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You never know where your story will take you.
All Jackson had to do was clean the pool. One simple task. It would have been simple, anyway, if that freak storm hadn’t come from nowhere and carried him away. Now Jackson is trapped in the branches of a massive tree, and he can’t find a way out. While he wanders, he meets a flesh-eating hound named Muffin, a hen who wears too much makeup, a million angry squirrels, and a Troll with nose hair down to there. Before Jackson can go ...
You never know where your story will take you.
All Jackson had to do was clean the pool. One simple task. It would have been simple, anyway, if that freak storm hadn’t come from nowhere and carried him away. Now Jackson is trapped in the branches of a massive tree, and he can’t find a way out. While he wanders, he meets a flesh-eating hound named Muffin, a hen who wears too much makeup, a million angry squirrels, and a Troll with nose hair down to there. Before Jackson can go home, he’ll have to discover the great task the Author has planned for him and learn what it really means to put down roots.
Another bag of garbage.
Rotting, smelly, festering garbage. With holes in the bag. So it would leak.
And here he was, without a wheelbarrow. Or a donkey. Or a super cool, industrial four-wheeler.
So Stimple sighed again, hefted the rotting, smelly, festering garbage bag onto his back with a squashy splat, and began to pick his nose.
Jackson was furious.
It was not fair.
It was not his fault.
He seethed as he stomped outside, pounding his feet as hard as he could against the kitchen floor, then slammed the door shut.
He growled as he walked over to the pool and picked up the net.
"Not my fault ... Why am I the one getting in trouble?" he muttered.
Jackson fumed as he remembered what had happened. He had run up the stairs to his room to grab his notebook because he had a great idea for a story. He opened his bedroom door and there was his little brother, giggling, sitting on the floor and clutching a magic marker. And Jackson's heart fell into his stomach.
His brother had doodled all over his notebook.
Jackson snatched the book from his hands, ignoring his brother's wails. "What are you doing?" he yelled.
Jackson opened the notebook.
Every single page was ruined.
Doodles and scribblings on every page. Cross-outs and thick lines, scratching out what Jackson had written.
His stories were ruined.
"You. are. such. a. BRAT!" Jackson screamed.
His little brother's bottom lip stuck out and his eyes filled with tears. His mouth opened wide as he inhaled loudly.
"Stop ..." Jackson began. But he was interrupted by the siren that came rushing out of his little brother's mouth. He turned and ran crying down the hallway to his mother's room. Jackson followed angrily, his ruined notebook in hand.
"He's only five. He doesn't really know what he's doing, Jackson," his mom said gently, holding his little brother on her lap.
"He ruined my stories!" Jackson spluttered.
"I know he did, and I'm very sorry for that. But you should have put your notebook away, where he couldn't find it. You need to keep things out of sight. You know how curious he is," his mother said.
Jackson turned and whipped his notebook across the room. It hit the wall with a THWACK and then slid to the floor. Jackson felt better. For a moment.
"I think you need to cool off before we finish talking," said Mrs. Jones. "You can cool off cleaning out the pool."
Jackson was in an extremely rotten mood. Such a rotten mood, in fact, that he didn't notice the way the sun glimmered off the water in the pool, the way the wind whistled through his hair, the songs the birds were singing ... No, wait. The birds weren't singing. That was odd.
But Jackson was in such a rotten mood that he didn't even notice that the birds were silent. He picked up the pool net, brandishing it like a shining sword that would slice right into a dragon's chest.
"Aha! Take that!" Jackson swung his mighty sword and slashed the dragon, splashing himself with pool water in the process.
He looked down at his grubby shorts and T-shirt, scowling. Then he laughed. Then scowled again. He was supposed to be in a rotten mood, after all. Jackson swirled the pool net in the water to remove fallen bits of twigs and leaves. A big black bug clung to the net. "Get off!" Jackson shook it.
And then he shivered, because all of a sudden the sun had disappeared behind a very big, very gray cloud. Better move faster. His ten-and-a-half-year-old arms pumped while he shoveled out more debris. (Debris is a fancy name for garbage.)
Jackson looked down at his arm. Something had stung him, but he didn't see anything.
Ouch! Jackson felt his head. Nothing there. But that hurt! Jackson backed up, looking around for wasps. No, there didn't seem to be any. But ... ouch! Jackson looked up to the sky and was hit right in the nose.
Little round-ish balls of ice, some of them the size of marbles, zoomed down from the sky, smashing into the backyard and splashing into the pool. Jackson chucked the net, covered his head with his arms, and ran toward the shed. He peeked out the window and watched the hail fall.
What a strange day.
Jackson pressed his nose harder to the window, squeezed his eyes tight, and wondered if there was something different in the air.
But all he could smell was the dank smell of soil hanging in the air. (Dank means moist and wet. Not wet like your dog's nose, but like a gardening shed full of new soil.)
Hail was really coming down now. Loud thunks hit the roof and large plops splashed into the pool. Little white balls covered every surface. And then Jackson's eyes caught something that was most certainly not hail.
The patio umbrella was still set up beside the pool! The hail smashed against the purple-and-green-striped umbrella, threatening to tear the fabric. Jackson threw his weight against the door, struggling against the howling wind that pushed back against it. Finally,—finally—it creaked open and Jackson slipped out. He threw his hands over his face, trying to see through the falling miniature cannonballs.
No, they were like little blasts of fireballs. Mini fireballs blasting out of the dragon's mouth. He would have to fight through them! He had to save the village from this iniquitous beast! (Iniquitous means super-duper nasty.) Jackson recovered his pool net and sliced it through the air and let out an impressive battle cry.
"Aaaaaaah—OUCH!" A fireball hit him in the back. He ducked and dodged, narrowly avoiding the blazes of hot fire that would burn right through his armor. The wind pushed itself against him and his legs strained with the weight. But just as he grabbed the umbrella pole and reached up inside for the latch, a sharp burn pierced his leg. He was hit! But he had to go on. He had to continue—even if he died! He dropped his pool-net sword and fumbled with the latch. Bruises were popping up between his goose bumps. The wind pushed the umbrella up, threatening to pull it out of his hands. He gripped harder and clenched his teeth.
"You can do this!" he whispered fiercely to himself. "For honor! For glory! For the kingdom!" He forced his hand up and grasped the latch, giving it a yank.
It was stuck!
The wind snapped at Jackson's legs, trying to knock him over. His numb fingers squeezed the button and, at that very moment, a gust of wind blew so hard up into the umbrella that Jackson was lifted off the ground.
Jackson gripped the pole even tighter, and a strong north wind blew Jackson and the umbrella over onto the ground. He landed hard on his shoulder.
And just at that moment, just as Jackson sat back up, the wind picked up, filling the umbrella with air. Jackson's feet dragged along the ground, and then he was airborne.
He held tight, praying his weight would keep him from flying away.
But it didn't—Jackson was still scrawny—and he flew up into the sky.
Excerpted from Jackson Jones by Jennifer Kelly Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Kelly . Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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