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Freddie Ramos Springs into Action
By Jacqueline Jules
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 2010 Jacqueline Jules
All rights reserved.
A Thump in the Morning
THUMP-BUMP! THUMP-BUMP! THUMP-BUMP!
I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes.
THUMP-BUMP! THUMP-BUMP! THUMP-BUMP!
Who was making noise so early on a Sunday morning? And right outside my window?
It sounded like broken glass. And somebody crying!
I grabbed my purple sneakers. There was no time to get dressed. Somebody at Starwood Park needed help — maybe even a hero's help. And with my purple sneakers, I had Zapato Power! That's super speed, the kind superheroes have.
I ran outside in my red and blue pajamas. My purple sneakers were smoking.
I was ready to help.
Gio, my next-door neighbor, cried while his little dog, Puppy, barked at a big hole in Mrs. Tran's window.
"Did you break that window?" I asked Gio.
"My ball broke it when I bounced it on the wall."
Puppy agreed. "Ruff! Ruff!"
Gio is five. He only goes to kindergarten in the morning. He hasn't had time to learn a lot of things — like how neighbors don't like basketballs crashing into their apartments.
"Watch out!" I shouted.
Mrs. Tran hollered something in a language we didn't understand and threw Gio's basketball out of the hole in her window.
The ball bounced on the sidewalk and rolled down the hill to the street.
"My ball!" Gio cried.
He chased after it, but the basketball was way too fast for him. And a red car was coming around the corner. If Gio wasn't smart enough not to bounce a basketball off a window, he might not be smart enough to stay out of the street. It was time to use my super speed to save the day.
In one blink, I was at the curb, scooping up the ball, just as the red car sped by.
"You saved my ball!" Gio said, as he rushed up to me. "You're fast!"
I sure was. With my purple zapatos, I could save a ball from going into the street. I could save a puppy from a speeding car. I could even outrun a train. But I couldn't save Gio from Mrs. Tran, his mother, and his sister, Maria.
"What were you thinking?" Gio's mom came down the hill with Puppy at her heels. "Why were you throwing a ball against the building?"
"Who's going to fix my window?" Mrs. Tran asked.
"You're in trouble now," Maria said.
"I'm sorry!" Gio cried. "Lo siento."
"Ruff! Ruff!" Puppy said.
Everybody was barking, crying, or asking questions. I used my Zapato Power to get out of there, fast.
In half a blink, I was at Mr. Vaslov's toolshed. He takes care of Starwood Park. If something's broken, Mr. Vaslov is the guy to fix it.
I knocked on the door.
"Freddie!" Mr. Vaslov said, when he saw me. "What are you doing in your pajamas?"
I looked down at my blue and red striped pajama pants. "Superheroes don't always have time to get dressed," I said.
Mr. Vaslov smiled and waved me inside his toolshed with a screwdriver. I looked around at all the tools and cut-up computers. Mr. Vaslov does more than take care of Starwood Park. He invents things like special shoes that go ninety miles an hour. I have Zapato Power because of Mr. Vaslov.
"So what's the problem?" Mr. Vaslov asked.
I told him about Gio and Mrs. Tran's window. He picked up a broom and started out the door.
"Time for some clean-up," he said.
"Do you need help?" I asked.
Mr. Vaslov pushed back his bushy gray hair. "Sounds like everybody is pretty upset. I'd stay out of the way for a while if I were you."
Just then, we heard the metro train rumble on its overhead track in the back of the building. My feet started to tingle in my sneakers. I waved at Mr. Vaslov. Then I took off ...CHAPTER 2
A Softer Ball
The metro train goes right by Starwood Park. I've been racing it since I moved here, just for fun. But when Mr. Vaslov gave me my purple zapatos, it got a lot more interesting.
I ran beside the overhead track. Smoke swirled around me as my legs spun faster and faster. The wind whooshed against my face so hard, I had to blink my eyes. Rápido! I zipped past the train, flying on the ground. ZAPATO POWER! Nothing could touch me! I was faster than a rocket!
But still too young to leave the house without telling my mother.
"FREDDIE! WHERE ARE YOU?" Mom shouted all over Starwood Park.
I raced back up the hill to where Mom stood with her hands on her hips. "Where did you go? I was worried."
"To tell Mr. Vaslov about Mrs. Tran's window," I said.
"I'm glad you're all right."
Mom hugged me. She's been mushy ever since last year, when we lost my soldier dad and my grandmother, Abuela. Mom says we only have each other now, so she deserves extra hugs whenever she gets worried about me.
"And I'm glad you know better than to throw balls through windows," Mom added.
"Gio needs a softer ball," I said.
"Yes, he does," a deep voice behind us agreed. It was Mr. Vaslov. He held a blue and white beach ball.
Mom laughed. "Gio won't break any windows with that!"
Excerpted from Zapato Power by Jacqueline Jules. Copyright © 2010 Jacqueline Jules. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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