Ch Middle Reader Graham McNamee Sparks

ISBN 13: 9780440418474

Sparks

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9780440418474: Sparks

Last year Todd was the smartest kid in Special Needs; this year, he was promoted to the regular fifth-grade class, where they call him “Retardo” and “Braindead.” He’s really trying to keep up, but he’s in danger of being sent back to Needs. Then a history project about the pygmy Ota Benga inspires Todd to use his secret strength–imagination.

Being promoted also meant Todd had to leave his pals behind in Special Needs, even his best friend, Eva. Why can’t Eva understand that they can’t be friends anymore? Why can’t he stop missing her? What’s the right answer to that?
From the Hardcover edition.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Graham McNamee is the author of three novels. His novel Sparks won the first PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

My mouse died yesterday. He was white with pink eyes and he once ate a whole grape in one sitting. I remember thinking how impossible it was for him to finish that grape--I mean it was half the size of his head. It took him ten minutes. Then he washed up for ten minutes. Then he went to sleep. I loved watching him, even when his cage smelled bad. His name was Psycho, named after a movie my parents won't let me see.

This morning at breakfast I tell Mom the grape-eating story.

"It would be like me eating a whole watermelon," I say.

My sister, Christie, flicks a Froot Loop at me from across the table. It hits me in the forehead and makes me blink. She has good aim.

"I'd pay to see that," Christie says.

She really bugs me. She once stuck an apple seed so deep into my ear, I had to go to the emergency room. Every time she comes near me I blink like she's going to hit me, which she sometimes does.

But she did give me one of her jewelry boxes to bury Psycho in. It had blue velvet lining. He's buried in the backyard, under the tree for shade.

I look down at my cereal. The Froot Loop landed in my Frosted Flakes. It looks lost, a Loop all alone in the middle of all those Flakes.

"Eat up, Melonhead," Christie tells me.

"Someday I'm going to eat a whole watermelon. Then you'll be sorry," I say. But even before I finish saying it I hear how stupid that sounds. Inside my head it sounded a lot better, like something the President might say.

She shakes her head. "Just keep those fingers jammed up your nose so your brain doesn't leak out."

Christie's a genius. She always knows what to say.

Last night, Dad told me how mice only live a year or two. I got Psycho over a year ago for my ninth birthday. If I'd known he was going to die, I would have given him an extra raisin for breakfast.

It was weird trying to fall asleep last night without the squeaking of Psycho's exercise wheel spinning. He probably ran a thousand miles inside that cage. I kept waking up thinking I heard his wheel.

But I must have been dreaming.

By the time I think about all this stuff, my cereal has sunk. It's way too soggy to eat now. Only the Loop is still floating.

Mom takes my bowl away.

"Countdown," she says. "Five minutes and counting."

Every morning there's the countdown for the school bus. On TV they have countdowns for the space shuttle, or for when a bomb's going to go off.

But when I leave the house there's never a space shuttle at the curb, just the bus waiting for me to get on before it explodes.


From the Hardcover edition.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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