Maybelle is a lovely, plump cockroach. She lives in her own cozy little home under the refrigerator of Mr. and Mrs. Peabody. Maybelle knows it's best to stay hidden away, but she simply adores food. Just once she would love to taste something yummy before it hits the floor!
When the Peabodys invite a Very Important Guest for dinner, Maybelle can't resist. She takes a teeny tasteand splashes into the biggest adventure of her life!
About the Author
KATIE SPECK grew up in New Orleans and now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with a husband, a daughter, an assortment of pets, and a bug or two. Maybelle in the Soup is her first book.
PAUL RÁTZ DE TAGYOS went to Parsons School of Design quite some time ago. He is the author/illustrator of several books for children. He lives in New Rochelle, New York, with neither fleas nor roaches (he swears).
Read an Excerpt
Maybelle in the Soup
By Katie Speck, Paul Rátz de Tagyos
MacmillanCopyright © 2007 Katie Speck
All rights reserved.
Maybelle was a lovely, plump cockroach. She lived with Myrtle and Herbert Peabody at Number 10 Grand Street, in her own cozy little home under the refrigerator.
The Peabodys liked everything to be JUST SO. "No dust, no mess, and absolutely, positively NO BUGS!" Mrs. Peabody was fond of saying.
Maybelle was not welcome, but she was a sensible cockroach. She obeyed The Rules: When it's light, stay out of sight; if you're spied, better hide; and, most important of all, never meet with human feet. The Peabodys didn't know they shared their kitchen with a bug.
Maybelle was sensible, but she loved food. And she wanted the good stuff. "I'm tired of crumbs and spills. I want tasty leftovers on a plate."
"Don't even think about it, kiddo," said her friend Henry the Flea. Henry lived and dined on the Peabodys' cat, Ramona. "If the Peabodys see you, they'll call the Bug Man. Then you'll be in a pickle."
"I might like a pickle, perhaps a pickle relish or pickled pigs' feet or —"
"We can't have exactly what we want," Henry said. "The Peabodys think dogs are messy, so I have to settle for a cat. Ramona bathes all day. I'm always wet. We've got to make the best of what we have, Maybelle."
Maybelle didn't think that making the best of what she had sounded very interesting. Just once she wanted to taste food before it hit the floor.
And that is how this story begins. Because a cockroach may not get exactly what a cockroach wants, but you can't blame her for trying.CHAPTER 2
A Very Special Dinner
On Saturday, the Peabodys got ready for Very Important Guests. Mr. and Mrs. H. William Snodgrass were coming to dine. Everything had to be JUST SO.
Mr. Peabody set the dining room table with the best silver and china. Mrs. Peabody worked all day on a Very Special Dinner. The kitchen was full of wonderful smells.
Maybelle and Henry watched from under the refrigerator as Mrs. Peabody's dreadful big feet moved around the kitchen.
"Have you ever tasted a foot, Henry?" Maybelle thought about this sort of thing a lot.
"No way!" Henry said. "Humans may not notice a flea on their pets, but if a flea bites a foot, the Bug Man comes. I'll stick to my cat."
"I could sneak out for a little dinner before the guests arrive," Maybelle said. "I'd be very careful, Henry. I only want a teensy taste of the soup I smell. Mock turtle, Mrs. Peabody calls it."
"Mind your business, Maybelle," Henry said. "Stick to crumbs and spills."
Just then, Ramona's four furry feet appeared beside Mrs. Peabody's two big ones. "Well, there's my dinner," Henry said cheerfully, and off he hopped.
Maybelle sat by herself under the refrigerator and wondered, What would it be like to eat mock turtle soup right out of a bowl?CHAPTER 3
Ding-dong! At six o'clock the Peabodys' Very Important Guests arrived.
The Peabodys were all dressed up to greet them. Mr. Peabody was wearing a few hairs carefully combed over his shiny head. Mrs. Peabody was wearing false eyelashes. They were long and thick and made a little breeze when she blinked. Both Peabodys were JUST SO.
Maybelle heard the H. William Snodgrasses exclaiming over the beautiful table in the dining room. She watched Mrs. Peabody's feet clomping in and out of the kitchen. She smelled the soup that sat in a bowl on the kitchen counter. And she wanted a taste.
When Mrs. Peabody went into the dining room with the salad, Maybelle couldn't be a sensible cockroach any longer. She broke the First Rule: When it's light, stay out of sight. She scurried out into the bright kitchen, then climbed onto the counter, crawled up the side of the china tureen, and looked down at the soup. She didn't see a turtle, but, oh, the beautiful brown broth and the lovely tomatoes and the —
At that very moment the kitchen door swung open. Mrs. Peabody hurried in. Maybelle was so startled that she lost her balance and teetered for a moment on the edge of the tureen. Then — Plop! Splash! — she fell into the soup!CHAPTER 4
Maybelle in the Soup
Maybelle was going to be in terrible trouble if Mrs. Peabody saw her floating in the mock turtle soup. But then she remembered the Second Rule: If you're spied, better hide. She took a deep breath and went under.
Maybelle held her breath while Mrs. Peabody carried the big china tureen into the dining room. She held her breath while Mrs. Peabody put the tureen in the middle of the table. She held her breath while Mrs. Peabody ladled soup into four small bowls.
"This looks quite wonderful," Mrs. Snodgrass said, sniffing daintily at her bowl. "Everything in your home really is JUST SO."
"Why, of course it is." Mrs. Peabody smiled sweetly.
Maybelle held her breath while Mrs. Snodgrass picked up her spoon, dipped it into her soup, raised it to her lips and —
Maybelle couldn't hold her breath another instant. She stood up in the spoon with a gasp and found herself nose to nose with Mrs. Snodgrass!
With a yelp, Mrs. Snodgrass tossed her spoon into the air. "Eeeeee! Eeeeee! A bug in my soup! Oh, disgusting! I might have eaten it!"
Maybelle sailed through the air and landed on the butter dish. A nasty human face had almost eaten her! She began scrambling around the table in a panic.
The room filled with squeals and shouts. Humans swatted at Maybelle with their napkins. The Peabodys' best plates and glasses crashed to the floor.
"It's a roach!"
"Smash the bug!"
Maybelle was so frightened that she fluttered from the tablecloth onto Mr. Peabody's shiny head. "Yuck!" Mr. Peabody cried and flicked her onto the front of Mrs. Snodgrass's dress.
"Yeeeee!" Mrs. Snodgrass screeched and swatted Maybelle high into the air. The humans yipped and hopped and overturned chairs in a rush to get out of the dining room before she landed.
When they were gone, the dining room was quiet. Maybelle found herself clinging to the chandelier and looking down on what was left of the Very Special Dinner.CHAPTER 5
A Bug on a Rug
Maybelle had never seen such a sight — not tiny crumbs and dried spills, but great globs of tasty leftovers. Nothing was on a plate. Still, it was almost exactly what she wanted!
Maybelle dropped from the chandelier to the rug and rushed about trying everything — a chunk of blue cheese on a slimy lettuce leaf, a gooey lump of chopped goose liver, a smear of sweet butter with a shoe print in it.
Near the sideboard where Mrs. Peabody had put her special dessert, Maybelle found the best thing of all — whipped cream! One teeny taste and she forgot herself entirely. She plunged in all the way up to her second set of legs.
She couldn't see Ramona crouched over her. She couldn't hear Henry shout from the cat's right ear, "Look out, Maybelle!"
WHACK! Ramona's paw shot out and gave Maybelle a hard knock that sent her skidding across the rug. WHACK! Ramona sent her spinning in the other direction. Maybelle was so frightened that she could only flutter wildly. Ramona batted her one way and then the other.
"Run home! Run home!" Henry shouted.
With Ramona close behind, Maybelle ran as fast as her six legs could carry her. She scrambled across the dining room and through the kitchen. She fled to the safety of her home.
But she'd eaten too much. No matter how she struggled, she couldn't squeeze her belly through the narrow crack under the refrigerator.
Maybelle's desperate bottom stuck out into the kitchen. Ramona grabbed it and pulled.
Maybelle fainted.CHAPTER 6
A Surprise for Mrs. Peabody
It was just as well that Maybelle didn't know where she was. Ramona carried the stunned bug in her sharp white teeth up the stairs and down the hall to the Peabodys' bedroom. A plump cockroach makes a fine gift.
In the bedroom, Mrs. Peabody was sitting up in bed with an ice pack on her head, weeping into a handkerchief.
"My lovely dinner party spoiled by a revolting cockroach!" she sobbed.
Mr. Peabody patted her arm. "Now, my dear. You mustn't upset yourself. Look who has come to cheer you up." Ramona stood proudly at the door with something in her mouth.
"Oh, Mama's angel! Mama's little comfort! Come to me, Precious!" Mrs. Peabody cried.
Ramona leaped up on the coverlet, put Maybelle down on her mistress's lap, and waited to hear what a very clever cat she was.
Meanwhile, Maybelle was waking from her faint. She lay on her back with her eyes squeezed shut and began gently waving her legs in the air to see if she was dead.
Mrs. Peabody didn't have on her glasses. She leaned close to Maybelle. "What has my angel brought Mama?" She squinted and leaned closer, her nose almost touching Maybelle. Maybelle waved her legs — and Mrs. Peabody saw. She began to scream.
Maybelle and Ramona both sailed through the air as Mrs. Peabody leaped from the bed.
"Roaches everywhere! Do something, Herbert!" She clutched her nightgown around her and scrambled onto the top of the dressing table.
Maybelle froze on the rug at the foot of the bed, too frightened to move. Mr. Peabody began throwing things at her. Hairbrushes, pictures, and books rained down.
"Oh for heaven's sake! Just step on the thing, Herbert," Mrs. Peabody said sternly from the dressing table.
Mr. Peabody lifted his big foot high over Maybelle. She'd broken the Third Rule. She was about to meet with human feet in a most unfortunate way. She was going to be squashed.
Instead she heard Mr. Peabody shout, "Ouch, I've been bitten! We have fleas, too!" He was so busy scratching his ankle that Maybelle had time to scramble under the bed.
"This will not do!" Mr. Peabody bellowed. "We'll call the Bug Man first thing in the morning."CHAPTER 7
Henry Hatches a Plan
"Hello, Bug Man!" Henry said, joining Maybelle under the bed.
Maybelle began to cry.
"On the other hand," said Henry, "that was pretty exciting. We've had an Adventure."
"Some adventure. The Bug Man will spray us," Maybelle howled.
Henry frowned and thought for a moment. Then his tiny face cleared. "We won't be here, kiddo. Problem solved."
"Where will we be?" Maybelle sniffed.
"The Peabodys think bug spray is smelly. They'll leave for a day or two when the Bug Man comes. You hide in a suitcase tonight. In the morning you'll be off on a little vacation."
"What's a vacation?"
"Wait and see," Henry said.
"What about you?" Maybelle fretted.
"I'll be on vacation, too. Ramona goes where the Peabodys go. The Peabodys will go to a hotel. You'll like the hotel. They put chocolates on the pillows at night."
"Really? Chocolates on the pillows?" Maybelle cheered up. "You saved my life, Henry."
"Forget it," Henry said. "I've always wanted to bite a foot."
"How did it taste?" Maybelle was starting to feel hungry again.
"I would have preferred a golden retriever."
"Tell me more about the chocolates on the pillows," Maybelle said. The two friends talked late into the night, about chocolates and dogs and other tasty things.
The next morning Mrs. Peabody's suitcase was packed and ready by the front door. Arranged inside JUST SO were a skirt and blouse, a dressing gown, a makeup bag, and a pair of pink underpants with a lovely, plump cockroach hiding underneath.CHAPTER 8
Mrs. Peabody opened her suitcase in Room 1010 of the Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel was even more JUST SO than the Peabodys' house — no dust, no mess, no bugs, and a sign in the lobby that said ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO GENTLEMEN WITHOUT COAT AND TIE. Maybelle and Henry were most definitely not welcome.
While the Peabodys unpacked, Maybelle crept under the bed to wait for Henry. Maybelle hadn't thought about anything but chocolate since the night before. Henry would tell her how to get it.
Maybelle waited and waited. While she waited, she listened to the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Peabody.
"I've had such a shock, Herbert," Mrs. Peabody whined. "My Very Special Dinner was ruined. And to think that there are nasty bugs in our house!"
"Not for long, my dear Myrtle. The Bug Man will take care of that. You can have another dinner party, a perfect one. In the meantime, we'll spend the evening right here at the Grand Hotel. We'll get just exactly what we want at the finest dining room in town. We'll forget all about bugs."
With that, the Peabodys left.
Maybelle sat alone in the dark under the bed. Was this the vacation that Henry had promised? Where was the chocolate? Where was Henry?CHAPTER 9
"Hi there, kiddo!" Henry said, bounding cheerfully over the carpet.
"Henry! I thought you would never get here!"
"Sorry, Maybelle. I dozed off on Ramona. I like to nap after a good meal."
"Well, I haven't had a good meal since last night," Maybelle said, feeling grumpy. "When will the chocolate come?"
"Any time now, kiddo."
And while they watched from the darkness under the bed, a housekeeper bustled in. She smoothed the bedspread and turned down the sheets and placed a small piece of chocolate on each pillow. Then she left as quickly as she had come.
"Enjoy!" said Henry. "But watch out for Ramona."
Maybelle crept out from under the bed. There was no sign of the cat, so she climbed up the bedspread and peeked over the edge. There were chocolates on the pillows, all right. But between the pillows, Ramona was settled in for a catnap!
Ramona was a scary sight. But, oh, the lovely chocolates! Very slowly, Maybelle inched up the bedspread, hardly daring to breathe.
The cat snored softly as Maybelle reached the pillows. Then, with Maybelle a whisker's length away, Ramona twitched and stretched out a paw. Great hooked claws flashed in front of Maybelle's face! But the cat continued to snore.
When her heart stopped pounding, Maybelle threw herself on the chocolate. It smelled delicious. But there was something wrong — she couldn't taste it. It was wrapped!
"Wrapped!" she wailed once she was back under the bed with Henry. "You didn't tell me the chocolate was wrapped! What good is a hotel if you can't eat the chocolate?"
"I didn't know it would be wrapped," Henry said. "I never eat the stuff myself. But I'll make it up to you."
"How, Henry?" Maybelle was feeling sorry for herself.
"At hotels they have a thing called room service. Humans can stay right in their rooms and have meals brought up to them. When they're finished, they put their plates out in the hall. I've seen some things that would interest you on those plates, Maybelle."
"But won't it be dangerous in the hall? A human might see me. I might be squashed!"
"I'll come with you," Henry said. "I don't take chances at home, but we're on vacation. We're supposed to do things we wouldn't do at home. In fact," he added, his legs beginning to twitch with excitement, "I saw a French poodle go into the next room. I've always wanted to try one of those!"
And so the two friends squeezed under the door of Room 1010 and into the hushed hallway of the Grand Hotel.CHAPTER 10
Maybelle on Wheels
Out in the hall, Maybelle saw what she'd always dreamed about — not crumbs and spills on the carpet but tasty leftovers on plates! What a grand hotel! Maybelle thought. She felt like a guest.
"I'm off to try some French food," Henry said. "See you back in our room before morning." And away he went to find his poodle, in great happy hops.
Maybelle hardly knew where to begin. There were plates up and down the hall. She wanted to nibble a bit from each one. Should she begin with the closest or the farthest? A cockroach on vacation has such lovely choices!
Maybelle was just about to make up her mind when she saw something that sent her heart racing: Two big shoes with a waiter in them were coming down the hall! The waiter was humming a little tune and piling all the plates on a cart.
Maybelle jumped into a green-bean casserole, and not a moment too soon. With a great clatter, the waiter picked up the plate where she hid and shoved it onto his cart. Then off he went.
Under the green beans, Maybelle wondered where she was going. How would she get back to Room 1010? Would she ever see her friend Henry again?CHAPTER 11
Eat and Be Eaten
The cart rolled and clattered along the hall, into the elevator, down to the first floor, and through a pair of swinging doors. They opened into the busiest room in the hotel — the kitchen.
This room was full of light and humans and feet. Humans tossed salads, stirred sauces, chopped vegetables, made bread. Everyone hurried.
And the noise! Spoons scraped, pots banged, blenders whirred, and the sharp blades of a garbage disposal roared in the sink.
Maybelle wanted to stay hidden under her pile of green beans — she'd tasted worse — but someone was rinsing the food on the plates into the sink.
Maybelle felt a rush of fear. The terrible mouth of the garbage disposal opened wide. A garbage disposal was going to eat her!
When her dish was held under the faucet, she tried to hang on to it, but she was slippery with butter from the green beans. SWOOSH! Off she went down the drain.
Excerpted from Maybelle in the Soup by Katie Speck, Paul Rátz de Tagyos. Copyright © 2007 Katie Speck. Excerpted by permission of Macmillan.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Bug Dreams,
2. A Very Special Dinner,
3. Soup's On,
4. Maybelle in the Soup,
5. A Bug on a Rug,
6. A Surprise for Mrs. Peabody,
7. Henry Hatches a Plan,
8. Where's Henry?,
9. Under Wraps,
10. Maybelle on Wheels,
11. Eat and Be Eaten,
12. Hello Again!,
14. Home Sweet Home,
GOFISH: Questions for the Author,
Maybelle Goes to Tea,
About the Authors,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Maybelle is quite the unexpected endearing character, a chubby cockroach who loves herself some gourmet dishes. She knows that she should resist, for safety and just because, but Maybelle cannot resist the temptation to find her way onto the table when she learns that a Very Important Guest will be coming to dinner. All manner of chaos ensues when the diners realize they have an additional, most unwelcome guest. The lively and comedic illustrations bring the hijinx and pratfalls to life, evoking gigles in the most serious of readers. This delightful short chapter book will delight readers of all ages.
My kids and I giggled through the whole book, and laughed so hard in a few spots we had to put it down to compose ourselves. The comedy is so physical you can almost see it as a movie, and the illustrations add a whole new light to it. This is more than a story about a bug. It's a story about setting goals and going for it, as well as a tale about friendship and loyalty. Maybelle is one book I can read again and again to my kids.
This is a wonderful book. I read this book aloud to all my kids ages 1-14 years while waiting in a restraunt. All of them loved it, and wanted to read more books about Maybelle. Unfortunatly there is only one more book about Maybelle out there, but it is very hard to find, and so far we have not been able to get our hands on it.
I recently found myself giggling when I read "Maybelle in the Soup" by Katie Speck. This book is a recent Bluebonnet Award Winner and is intended for children in grades 3-6, but would be enjoyed by all. It has short easy to read chapters and detailed illustrations. Maybelle is a precious cockroach that lives under the refrigerator of the Peabody's home. Her best friend and companion is Henry, a flea that inhabits their cat Ramona. Maybelle knows all the bug rules including not to be seen in the light, stay away from feet, and to run and hide if you are seen. However in her quest for fresh food that is not leftovers (particularly the delightful smelling mock turtle soup), she forgets all the rules and trouble ensues during a visit from Very Important Guests. Well, Maybelle is found out and the Peabody's hire the exterminator to come spray the house. They decide to stay at a hotel while the house is fumigated and just for fun Maybelle and Henry decide to join them on their mini vacation. Maybelle encounters fabulous foods like she has never seen before in the hotel and causes even more trouble. Will Maybelle and Henry make it home? Will things go back to the way they were? Read this cute book and find out. This story makes cockroaches and fleas seem endearing and likeable. It almost makes me want to have them as a guest in my home.