Hiss Me Deadly (Chet Gecko Series)

Hiss Me Deadly (Chet Gecko Series)

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by Bruce Hale

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Emerson Hicky is thick with thieves.See more details below

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Emerson Hicky is thick with thieves.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Anna West
Chet Ghecko is not your average grade-school class clown. While this reptile has a reputation for goofing off in class and frequently winding up with a pink slip in the principal's office, he makes up for his troublemaking by serving as a junior private eye, using his mischievous mind to solve the crimes that continue to strike Emerson Hicky Elementary. This time the crime in question is personal: Mama Ghecko's pearls have been stolen from his little sister Pinky's desk, and it is up to Chet to get them back. With the task before them, Chet and his accomplice, mockingbird Natalie Attired, set out to find the Emerson Hicky thief. The heat is on when Principal Zero enlists Chet and Natalie to solve the crime, demanding that they get to the bottom of it before the school fair. As their list of suspects grows, the investigating duo is forced to question their fellow students and teachers, interrogating the unsuspecting flirty hall monitor, the sneaky music teacher, and the lower-school bully. Following this pair along their investigation, we take part in the suspense of this schoolhouse mystery while receiving a colorful look at the social dynamics of the creatures of Emerson Hicky Elementary. Reviewer: Anna West
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Chet Gecko is a grammar school private eye. If you have read any of the other books in the series, you know what you are in for—a mystery to solve and lots of puns, and of course a complete rip-off of earlier private eye movies and books that were popular forty and fifty years ago. Chet is not fond of school, but he is pretty good at sleuthing and he and his sidekick Natalie Attired (a mockingbird) are constantly trading quips and barbs. In this crazy adventure, Chet has been asked by his younger sister to help her recover their mother's pearls. She took them without permission for show- and-tell and they were stolen from the classroom during recess. It gets more complicated as more things disappear from the classrooms, and Chet cannot seem to make much headway. His prime suspects are Johnny Ringo, one of the meaner kids at school, and the music professor (Gustav Mauler). Chet has even been enlisted by the school principal to help solve the crime (for that he will get three free "get out of jail" passes—it seems that Chet has an attitude problem and is frequently sent to the principal's office). It all has to be resolved before the school fair where the fabulous Flubberjee Egg will be on display. Can Chet solve the crime in time? Can Chet get over his fear of clowns? Kids will have a laugh but relate to the school dynamics, and parents who may be reading the book aloud to younger kids will enjoy the puns that will float right over most of these kids' heads.

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Chet Gecko Series, #13
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt



Sub Sandwich

           You could attend Emerson Hicky Elementary for a long time without knowing its substitute teachers. And you could know its subs for a long time without meeting Barbara Dwyer.

           And that would be just swell.

           Barb Dwyer was a sourpuss porcupine with a face like a bucket of mud. From the tips of her many quills to the shapeless hat on her head, she was a surly sub, and she didn’t care who knew it.

           I could have gone my whole life without meeting her. But because Mr. Ratnose called in sick one gray Wednesday, we were stuck with the dame.

           Through math and English classes she had ridden us hard, like a rhino going piggyback on a house cat. We were taking a breather, doing some silent reading. Most of the kids favored Winnie the Poobah, our assignment.

           I had slipped the latest Amazing Mantis-Man comic book inside old Winnie.

           Private eyes like to live dangerously.

           A gentle whisper broke my concentration.

           “Chet?” It was Shirley Chameleon, leaning across the aisle.

           I gave her a look. She was worth looking at. Shirley had big green peepers, a curly tail, and a laugh like the pitter-pat of raindrops on daisies.

           Not that I cared about any of that. She was also a major cootie factory.

           “Mm?” I said, glancing back at my comic book.

           “Do you, um . . . are you going to the fair on Friday?” Shirley toyed with her scarf, one eye on me, one eye on the substitute teacher. (Literally. Chameleons have some gross habits.)

           I leaned over. “Depends. Will they have clowns?”

           “Why?” she said.

           “Because I hate clowns.”

           “Who’s whispering?” a voice snapped. Ms. Dwyer scanned the room.

           We clammed up. A minute later, Shirley bent back across the aisle.

           She batted her eyelashes. “I don’t know about clowns,” she whispered, “but I do know that they’re having a dance.

           I knew it, too—the Hen’s Choice Hoedown, where girls ask boys.

           “I was trying to forget about that,” I said.

           Ms. Dwyer thundered, “No more whispering. Eyes on your books!”

           Shirley gave it a rest for another minute. Then she murmured, “If you’re, um, going to the fair, maybe you’d come to the dance with me? As my date?”

           “Your date?!” I spluttered, shattering the quiet.

           “That’s it!” cried Ms. Dwyer. She waddled up the aisle toward me, quills bristling. “You! What’s your name?”

           Although I wanted to say Seymour Butts, I stuck with the truth. “Chet Gecko.”

           “You’ve disrupted my class enough for one morning.”

           I let my book drop. “But she—”

           Ms. Dwyer noticed my Amazing Mantis-Man. “And you’re reading this . . . this trash? A comic book?”

           “It’s research,” I said. “For my science report.”

           “I don’t care if it’s War and frikkety Peace,” she growled. The porcupine held her hand out for the comic. I gave it to her. “You, mister, will sit outside until you learn some manners.”

           Bo Newt chuckled. “Guess I’ll see ya next year, Chet.”

           The substitute wheeled on my friend. “Would you like to join him?”

           “Uh, no sir,” said Bo.


           “No sir, ma’am,” said the newt.

           Ms. Dwyer gritted her teeth, then glared at me. “Well, what are you waiting for? Go and reflect on your bad behavior.”

           It’s no use arguing with a walking pincushion. Followed by Shirley’s mournful gaze, I rose and ambled out the door.

           Five minutes of sitting on the hard cement was enough reflection for any gecko. My tuckus was going to sleep. But the sub let me stew.

           On the far-off playground, little kids squealed with joy and freedom.

           I sighed. Idly, I twirled the tip of my tail. No case to solve, no comic to read. It would be a long, boring timeout.

           I couldn’t have been more wrong.

           Footsteps slapped down the hall. “Chet! Chet!”

           The last thing I expected was my little sister. And yet, there she stood, big as life—Pinky Gecko, first grader and first-rate pain in the tushie.

           “Little blister,” I said. “What brings you here?”

           She frowned. “My feet. But, but . . . how come you’re sitting in the hall?”

           “I’m on guard duty—watching out for cockapoos.”

           “Cocka-whose?” she said.

           “Never mind.”

           Pinky turned her woeful eyes on me. “Help me, big brother.”

           I pointed. “Okay, the loony bin is that way.”

           “Not funny,” she said, pouting. “Mom’s pearls, they’re missing!”

           I scratched my head. “Run that by me again?”

           “The pearls.” Pinky shuffled her feet. “I, um, borrowed ’em for show-and-tell.”

           “Smooth move, moth-brain,” I said. “And what, you accidentally flushed them down the john?”

           “I’m not a moth-brain,” she said. “I showed ’em before recess. An’, an’ when I came back from recess, they . . . disdappeared from my desk!”

           I stood. “Have you told your teacher, Miss uh . . .”

           “Miss Flemm? I can’t.”

           “Why not?” I asked.

           Pinky’s lip quivered. “She’ll tell Mom.”

           “Yeah, so?”

           “Mom doesn’t know I borrowed ’em.”

           My eyebrows rose. “Ah.”

           “An’, an’, an’ . . .” Her eyes misted up like dawn over Mosquito Lake.

           Before the waterworks began, I gently placed my hands on her shoulders.

           “And you want me to find the pearls, is that it?”

           She nodded. “Mm-hmm.”

           I chewed my lip. We’d had plenty of crime at Emerson Hicky Elementary—cheating, blackmail, vandalism, kids trying to take over the world. But no crook had made it this personal. No crook had ever picked on my family before.

           My fists clenched. This punk was going down hard, like a skydiving brontosaurus. Why, I’d even tackle the case for free.

           But I’d never let Pinky know that.

           “You realize if I do this, you’re gonna owe me big-time?” I said. “We’re talking breakfast in bed, sharing desserts, no hassling me for two—no, three weeks . . .”

           “A-anything you say.” Pinky sniffed. “Just find the pearls.”

           I hate to see a reptile cry—even if she’s my own flesh and blood.

           “Stop your sobbing, sister,” I said. “I’m on the case.”


Copyright © 2007 by Bruce Hale
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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