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Freddie Ramos to the Rescue
By Jacqueline Jules
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 2011 Jacqueline Jules
All rights reserved.
A Squirrel in School
"Is that a new watch?" my friend Geraldo asked as we walked into class.
"No," I said, looking down at my right arm. "Just a wristband."
"The flashing lights are cool," Geraldo said.
I covered my wrist with my left hand. Geraldo had no idea what those clear flashing buttons could do. If I pressed one, I could zoom out of the classroom in a cloud of smoke. My wristband controlled my Zapato Power, the purple sneakers I wore to school every day, ready to be a hero.
Except there weren't too many superhero jobs at Starwood Elementary. The last person who cried "Help!" was my friend Maria, when she dropped her pencil box. Most days were filled with math, social studies, art, and other normal stuff.
Luckily, that day was different, thanks to a gray squirrel with a long bushy tail.
We saw him, coming in from recess. He dashed right by our teacher, Mrs. Lane, as she was holding open the door.
"Look!" Maria shouted. "A squirrel!"
A squirrel running in the school sure got people excited. My class chased after it. Everyone rushed out of their classrooms to watch. The principal, Mrs. Connor, came out of her office. I smiled. This was NOT going to be another boring, quiet day at Starwood Elementary.
"STAY AWAY!" Mrs. Connor shouted. She put her hand up like a crossing guard. "SQUIRRELS CAN BE DANGEROUS!"
Dangerous? That word got my superhero radar going! I never thought I'd need to save my school from a squirrel, but any hero job was a job for me.
A long gray tail dashed around the corner. I tapped my wristband and took off.
My purple zapatos give me super speed. I can run faster than a squirrel. I can run faster than a train. And best of all, you only see a puff of smoke when I pass.
I heard more screaming and followed the noise to the music room, where kids were jumping.
"SQUIRREL!" they shouted. "THAT WAY!"
With super speed, I could search the whole building in two blinks. The problem was finding the squirrel. Squirrels are not just fast, they're small. They can hide.
I ran through the school three times, listening for screams. No luck! I was just about to give up when I saw a flash of gray run into the kindergarten hall. The kindergartners only go half day, so the rooms were quiet. I tiptoed through an open door. Bingo! Something gray and fluffy was sitting on the windowsill, with his paws raised, like he was begging to go outside. Poor squirrel!
I opened a window for him on the other side of the room. Now all I had to do was get him moving.
"BOO!" I stamped my foot. The squirrel ran, but towards the open door, not the window. OOPS! I should have thought of that.
I slammed the door. The squirrel spun around, saw the open window, and escaped.
Freddie, the superhero, saved Starwood Elementary from a squirrel! I was happy until the principal charged into the room.
"Freddie Ramos," Mrs. Connor asked, "did you slam that door?"
Superheroes are supposed to work in secret. That's why so many of them have masks. I didn't have a mask, so I had to talk as fast as I could run.
"Yes, but I was helping get rid of the squirrel."
Mrs. Connor pointed to herself. "That pest is my problem, not yours, Freddie."
The principal marched me back to Mrs. Lane and told her to keep an eye on me. Secret superheroes don't get much credit.CHAPTER 2
A Mystery Present at My Door
With the squirrel gone, I was all out of superhero work. Mrs. Lane kept me busy with schoolwork until the bell rang. Then I ran up the stairs to Starwood Park, where my mom and I live. At my door, I saw something that made my heart beat quick — a package!
"The last time you got a present, it changed your life," a deep voice said.
I turned around to see Mr. Vaslov. He had a plunger in his hand. Mr. Vaslov takes care of Starwood Park Apartments and all the people who live there.
"Did you leave this for me?" I showed him my name on the thick envelope.
He chuckled and shook his bushy gray head. "Not this time, Freddie."
Mr. Vaslov is also an inventor. He made my super zapatos. Except he wasn't sure they worked at first. He left them at my door in a box, so I could test them out.
"You can tell me the truth," I said. "I won't laugh if your new invention is a dud."
Mr. Vaslov walked away with his plunger. "Sorry, Freddie. I have to go. There's a stopped up toilet next door."
He left me alone with the padded brown envelope. I took it inside my apartment, 29G, and pulled the red strip on the bottom. Gray fluffy stuff blew into my face, and I sneezed. Not everything about getting a present is fun.
Excerpted from Zapato Power by Jacqueline Jules. Copyright © 2011 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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