Biggest Klutz In Fifth Grade

Biggest Klutz In Fifth Grade

4.6 3
by Bill Wallace
     
 

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Neal Moffet had called me "Fat Pat Berry, the Twinkletoes Fairy" one time too many. ANd when he started going on about what a klutz I was just because a flying tackle got me stuck under a chain-link fence...well, something snapped.
So when he bet me I couldn't get through the summer without getting stitches or breaking any bones, I took him on. Whoever lost had

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Overview

Neal Moffet had called me "Fat Pat Berry, the Twinkletoes Fairy" one time too many. ANd when he started going on about what a klutz I was just because a flying tackle got me stuck under a chain-link fence...well, something snapped.
So when he bet me I couldn't get through the summer without getting stitches or breaking any bones, I took him on. Whoever lost had to kiss Kristine Pimpton (otherwise known as "The Blimp") in front of the entire school on the first day of sixth grade.
Just the thought of having to pucker up for those pudgy lips is enough to make me want to spend the summer sitting still. But the rules say I have to keep on playing football and basketball and riding bikes — all that dangerous stuff. And Neal is so desperate to win, I don't trust him for a minute. Boy, is it going to be a long summer. Especially for a klutz like me.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Famous for his accident-prone escapades, Pat Berry is tired of being teased by Neal Moffett--``the greatest athlete in Hoover Middle School history.'' After landing under a chain-link fence during a football game, Pat rashly agrees to a bet which requires him to remain in one piece for the rest of the summer or kiss Kristine Plimpton (aka Blimpton) in public. As Pat tries to avoid the emergency room, his cause gains support from other boys who are fed up with Neal's bullying. Although the lad loses the bet, the appearance of a newly shapely Kristine turns the situation around and acknowledges him as the true victor. Though many readers may enjoy a novel told from a boy's perspective, Wallace negates this potential plus by making his female characters mere physical backdrops. Also, some may wish that Pat's triumph was more substantial. The central issues here--male friendships and the anxiety brought on by peer pressure--get lost as the plot lags between descriptions of sports games and bikini-clad neighbors. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- Sex (boys watching girls in bikinis, a first kiss), interesting characters (a truly detestable bully; an awkward, overweight hero), action, humor, and classic themes (courage, friendship, self-realization)--this book almost has it all--except for believable female characters. Accident-prone Pat gets fed up with Neal's constant taunting and makes a bet that he can get through the summer without breaking any bones or getting any stitches. The loser has to kiss the pretty but plump girl whom Neal has ridiculed as ``The Blimp.'' Pat's friends rally to his defense as they try to protect him from the devious and sometimes dangerous traps that Neal sets for him. In a predictable but satisfying ending, a more mature and sensitive Pat loses the bet but wins the girl, who comes home from summer camp prettier, curvier, and slimmer. Fans of Hobie Hansen and Bingo Brown will enjoy Pat's growing pains. The humorous first-person account moves along at a brisk pace, helped by snappy dialogue. The male characters are well rounded and their actions ring true, but the girls are passive and serve merely as backdrops. There is no indication of how they feel about being treated so shabbily by the boys. --Eunice Weech, M. L. King Elementary School, Urbana, IL

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780671869700
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
03/01/1994
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
514,455
Product dimensions:
7.48(w) x 10.96(h) x 0.44(d)
Lexile:
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

I could hear the sirens long before the trucks got there. When Mrs. Loy led the firemen around to the backyard, Mrs. Williams recognized one of them.

From the conversation above me, I figured out that she and he had gone to high school together. She wanted to visit with him about old times and see if he had heard from old so-and-so or if he knew where what's-his-name was living now.

I was lucky because the firemen got me out of the fence before the guy who knew Mrs. Williams took time to visit with her.

The men lifted the fence off my neck.

"Lie still until we check for possible neck or spinal injuries," one of them told me.

But before the firemen even got the words out, I had scrambled to my feet.

The men sort of looked me over. They checked my head and my shoulders and the back of my neck where the wire had poked me.

"He's not hurt," one of the firemen said. "Just a few scratches and a couple of shallow puncture wounds."

Kent and José patted me on the shoulders, glad that I was free.

"Should we take him to the doctor?" Mrs. Loy asked.

"Nah," the other fireman answered. "Little hydrogen peroxide ought to fix him up fine. You probably should call his mother and let her know what happened. Have her check to make sure he's had a tetanus shot in the past few years. That's about all."

Jabbering away, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Loy walked the men toward the front of the house and back to their truck. The girls moved toward the pool. I swear they kept glancing back at me and giggling. The guys all clumped around me, asking if I was hurt or if I was scared and stuff like that. That's when Neal walked up.

"Just like you, Berry," he scoffed. "Always pulling dumb stunts. You're the biggest klutz in the whole state."

I tried to ignore him. "I'm fine," I assured the rest of the guys. Then, trying to move around Neal, I said, "Let's finish the game."

Only, Neal moved between me and where Kent had dropped the football.

"You're always getting hurt. Every year you end up getting stitches or breaking something. Not only are you fat, you're clumsy, too!"

A flash of red clouded my vision. My fists clenched at my side. My teeth ground together so hard, I thought the new filling Dr. Smith put in last week was going to pop out and hit Neal right in the eye. I wish it had. Then I caught myself.

Neal was a fantastic athlete. He lifted weights. He was slim and had muscles. If I hit him, he'd probably beat the tar out of me — right here, in front of the guys...and Tiffany Williams. So I made my fists relax. I forced my teeth apart so I could breathe again.

"Let's finish the game," I repeated.

Neal side stepped again, and I couldn't get around him.

"Summer before last, you got your leg broke when you jumped out of a tree. The year before that, you broke your arm falling off your bike — "

"Now wait a minute," José said, scooting between us. "Pat didn't fall off his bike. We were headed to the show and that dumb college kid in the little Honda cut right in front of us. It was his fault, not ours. I was just lucky I didn't get something broke, too.

I moved over, trying to get to the football.

Neal shoved Jose and cut me off again.

"And last summer you had to have five stitches in your forehead, and — "

José pushed between us. He kind of bumped Neal back with his chest.

"That wasn't Pat's fault, either. He was bending over picking up some dog food that he spilled. His dad didn't see him when he opened the storm door to throw the cat out."

Neal's eyes grew tight as he glared at my friend.

"How about the tree?"

José shrugged.

"Well...we got sheets off the water bed for parachutes...and...well...Okay, so jumping out of that tree was dumb, but the rest of the stuff...well, that wasn't Pat's fault."

Neal practically knocked José out of the way. José started for him. He wasn't scared of Neal like I was. I reached out and caught José's arm.

Neal got right in my face. "You're a klutz, Pat Berry. I thought your sissy dance lessons were supposed to make you graceful, coordinated."

When he said that, I knew the bit about Twinkletoes Fairy was coming next. Back in fourth grade, we were playing football at Neal's when I made the mistake of telling the guys I had to leave so I wouldn't miss dance class. Ever since, I've wished a million times that I'd never said that in front of Neal.

Sure enough, and so loud that not only the guys but the whole neighborhood could hear, Neal blurted out:

"Fat Pat Berry, the Twinkletoes Fairy!" Then he added: "He's the biggest klutz in fifth grade!"

Bobby Blaton patted Neal on the shoulder. "Fat Pat Berry, the Twinkletoes Fairy," he laughed; "That's one of the greatest nicknames you ever came up with, Neal. It fits old Pat like a glove."

Neal laced his thumbs in his belt loops and rocked back on his heels.

"Yeah, Fat Pat Berry was a good name for him," he agreed. "But I'm changing it." He cupped a hand to the side of his mouth. "Hear, ye! Hear, ye!" he called out like one of the town criers we studied when we did the unit on British history last year. "From this day forward, let it be known that Pat Berry has been given a new name. Fat Pat Berry is now — The Klutz!"

Neal had been looking over at the girls, making sure they heard him, and embarrassing me as much as he could. His eyes narrowed when he turned to me. "I bet a thousand dollars you can't get through the summer without breaking something or getting stitches. You're a total klutz!"

It was more than I could take. My fists tightened up again. If only he hadn't said the Fat Pat Berry stuff with Tiffany standing there in her hot-pink bikini. I forced my hands open. I couldn't hit him. He'd kill me. Still, I couldn't let his challenge go. I had to do something.

I took a deep breath.

"Bet I can!"

Copyright © 1992 by Bill Wallace

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