Leon and the Spitting Imageby Allen Kurzweil, Bret Bertholf
This book is about a hotel full of animals. And an evil ice maker. And glass eyeballs -- oh, and really old panty hose and Possibly Fake Hair. But mostly, it's about Leon Zeisel and his epic quest to survive fourth grade, despite his teacher, Miss Hagmeyer, and his archenemy, Lumpkin the Pumpkin, a human tank with a deadly dodgeball throw. Luckily, Leon has friends
This book is about a hotel full of animals. And an evil ice maker. And glass eyeballs -- oh, and really old panty hose and Possibly Fake Hair. But mostly, it's about Leon Zeisel and his epic quest to survive fourth grade, despite his teacher, Miss Hagmeyer, and his archenemy, Lumpkin the Pumpkin, a human tank with a deadly dodgeball throw. Luckily, Leon has friends who will stand by him even if his magical plans for rescue and revenge involve ... SPIT!
Barbara L. Talcroft
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 4 MB
- Age Range:
- 8 - 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
Leon and the Spitting Image
The night before the start of fourth grade, Leon Zeisel was on pins and needles. He lay in bed thinking about just one thing. An envelope.
Leon had first discovered the envelope one week earlier, while poking through his mom's desk. The envelope had attracted his attention for a simple reason. His name was written across the front in thick block letters. For a brief moment he had thought the envelope might contain a special surprise -- tickets to a YankeesRed Sox doubleheader would have been sweet -- but that dream disappeared as soon as he noticed the school seal and a single word stamped in blood-red ink:
That warning did the trick. Curious though he was, Leon shoved the unopened envelope back inside the desk.
But after a few days, curiosity turned into concern, and concern then turned into terror. Which was why, the night before school started, Leon slipped out of bed and made a beeline back to his mom's desk. Once there, he pulled the middle drawer halfway out. That released a catch on the slim side drawer. Don't rush, he told himself. Mom's working late.
Leon squinched his eyes shut and clucked his tongue. Only after completing his good-luck routine did he remove the envelope, undo its clasp, lift the flap, and inspect the contents -- three sheets of paper, each with the phrase home report centered at the top. His fingers started shaking and his heart started thumping as it dawned on him that he was holding a top-secret history of his life at the Classical School.
Leon took a deep breath and began to read. Page one came from his first-grade teacher, Mrs. Sloat. She wrote: "Given the tragic loss of his father, it is not surprising that Leon is a tad delayed in the domain of manual dexterity."
Leon sighed. He didn't like being called delayed. And bringing in his dad -- who had died in a freak accident at a fireworks factory when Leon was four -- felt like a cheap shot.
He went back to Mrs. Sloat's assessment: "Leon's frustration most regularly expresses itself during craft time. He completed his macaroni necklace only with a great deal of assistance. And although a macaroni necklace might not seem important, it is. For here at the Classical School, our motto has always been, 'Nimble fingers make for nimble minds.'"
Geez! How many times had he heard that stupid saying!
Leon recalled only one thing about Mrs. Sloat, and the memory wasn't pleasant. He remembered her badgering him to stick his hands in Play-Doh and to feel the squishiness. Leon hadn't liked squishiness back in first grade, and he didn't like squishiness now.
He turned to page two. It came from his second-grade teacher, Miss Toothacre. Her report was just as grim. Miss Toothacre wrote, "Leon continues to be hampered by a troubling lack of fine motor skills."
That was another dumb thing he had heard a thousand times. Leon knew only too well that "lack of fine motor skills" had nothing to do with fancy cars. Teachers used the expression to avoid calling him a klutz.
The comment hurt. Suppose he was hampered; wasn't that Miss Toothacre's fault? She was the one cramming him into a bogus confidential report. Didn't that make her the hamperer?
Leon wiped his nose on the sleeve of his pajamas and braced himself for the third-grade report. It was now Mr. Joost's turn to get his licks in. Mr. Joost wrote, "Leon's handwriting is significantly below grade level, and he is challenged by even the most basic manual tasks, such as tying his laces. At this juncture, I would seriously encourage corrective measures. One suggestion: Flute lessons might improve his finger movement."
Leon had always wondered why his mother forced him to take music classes with Miss Brunelleschi. Now he knew.
The home reports felt like strikes one, two, and three. And that made it all the more odd that the only nice words in the whole secret history came from Skip Kasperitis, the former minor-league pitcher who taught PE.
Coach Kasperitis wrote, "Leon is a real treat and a very special kid. His coordination needs work, but there's no question he's a champ. And if he ever learns to master his passion, I'll tell you this, Leon Zeisel is the kind of kid who could make magic."Leon and the Spitting Image. Copyright © by Allen Kurzweil . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Allen Kurzweil is a prize-winning novelist, children's writer, inventor, and journalist. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Smithsonian, and Vanity Fair. He is a graduate of Yale University and the recipient of Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
Bret Bertholf is a painter, writer, musician, and the yodeling singer for Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams, an acclaimed traditional country/western band, as well as the coordinator of children's events at the Tattered Cover Book Store. The artist is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and lives in Denver, Colorado.
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