The Four Ugly Cats in Apartment 3D

The Four Ugly Cats in Apartment 3D

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Overview

The Four Ugly Cats in Apartment 3D by Marilyn Sachs, Rosanne Litzinger

Mr. Freeman, the old grump who lives in apartment 3D, is the meanest man in Lily's building. That's what Lily thinks, until she forgets her key and has to knock on his door. It's the first time anyone other than Mr. Freeman has been inside 3D, and the first time Lily meets his four ugly cats.

When Mr. Freeman dies, no one wants to help find his cats good homes. They'll all be sent to the S.P.C.A. unless Lily can find them places to live in the next three days. But who would want a bunch of loud, scraggly cats? Mr. Freeman loved them, and he helped Lily when she had nowhere else to go, so she's determined to save his cats!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689863530
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: 10/01/2003
Series: Ready-for-Chapters Series
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.30(d)
Lexile: 460L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Mr. Freeman in Apartment 3D was nice to me once.

That was a year ago, when I was ten.

My name is Lily. I take care of myself when my mother is working. Which is most of the time.

I didn't know that day about my key until I arrived home from school. I looked for it in my backpack. It wasn't in my backpack. I looked for it in my coat pocket. It wasn't in my coat pocket. It was still inside on the kitchen table.

I rang Mrs. Hernandez's bell in 3A. She always says I can ring her bell if I need anything. Sometimes she gives me milk and cookies even if I don't need anything. Mrs. Hernandez wasn't home.

Then I rang Mr. Kaspian's bell in 3C. He isn't as friendly as Mrs. Hernandez. But he isn't unfriendly, either. He didn't answer. I rang it again. He still didn't answer.

The only other person on our floor was Mr. Freeman in 3D. But I never for a moment thought of ringing Mr. Freeman's bell. Mr. Freeman was mean, unfriendly, and nasty. He was also loud, especially when he argued with Mrs. Hernandez or Mr. Kaspian. He was ugly, too. And he had four ugly cats who were just as loud as he was. You could hear them yowling any time you stood outside on our floor. Day or night. Like that very minute.

So there I was with nobody home in my house, and neither of my two neighbors home, and the four ugly cats in apartment 3D yowling away. I felt lonely and very scared. This had seldom ever happened to me before. I flopped down in front of my apartment, 3B, and started crying. Maybe I was kind of loud, because soon Mr. Freeman opened his door.

"Why are you making all that noise?" he shouted.

"Because I forgot my key." I sniffled. "And Mrs. Hernandez and Mr. Kaspian are not home."

"Well, stop that racket! Right now!" He slammed his door very loud.

I went right on crying. But not so loud. It must have been loud enough, because after awhile, Mr. Freeman opened his door again.

"Didn't I tell you to stop that noise?" he bellowed. "And where's your mother, anyway?"

"She's working," I told him. "And she won't be home until six. So I'll have to sit here until she comes home, because I forgot my key, and Mrs. Hernandez — "

"I know, I know. You told me." But this time he didn't slam his door. He stood there, watching me. "So what would Mrs. Hernandez do for you and that loudmouth, Kaspian, if they were home?"

"They would let me wait in their apartment. Mrs. Hernandez would give me cookies and milk." I sniffed. "Mr. Kaspian would tell me to watch TV."

"He never turns it off," Mr. Freeman said. "He plays it so loud, I can't get any rest." He continued to stand in his doorway and watch me cry.

"All right! All right! Stop that racket!" he finally said in a cranky voice. "You can come inside and wait here. Come on. But don't bother my cats!"

I stopped crying and jumped right up. Nobody on our floor had ever gone into Mr. Freeman's apartment. I picked up my backpack and followed him inside.

I could hear the four cats yowling.

"I'm coming. I'm coming," he said, hurrying down the hall.

All four of them were waiting in the kitchen. They were standing beside four bowls of water and four empty bowls.

"This is when I feed them," Mr. Freeman said. "Every day at three-thirty sharp. Go sit over at the table, and don't scare them."

I sat on a chair full of cat hair and watched Mr. Freeman open four cans of cat food and dump the food into the four empty bowls. The cats stopped yowling and began eating.

"They're hungry," Mr. Freeman said, almost smiling.

"I'm hungry too," I told him. "Usually I have a snack when I come home from school."

"What do you eat?" Mr. Freeman asked, wrinkling up his ugly face. I saw him looking at the empty cans of cat food.

"Not cat food," I said. "I like cookies or apples or ice cream."

"I don't have cookies or apples or ice cream," he said.

"Well, I also like chips or candy or pretzels."

Mr. Freeman opened his refrigerator and looked inside. "I don't have chips or candy or pretzels."

I stood up and looked over Mr. Free-man's shoulder into his refrigerator. It was nearly empty except for a can of tomato soup, a few eggs, and some dried-up cheese. It didn't smell good.

"Never mind," I told him. "I'm not really hungry anymore."

I sat down again and watched the cats.

"I don't know," Mr. Freeman said, shaking his head. "I don't know what children like to eat. I never had any children."

"The cats like their food," I said.

Mr. Freeman closed the refrigerator door. "Except for him," he said, pointing to one of the cats, a black one. "He doesn't eat enough."

I looked at the black cat who seemed to me to be gobbling down his food faster than the others. "He's eating a lot today," I said.

"But he always leaves some over. And he's too skinny. I haven't had him as long as the others, and I'm still not sure what he likes to eat. I worry about him."

"Where did he come from?"

Mr. Freeman sat down on the one other chair at the table. He had a rough, wrinkled face with a big, red nose. "He's an alley cat. They all are. Each one of them. One by one, they showed up on my fire escape, and when I opened the window, they came in and never left. Except for him, the black one. He likes to go out. Sometimes he stays out for weeks. But this has been such a cold winter — the coldest one I remember in San Francisco. So he's been hanging around more. The important thing is he always comes back sooner or later. All of them know they have a home with me."

The black cat was the first one finished and, sure enough, he left some of his food in his bowl. He jumped up on Mr. Freeman's lap and glared at me out of one eye.

"He only has one eye," I said.

"That's right. Who knows how it happened, but you can be sure he hasn't had an easy time. Poor thing!" said Mr. Freeman in a very loving voice, stroking the cat who finally stretched out on his lap. Then, one by one, the other cats finished eating and jumped up into Mr. Freeman's lap also. He had room for all of them. "They're my family," said Mr. Freeman.

After that, I never had to stay in Mr. Freeman's apartment again. Either Mrs. Hernandez or Mr. Kaspian was home if I forgot my key. But Mr. Freeman used to nod if he passed me in the hall, and once he gave me a book. It was all about cats. I didn't bother reading it.

When Mr. Freeman died suddenly, everybody on our floor was surprised.

"The meanest man in the world!" said Mrs. Hernandez. "I figured he was going to live forever, he was so mean."

"I was just talking to him," said Mr. Kaspian. "To tell the truth, I was talking, and he was shouting. I was just telling him in a nice, calm voice that if he didn't stop his cats from yowling all night long, I was going to call the police. He started shouting. He called me names — I won't even repeat them. There was certainly nothing the matter with his lungs."

"Who?" said my mother. "I don't think I ever even saw him." My mother doesn't know any of the neighbors. She's never home because she works so many jobs.

Mr. Apple, the landlord, said that Mr. Freeman did not seem to have any family. "So," he said, "I'm going to call the S.P.C.A. right away and tell them to come and take away the cats."

"Good!" said Mr. Kaspian.

"Good!" said Mrs. Hernandez.

"Cats?" said my mother, sneezing. "I didn't realize anybody on this floor had cats."

"No!" I said to all of them. "Don't call the S.P.C.A. They'll take away the cats and kill them."

"Who cares?" said Mrs. Hernandez. "Nobody would want those cats. They're the ugliest, nosiest, meanest cats I ever saw."

"Just like Mr. Freeman," said Mr. Kaspian. "Especially that big, fat, orange one. He's the worst."

"But Mr. Freeman loved those cats,"

I told them. "They were like his family. It's not fair to kill them just because he's dead."

"Will you take them?" Mr. Apple asked.

"No!" said my mother, sneezing. "I'm allergic to cats. Absolutely not!"

"I guess not," I told Mr. Apple. "But I could go into Mr. Freeman's apartment every day and feed them."

"He's paid up until the first of March," Mr. Apple said. "That's three days from today. After that, I call the S.P.C.A."

So I had three days to find homes for four cats. But first, I had to feed them. Mr. Apple gave me the key to Mr. Freeman's apartment.

"There's nothing in there anybody would want," he said. "Some broken-down furniture, and a pile of old papers. You have three days."

Text copyright © 2002 by Marilyn Sachs Illustrations copyright © 2002 by rosanne Litzinger

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