gates, a bunch of cabins.
Where were the horses?
Where was the lake?
Everyone piled off the bus.
Everyone but Dawn.
She wanted to check out the rest of the bus.
Maybe she'd find a clue.
She'd catch the thief. One two three.
Miss Perry stuck her head back inside.
Her whistle blasted.
Dawn jumped a foot.
Miss Perry grinned at her. "All out," she said.
Dawn took one more quick look. Then she rushed off the bus.
Ahead of her, Miss Perry moved fast. "Smell that great Wild-in-the-Woods air," she said.
Dawn took a deep breath.
Wild-in-the-Woods air smelled like regular old air to her.
Miss Perry pointed. "Our horses. They love to race for miles."
Dawn looked. Three horses were standing in the middle of a field.
They were fat and falling asleep.
They probably couldn't even walk a block.
In back of her the know-it-all girl with a thousand freckles was whispering.
"Hurry," Dawn heard her tell Fresh Face. "We want to get the best bunks."
Dawn marched fast.
Know-It-All and Fresh Face moved faster.
Dawn sped up.
She tried to pull Jill along.
Jill was huffing and puffing. She kept banging into everything.
They rushed up the hill ... and through the woods.
Straight ahead was a log house.
The sign said: COBRA CABIN.
"Horrible," said Dawn.
She started up the steps.
She crossed her fingers.
She hoped there'd be a huge color TV inside.
She wanted fat pink pillows on the beds.
Then she raised her shoulders in the air.
Who cared about pillows?
Who cared about a TV?
She was going to get back her pin and her mirror, and find out who ate her cookie.
Then she was going to go home.
Miss Perry threw open the doors. "Pick your bunks."
No rugs were on the floor, no curtains.
There were plain old pillows and a skinny mini black-and-white TV.
A bunch of bunks lined the walls. Bottom bunks and top ones.
A long, skinny aisle went down the middle. Yucks.
Know-It-All and Fresh Face were racing for the first bunks.
Dawn raced, too.
She was dying for a top bunk.
Know-It-All and Fresh Face got there first.
Dawn dived for the next one.
"Too bad," said the girl with gold fingernails.
Dawn looked around.
All the bunks were taken.
"Over here," yelled Jill.
She was jumping up and down in front of the end bunks. They were all the way back by the wall.
Jill's western hat covered her eyes.
Dawn raced over. "I'll take the top."
Jill pushed her hat up. "I never had a top bunk in my life."
Dawn put her hand on the ladder.
"Besides," said Jill, "I got here first."
Dawn took her hand off the ladder.
She wanted to make an anteater face.
She couldn't do that.
Jill was her only friend in this whole place.
She sank down on the bunk.
It was hard as the sidewalk.
The pillow felt like the Polk Street School hamburgers.
Jill started up the ladder.
Her western hat sailed past.
Dawn jumped. "What was that?"
"Me," said Jill. "I tripped a little."
"Too bad you didn't give me the top." Dawn said it in a little voice.
She didn't want to hurt Jill's feelings.
She started to look around for the thief.
A girl was hanging off a top bunk across the aisle. "Ex-er-cise," she yelled.
The girl with the gold fingernails was painting her toes gold.
Someone else was pasting double heart stickers on the wall.
Dawn looked over at Fresh Face.
She looked like a thief.
Besides, she had crumbs all over her mouth.
Dawn leaned over.
She'd get out her Polka Dot Detective Box.
She'd work on the crime right now.
"Oh, no," she said
The box wasn't there.
She had left it home.
She sank back on the bunk.
Now it was going to be twice as hard to find the Cool-Itch thief.CHAPTER 4
Dawn could hardly open her eyes the next morning.
She yawned seven times on the way to breakfast.
Jill had cried all night.
She kept saying she wanted to go home.
Miss Perry was up all night too. She kept patting Jill's shoulder.
"Some baby always cries," said the know-it-all girl.
Dawn was glad no one thought she was a baby.
She was glad no one knew she had cried, too.
She couldn't stop thinking of her mother and father and Noni.
"Don't think about it now," she told herself. It was time for breakfast. Time to solve a crime.
She marched into the Devil's Den Dining Room.
Jill marched with her.
So did the rest of the girls from Cobra Cabin.
Other campers were there, too.
The noise was terrible.
People were yelling.
Plates were banging.
"Here's our table," said Miss Perry.
Dawn slid onto the bench next to Jill.
She looked at the plate in front of her. It was a horrible yellow plastic thing. It had a white line across the center.
"What's that?" she asked.
"Glue," said Know-It-All. "Get-it-together glue. Everything around here is falling apart."
Dawn sighed. She couldn't wait to go home.
"Where do they get all the glue?" Jill asked. "I need some."
Know-It-All raised one shoulder. "It's all over the place. It's in the closets. In the drawers. Everywhere."
Miss Perry began to fill the glasses.
"I bet it's strawberry," Dawn said.
Know-It-All shook her head. "It's old GJ."
Dawn looked at her plate.
She wasn't going to ask what GJ was.
She was getting sick of Know-It-All.
She picked up her glass. It shouldn't be hard to guess anyway.
She tasted it. Not bad.
She took another sip.
"What's GJ?" Jill asked.
"Garbage juice, of course," said Know-It-All. She leaned forward. "They strain it right out of the garbage pail."
"Of course." Dawn put her glass down again.
"Don't be silly," said Miss Perry. "It's mixed fruit juice."
A woman came with a platter.
The middle was filled with lumpy scrambled eggs.
Around the edge was something else.
It looked like turkey.
Who would eat turkey for breakfast? Dawn thought.
She looked closer.
No, it wasn't turkey.
It wasn't anything she had ever seen.
"What is it?" Jill asked.
"Old TG," said Know-It-All.
Dawn closed her eyes.
She didn't even want to find out.
"What's—" Jill asked.
"Tuna guts," said Know-It-All.
"I thought so," said Dawn.
"It is not," said Miss Perry.
"Well, what is it?" asked Know-It-All.
"I don't know exactly," said Miss Perry. She started to laugh. "Meat, I hope. Good healthy meat."
Dawn looked around.
There was nothing else but bread and butter. The bread was tan. The butter had crumbs all over it.
Just then the woman came with a bowl of apples.
Everyone dived for one.
Dawn and Fresh Face grabbed for the last one.
"Mine," yelled Dawn.
"Mine," yelled Fresh Face. She opened her mouth for a huge bite.
Dawn drew in her breath.
There was something on Fresh Face's T-shirt.
It was a pin.
A pink and purple I LOVE MY GRANDMOTHER pin.CHAPTER 5
Lake wild-in-the woods was cold. Freezing.
The bottom was muddy.
No one else seemed to mind, though.
Fresh Face and the Ex-er-cise Girl were swimming around like crazy.
Jill was doing a doggy paddle.
Her head was high above the water.
She didn't want to get her western hat wet.
Dawn went as fast as everybody else.
Her arms curved over her head.
They dipped down into the water.
Her feet stayed flat on the bottom, though.
She couldn't swim one bit.
She could hardly float.
For a while she circled around Fresh Face.
It was a good thing she was a detective, Dawn thought.
Fresh Face hadn't guessed she had seen the pin.
Dawn could just keep watching.
Sooner or later she'd find out where her gorgeous shell mirror was.
Then she'd grab the pin.
She'd grab the mirror.
She'd tell Miss Perry that Fresh Face should be arrested.
Then she'd call Noni one two three.
She'd be home in no time.
After a while she got tired of waving her arms around.
She waded out of the water.
She checked to make sure there were no snakes hanging around in the grass.
Then she sat down.
She wished she could speed things up a little.
She was sick of waiting around for something to happen.
Then she sat up straight. She had thought of something.
Just then Jill came out of the water. She pulled off her western hat and squeezed out her braids.
"Listen," said Dawn. "Sit down. I want to tell you—"
"Sit down? Are you crazy? With a million snakes probably ..." She stopped for a breath. "And those things with the legs ... hundreds of legs."
"Will you listen? There's something we have to do."
Jill nodded. "You're right. We have to eat. I'm starving to death."
"No, not that. Something else. We're going to sneak up to the cabin."
"Sneak? Why don't we just walk?"
"We're going to search. We'll look in the closet. We'll—"
Excerpted from The Case of the Cool-Itch Kid by Patricia Reilly Giff, Blanche Sims. Copyright © 1989 Patricia Reilly Giff. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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