Ten-year-old Pierre François—otherwise known as Pierre the Fantastic Flying Fish and Pierre the Genius Brain—is an expert at signing his school papers with original names. He’s also good at extolling the greatness of France, using weird words like “extolling,” dissecting owl vomit, and avoiding The Stinky Chair in math class. What he’s not good at is a foolproof bladder. Accidents happen, although this is Top Secret information. So when it’s time for the entire fifth grade to go to Adventure Camp, a two-night trip in the wilderness, Pierre would rather complain about the fifth grade meanies, dream of mastering the spelling bee with Jedi skills, and devise ways to meet the fascinating new girl in school. But Adventure Camp is coming for him, along with a wet and icy cold front. Can Pierre muster all his courage and wit to survive nature’s onslaught of ice, rain, and other liquid fiascos?
|Publisher:||Black Rose Writing|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.30(d)|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 12 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Because We Need an Introduction
MY NAME IS Pierre François.
Not Pee-air. It's Pierre.
But you're right if you think it sounds the same.
In fact, I've just said it aloud five times and it is the same. That isn't good. I do not like bathroom humor.
What I do like is France. Pierre is a French name, in case you don't know.
France is the best, also in case you don't know.
All my teachers tell me I'm lucky because my Papa is French, which means I get to go to Paris at Christmas to visit my grandparents. But it also means that I have to go. I don't get to see my best friends for two whole weeks! Mom, who is not French, reminds me I need to look at the bright side. Tell me three Bright Sides, she says.
1. My best friends are unlikely to move to Mars while I'm gone. 2. Papa lets me drink coffee in Paris. 3. Three is always hard. Well, I suppose my French name is pretty fancy.
"Fancy?" Bo says. Bo is my best friend since kindergarten. He's an expert at talking to animals and giving advice. "Don't say it's fancy."
Bo looks at the ceiling, groans, and pushes up his glasses. We're walking to the bathroom because it's recess and melting outside. And when it's melting outside, Bo and Max and I sneak inside to make soap-bubble mountains in the boys' restroom. Max is my other best friend from kindergarten. He's an expert at drawing soldiers and girl-charming.
"Fancy is a girl word," Bo says.
"No, it's not," Max says.
"Yes it is," Bo says. "My sister says fancy. I'm sofancy!" he says like a girl.
"There's no such thing as girl-words and boy-words. That's dumb," Max says.
"You're dumber than dumb." I can hear Max's throat wobble. He's about to turn red in the face and accidentally shove Bo against the wall. I'm good at predicting these things.
Bo growls and Max's cheeks turn red. Actually, they might have been red from the billion-degree playground outside, but they're extra red now.
I have to stop them before things get out of control.
"Not so loud!" I grab my hair in frustration. I'd pull it out if it weren't so curly and beautiful.
Papa says it's French hair, so it can't help being beautiful.
"How about ... instead of fancy ..." I search for the fanciest word I know. I am, after all, an expert at using big words. "How about sophisticated?"
Bo and Max stare at me. Then at each other. They shrug.
"Pierre is pretty sophisticated," Max says.
Bo mumbles, "I still say fancy's a girl word."
We sneak past the counselor's office.
"Who cares!" I say. "Everybody thinks I'm a girl, anyway." Bo and Max nod. They can't argue with the truth.
"Boys!" Mrs. Angler's voice stops us in our tracks. "Why are you wandering the halls? Do you have permission to be inside?"
We turn around, and Mrs. Angler is already hovering over Bo and Max. She leans over us with her squinty eyes and her old-coffee breath. Everyone knows Mrs. Angler hates boys.
"Some horrible boys have been flushing toilet paper rolls and flooding the bathrooms. Could they have been sneaking in during recess?"
I have no idea what she's talking about, but I have the suspicion we're about to be framed. I glance around us in panic, hoping my genius-brain can rescue us. But all I see is a blue-girl outline on the restroom door.
Mrs. Angler's eyes land on me and my sweaty curls. "Oh, I'm sorry, dear. I didn't mean to call you a boy." Her voice is all honey and I know what's coming. She pulls open the girls' restroom door and smiles.
Normally when a teacher does this, I smile and say, "Actually, I'm a boy." And then they turn red-cheeks and hurry away. It's hilarious.
But today, my mouth is not working because I've never been caught in the hall without a pass, and now the universe is punishing me. I might have to actually go into a girl's restroom.
"You were going to the restroom?" Mrs. Angler says.
I swallow and nod slowly because technically that's where we were going. I'm glad I've distracted Mrs. Angler the Boy Wrangler away from Bo and Max. I'm heroic that way. But I can't go into a girl's restroom. I can't. That's illegal or something.
"After you." Mrs. Angler sweeps her arm inside the restroom and waits for me.
Bo and Max stare at me with bug-eyes.
"Water ... first?" is all I manage to say.
Mrs. Angler looks at Bo, then Max, then me. "Oh. Well ... hurry up," she says, waving her fingers at the water fountain. She squints at us again, then hobbles into the restroom.
Of course we don't get water. We don't make soap-bubble mountains. Instead, we walk-run back out to the playground, practically shoving each other all the way. My heart is beating like crazy and I have a weird twitch pulling on my lips like I'm about to laugh because this is the third time this month that someone's opened the girl's restroom door for me. But Max and Bo aren't smiling. They're hunched over catching their breath and giving each other the stink-eye.
I smell another argument coming on, so I slap them on the shoulders and say, "We're safe. That was some fancy footwork!" It's something my mom says. Bo squints at me.
Maybe fancy is a girl word.
Today, practically everyone on the playground is fighting again. About Keepie Ball. It's been a whole month since school started, and let me tell you: fifth grade changes people.
Kindergarten was great. Everyone's nice when they're six. First grade, still nice. Second grade, still nice. Third and fourth grades, yep: nicety-nice. But the first week of fifth grade, I noticed a disturbing change. The girls were talking and Just. Never. Stopped. And the boys separated into two groups: the Kickballers and the Taggers. Then Tyler brought his green ball to school and made up a game called Keepie Ball, which was all the rage. It's Keepie Ball Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. It's out of control. That classic game Tag (my favorite, of course) has completely disappeared. I tried playing Keepie Ball, but Tyler keeps changing the rules so that everyone is happy, but somehow the opposite happens, and everyone's mad and shouts,
"Unfair!" and "Cheater!"
So Morton Elementary isn't a big happy family anymore. All the boys are annoying and all the girls are mean.
Just last night, I told my mom and Papa: "I hate fifth grade. All the boys are annoying and all the girls are mean."
"That can't be true," Mom said.
"It is true. For instance, today. I didn't hear the teacher call on Megan to answer a question, and when I said 'I know,' all the girls turned around and shouted 'PEEAAAIIRR!' like I was a big know-it-all or something. I can't help it if my ears don't function."
"I think your hears are fine, pard'ner," Papa said in his chewy French accent. He was trying to talk like a Texan, but it wasn't so funny. I needed sympathy.
"Well, none of the boys want to play tag anymore. They just want to play stupid Keepie Ball. Then everyone gets into a big fight about who scored what until the teachers take away the ball and everyone's all mad."
Normally Mom's pretty good at solving problems, but last night she and Papa just nodded and raised their eyebrows and clinked their glasses of wine.
"Puberty does weird things to kids," Mom said.
"Gross. I'm not talking about that. We're at the table." Last summer, Mom gave me a book about puberty, and let me tell you: it is not a dinner word.
"Mean girls build character, not that I personally know any mean girls, ma jolie," Papa said and gave Mom a wink.
"Fifth grade is a year of changes, dear," Mom said, and mussed up my hair.
Changes, yes. But I don't think it's because of puberty. I think it's aliens.
I am not kidding. My theory is that aliens landed on the Fifth Grade Wing of Morton Elementary and did some bodysnatching.
On the first day of school, while I was in the restroom trying to get the highest soap-bubble mountain ever on my palms, the Alien Mothership brainwashed all the fifth graders. Except me. Pierre the Survivor.
Bo and Max were the most unfortunate victims of the Alien Apocalypse. We used to be the Three Musketeers.
Now, Bo and Max and I can't play at each other's house at the same time. Two of us together is fine. Me and Bo. Bo and Max. Max and me. The universe is at peace. But when the three of us get together on Saturdays, someone goes home with a galactic bruise or smoke coming out of his brains. Someone named Bo or Max. Mom says I'm the mediator. I'm not exactly sure what "mediator" means, but I think it has to do with protecting your two best friends from killing each other.
Even though they may have been body-snatched by aliens, I'm glad that Bo and Max mostly get along at school because — did I mention? — everyone else in the fifth grade has moved to the state of Ill-annoying.
* * *
Fifth grade does have its benefits, though, and Adventure Camp is number one on the list. We've all been waiting for Adventure Camp since kindergarten. Maybe that's why we're all grumpy.
"Class," Mrs. Dixie claps her hands. "Do you all remember what we did in Science during our first week this year?"
I raise my hand, but Mrs. Dixie calls on Max.
"We dissected an owl pellet with our bare hands."
I add more detail, because Mrs. Dixie says details are important. "I found a dozen tiny rodent skulls in that little vomit ball."
Megan turns around and holds her nose at me. "That's gross, Pee-air."
"It's Pierre." I correct her and roll my R the same way Papa pronounces my name. Pierre the Skull Hunter.
"I want to dissect a pig next time," Zach says.
"Murderer," Bo groans. Bo turned vegetarian after he watched a documentary about hamburgers.
"It's not murder, it's already dead," Tyler says. "Right, Mrs. Dixie? My brother dissected a pig in high school. We don't have to kill the pig, right?"
The girls squeal, and Mrs. Dixie takes a deep breath. "No one kills any animals ever in school," she says and clears her throat. "But we're getting off track. Everything we've been learning in Science, and everything we'll be studying for the next six weeks will help prepare us for ...?"
Everyone stops fidgeting and stares at Mrs. Dixie, who is being very dramatic about opening her desk drawer. She pulls out a stack of orange papers and hugs them to her.
"Fifth grade —"
"Adventure Camp!" everyone shouts and makes happy noises.
How did this happen so soon? I wonder. We waited and waited and waited, but now that it's happening, I'm sort of surprised. My heart is thunking hard like everyone else, but it's because of another reason. A secret reason.
"Class, today I'm handing out permission packets for the Fifth Grade Adventure Camp. These are very important papers. We're going to Adventure Camp in six weeks, so it's important that your parents turn in the completed packets, including a notarized permission form, by next Tuesday. Next Tuesday. When are you going to turn in your signed and notarized packet?"
"Next Tuesday," everyone sings.
The entire class is squealing about our three-day camping trip. Canoes, campfires, s'mores, nature trails, and ghost stories. Fifth Grade Adventure Camp is legendary.
I take an orange packet from Megan and pass the stack. I stare at the words "Dear Parents," but the rest of the words jumble into a sea of jitters. The other kids' voices tumble together in my head and their excitement swirls down and around in my stomach.
I smile and try to tell myself not to worry. You'll be fine, I say in my head. You hardly ever have accidents at night anymore. You've gone, what, seven whole nights without having an accident?
But I can feel my secret squirming around, ready to escape if I'm not careful. And in the back of my mind, I hear everyone chanting, "PEE-AIR! PEE-AIR! PEE-AIR!"
The Stinky Chair
FRIDAYS ARE my favorite day of the week. Especially if I've had a "rather successful week," which is Mom's code words for a dry week. I wish my Mom wouldn't say things like that, but she's proud of me, even if it's an embarrassing accomplishment.
But this Friday is like an episode of Good Day/Bad Day. Before lunch, everything is great. Good Day! But the boys and girls go and have an epic fight at recess because of — you guessed it — Keepie Ball. Bad Day! So now everyone is in the land of Not Talking To Each Other, including me, because we wouldn't have had all this mess if we'd only played my game. Tag rules, mostly because I'm swift and stealthy.
I use sophisticated words like that because Papa says all the sophisticated words come from France.
I wonder if swift and stealthy are French words?
I've just written Pierre the Swift and Stealthy on my notebook when in walks a new girl. How can I describe her?
She's a quiet girl. And shy. And she's not like the other girls in class. I think she notices me, but I can't be sure. She's very nice to look at, too. She has long blond hair and clear blue eyes. And if I were interested in girls, I might be interested in her. You have to know that I'm not usually interested in girls.
But Miss Quiet Girl is interesting. (Good Day!)
She stands so still there beside the open doorway that Mrs. Dixie doesn't even notice for a whole minute. Right when I'm about to raise my hand and tell Mrs. Dixie we have company, some of the kids start giggling, which makes Mrs. Dixie do her flat-tire impression: SHHH! She looks up and finds Miss Quiet Girl standing there.
"Come in," Mrs. Dixie says, and waves at Miss Nice To Look At Quiet Girl (do not tell anyone I called her that). "May I help you?"
"I'm new. This is my first day."
She has a quiet voice, too. Like a bird. I can hardly hear her. She is saying something about Georgia and unpacking.
I lean over to the side because Megan's big head is in the way and I can't read Miss Quiet Girl's lips. I lean a little more, a little more. I don't realize that I'm leaning over a little too more until it's too late.
Suddenly, my chair is crashing sideways, and I'm eating carpet that tastes like old socks.
"PEE-AIRRR!" Megan and Katelyn wail. Like I've embarrassed them. I really hate whiny girls. (Papa says "hate" is not a good word to describe people, but he doesn't know Megan and Katelyn). By the time I grab my things and sit back in my chair, the whole class is staring at me and shaking their heads like I'm a complete freak.
"Pierre, please control your chair," Mrs. Dixie says, frowning. Then she turns back to the new girl and says, "You're Cynthia Meadows? I think you're supposed to be in Mr. Sullivan's homeroom. Yes. Let me walk you across the hall. Get back to work, students."
What! She's leaving? This is not fair. (Bad, Terrible Day!) I'm not sure why, but I'm really offended by this news. My heart stomps around in my chest and I want to shout "Nooo!" like Luke Skywalker did when he found out who his real father was.
But I don't feel embarrassed anymore about falling out of my chair because you know why? Number one, Miss Nice To Look At Quiet Girl whose name is Cynthia smiled just a tiny bit when I was getting back into my chair. I'm pretty sure she looked at me in the eyes for a second.
And number two, she knows my name.
* * *
My entire day yoyos like this. In science class, I nearly fall off my chair again when Mrs. Dixie tells us that we're going to learn physics.
"Physics?" I say, probably too loud because everyone turns around and stares at me. "Real physics?"
I love physics because Albert Einstein was a master of physics, and I want to be like Einstein. If my hair isn't brushed and I stick out my tongue, I already sort of look like him.
Max groans, "Is physics like physical exercise? I can't take another gym class."
"No," I say. "It's like math and science high-fiving each other." At least I think it is. Physics has something to do with matter and energy, which hold the secrets of the universe. At least I think they do. My feet dance around under the table.
In my mind, I'm a Jedi at physics.
But in real life, I keep getting a dumb C on the weekly science pop quiz. Which means I am not a Jedi or a genius brain or Albert Einstein and I will probably fail the big physics test.
Papa says don't over-worry, no one's a genius. Papa says that even Einstein had to work and work and work to look like a genius. He says genius is "the accumulation of hard work and lots of failure."
I'm familiar with lots of failure. Look at Three Bright Sides, I tell myself. 1. Bad grades won't make the universe implode. 2. I still love to watch documentaries about space exploration. 3. My brain is very original.
In fifth period, I walk into Mr. Sullivan's math class. Mr. Sullivan is the most amazing teacher. Ever. On the planet. Since the beginning of time.
He's better than your math teacher, guaranteed. He's been teaching for forty years and he can answer ten multiplication facts in three seconds.
Excerpted from "Pierre Francois: 5th Grade Mishaps"
Copyright © 2018 Lori Ann Stephens.
Excerpted by permission of Black Rose Writing.
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
CHAPTER 1 - Because We Need an Introduction,
CHAPTER 2 - The Stinky Chair,
CHAPTER 3 - The Worst Feeling in the World,
CHAPTER 4 - The Spelling Bee,
CHAPTER 5 - Inappropriate Language,
CHAPTER 6 - The Luckiest Day,
CHAPTER 7 - A Lot of Hoopla,
CHAPTER 8 - The Big Day,
CHAPTER 9 - Don't Kill Anything,
CHAPTER 10 - Pierre the Nature Hunter,
CHAPTER 11 - Ghost Stories,
CHAPTER 12 - Accidents Happen,
CHAPTER 13 - A New Kind of Fight,
CHAPTER 14 - Some Things You Can't Control,
CHAPTER 15 - Home,