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The Muppets: The Movie Junior Novel
By Turner, Katharine
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2011 Turner, Katharine
All right reserved.
Walter was having the dream again.
He and his best friend, Gary, were little kids, sitting in front of the TV, watching their favorite show in the whole world—The Muppet Show. Walter gave Gary a cheerful grin as they sang along with the theme song.
“It’s time to meet the Muppets, on The Muppet Show tonight!”
And that was when they spotted Animal heading for the front of the screen. But instead of staying inside the TV, the Muppet drummer pushed right through the glass and into Walter’s living room!
“Wait! Animal!” Kermit the Frog wailed from inside the television. “You can’t climb out of the TV. Someone get him!”
Before they knew what was happening, Gary and Walter were surrounded by a mass of Muppets chasing Animal around. Even Walter’s hero, Kermit, hopped into the living room to join in the chase.
“I’m terribly sorry about this,” Kermit apologized. “Hey, Walter, why don’t you join us? C’mon, the show’s about to start!”
Walter looked nervously at his best friend. Him? Join the Muppets? But Gary nodded with encouragement and even gave him the double thumbs-up. The Muppets began diving back into the TV screen. It was now or never for Walter. Kermit stretched out his hand and, with one deep breath, as the last Muppet vanished back into the television, Walter threw himself in after them.
And then he hit the glass screen with a resounding clunk!
Dusting himself off, Walter got to his knees and pressed his hands against the TV screen. He sighed.
He wasn’t a Muppet. He would never be a Muppet, and no amount of banging and yelling on the screen was going to help.
Somewhere, in a small bedroom, in a small house, in a small town, an alarm clock rang out. It was another beautiful day in Smalltown, USA, and Gary opened his eyes with a smile. In the bed opposite, his best friend in the whole world, Walter, was already wide awake. Their bedroom walls were covered in posters, newspaper clippings, fan art, and signed photographs, all with one thing in common: the Muppets.
“Morning, Walter,” Gary said. He could barely contain his excitement. “Today’s the day!” The tall guy wiggled his toes in excitement. He was so tall that his feet stuck out at the end of the bed.
“I know!” Walter bounced out of bed. He was a lot shorter than his best friend, and… well… he was not like other humans. But Gary never pointed that out. “I could hardly sleep.”
“Oh, buddy,” Gary said with a frown. “Did you have the dream again?”
Walter went over to a big old jar of coins and jingled the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters inside. There were just enough coins to creep up over a red line drawn near the top of the jar. “Er… no.”
Walter had been saving every penny for years, wishing away the days until he could finally make the trip to Los Angeles to fulfill his dream—to visit the Muppet Studios. He had watched every single episode of The Muppet Show over and over, and meeting the Muppets was his only goal in life. Finally, today was the day.
“Muppet Studios! L.A., here we come!” Walter stared dreamily at the jar. In just a few hours he’d be there, meeting his heroes.
“We’d better get a move on,” Gary said, hopping out of bed. “Don’t want to miss the bus.”
The guys headed for the bathroom, passing walls plastered with photos of the two of them together, making their scout salutes, celebrating their joint bar mitzvahs, getting ready for prom, pulling wacky faces in a photo booth.
“Hey, Gary,” Walter said, squeezing some toothpaste onto his brush. “Maybe Kermit will be there?”
Gary frowned. He loved the Muppets just as much as Walter did, but he didn’t want his buddy to get his hopes too high. “I don’t think so, Walter. The Muppets broke up their act, remember? They don’t use the studios for anything but tours anymore.”
“That’s just an Internet rumor.” Walter shook his head. “Like there being a country called Turkey.”
Gary paused for a moment. “Actually, I think there is a country called Tur—”
“Muppet Studios!” Walter interrupted, too excited to listen.
Gary didn’t finish correcting his friend. It didn’t matter. Walter and Gary weren’t just roommates, they were best buds. BFFs. Nothing would ever come between them. They’d been best friends since they were little kids, and now they were finally living their dream of visiting the Muppet Studios together. Everything was great. Except, well, maybe not quite everything.
He had never admitted it to Gary, but Walter had always felt a little out of place in Smalltown, USA. He wasn’t sure if it was his big googly eyes, or his fuzzy hair, or maybe the fact that he was four feet shorter than Gary…. He just knew he didn’t quite fit in. But he also knew the answer was out there, somewhere. Walter had always had a crazy feeling that if he could just visit the Muppet Studios and meet his heroes, his whole life would fall into place.
Gary, however, loved everything about Smalltown, USA. And why wouldn’t he? Not only did he share a house with his best friend in the whole world, he had the best girl as well. He’d been dating his sweetheart, Mary, for ten whole years, and for ten whole years they’d been planning a romantic vacation to L.A.
Mary was still hard at work teaching her shop class outside the local elementary school when Gary arrived with a crumpled bunch of daffodils in his hand. At first he didn’t see her—just a crowd of kids standing near a car. Then the tiny redhead slid out from underneath the car wearing a pristine summer dress and a smile.
“And that’s how you fix a carburetor!” Mary announced to a cheering class full of sixth graders. The bell sounded loudly. “And that’s spring vacation!”
The class sighed.
“We’ll be back in school in two weeks!” she said.
The class cheered again and ran off.
“You look amazing,” Gary said, presenting Mary with the slightly crumpled flowers.
“They’re sweet.” She gave him a big smile and dusted off her dress. “I’m so excited for our vacation!”
Mary pulled a long list from her pocket. At the top it read GARY AND MARY’S THINGS TO DO IN L.A. She had been looking forward to their vacation for the longest time.
“It’s going to be so romantic,” Mary said with a sigh. “I’ve always dreamt of seeing Los Angeles.”
“I know. Walter can’t wait, either,” Gary replied, wrapping her up in a big hug. “Are you sure you don’t mind him coming with us?”
“Of course,” Mary said, a little disappointed. Then she found her smile again and made it extra bright for Gary. “Walter loves the Muppets. Just as long as we get our anniversary dinner.”
“You betcha!” Gary beamed. “Walter loves dinners! And anniversaries! And birthdays. And Christmas…”
“I meant just me and you,” Mary said loudly. “No Walter.”
“Oh, right. Got it! Of course we can! It’ll be the most romantic dinner ever,” Gary agreed. She was such a great girl. “I’ll see you later. L.A., here we come!”
Mary watched Gary leave and couldn’t help but feel a little sad. She’d been looking forward to their romantic vacation for years, but how romantic was it going to be with Walter along for the ride? Gary and Walter were inseparable.
It wasn’t that she didn’t like Walter. He was one of her best friends! She just wished she and Gary could spend a little more time alone together. They’d been dating for ten years, and nothing ever changed. Maybe they’d get a chance to be alone in L.A., at their anniversary dinner. Mary sat down on the hood of the truck and daydreamed. She imagined herself in Paris, Gary riding toward her on a horse, wearing a white top hat and tails, a sparkly diamond ring in his hand. If only Gary would propose. Then everything would be okay….
Later that afternoon, Mary, Gary, and a very excited Walter gathered at the bus stop in the center of town. They waved to all their friends: the postman, the baker, the policeman. Everyone was happy in Smalltown, USA.
“I can’t believe we’re finally doing this,” Walter gasped as a big, shiny, silver bus pulled to a halt in front of them.
Mary nodded, excited for her romantic vacation. Gary nodded, excited for his trip with his two favorite people in the entire world. And Walter trembled with excitement, certain he was boarding the bus not just to find the Muppets, but also to find his destiny.
Good-bye, Smalltown, USA, and hello, the rest of his life.
I can’t believe it!” Gary spun around, taking in the wonders of the big city with wide eyes. “Los Angeles!”
“Hello, vacation,” Mary said, grinning.
“We’re really here!” Walter was almost too excited to stand still. “City of dreams.”
Only L.A. didn’t look so much like a city of dreams. The gang had jumped off the bus in the center of downtown Hollywood and, well, it was kind of gross. The buildings were grimy, there were fanny pack–toting tourists everywhere, and everything looked like it needed a good scrubbing. They were a long way from Smalltown, but it didn’t matter. They were happy to be there. What could possibly go wrong?
The three friends made their way to the Muppet Studios. Looking up at it, Walter couldn’t believe his eyes. At last, he had arrived. He’d loved the Muppets all his life, saved every penny for years, traveled all the way across the country by bus, and now here he was, standing in front of the Muppet Studios….
And they were a mess. He tried hard not to show how sad he was, but it was difficult. The buildings were run-down and boarded up, with almost every window broken. There wasn’t a trace of Muppet magic to be seen—just a small handwritten sign advertising tours for fifty cents. An elderly Chinese couple stood staring at the sign, looking confused. Walter was just as perplexed.
“What happened?” he whispered.
“Well, it is midweek.” Gary tried to come up with a reason for the run-down state of the studios and the lack of tourists. “And it’s kinda out of season?”
“But everyone loves the Muppets,” Walter replied. Don’t they?
Before Gary or Mary could come up with a response, an old man in a tour-guide uniform appeared beside them.
“Well, it’s a better turnout than yesterday,” he muttered to no one in particular. “Always awkward talking to yourself. You here for the tour?”
“Yes, sir,” Walter confirmed, starting to feel excited again. Perhaps all the surprises were inside. Perhaps it was just the outside of the studios that looked so bad.
“Then welcome to the original Muppet Studios,” the tour guide said. He threw a handful of glitter and ash up into the air, and then coughed as he inhaled it. It was the most glamorous coughing fit Walter had ever witnessed. “Where dreams come true.”
Inside the studio lot, Walter closed his eyes, rubbed them hard, and opened them again. Yep, this was really happening. All the things he’d dreamed of seeing were there: the “Pigs in Space” rocket, The Great Gonzo’s cannon, even the famous Muppet Show sign. Except the sign was missing an all-important O, the cannon was covered in dust, and the rocket was broken. That was the last straw—he was officially heartbroken. The dream was over.
“Yeah, so this is where they stored the props.” The tour guide nodded toward the room of broken bits and pieces. “And here they are, in all their glory….”
“Excuse me, sir,” Walter piped up. There had to be something here worth seeing. “Would it be possible to go into the auditorium itself? The Muppet Theater?”
The guide clucked his tongue and sucked his teeth. “Sorry, sonny. Nope. Condemned since the early nineties. Structurally unsound. Health and Safety just wouldn’t allow it.”
Gary placed a hand on his buddy’s shoulder. It was hard enough for him and Mary to see the place this way—he knew it had to be super hard on Walter.
“Now, this here used to be Kermit’s office,” the tour guide explained as they passed a small building. “It’s perfectly preserved inside, just as Kermit left it. It is by far the highlight of the tour.”
Everyone stopped and gasped.
The tour guide nodded, then started walking again. “You really should see it someday.”
“Now,” he went on, “this next building is where they stored all the rope and medium-gauge wire they used on the show. Exciting, right? Let’s go inside and take a look….”
But instead of following the rest of the group inside, Walter hung back just a little. This was it: his only chance to see inside Kermit’s office. The Kermit the Frog. His hero! He had to try. Once the rest of the tour group had vanished into the storage shed, Walter opened the door to the building. Inside, everything was just as the tour guide had said it would be, just as Kermit had left it when he had walked away from the Muppet Studios for the last time. A thick layer of dust covered every surface, but otherwise it was just how Walter had imagined it. At last, something was going right on this vacation.
“And this is Kermit’s old office,” barked a loud voice as the opposite door to the office slammed open.
“Or so we’ve been toad,” replied another voice, with a guffaw.
Not knowing what else to do, Walter hid. He didn’t want to get in trouble; he’d just wanted to see inside Kermit’s office. Peering out from his hiding place, his eyes widened with wonder at the sight in front of him. He knew he’d recognized those voices! They belonged to Muppets! Specifically, to Statler and Waldorf. It was almost too strange for Walter to see them standing just a few feet away and not heckling the cast of The Muppet Show from their balcony box. But they weren’t alone. Closely following them was a tall businessman in a suit and a cowboy hat, accompanied by several of his associates. He looked around the dusty office and gave Statler and Waldorf a big smile.
“Well, as you know, gentlemen, I’ve loved the Muppets since I was a boy, and I, Tex Richman, can’t think of a better way to honor the Muppets than to make this beautiful studio into a museum.” Tex held his arms up and gestured around the office. “A shrine, if you will. I’ll call this room ‘The Kermit the Frog’s Old Office Room.’ ”
“Well, I guess if they’re going to sell the old place, I’m glad it’s going to a fan,” Statler said, nodding to himself. “I had some of the happiest times of my life here.”
“You did?” Waldorf sounded surprised.
“Sure.” Statler laughed. “Whenever I got into my car to drive home at night!”
Excerpted from The Muppets: The Movie Junior Novel by Turner, Katharine Copyright © 2011 by Turner, Katharine. Excerpted by permission.
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