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About the Author
Stephen Gilpin graduated from the NYC School of Visual Arts where he studied painting and cartooning. He is the illustrator of the Who Shrunk Daniel Funk series and The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy series. Stephen currently lives in Hiawatha, Kansas. Visit him at SGilpin.com.
Read an Excerpt
Hey, welcome to my prologue.
Don't worry, it's pretty short. I'm just going to tell you three things you need to know before you read this book, and then we're out of here. Ready?
Number One. A diorama is NOT the same as diarrhea.
Let's be very, very clear about this all-important difference. A diorama is in no way related to diarrhea. The two words are not even distant cousins.
A diorama is something that shows a scene that happened in history, like the first guy walking on the moon or the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. Personally, I like to build my dioramas out of shoe boxes. You know, throw in a couple of Lego guys with swords and maybe some leaves or dirt and bamo-slamo, you've got yourself an instant diorama. Some kids, mostly of the girl variety, go all out with fluorescent paints and pipe cleaners and glitter and feathers and stuff. Take my little sister Goldie. She glued clumps of real broccoli onto poster board to make Robin Hood's forest. And my other sister, Lark, made a herd of African antelopes out of hair from a squirrel's tail.
If you ask me, and I know you didn't, that's diorama insanity.
Now diarrhea, on the other hand, is something entirely different. It doesn't illustrate anything from history, that's for sure. I don't want to gross you out with too many details, because we're only in the prologue and not even in the real book yet. So let me just say that diarrhea involves a toilet and an upset stomach and some highly unusual body sounds.
In this book, you'll never want to confuse a diorama with diarrhea. Enough said.
Number Two. I shrink. Not all the time, but way more than your average sixth grader. Since last Wednesday, I've shrunk to the size of the fourth toe on my left foot seven times. Eight, if you count that time I fell in the toilet, although I refuse to count that because I'm trying to forget it ever happened. Hey, you try swimming in a toilet bowl and see how much you want to remember it.
Number Three. I have a twin brother named Pablo who is exactly as big as the fourth toe on my left foot. He doesn't grow or shrink, just stays his same old toe-sized self. I only discovered him last Wednesday, when I shrunk for the first time. He's been around my whole life, but I never knew it. My Great Granny Nanny, who is the only other person who knows about him, tells me he was born in my ear.
Wait a minute, are you laughing? Cut me a break, will you? I mean, at least try to be a little sensitive to my situation here. If you told me that you had a secret twin brother named Pablo who was the size of your toe and hatched in your ear, I wouldn't laugh.
Okay, maybe I would. But I would try not to.
So there you have it...just like I promised. Three things you need to know and we're done. Prologue over. Listen, I hope it wasn't too funky for you. I've certainly been known to push the funk-o-meter to its limit. But that's how it is when you're Daniel Funk.
Oh yeah, that's me. What's up?
Text copyright © 2008 by Lin Oliver
"Daniel, you're disgusting!" my sister Goldie called out as she ran in the front door, letting it slam hard behind her.
"Thanks, Goldie. Nice to see you, too," I answered in my best be-nice-to-little-sister tone of voice.
I was kicking back on the living room couch, watching some sports highlights on the wide screen, just trying to enjoy my Sunday afternoon. Until the Goldie attack, that is.
"Daniel, we have to talk," Goldie said.
Of all the words in the English language, I think those four "we have to talk" are my least favorite. People like my sisters (if you can call them people) always say it when I'm in the middle of something great, like a TV show or a video game. And who wants to talk then? Definitely not me.
"Take a load off, Goldie," I said, scrunching my legs up to make a place for her at the end of the couch. "Sit down and check out what happened this week in sports."
I thought my offer was spectacularly nice. Sometimes the nice approach works with Goldie, and you can get her watching TV and nip the "we have to talk" thing in the bud. But lately that hasn't been working so well. Goldie is seven-and-a-half, and now all she wants to do is act like our two older sisters, Robin and Lark. She imitates everything they do. So it wasn't totally surprising when she came up with that "we have to talk" line. They say it at least a hundred times a day. And trust me, what they want to talk about is never anything interesting like baseball stats or classic comic books. Oh no, for them it's code for "Let's criticize Daniel."
My sisters are always telling me that I'm either disgusting or gross or weird or creepy. Or my hair looks like a bird's nest. Or I smell like cheese. Or I'm laughing too loud. Or there's liverwurst stuck in my teeth. Their hobby is pointing out things that are wrong with me. They can't stand to see me relax. Actually, they can't stand to see me, period.
"What do we have to talk about, Goldie?" I asked, without taking my eyes off the TV.
"About how disgusting you are," she said.
I quickly checked myself out to see what was so disgusting.
Could it be my breath? Certainly a possibility. I did have a tuna sandwich on garlic bread for lunch.
My feet? Definite likelihood. I confess, I had chosen my socks from Stinky Sock Mountain, the pile in my room where I keep what I like to call "gently used" socks.
My hair? Also a potential candidate for the disgusting list. I had worked up quite a head of sweat underneath my baseball cap at practice that morning.
Goldie marched herself in front of the TV, placing her body between me and the picture. I tried to look around her, but wherever I moved, she moved too.
"Furthermore...your friends are disgusting," she said, putting her hands on her hips.
I could tell she'd been at a meeting of her Girls Rainbow Club because she had a stupid rainbow painted on her cheek. Some club. A bunch of seven-year-old girls sit around by the canals where we live in Venice, California, and do rainbow dances and wear rainbow capes and take rainbow oaths. And they call that fun?
If you ask me, and I know you didn't, I think most girls' clubs are stupid. Clubs should have a point. Like, I'm in an after-school Simpsons Club, where my friends and I watch classic episodes of The Simpsons and eat snickerdoodle cookies. Now, that has a purpose. That's what I call a club.
"Be specific, Goldie. Exactly which of my friends is disgusting?"
"Your buddy, Vu. I just saw him and he said to tell you he's coming over soon."
Vu Tran is my best friend, who lives down the street. Most days, Goldie has a gigantic crush on him, so I was surprised that suddenly she thought he was disgusting. I mean, he does put a lot of gel in his hair to make it stick straight up, but other than that, I couldn't think of anything about him that was disgusting. I happen to know his parents make him wash his hands before and after every meal.
"What's so disgusting about Vu coming over?"
"He said he was coming here to work on your diarrhea. That is so totally disgusting."
"He didn't say that, Goldie."
"He did too. He looked right at me and said you guys were making some diarrhea together."
Okay, friends. Here's where I'm going to ask you to remember the prologue you just read, and the first very important point I made in it. If you recall, I strongly emphasized the difference between a diorama and diarrhea. I believe I was extremely clear about this.
Obviously, my sister Goldie had not picked up on this all-important difference. Which, by the way, is why it's crucial to read prologues. I rest my case.
"Goldie, Vu is coming over to work on our diorama," I explained.
"That isn't what he said, Daniel. My ears clearly heard him say that you guys were making diarrhea together."
Goldie wrinkled up her face so much that the orange and yellow stripes in her stupid cheek rainbow totally disappeared.
"It must have been Vu's accent, Goldie. You didn't understand him."
Even though Vu was born in California like me, his parents are from Vietnam and they speak English with an accent. Every now and then, I can hear a little of their accent when Vu talks.
"My ears do not lie," Goldie said. "They heard what they heard."
"It wouldn't make any sense for him to say that," I said, sighing. "People do not make diarrhea together. They make dioramas together. Which explains why we're having a diorama contest in my history class."
"You guys compete?" Goldie said. "That is so sick." She was refusing to get off the diarrhea thing, which is just like her. She can be so stubborn.
"And the winner gets to go to the All-City Diorama Competition."
"Whoever thought of that is the most disgusting person in the world," Goldie said, "even more disgusting than Brandon Ross, who eats from the garbage pail and picks his nose with a milk-carton straw."
"Goldfinch Dove Funk," I said, "your brain is stuck on this diarrhea thing and it's getting really annoying."
By the way, I only use her full name when she gets on my nerves. That goes for all of my sisters. I mean, if you had sisters whose names were Lark Sparrow, Robin Flamingo, and Goldfinch Dove, I promise that you would stay away from using their whole names too. It's pretty embarrassing when the entire world knows your mom is such a bird nut that she named her kids after the feathered little critters. I guess we're lucky she didn't name one of us White Rumped Sandpiper.
I sat up on the pink- and purple-flowered couch that takes up a lot of our living room, and pulled Goldie down next to me. (By the way, here's a tip: When you live in a house of six women, like me, you can complain all you want about having a purple- and pink-flowered couch, but it will get you exactly nowhere, so you might as well get used to it. Forget the cool black leather couch it's not happening.)
"Let me be specific, Golds," I said to her. "Vu is coming over to work on the diorama we are making about ancient Egypt."
"Oh," was all she said.
"It's going to be in a shoe box and will be something cool, like the tomb of an ancient king or a pyramid being built in the desert. Got it?"
She nodded her head.
"Okay, Daniel. I take it back," she said. "You're not disgusting."
"That's better," I said. And just to show her there were no hard feelings, I threw in a couple more details. "You know what, Golds? If we win and get picked to go to the All-City competition, Vu's parents are going to get us tickets to a Lakers game."
"Wow," she said, a big old smile spreading all over her freckled face. "Can I come too?"
"Since when are you a basketball fan?" I asked.
"I'm not. I hate basketball."
"So why do you want to go to the game?"
"I love watching the cheerleaders. Their outfits are sooooo cute."
All right, you guys. This is what it's like in my house. I live with people, girl-type people, who believe that the highlight of watching professional basketball one of the sweatiest, hardest, fastest, most competitive games in the world is checking out the miniskirts on the cheerleaders. Can you believe it?
"Goldie, tell me I didn't hear that. Tell me you didn't say cute outfits."
"I said it and I meant it," she said. "So can I come, Daniel? Please?"
"Then I take back what I took back," she said. "You are disgusting."
She got up from the couch, turned on her heel, and stomped out.
Sisters. I tell you, they never cut you a break.
Text copyright © 2008 by Lin Oliver