Meet Otis Dooda. Yes, that's his name. Go on and have a good laugh. He's heard it all before. He's been called things like Otis Poopy Stink and Otis Toilet Twinkie. That's right, yuck it up and get it out of your system. We'll wait.
All right then. This is the story of Otis and the Dooda family (including their rat named Smoochie) moving to New York City, and the incredibly strange, but true, things that happened to them. It all started with Otis getting cursed by a guy in a potted plant in their apartment building lobby, and then meeting a bunch of their neighbors, including a farting pony named Peaches who was disguised as a dog. And that was just the first day.
About the Author
Meet David Heatley. He drew all the pictures for Otis Dooda. When he's not writing songs or playing with Legos or daydreaming, he creates art for magazines, books, and Web sites all over the world, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Nickelodeon magazine. Otis Dooda is his first book for kids.
Read an Excerpt
Strange But True
By Ellen Potter, David Heatley
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2013 Ellen Potter
All rights reserved.
Okay, let's just get this over with. My name is Otis Dooda.
Go on. Laugh. I've heard it all before. People call me all sorts of things. When I was in kindergarten, kids called me Otis Doo-Doo. But as I got older, they got more creative. I've been called:
OTIS TOILET TWINKIE
OTIS CHEWBACCA CHUNKS
Finished laughing? No?
That's very mature of you.
Well, get it out of your system.
Done? Okay, let's move on.
Except for my name, I'm pretty "sort of." I'm sort of skinny and sort of short. I'm sort of good at soccer and sort of bad at math. In other words, I'm sort of average. I lived a sort of average life, too. But then, this summer, my father started a new job, which meant we all had to move to New York City. That's when my life became sort of crazy.
Everything I'm about to tell you is true.
Strange but true.CHAPTER 2
HOW I KNOW THAT MY BROTHER IS A DOOFUS
When our moving van pulled up in front of Tidwell Towers my mouth popped open. The apartment building we were going to live in was thirty-five stories tall and made of shiny white blocks. It looked exactly like it had been built out of giant white Lego bricks.
My older brother, Gunther, sneered at me. "You think it looks like it's built out of giant white Lego bricks, don't you?"
"Admit it, Lego Nerd," he said. He placed his foot on mine and started to press down.
"You're wrong," I said.
Gunther squashed my foot even more.
THEN WHY DID YOU SAY 'WHOA'?
"Because you remind me of a Clydesdale horse, with those big hairy feet of yours," I said.
Gunther's foot pressed down harder and he grinned. His teeth are really tiny. It's like his baby teeth never grew into his teenaged body. Much like his brains.
"Remove your hoof," I told him.
He pressed harder until I almost started to squeal.
Luckily, at that moment our dad said,
OKAY, EVERYBODY! GRAB A BOX.
THE DOODAS ARE MOVING IN!
I grabbed my backpack, which was stuffed with Lego bricks, comics, and Pokémon cards. I carried my most valuable item in my hand: a Lego lie detector, which I had just finished building the week before. It's made with Legos, a motor, and a wire connected to a tinfoil finger strap. It really works, too. The reason that I know this is that I tried it out on my mother. I hooked her up and asked her if she secretly thought Gunther was a giant doofus. She said, "Of course not," but the lie detector buzzed, which means she was lying. Then she turned all red in the face and took off the finger strap and said, "Let's not call each other doofuses, shall we?"
Mom examined Gunther and me before we went into the building. She mashed down my hair and she made Gunther put a cover over the cage of his pet rat, Smoochie. She's all excited about moving to the city, but she's worried that people will think we're a bunch of hillbillies. That's because we come from a dinky little town called Hog's Head. Plus, I think we may be hillbillies, because Gunther and I whiz off the back porch when the weather is nice.
The apartment building's glass doors slid open as we walked up to them. That was kind of cool, like we were moving into a Price Chopper Supermarket. In the building's lobby was a doorman. He was as burly as a football player. His head was totally bald and he had an earring in one ear. He looked like a nicely dressed pirate. Frankly, he was a little scary. But when my dad told him we were the Doodas he smiled. It was a wide flash of smile. I decided that I might like him.
"Welcome," he said. "My name is Julius. And these" — he held up a pair of shining keys and shook them — "are for apartment 35B."
"You mean we're going to live on the thirty-fifth floor?" I cried.
"Yup," Dad said.
"We were keeping that part a surprise," Mom said.
"Sweet!" said Gunther.
I think they were glad to see Gunther excited. When Dad first told us he got a new job in New York City and we were all moving, Gunther wasn't too happy about it. He has this girlfriend back in Hog's Head. Her name is Pandora. She picks at her scalp. Gunther picks at his pimples. They're like Romeo and Juliet, only more disgusting.
As for me, I was happy to be moving away from Hog's Head. A few months ago something really bad happened to me there. I'm not sure if I'm going to tell you about it or not.
We'll just see how things go.CHAPTER 3
THE CURSE OF POTTED PLANT GUY
At first, Gunther and I helped bring in the boxes from the van. But then we started to moan and groan, so Mom and Dad told us to just stay in the lobby and try not to kill each other.
While we were waiting, the building's glass door slid open and a woman walked into the lobby carrying a bag of groceries. She stopped suddenly, reached into her grocery bag, and pulled out a pack of bubble gum. Then she tossed it in the air and it landed — plink! — in a plastic Halloween jack-o'-lantern pail in the corner.
I hadn't noticed the pail before. It sat next to a tall potted plant with long, droopy leaves. I stared at that plant for a minute. There was something strange about it. Then I noticed a pair of eyes peering out from between the leaves, staring back at me. The first thing I thought was that this was some kind of flesh-eating plant, and it was looking at me like I was a four-foot-tall burrito.
But then I told myself, "Otis, flesh-eating plants don't have eyeballs. And that jack-o'-lantern pail is for trick-or- treating. So those eyeballs probably belong to some kid who is sitting in the plant's pot, trying to freak me out."
The glass doors slid open again and a guy walked into the lobby. He had two little poodles with him. Here's the funny thing. One poodle was dyed blue and the other one was dyed pink. They looked like they had fallen into a cotton candy machine. I felt sorry for those dogs, I tell you. But even though they looked all wimpy, they weren't. When they saw the kid in the potted plant, they made a mad lunge for him with their teeth snapping.
"Lola! Noodle! Behave yourselves," the man said as he dug into his pocket. Then he pulled out a quarter and tossed it into the Halloween pail.
Halloween was four months away.
And the kid in the potted plant didn't even say thank you. He just kept staring at me. Then I realized he wasn't really staring at me. He was actually staring at my Lego lie detector. Suddenly the kid's hand poked out from between the leaves of the potted plant. He pointed at my lie detector and then at his pumpkin pail.
It took me a moment to understand. He wanted me to put my lie detector into his pail.
"Are you out of your mind?" I cried. "Why would I do that? Forget it!"
Those eyes in the potted plant grew as narrow as coin slots. The kid pointed directly at me, only now he used his thumb and his pinkie to point. I just stared at those pointing fingers. I don't know why, but they kind of fascinated me. Then the fingers started to tremble.
Creepy, I thought.
Julius the doorman rushed toward us, screaming, "STOP! NOOOO!"
That's when it occurred to me that maybe I should be scared.
"Before the next full moon," the kid said in a voice that sounded like he needed to blow his nose, "you will break all your bones."
"Me?" I said. "You mean ME?"
Gunther laughed. "That little plant dude just cursed you!"
"Sorry," Julius said to me. "I couldn't stop him in time."
"Just because he says I'm going to break all my bones, doesn't mean it's going to happen," I said. Well, to be honest I sort of screeched it. The thing about me is that I freak out pretty easily. Plus, Julius was staring at me in this very tragic way, shaking his bald head.
"That's it, little man," Julius said to me. "Just put it out of your mind."
He gave my shoulder a quick squeeze.
I've seen that shoulder squeeze in movies. It's the shoulder squeeze people give to the guy who is about to walk into the Cave of Doom to fight the giant spider with the T. rex head and the mucus-dripping fangs. I'm sure you know which shoulder squeeze I mean.
I suddenly began to wonder how many bones were in my body.
"Oh yeee-aah!" Gunther said, stretching his arms wide and nodding happily. "This place is starting to grow on me already."CHAPTER 4
THE STINKY EYE
Now that I'd been cursed, living on the thirty-fifth floor didn't seem like such a good idea after all. And if that wasn't bad enough, guess what else we had? A balcony! My parents kept standing out on it saying, "Otis, come here! You HAVE to see this view!"
I didn't tell them about the curse. They would just say I'm freaking out over nothing.
Gunther loved every minute of it, of course. He kept saying things like, "Wow, if a person fell off that balcony, I bet they'd break every bone in their body. I wonder what bones sound like when they all break at once? Snappity-snap-snap? Or maybe one loud CRRRAAACK!"
Then he called Pandora and asked her to Google how many days until the next full moon. After a minute, he held up five fingers. And smiled at me.
* * *
After we had unpacked our stuff, my mom said that I had to put the moving boxes in the recycling room. The recycling room was at the other end of the thirty-fifth- floor hallway. It was fun at first. I raced up and down, dragging the smashed cartons. The narrow hallway made everything echo in this clanky way. It sounded like my feet were metal. So I started pretending that I was half human and half robot. I slammed my feet against the hallway floor keeping my legs all stiff like a robot. It made A LOT of noise. But I had to stop when an old lady poked her head out of an apartment door and gave me the Stink Eye.
I get the Stink Eye a lot from grown-ups. If you don't know what that is, it's when someone looks at you with this nasty expression on their face. It's like they just skip over the part where they yell at you and go straight to hating you.
Anyway, I growled at the lady. That's usually what I do when I get the Stink Eye. It makes grown-ups think that there might be something wrong with you. Besides just being annoying, I mean. The lady looked surprised, then quickly ducked back into her apartment and shut the door.
It took all the fun out of being half human, half robot though.
The next time I went out into the hallway with the smashed boxes, there was a redheaded kid standing by the elevators.
Remember when I told you that everything in this book is true? Here comes a part where you might think I'm lying. But I'm not. This kid was holding a long leash attached to a horse. Not a full-sized horse. It was one of those mini ones, like the size of a big dog. You couldn't see its head because it was covered with a huge plastic cone. It was the kind of cone they put on dogs' heads so that they won't bite their itchy bits. You could tell it was a horse, not a dog, though, because it had a long horse tail and tiny hooves.
This kid and I stared at each other very curiously.
"What's up with the horse?" I asked him.
"What horse?" he said.
"That one there," I said, pointing to the horse.
I tried not to roll my eyes. I do that a lot, and I know it's rude. But come on. How can you not notice that there's a horse standing next to you?
"He's not a horse," the kid said. "He's a dog."
"Um. No, he's totally a horse," I said.
I looked at this kid more carefully. He seemed normal enough. He had light red hair that was shaggy and he was skinny like me.
HE'S A FRENCH GERBIL HOUND.
the kid said.
"They're very rare. His name is Peaches. Want to walk him with me?"
"Okay. Let me ask my mom."
Even though I still thought Peaches was a horse, I sort of liked this kid. I'm not sure why. Maybe because he had red hair. My favorite Lego Minifigure is this ninja guy with red hair. Only I lost his bottom half so now he has Lego Intergalactic Girl legs.
Excerpted from Otis Dooda by Ellen Potter, David Heatley. Copyright © 2013 Ellen Potter. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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
How I Know that My Brother Is a Doofus,
The Curse of Potted Plant Guy,
The Stink Eye,
Why I Slept in a Box,
Psycho Wiener Blaster,
Old Lady Brains,
Well, Butter My Buns!,
Poodles of Mass Destruction,
Horrible Hounds Academy,
Attack of the Grim Fugles,
Plan B (for Bad),
Extreme Sour Smarties,
Ranch-Flavored Family Fun,
Fresh-Baked Cinnamon Buns,
The Big Green Party Machine,
The Cave of Doom,