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Through Thick and Twin
Before you lose your lunch, let me reassure you: I didn't have to kiss Shirley that morning. We just read the play.
The kids who weren't acting got stage crew duty. They met in a corner with Ms. Bona Petite, the teacher in charge of scenery and stage props. What a happy bunch-knowing they'd get to play with hammers, saws, and paint.
Too bad I couldn't join them.
Instead, I sat with the cast and listened to Mr. Ratnose blather on about the meaning of the play, and how he'd improved on Shakespeare's Hamlet.
"You'll notice," said Mr. Ratnose, "that not only have I made it a musical, which Shakespeare probably wished he'd thought of..."
Ms. Petite sniffed and rolled her eyes.
"But I've also given it a happy ending." Mr. Ratnose beamed at us. "That way, no first graders in the audience will get nightmares."
Igor Beaver, a championship nerd, raised his paw. "Teacher, will we be wearing tights and doublets, like the actors of Shakespeare's time?"
Mr. Ratnose's tail curled happily. I could almost see the brownie points piling onto Igor's permanent record.
"Yes, Igor," he said. "We'll use traditional costumes."
Great. Now I'd have to wear sissy tights while frolicking around the stage like a doofus. Would the torture never stop?
Miraculously, it did. After we read through the play, the recess bell rang, and our teachers dismissed us. I buttonholed Natalie Attired for some sleuthing.
Did I mention already that Natalie, my mockingbird pal, is as sharp as a pocketful of pins (but without the annoying tendency to stick into your fingers)? She is. But she does have other irritating habits.
"Hey, Chet," she said, as we watched kids milling about. "Do you know why gorillas have such big nostrils?"
"Because they have such big fingers!" She cackled.
See what I mean?
I took Natalie by the shoulders. "Birdie, this is no time for jokes. We've got to find Scott Freeh, and pronto-so he can take back his stupid role."
"You don't want to play Omlet?" she asked. "It's such a great part."
"I don't care." I fumed. "I'd rather gargle with a skunk's bathwater than kiss Shirley Chameleon. Are you gonna help me or what?"
She held up her wings. "All right, don't get grouchy. I'll help."
"Great. First we need to know what Scott looks like."
"Easy-peasy," she said. "He looks just like that." She pointed to a skinny anole lizard beside Ms. Petite.
"That's Scott's twin, Bjorn."
I straightened my hat. "Twin, eh? Let's start with him."
As we approached, Bjorn Freeh was just finishing up with Ms. Petite, a ground squirrel who put the ooh in ooh-la-la.
Every school has a teacher like this. All the boys love her, and all the girls want to be like her. Ms. Bona Petite had lustrous eyes deep enough to backstroke in, a face cuter than a box of bunnies, and a way of making you believe you were the only one in the world that mattered.
Not that I fell for any of that.
She touched Bjorn's arm. "Be strong," she said. Then she patted her jaunty cap and wafted off like expensive perfume on a summer breeze.
"You Bjorn?" I asked the anole.
He tore his gaze away from the ground squirrel and blinked at us. "Uh?"
"I'll take that as a yes."
Natalie chimed in. "What were you two discussing?"
"Oh, um, my brother's disappearance," he said.
"Funny," I said. "That's our favorite subject, too."
I sized up Bjorn. He had a tail as long as a third grader's Christmas list, and a head as flat as a frying pan.
Mmm, frying pan...termite crisps...My eyes glazed over with visions of lunch.
"So?" said Bjorn.
Regretfully, I reined in my appetite. "We need to find your brother," I said.
"ASAP," said Natalie. "Before he"-she pointed at me-"has to play Omlet."
"But it's such a great part," said Bjorn.
"Never mind the part," I said. "Where the heck is your brother?"
"He's gone," said the anole. "That's what disappeared means."
I clenched my teeth. "Thanks for the vocabulary lesson. But where did he go? Why? For how long?"
Bjorn started out the cafeteria door. We followed him onto a playground where kids swarmed like bees at a honey hoedown.
"Well...he didn't come home yesterday," said Bjorn. "But it's no big deal."
"No big deal?" I said. "Aren't your parents flipping out?"
The lizard idly fiddled with his tail. "Nah. Scott comes and goes all the time."
I sidestepped a pair of toads playing leapfrog. You get that a lot from toads.
"But I thought twins were supposed to be inseparable," said Natalie.
Bjorn shrugged. "Sure," he said. "We're as inseparable as oil and water."
"Could some enemy have kidnapped him?" I asked.
"No way," said Bjorn. "Everybody likes Scott."
"Did he get stage fright and vamoose?" asked Natalie.
The anole chuckled. "Yeah, right."
"What do you mean?" I said.
Bjorn contemplated a nearby gnat. But before he could move on it, I shot out my tongue and slurped it up. You snooze, you lose.
The lizard shot me a glance. "Look, my bro's got ice in his veins. That's why he's such a hot soccer player. He's got stage fright like you've got an eating problem."
"But I don't have any problems eating," I said.
"Skip it," said Bjorn.
I sucked in my gut and mulled over his words.
We had reached the rusty tangle of pipes and slides that passes for playground equipment at Emerson Hicky. Bjorn gazed at the jungle gym.
"Can you think of anything to help us find your brother?" I asked.
The anole squinched up his face. "Um...nope," he said. "But he'll show up."
And with that, he trotted off to play.
"Hmm," I said.
"You took the hum right out of my mouth," said Natalie.
I scratched my chin. "Anything strike you as funny?"
"Yeah," she said. "Pies in the kisser, knock-knock jokes, and that face you make when you eat broccoli by mistake."
I looked at her. "Besides all that."
"Well, Bjorn didn't seem too worried about Scott's disappearance."
"He didn't, did he?"
Natalie cocked her head. "So, what does that mean?"
"Partner," I said, "the plot has officially thickened."
She grinned. "Great! Add some potato bugs and we've got a stew."
Copyright © 2004 by Bruce Hale
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Posted June 25, 2012
Posted October 24, 2007
Have you ever wondered if your school was haunted? Well, Chet Gecko certainly felt that way. When Chet is asked to be in the school play, he found an even bigger surprise. Someone had kidnapped Scott, the star of the show! Chet Gecko is on the case! When Chet is finally stumped, a clue hits him literally! Will Scott be found? Well, if you want to find out, you must read the book. One time my friends and I thought our girl¿s bathroom was haunted. We still think it is. I would recommend this book to people who like mystery books!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 28, 2011
No text was provided for this review.