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Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet Book 2Clash of the Class Clowns
By Scroggs, Kirk
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2012 Scroggs, Kirk
All right reserved.
Okay, how’s this for an opener? It was the biggest night of my life—the fifth annual Kid’s Pick Awards at Kermit the Frog’s newly remodeled Amphibi-theater. A night of music, megastars, and, most likely, multiple compound fractures. You see, Gonzo and I, along with our super-duper stunt-performing boy band, Mon Swoon, had planned the most dangerous stunt since I made fifty-two jalapeño cheese poppers disappear before getting on the rides at Coaster City.
I peeked out from behind the big red curtain—there was a sea of thousands of people, many of them tween superstars. Little did they know that high above them, perched perilously on a beam and dressed like a giant chicken, was my hero, The Great Gonzo. He was firmly pushing himself back into the world’s biggest rubber band, stretching it to the breaking point, ready to snap him directly toward the stage.
“All clear on my end,” said Rizzo over the radio. He was operating the release lever. One tug and the rubber band would fling Gonzo like a chili burger launched from a slingshot. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)
“Affirmative,” I answered back through my own walkie-talkie.
I have to admit, I was shaking in my boots. But I wasn’t nearly as nervous as Pasquale, my best friend and safety expert. That’s him with the protective goggles, rubber gloves, fire extinguisher, 150 SPF sunscreen (custom ordered from Bordeaux, France), first-aid kit, and fire-retardant boots.
“I don’t know,” Pasquale said, shaking his head. “I’ve been looking over your diagram for tonight’s stunt, and I have to say that—”
“I know, I know… you think it’s unsafe,” I groaned. Pasquale thinks everything is unsafe, from brushing your teeth to crossing the street to rolling in a barrel full of rusty nails down Highway 620—I mean, sheesh! He’s no fun at all sometimes.
“Pasquale, just relax,” I said, patting him on the back. “I’m not the one flying across the auditorium. All I have to do is stand up there, sing my love song, and melt the ladies’ hearts.”
“While a daredevil dressed as a chicken hurtles toward your head at two hundred miles per hour with a pair of garden shears!” he added.
“I agree with Pasquale,” said my mom. She and my dad and my evil little sister, Chloe, had been invited to watch from backstage. “Couldn’t you just do a nice bowling-pin juggling act, or maybe pull a rabbit out of a hat or something?” she asked hopefully.
“Yeah,” echoed my dad. “I hear girls dig it when you pull rabbits out of hats. They think it’s really neat-o.”
“Rabbits out of hats? Juggling?!” I laughed. “That’s child’s play. This is a new era of entertainment. People want something fresh, cool, and sophisticated… like giant projectile chickens.”
“Thanks, sis. I now know that the expression ‘break a leg’ actually means ‘good luck.’ ”
“If that’s what you choose to beweeve, so be it,” Chloe said with one of her devilish grins.
Suddenly, Kermit popped his head in and shouted, “Okay, Mon Swoon! You guys are up next. After Pepe introduces you, I’ll open the curtains, and you guys hit the stage. Oh, and one more thing—Danvers, Gonzo says that when you see the giant chicken coming at you, duck.”
“Got it. Chicken. Duck.”
Pasquale handed me my guitar with a worried look on his face. “I hope you updated your medical insurance,” he said. “I’m not sure your policy covers garden-shear skewering.” I just glared at him until he squinted at me and nodded. “Right, I’m worrying too much. We’ll figure it out later… assuming you survive.”
“That’s more like it.” I nodded, clapping him on the shoulder.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” came a voice over the loudspeaker. “Our next presenter has been spotted in swanky clubs and seafood buffets all over the world. He may be a shrimp, but his personality is muy grande. Please give a warm welcome to Pepe!”
Pepe ran to the podium, grabbed the mic, and shook his fist in the air, saying, “Okay, I don’t know where dat voice came from, but I am Pepe the King Prawn! I am not a shrimp, okay.”
Pepe was having a little trouble with the teleprompter. “Our next act combines tweeny love music with the scary extreme stunts. It’s guaranteed to make you queasy, okay. Here is… Mon Swoon, okay!”
I was about to run out onstage with my guitar when Pasquale stopped me, saying, “Don’t forget your bonsai hat!” He strapped a big helmet with a bonsai tree growing out the top onto my head.
We hit the stage to a thunderous wave of applause as Fozzie Bear and Scooter strutted and did some of their signature dance moves.
Animal laid down a chill, soothing, groovy drumbeat.
Then I started jammin’ on my guitar and singing our latest weather-related hit, “Girl, You Pressure Me So Much, You Broke My Barometer, Yo.”
Then, in the middle of the song, I abruptly stopped singing. I turned straight to the audience and announced, “Ladies and swooning teens, I bet you are wondering why I have a tree on my head!”
“We’ve got something a little more exciting planned for you.” I pointed dramatically at Gonzo, perched up in the rafters. “Please direct your attention to the weirdo in the chicken suit above you!”
The crowd gasped as Gonzo continued. “For tonight’s stunt, I shall hurl myself toward young Danvers at speeds in excess of good judgment and local traffic laws, while wielding these razor-sharp garden shears, which I will use to perfectly prune the bonsai tree on his head—in accordance with Somoku Kinyo Shu principles, as laid forth in feudal Japan—before landing safely in the mound of marshmallow bunnies behind him!”
“Every show it’s the same thing,” grumbled Pepe.
I felt a disturbance on my head, the kind I imagine you’d feel if you were being dive-bombed by a runaway buzz saw. Then there was a large crash behind me, followed by a loud burst of applause. When I turned to look at the mound of marshmallow bunnies, Gonzo was nowhere to be found. In fact, there was a huge hole in the wall in the back of the stage. He had sailed clean through the bricks!
I got on my walkie-talkie, shouting, “Gonzo! Come in, over. Gonzo, are you okay?”
The radio sputtered, then I heard the frazzled voice of the great one: “This is Gonzo, over.”
“Where are you?”
“I think I’m in Block City Park. I must have miscalculated the angle of entry. But on the plus side, I managed to trim some hedges and a large poodle on the way over!”
While Mon Swoon exited the stage and Kermit sent out a search party for Gonzo, Miss Piggy was trying to fit into an intricate silver costume for her big musical number, “Seven-Layer Bolero.” Her poor assistant, Hockney, was doing his best to help.
“Hmph!” cried Piggy as she finally squeezed into the metallic getup. “There! That was easy-peasy!” She looked like a Spanish conquistador crossed with Cleopatra and a disco ball. Oddly enough, she made it work.
I helped Piggy get her balance. “Cool! What is that outfit made of?”
“I individually hammered more than three hundred pounds of silver serving pieces into battle armor for Miss Piggy,” said Hockney.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” came the announcer’s voice again. “You’ve seen her big blue eyes in your dreams, you’ve heard her voice in your nightmares….”
“WHAAAAAT!?!” came Miss Piggy’s voice from backstage.
The announcer continued: “So now, let’s all give it up for Miss Piggy!”
Piggy arrived onstage like a clanking, out-of-control robo-diva. The curtains rose, the spotlight hit her, and she belted out in her angelic singing voice, “Laaaaaaa—”
“Code blue! Actually, code black and blue!” Pasquale yelled, frantically searching for his first-aid kit. “Miss Piggy fell through the floor!”
The crowd went wild.
I ran over and stared into the giant hole that had appeared in the floor. Piggy sat atop a heap of metal and floorboards down below, and she did not look happy.
“Oh, I think I’m going to get a karate chop for this,” Hockney said, trembling.
I ran over to Kermit, crying, “What are we going to do? Piggy can’t perform like this!”
“Yeah!” shouted Scooter. “And the audience is getting restless!”
“Everything will be okay, okay,” added Pepe. “Wait! What am I saying? The show is doomed! We are all doomed! Panic, okay!”
Kermit looked as if he’d been through this kind of thing a million times, which he no doubt had been. But the chaos was definitely getting to him. “Everybody just calm down!” he yelled. “There is no reason to panic! Why is everybody panicking? Stop panicking!”
Did you ever notice that when Kermit gets excited, he’s all mouth and flailing arms?
Suddenly, Kermit stopped and said, “Wait! What’s that sound? I think I hear singing.”
I listened and looked around the room. Yep—I could hear the faint sound of sweet singing, too. That’s when I spotted it—my worst nightmare. Chloe was singing “I’m a Little Teapot” for the stage crew in her sickeningly syrupy evil voice. The stagehands clapped for her as she finished with a curtsy.
Kermit ran over to Chloe. I was sure he was going to shoo her out of the way of the crew—this was no place for amateur kid crooners. But before I could see what Kermit was up to, I heard…
“Gaaaangway!” Miss Piggy hollered as she was hoisted out of the hole with pulleys. I had to leap out of the way as she swung out and plopped down on the stage. “Ow! Careful! I’m a delicate flower!”
Rowlf the Dog ran up in his Dr. Bob outfit to render aid.
“Just as I feared,” Dr. Bob said, bending Piggy’s leg back. “I’m afraid this leg is like a guy that’s been hit by a steamroller and gone bankrupt at the same time.”
“How’s that?” asked Pasquale.
“It’s flat broke!”
“Isn’t there anything you can do, Doctor?” Piggy asked.
“Well, you’re gonna need a soft place to land.”
“Why?” asked Piggy.
“ ’Cause when you get my bill, you’re gonna pass out!” Dr. Bob cackled. And then he was gone, which was probably a good thing for his own health.
“Where’s my Kermie?” cried Piggy. “Kermie! Kermie! I need you!”
But Kermit was onstage, making an announcement. “Okay, folks. Well, we were gonna do a big musical number for you, but obviously those plans—and that performer—uh… fell through. But we are lucky enough to have a great big bundle of talent and cuteness here to sing you an oldie but a goodie. Ladies and gentlemen, Chloe Blickensderfer! Yaaaaay!”
“Th-this… this has to be some kind of mistake,” I sputtered as Chloe bashfully stepped up to her little two-foot-tall mic.
The audience let out an “Awwwwwwwww…”
“This can’t be happening!” I gasped, trembling with horror.
Pasquale reached into his first-aid kit, saying, “I might have a tranquilizer or earplugs in here somewhere.”
Piggy took it even harder than I did. Or I should say, the poor paramedic next to her took it harder than I did.
“I’ve been replaced by a munchkin!” Piggy raged.
“Calm down,” said Scooter. “You’re in no shape to be exerting yourself.”
“No SHAPE?” said Piggy, sporting a look usually seen on angry volcanic tiki gods. “What’s wrong with my shape?!”
Scooter received the second karate chop of the evening.
Chloe sang the first part of “I’m a Wittle”—I mean, “I’m a Little Teapot” a cappella. Then a spotlight lit her up and she growled, “Hit it, boys!”
Suddenly Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem Band burst into a full-on rock-opera version of the classic kiddie ditty as Chloe started high-kicking and belting it out like she was in a Broadway musical.
Chloe finished her big debut with a blast of fireworks, and the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
“Oh, I’m so proud!” Mom said, clapping.
“I feel sick,” I moaned.
“Hmph!” Miss Piggy hmphed.
Kermit came back to thank us. “Gee, thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Blickensderfer, for letting us put Chloe’s considerable talents to such good use on such short notice!”
Mom and Dad looked a little choked up. I, on the other hand, felt like choking my little sister.
Excerpted from Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet Book 2 by Scroggs, Kirk Copyright © 2012 by Scroggs, Kirk. Excerpted by permission.
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