With his daredevil dreams dashed, Danvers goes to bed... and wakes up feeling a little fuzzy-literally! He's turned into a Muppet!
Fortunately, there's an internship open at the Muppet Theater and Danvers has a chance to meet his long-nosed, stunt-lovin' hero! All aboard The Electric Mayhem bus as this misfit makes good and joins the zaniest crew ever: The Muppets!
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Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet
By Kirk Scroggs
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2011 Kirk Scroggs
All rights reserved.
This groundbreaking Gonzo report took me three days and two ballpoint pens to write. Just look at that penmanship, the attention to detail, the mostly correct spelling!
After I finished reading my report to the class, I could tell by the stunned silence that they loved it.
"Uh ... thank you, Danvers," said Mr. Piffle slowly. "I'll add this to the binder with your previous reports, 'Gonzo: An American Icon,' 'Gonzo: Defender of Freedom,' and, of course, your series of tempera paintings, Gonzo: Still Life in Motion."
(You maybe have noticed that I'm a bit of a Gonzo fanatic. I meant everything I said in that report, and then some. I even have a Gonzo T-shirt for every day of the week ... except for Sundays. That's my disco pirate day.)
Before Mr. Piffle could call on another student, I announced, "At this time, I would like to perform my grand finale!"
Mr. Piffle frowned. "Uh, oral reports don't generally have grand finales."
But it was too late—the wheels of fate were in motion.
"And now, in tribute to The Great Gonzo, I shall balance a basket of free-range emu eggs on my chin, using this yardstick, to the tune of 'Bingo Was His Name- O!'"
The stunt was going beautifully. The class was cheering and shrieking with excitement ... or fear (I couldn't be sure which one because I was kinda busy balancing the eggs), until ...
... something went wrong. I must have misjudged the yardstick-to-chin lateral shiftitude, because the next thing I knew, I had an emu-egg scramble on my noggin.
At least the class was entertained.
Mr. Piffle wasn't pleased. "I hope you're happy, Mr. Blickensderfer. For your punishment, I want you to sit down and listen to your classmates' reports with egg on your face."
I could have lived with the egg on my face—I hear it's good for the complexion—but all the other reports were painfully bland and ordinary.
(Okay, at least Dante Digarmo picked a Muppet, but come on, everybody picks Kermit!)
Button Hauser's choice had to be the most nauseating.
There was no getting around it: This embarrassing incident was going to make my life at school miserable. (Not that it was going gangbusters before this.) It was bad enough having a name like Danvers. I mean, really, who names their kid Danvers?
My parents swear they got it from one of their favorite books.
After the bell rang, I met up in the hall with my best friend, Pasquale. I asked him if word of my humiliation had already gotten around.
"'Fraid so," said Pasquale. "I already read about it on the bathroom wall." Pasquale wouldn't lie. He has been a faithful assistant and the official safety officer for all of my front-yard stunt shows since the second grade ... not to mention a thorough reader of bathroom-wall news items.
He's a lot smarter than me—we're talking straight B's here—but he sure has a limited vocabulary. All he ever says is "This seems unsafe, this seems unsafe," over and over, like a broken record. Occasionally he'll mix it up and say something like "Could you call 911?" or "Is it normal for my ankle to be purple?"
Last month, his folks made me sign a waiver before they'd let him help me with any more stunts. It probably had something to do with him coming home one night soaked in tapioca pudding and missing a tooth....
I guess there is a certain level of risk associated with my stunts.
Like a lot of folks, his mom and dad just don't get it—true art involves sacrifice! Vincent van Gogh gave up his ear, the Sphinx in Egypt is missing her nose, and I once lost my lunch after eating a whole pint of creamed spinach in time with "Yankee Doodle Dandy."
In the words of Gonzo: If it doesn't leave a mess, it isn't art.
Unfazed by my report-related, egg-smeared, bathroom-wall–reported debacle at school, I convinced Pasquale to head over to the school auditorium so I could audition for the Block City Fall on Ice Festival. Not only were C-list ice skaters and celebrities going to be there, but each school in the area was also getting five minutes in the show to present their best and brightest talents—who would then perform on the ice. Considering how boring this town is, my Gonzo-inspired act was sure to be a shoo-in.
"I dunno," said Pasquale. "Maybe five minutes after your emu-egg catastrophe is not the greatest time to perform a tribute to Gonzo in front of hundreds of kids."
"Nonsense, my dear boy," I scoffed. "My great grandpappy always says, 'If you fall off a horse, you gotta get right back on and keep riding.' "
Of course, my great grandpappy also eats black jelly beans with chopsticks and thinks Pasquale is his long-lost platoon leader.
I kicked open the doors to the auditorium, ready to take my act beyond the unappreciative kids of Coldrain Middle School and into the open arms of the citizens of Block City!
The place was crawling with kid talent. There were slam poets, boy bands, girl groups, an all-frog quartet, jugglers, and even a heavy metal mime act.
"We've got this in the bag," I told Pasquale as we unpacked our vintage boom box and a huge white-board. "These other kids are so plain vanilla. Our act will set this place on fire!"
"Really? I brought the safety helmets, but I didn't pack the fire extinguisher,"
Pasquale worried. "Pasquale, we don't need safety equipment. I'm just gonna be talking about our act and drawing on the whiteboard."
"Drawing on a whiteboard?" he said, handing me some wristbands. "You're gonna need these."
"What for?" I asked.
"Carpal tunnel syndrome, dude. You can never be too safe."
"Students!" said Mrs. Grumbles, the drama teacher. "Before we begin the auditions, I have an exciting surprise for you. I present to you our special guest judge, taxied in just for the Fall on Ice tryouts. You know her from TV, the stage, and the silver screen, as well as from her appearances on America's Next Top Diva and C.S.I.: Moi Ami. Let's not forget her charity work with—"
"Let's get on with it, sister!" called a voice from offstage.
Mrs. Grumbles coughed nervously and hurried up the introduction: "Without further ado, I give you ... Miss Piggy!"
I couldn't believe my eyes. The one and only Miss Piggy was going to hear my pitch and judge me—as she had judged so many in the past.
"She's even more glamorous in person," I said.
"And more intimidating," squeaked Pasquale.
"All right, cut the chatter!" called Piggy. "Let's get this party started! I've gotta shoot a Celebrity Eyebrow Threading infomercial at two thirty!"
Miss Piggy was honest, forthright, and direct with contestants. In other words: She was brutal.
The time had come—it was finally my turn. "Ladies and gentlemen," I began. "I'd like to present my ultimate stunt: En Hommage à Gran Gonzo! Hit the music, Pasquale!"
Pasquale blasted some dramatic classical music from the stereo, and I laid out my proposal, step-by-step.
"Picture, if you will, in the middle of the ice rink, a moon bounce filled with ninjas. Ninjas that are gyrating with razor-laced hula hoops! It's a vision of horror!
"Then I, the Daring Danvers, leap into the fray on my pogo stick, dodging the shimmying shinobis while tooting the 'Hymn of the Royal Canadian Mounties' on my French horn with just one hand!
"All the while, my esteemed assistant, Pasquale, will slowly overinflate the moon bounce until ..."
Pasquale switched off the classical music, swapped out the CD, and pressed play again so that the sound of a huge explosion filled the auditorium—
"... we reach our dramatic conclusion. Thank you, Pasquale."
The auditorium was silent for a moment. Then I heard snickering in the audience. I looked hopefully at the judges' table.
Mrs. Grumbles exploded. "Are you crazy? You know we can't afford the music rights to the 'Hymn of the Royal Canadian Mounties'!"
"Moi can appreciate your artistic reach, but that sounds just plain crazy, kid," agreed Miss Piggy.
My dreams were crushed. Even Miss Piggy had rejected me. It was almost too much to bear.
But then, something happened. As Pasquale and I collected our presentation materials and walked off the stage, all the girls in the room shrieked with glee and barreled up the aisle toward Pasquale and me.
"I knew it!" I shouted. "This is it, dude! The ladies love us!"
"Oh, happy day!" squealed Pasquale.
But the screeching horde of girls ran right over our scrawny hides on their way to the stage. I looked back to see my worst nightmare: Coldrain Middle School's most popular boy band, Emo Shun, was ready to perform.
The band members were fellow sixth graders: the three-foot-tall Cody Carter, the French-speaking Danny Enfant, and the lead singer Kip Strummer. They even had their own sappy, schmaltzy music video online for their new single, "Hey Girl." If they auditioned, my chances of getting in the show were about as good as finding something edible in our school cafeteria.
Kip strummed his guitar and said, "Yo, this first song goes out to you, girl."
"Moi?" asked Miss Piggy.
Danny Enfant repeated everything Kip said in French to Miss Piggy.
They might as well have stopped singing right then because all the girls in the audience fell over like dominoes—passed out completely. Even Miss Piggy was captivated by their shameless pandering!
"You actually like Kip's music?" I growled. "The guy booted me out of the band for no good reason!"
"Well," said Pasquale. "You did blow up his favorite guitar and singe his pinky toe to a crisp."
"I was only trying to make the act more exciting. Besides, they saved his toe. Three weeks of physical therapy and he was good as new."
"I'm just saying, he's not all that bad. He helped me ask Cameron Crickford to the bake sale, and she actually said, 'I'll have to think about it.' Of course, that bake sale was two months ago."
When their song was over, Miss Piggy didn't even bat an eyelash before she announced, "Auditions are over! Emo Shun will be representing Coldrain Middle School at the Fall on Ice spectacular! Moi has spoken."
Kip took the microphone and thanked the crowd: "I just want to say that if it wasn't for the other, slightly sub-par acts in this room, this never would have been possible. Thanks."
I gave Pasquale a dirty look. "Not that bad a guy, huh?"
I packed up my things and moped out of the auditorium. At least I could go home and be comforted by my loving, supportive family.
Dinner that night was miserable, and I'm not just talking about the slimy meat loaf Mom was serving. Not only were my parents totally not on my side, but my little sister, Chloe, was rubbing it in as usual.
"Don't worry, bwudda," she said, grinning. "Now you'll have pwenty of fwee time to pwactice being a loser. Heyooo!"
Don't be fooled by Chloe's sweet, adorable voice and cuddly looks. She is evil.
With Chloe's cackling taunts still ringing in my ears, I tromped upstairs. What I needed was a good, healthy sulk in my bedroom with the one friend who would stand by me, no matter what: my pet rat, Curtis.
Sometimes, I think Curtis is some sort of genius, a rat prodigy.
Yes, sir, if it wasn't for Curtis I don't know what I'd do at times like th—
Okay. So, that annoying sound was coming from my little sister. And yes, you have just discovered my greatest humiliation of all: I share bunk beds with Chloe. How many other boys do you know who have to share a room with their little sisters? ZERO, that's how many!
It happened when my folks downsized from our house to a small apartment ... something to do with the Great Repression. Can you imagine if this ever got out to the other kids at school? Well, you don't have to imagine, because Chloe already blabbed about it on the bus.
Oh, well. At least I got the top bunk.
Excerpted from Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet by Kirk Scroggs. Copyright © 2011 Kirk Scroggs. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
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