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Running Wild: Upchuck And The Rotten Willy

Running Wild: Upchuck And The Rotten Willy

5.0 1
by Bill Wallace

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It's not so bad living a dog's life. Unless you're a cat.

Most times, hanging out with Rotten Willy (the huge dog on the cover) was cool. We played chase, talked, and chowed down on spaghetti and meatballs at Luigi's restaurant. Even though he was a dog (and sometimes called me Upchuck instead of Chuck), I could



It's not so bad living a dog's life. Unless you're a cat.

Most times, hanging out with Rotten Willy (the huge dog on the cover) was cool. We played chase, talked, and chowed down on spaghetti and meatballs at Luigi's restaurant. Even though he was a dog (and sometimes called me Upchuck instead of Chuck), I could handle it. He was my best friend.

Then this baseball stuff started and Willy went bonkers. I never saw him act so crazy. On top of that, these two new cats moved into our neighborhood. Trouble was, tough-guy Roscoe and his cute fuzzy sister, Rikki, did not like dogs.

Dogs belong with dogs and cats belong with cats, they said.

I was showing them the sights when I suddenly spied the dogcatcher, just waiting to trap Willy as he raced across the field with a baseball in his mouth. But Roscoe and Rikki would never understand if they found out my best friend was a dog. How could I save Willy before it was too late? What's a cat to do when he has to choose between old friends and new %151; and there's no time to lose...

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 3-6Chuck the cat has a fairly routine life. His person, Katie, treats him well, and he spends his days with his best friend, Tom the cat, taunting dogs. Chuck's life is unsettled by the death of his alleycat friend, Louie, who is hit by a car. It is further disrupted when Katie goes off to a place called "college," and again when Tom moves away. The lonely Chuck finds a new friend in a rottweiler whom Tom has maliciously named "Rotten Willy." Willy's person is also away at school, so the cat and dog discover that despite their differences, they have much in common. Told through the eyes of Chuck, the story has a chatty tone, but it gets off to a slow start, and the conclusion is predictable, particularly because of the cover artwork. Despite Chuck's amusing observations of people and other animals, the book lacks the strength of Russell Erickson's A Toad for Tuesday (Lothrop, 1974), which is better written and more aptly portrays an unlikely friendship between two dissimilar creatures.Lucy Rafael, The Center for Early Education, West Hollywood, CA
Kirkus Reviews
From Wallace (True Friends, 1994, etc.), a tale of interspecies friendship. Chuck the cat is lonely. His best friend, Tom, has moved away with his owners; another friend, Louie, was killed by a car; and Chuck's owner has gone off to college. Trapped on a tree branch for two days and nights by the poodles who moved into Tom's house, he is rescued by a kind-hearted rottweiler, Willy, who feeds and warms him before sending him back home. This tale, warmed by the patience of Willy, who perseveres in the face of feline prejudice, is told completely from the animals' perspective: They understand human language but can't read it or speak it. With the exception of Willy, it is not a particularly nice world; cats torment dogs, dogs—in turn—attempt to do cats in, cars come out of the ether to crumple the unwary, grudges hold, humans behave in inexplicable ways, and loneliness is bitter. As it should, friendship overcomes all; despite the unnecessarily pandering title, the book has a gentle message that comes through without treacle. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Publication date:
Upchuck and the Rotten Willy Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
0.24(w) x 5.06(h) x 7.81(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Okay...it was weird.

The people out in the field were weird. The people sitting on the cement steps were weird. And Willy — well...he was weirdest!

My people went to the kitchen to eat. These people ate on the cement steps. My people listened to music and visited. These people yelled and other people threw them food. In return, they gave them little pieces of paper. These people would seem fine, then all of a sudden they would leap to their feet and yell at the top of their lungs. They would clap and...

"Willy, no!"

...and they would jump up and act really mad. Then just as quickly as they started, they'd sit down and eat and talk some more.

The people out in the grass were just as bad. They talked and jabbered all the time. They wore shirts, tight pants with long socks, and little caps on their heads. Right now most of them had blue caps and white pants. There was only one, standing on a little bag, who had on a red cap and gray pants. But just a moment ago it was the other way around and...

"Willy, quit!"

...and most of the boys had on these big gloves. That was weird because they were lots bigger than the gloves my people wore in the wintertime. But what was even weirder was that they only wore one glove instead of two. People had two front paws — I mean hands — so why only one glove? Maybe the other hand just didn't get cold.

The glove was so big, they couldn't pick up stuff with it on. They couldn't pick their noses or scratch. About the only thing they could do was catch the ball that they threw at one another. One boy stood on a pillow. He didn't have a glove. Fact was, he didn't have anything except his pants and shirt and...

"Willy, cool it!"

...and shoes and red cap. But another boy, who was dressed just like him, had on a hard hat and a big stick in his hand. It wasn't a very good stick. The thing was wide and sort of swollen on one end and kind of narrow on the other end.

One of the boys who wore a blue cap kept throwing a ball at the guy in the red cap. He wasn't a very good thrower, because he hardly ever hit anybody. Sometimes he did get close, and the boy with the stick would use it to whack at the ball so it wouldn't hit him. Another boy, who was really short, would throw the ball back so he could try again.

Usually everybody missed. The thrower missed the guy with the stick, and the guy with the stick missed the ball and...

"Willy, don't even think about it!"

...and this big man in a black suit behind the little short guy would yell: "Strike!" When that happened, people on the steps would stop eating long enough to yell at him. Then the whole thing would start all over again.


I guess the boys standing out in the grass wanted to play with the ball, too. They were always watching it. When they weren't watching, they would yell stuff like:

"Batter, batter, batter, BATTER, SWING!" And other times they would yell: "Easy out. Easy out."

Mostly, they just chewed their gum or blew bubbles and they spit a lot and...

"Willy! Would you quit it!"

...and they scratched a lot, too. I guess they had fleas. I had a flea once. The thing sure itched. I probably scratched as much as they did.

Willy and I sat beside this big, long trench in the ground. It was made of hard, gray blocks and had a metal roof. Sometimes when it was really hot, Willy would dig a hole or a trench and we'd lay in it to cool off. These boys weren't trying to cool off, though. They were busy yelling at the boys on the grass — especially the guy who was throwing the ball at their friend. They'd called out things like "We want a pitcher, not a belly-itcher." Other times they would yell at the man behind the little short boy — especially if he shouted, "Strike."

They would yell back at him, "Ball."

Like I said — weird.

The ball...well, that was what made Willy weird. I mean, it was driving him nuts!

And Willy — he was driving me nuts!

Willy never took his eyes off of the ball. We were fine as long as someone was holding it or if it was in the air. But if the ball ever hit the ground...

All I'd done since we got here was yell and fuss at Willy. As far as I was concerned, this baseball stuff wasn't that much fun.

The boy with the stick whacked at the ball. I guess he figured it was going to hit him, so he swung really hard. A loud crack sound came to my ears. The ball hit the ground. A little puff of dust exploded, and the other boy in the red cap, who was standing on the bag, had to jump so the ball didn't hit him.

Sure enough...Willy's muscles tensed. His enormous chest quivered and his legs trembled. The ball was headed the other direction — going away from us — but it was all I could do to keep my friend from chasing after it.

I jumped up and put my paws against his shoulder.

"Willy, knock it off!"

The way he was shaking and the way his muscles tensed — ready to spring after the rolling ball — well, this time...I didn't know if I could hold him or not.

Luckily, the boy in the blue cap picked up the ball.

Willy sank down on his haunches. He was still panting, his long tongue dangling from his slobbery mouth, his eyes wide and excited. But he sat down. With a heavy sigh, I sat down beside him.

"Willy? I think it's time to go back home, don't you?"

His big, brown eyes never left the ball. Even sitting down, I could see his stub tail wagging — stirring the dust behind and underneath him. When he didn't answer, it made my tail flip.

"Willy? Are you listening to me?"

He gave a slight nod. My tail jerked the other direction. "Willy!"

"Yes," he answered. "I'm listening." He tried to look down at me and keep his eyes on the ball at the same time. I leaned over and rubbed my cheek against his arm.

"Let's go home, please. If you get their ball, it's going to make them mad. They might call 'The Pound!' And we don't want that, do we?"

He shook his head, but he still wouldn't look at me. It was irritating, to say the least. Now my tail was jerking back and forth so hard that I could barely sit.

"I mean it, Willy. You're gonna get us in trouble. I'll leave you. I'll go home without you. I'm serious."

"Okay. Just a second." Like he was in a trance or something, his eyes never left the ball. "Just let me see this one more pitch, then we'll..."



The little, round ball came flying right in front of the trench where we stood. Willy took off!

It was amazing how something that huge and clunky looking could move so fast. It was like watching an enormous black streak of lightning.

One second he was sitting there beside me, trembling and all excited. The next second he was gone! All that was left was a cloud of dust as he chased after the rolling ball.

The boys with the blue hats yelled at him. The boys with the red hats yelled at him, too. The man in the black suit just shook his head.

Now you've done it! I thought to myself. Now they're going to call the pound and the guy will catch you and drag you away and...and...this time I won't be able to save you.

Text copyright © 2000 by Bill Wallace

Meet the Author

Bill Wallace grew up in Oklahoma. Along with riding their horses, he and his friends enjoyed campouts and fishing trips. Toasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories to scare one another, and catching fish was always fun.
One of the most memorable trips took place on the far side of Lake Lawtonka, at the base of Mt. Scott. He and his best friend, Gary, spent the day shooting shad with bow and arrows, cutting bank poles, and getting ready to go when their dads got home from work.
Although there was no "monster" in Lake Lawtonka, one night there was a "sneak attack" by a rather large catfish tail. Checking the bank poles was not nearly as fun or "free" after that point, but it was the inspiration for this story.
Bill Wallace has won nineteen children's state awards and been awarded the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for Children's Literature from the Oklahoma Center for the Book.

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Running Wild: Upchuck And The Rotten Willy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is such a funny book!!!! You will never guess how Chuck gets upchuck as a petname,but he hates to be called that. It makes you feel like you are really there! Once you start reading it you can not put the book down. Bill Wallace has outdone himself again! If you like cat and dog books, this one's for you!!!!!