1. Rules for the Point Battle.
2. If you do or don’t like this book or just want to say something to me.
3. Granpa reciting the alphabet forward and backward without the vowels.
4. Glenn explaining the speeds of light and sound and how to tell the temperature using crickets.
5. Caterpillar earth-moving machines.
6. Favorite cheers.
7. Do you like sushi?
8. Explaining my mom’s tricky questioning.
9. Gloucester City Hall and famous buildings you’ve been in.
10. What are the Seven Seas?
11. Your suggestions for what to put in the time capsule.
12. What you’ll be doing in the future.
12¼. Interesting and weird facts about metals.
12½. Explaining my video game story.
12¾. My mockingbird report for science class and music class.
13. What are you superstitious about? (I just had to make this one number 13)
14. What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever brought to show-and-tell?
15. Tell me if you liked my smoothie … or this book … or whatever.
Bonus: Will I write another book?
Part of my book you can read now!
Cheesie Mack Is Not Exactly Famous
I am eleven years old. That’s not very old, but there’s one thing I know for sure. Every single moment of my life (and yours, too!) might be the beginning of a new adventure. You never know what’s coming next. And mostly you never know an adventure has begun until you’re already into it.
It was mid-October.
“It’s raining cats and dogs out there.”
That was the first thing I heard when I awoke. It was my dad, rumbling in the hall outside my bedroom. My head was still on my pillow, and my eyes were shut. I listened to the raindrops drumming on my roof.
“Cats and dogs…” I thought.
I lay there wondering what it would sound like if cats and dogs were actually bouncing off my roof.
It would be way more noisy. Probably meowingly and barkingly loud!
That thought woke me up more because I asked myself, “Why do people say cats and dogs? Why not cows and sheep? Or aardvarks and antelopes?”
I know. You think I’m weird.
Well, you’re right. I am. Sometimes I get wondering about something, and I just won’t let go of it until I know what it’s all about.
So I popped out of bed and flipped on my computer. I looked over at Deeb, my springer spaniel and the best dog in Gloucester. She hadn’t moved from the foot of my bed, but her eyes were on me.
“I am looking up something about your species. Pay attention, mutt.”
She didn’t seem to care, and just closed her eyes.
A few minutes later, standing there in my PJs and sort of hopping from foot to foot because I had to pee, I found out that “raining cats and dogs” probably comes from long-ago England. If a rainstorm was really huge, the water would wash everything down the streets, including all sorts of dead pets and strays (cats and dogs) that had been tossed out into the gutters.
Kind of made me appreciate the garbage trucks that come through our town every week.
I ran to the bathroom and returned just as my cell phone burped. (I recorded Granpa belching and turned it into a really cool ring tone that goes “riddle-dee-diddle” whenever I get a text.)
It was from Georgie: “Byx nix. Dad ya.”
Georgie is much better at texting than I am. But sometimes it’s hard to figure out what he means. This one, however, was easy. I looked out my window at the “cats and dogs” pouring down from of the sky. His text meant we weren’t going to ride our bikes (byx) to school. His father would drive us.
Granpa uses the word “nix” all the time. It means nothing.
I’m serious. It actually means nothing.
I mean it means something, but the something it means is actually “nothing.” Granpa told me it comes from the German word “nichts,” which is pronounced almost the same as “nix.” Nichts means “nothing” in German. Granpa was born in Germany. He came to America when he was five, so his first language was German. But he never talks about his childhood. I think it was bad or something.
I trotted downstairs for breakfast. My sister Goon had just put her dishes in the sink and was heading out the door. Mom had left for work hours ago. She’s an air traffic controller at Logan Airport in Boston. And Dad was already out somewhere driving somebody around in one of the limousines he owns.
Granpa cracked an egg for my breakfast into a frying pan. He stared into the pan, then looked at me with a squinty-evil-eye. “Hey, kiddo,” he said “How would you like it if I guaranteed you a day filled with nothing but good luck?”
“That would be fine,” I replied cautiously. Granpa was up to something. The squinty-evil-eye was my clue. That’s what we Mack guys do when we’re pulling tricks or kidding around or something.
“Clap your hands three times.”
He flipped my egg over. “Grab your left ear with your right hand, hop on your right foot, and spin around twice.”
I grabbed, hopped, and spun.
“Now say the alphabet forwards and backwards, leaving out all the vowels.”
I messed it up. (You can hear Granpa doing it on my website.)
“Doesn’t matter, my young Mack-boy,” he said as he slid my egg onto a plate, “All that was just me goofing on you. Lookee this!”
Granpa pointed two fingers in a V at my egg. “A double-yolker! That means you are on the way to a very-very lucky-lucky day-day.”
“Cool.” I grinned, gave Granpa a high-five, and sat down to eat.
(Later that day I looked up double-yolk eggs on a school computer. Some people believe a double-yolkers is good luck. I don’t really believe in any of that superstition stuff…omens or black cats or whatever, but if you read further, you’ll see if Granpa was right.)
On the drive to school, it was raining so hard, Mr. Sinkoff’s wipers couldn’t sweep the water off the windshield fast enough, so he could barely see and had to stick his head out the window and drive super slowly. But it was a warm October day—Indian summer, we call this kind of New England autumn weather—so even though he got drippingly wet, Mr. Sinkoff laughed about it.
At school, just as Georgie and I entered class, the room lit up with a flash of lightning.
Instantly Glenn Phillips started counting out loud. “One thousand one…one thousand two…one thousand three…” He had just passed seven when a huge clap of thunder surprised us!
A couple of kids shrieked. One dropped a book.
“That lightning is about one and a half miles away,” Glenn announced calmly.
Georgie looked out the window. “How can you tell?” he asked.
“It takes sound just about five seconds to travel a mile,” Glenn explained. “Light travels almost a million times faster. That’s why we see the lightning flash almost instantly. But it takes a while for the sound to reach us. So, if you count the seconds until you hear the thunder and divide by five, the result is the number of miles away.”
Glenn is the smartest sixth grader at our school. I’m convinced of it. If you want to see how he figured all this out, I let him put a page about it on my website.
Just then there was another lightning flash. I started counting along with Glenn. We both were up to nine when another BOOM shook the windows.
“That one was louder,” Georgie said.
“But farther away,” I said. “Almost two miles.”
“I suspect the storm is moving away from us,” Glenn said.
He was right. There was lots more thunder and lightning, but a half-hour later it stopped raining, the sun came out, and the rest of the day was same old, same old school. Some work…some fun…good, but nothing unusual.
That’s why I did not suspect the beginning of an adventure was just a few hours away.
End of Book Four Excerpt – Order Your Copy
Read from Book One: Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything
Read from Book Two: Cheesie Mack Is Cool In A Duel
Read from Book Three: Cheesie Mack Is Running Like Crazy!
Read from Book Five: Cheesie Mack Is Sort of Freaked Out
Excerpt copyright © 2013 by Stephen L. Cotler. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Douglas Holgate. Published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.