Friday, January 19, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven, Chapter 10

I've been trying to work on these revisions of the Frog Haven Chapters through all the issues that have come up around my Mom's death, but I am way behind. I've done more work than I've had time to post.

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 ,Chapter 9

Chapter 10: Monday

Usually, on school mornings, either Sissy called for Lyssa or Lyssa called for Sissy, depending on who was ready first. But today, everyone came out at once: Taylors, Mancinis, Webers, and Garryd Knudson (Sven had gone on the earlier bus with the bigger kids.) They walked the quarter mile to the bus stop in a big group, collecting Kelvin Moore, the McAllisters, the McKeevers, and David Fontenella [MNS1] [MNS2] as they went. They talked excitedly about the game last night, and decided they should have rematch, since the game had ended in a tie.

“The grown-ups won’t let us have a rematch with them until school’s over,” Lyssa pointed out. “According to them, we have to go to bed on time. Games with grown-ups can’t start until after dinner, since most of them work.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Paul LeFevre said, “Dumb grown-ups! They don’t know what’s important! Who cares about sleep?”

“Let’s schedule the game on Friday night—the last day of school. I bet we can talk the grown-ups into having a big picnic to celebrate. It can be a party, covered dish,” Sissy shouted excitedly.

“Great idea,” said Lyssa, with everyone else chiming in, too. “Yes, yes, let’s do it! The Great Van Vleck Drive Super End of the School Year Rematch Party.

The school bus pulled up while they were working out the details. For once, all the kids were in agreement and working toward a common goal. Even Lannie McAllister had some good ideas.

Sissy sat with Lyssa. Garryd sat in front of them with Michael and Kelvin Moore. Sissy leaned forward, “Who’s your teacher?”

“Mr. Sharpe.”

“Oh, he’s great. He’s the best teacher in the whole school, maybe the whole world. I had him last year. Too bad you will only have him for a week! I’ll take you to the room, okay?”


On the way down the hall, Sissy asked Garryd if he wanted to make another frog run that afternoon. “Of course I do!”

“Okay, meetcha after I change my clothes. Hi, Mr. Sharpe! This is my good friend Garryd Knudson. He’s going to be in your class this week. Too bad he didn’t come sooner, because he’s really nice!”

“Hi Sissy, hello, Garryd. Nice to meet you. I think a lot of Sissy here,” he said, putting his arm around Sissy’s shoulder. “If Sissy likes you, you must be okay. Come in and meet the class. Thanks for bringing him down, Sissy.”

Lannie McKeever asked Lyssa and Sissy to stop in after school. “I can’t,” said Sissy, “I’ve already promised to do something else.”

“Not with the gang!” Lyssa exclaimed, in a horrified voice. “Bill told me some of the things they were doing at their fort.”

“No. In fact . . .” Sissy started, pausing to decide if she should tell them. “In fact, we’re going on an anti-gang mission, top secret!”

“Really? Oh, can we help?” Lyssa asked.

“Maybe tomorrow, if you really want to. If you promise not to tell, I will tell you what we’re doing. Lyssa and Lannie promised and crossed their hearts and hoped to die should they ever breathe a word of Sissy’s secret. She told them about how she and Garryd were rescuing the frogs. Lannie, who was extremely delicate about such matters thought it was wonderful but didn’t really want to help. Lyssa did.

“Stay here with Lannie today, and tomorrow you can help.” Sissy didn’t tell Lyssa, but she wanted to check with Garryd to make sure it was okay with him, and also, she wanted to have him to herself one more day. And then there were the sign language lessons, did she want to share those? And what if Lyssa told about Frog Haven?

Sissy had already wasted a lot of time talking to Lannie and Lyssa, so she ran all the way home. Papa was sitting on the front porch talking to the boys. She flung herself into his arms.

“Hi Sis.” He gave her a hug and set her down again. She ran around to the garage door and into the house. Taffy was out on her leash on the terrace. Sissy went out through the patio doors and stroked her fur. She greeted Petey on the way back in, checked her hamster, her mice, and her fish. She threw her clothes on the bed and jumped into her cut-offs and raccoon shirt. She picked up her Super Girl watch and deliberately put it on. Then she made two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on toasted rye. She picked out two of the best Empire apples from the bag in the fridge and put them in her backpack with her sandwiches and two juice boxes.

“I’m going out to play, Pa,” she said through the front screen door.

He turned and gave her a significant look, and then smiled. “Be home in time for dinner.”

Sissy held up the arm with the watch. “I will, Papa.” She turned and ran out the back door, through the garage and over to Garryd’s. Sven answered the door.

“Hi, Sissy. You’ll have to come in and wait a few minutes. Garryd is changing and hasn’t had his snack yet.”

“I made him a picnic snack, Sven, except, do you think he’ll like peanut butter and jelly on toasted rye?”

“Garryd will eat anything. Here, take this.” Sven opened Sissy’s backpack and stuffed in a bag of potato chips. Sissy wasn’t crazy about potato chips, but she knew other people liked them. They were okay. If she was hungry enough.

“Thanks, Sven.” He nodded and disappeared upstairs. Elke was standing in the kitchen smiling. Sissy wished she could say something to her, but she was afraid to try to spell anything, since she was unsure of the alphabet. She shifted from foot to foot, feeling awkward and embarrassed. A moment later, Garryd came clattering down the hall. “I’m starved,” he said, seeing that Sissy was already there.

“I packed us some chow,” Sissy said, pointing to her backpack.

“Good, let’s go.” Garryd signed goodbye to his Mom. They ran outside, grabbed the pails, and headed for Blackfords’ pond. Sissy had pictured a quick trip down the pond banks, but as they approached the pond, they could hear shouts of the gang members. They went carefully through the bushes and cattails until they could peer cautiously into the area of the fort and were surprised to discover that the gang was toasting hotdogs and marshmallows instead of torturing frogs. Marc and Michael weren’t there, but soon they could hear their voices approaching from behind. She and Garryd flung themselves into the cattails just in time, crouching absolutely silently until the two had safely passed. Marc was holding a bag that was about half full of marshmallows, and Michael had an aluminum foil packet that looked like it might contain hotdogs. He also had a bag with hotdog rolls and with some packets of catsup from McDonald’s showing through the bottom of the bag. Sissy felt a pang of left-outed-ness, but then realized she liked toasted peanut butter on rye better than hotdogs anyway.

The gang was so busy that Sissy and Garryd easily caught frogs on both sides of the pond around them. Then they headed down through the marshy area, collecting more frogs until they came to the barbed wire fence.

After they released the frogs into the haunted pond at Frog Haven, they walked to their sign-language log. Sissy took off her backpack and passed out the food. Garryd said grace and they ate their sandwiches.

“I’ve never had peanut butter and jelly on toasted rye before, but you’re right, Sissy, these are good!” Garryd shoved handfuls of potato chips into his mouth and Sissy daintily ate one at a time. It wasn’t that she was dainty; she just wasn’t fond of potato chips.

Garryd started the sign language lesson while they ate their apples. After they had gone over the alphabet twice and Garryd had tested her to see if she remembered it, Sissy said, “Teach me how to say “Hello” to your mother.”

Garryd smiled, “you say hello like this.”

Sissy tried it several times. “What else could I say to her? How about, ‘It’s nice to see you’ or something?”

“Wee, that’s a little harder. First you go like this, and then . . .”

“Look, that animal is back! We forgot to look it up in my book! Oh, I wonder what it is!” The sleek dark animal was sliding again. Garryd and Sissy stopped their sign language lesson and watched happily as the animal slid down the hill over and over in the same muddy slide. After a while, it swam the length of the pond past where they were sitting and climbed the bank by the road in the same undulating up-and-down motion it used when climbing the sliding hill. It crossed the road and disappeared in the direction of the other pond.

“Let’s explore the pond now, while all the animals are gone, so we don’t have to worry about scaring them, “ Sissy suggested.

“Good idea. Want me to carry your backpack?”

“Okay.” They started off along the shore in the opposite direction from the road. Soon, they came to a marshy, swampy area.

“Why don’t you take off your sneakers and put them in the backpack?” Sissy suggested. She was barefooted, as usual, and didn’t have to worry about getting her feet wet.

“I’m not used to going barefooted, and the rocks and sticks will hurt my feet.”

“We’ll go slowly.” Sissy checked her watch. We’ve still got lots of time.”

Garryd sat on a fallen log and took off his sneakers. He wiped them clean on some thick moss and put them in Sissy’s backpack, along with his socks.

“You go first,” Sissy said, “so I don’t go too fast for you.”

But the going was easy. There were no rocks down in the swamp and by avoiding the sharp sticks, they were able to move fairly quickly. Lots of frogs jumped into the water as they skirted the edge of the pond. Sissy wondered how many of them were from Blackfords’ pond.

At the very end of the pond furthest from the road, a small stream flowed out through the cattails into the cedars and then into the main woods beyond.

“I bed this is the stream that flows through the woods behind the butterfly field,” Sissy said, laughing, excited about their discovery. Garryd had never played there, had never been to those closer, safer woods. “I’ll have to take you there sometime. It’s pretty, and nice. We dam up the stream sometimes and catch the minnows. But we always let them go again. They can’t live in an aquarium. They need cold, running water.”

They walked along the squishy shore until the bank rose steeply. They climbed the bank and examined the muddy path that the animal had been sliding down. “I wish we could try it,” Garryd said, wistfully.

“Me, too,” Sissy said with enthusiasm. “But I don’t think we can. At least, I don’t see how.”

The bank was too steep to walk along, but the woods were open and park-like. Soon, they were back at the road.

“Look,” Sissy said, pointing. “There’s that skunk again.”

“Do you think it’s the same one?”

“I don’t know; it looks like it.” Sissy checked her watch. “We should start back in about 15 minutes so we don’t have to run all the way back.”

“Let’s walk along the shore of the other pond.”

“Okay.” Garryd led the way. Again, the walking was easy. The bank sloped gently down to the water and the trees grew all the way to the edge of the pond. The pond was long and narrow. It went around the bend and disappeared from sight in the trees. On the opposite shore, a hill rose in the woods.

“Let’s turn back when we get to the big boulder where the pond turns to the right,” Sissy suggested.


When they got to the boulder, it was nearly as tall as they were. A small yellow birch grew beside it and the branches formed a perfect ladder. Garryd climbed up and Sissy followed. The top of the rock had a thick layer of moss like a plush carpet. Both children lay on their backs and stared at the sky through the trees.

“Wow!” Sissy said. “This is great. Tomorrow, let’s have out lunch and lesson here.”

“Maybe we can come back for a little while after supper,” Garryd said, turning over on his stomach and staring out toward the pond.

“I don’t think so. There probably won’t be enough time. I have to be in bed at 8:00. Garryd, would you mind if Lyssa came along on our next frog rescue operation? She asked me if she could, but I told her I’d have to check with you first.”

“Sure, that’s okay, if she likes animals and wants to help. It’d be nice to have help.”

Sissy breathed a sigh of relief but at the same time felt terribly disappointed. She knew she was being silly, but it seemed special to have Garryd all to herself. “Lyssa wanted to come. She’ll be glad you said it was okay.”

“Sissy, look!” Sissy rolled over onto her stomach and looked where Garryd was pointing. Across the pond on the hill on the woods was a cabin.

[MNS1]Make sure to mention David Fontella (or Paul F?) earllier, in several places! AT THE GAME (s)

Please forgive me for saying this if you are a sweet innocent reader: I hope you are.

But I got a message saying I should be careful because soemone might see this and steal it. I thought I'd let that someone know it has already been seen and commented on by Scholastic Books and others and I am drafting it for the next send out. It is already known in the publishing world, so please don't consider stealing it. (I got a VERY NICE rejection letter from Scholastic books. They had read it carefully and commented on it wonderfully.)

On the other hand, if you ARE an innocent reader, and we'll assume you are, and you'd like to make comments, helpful critiques, point out things that still need attention, please do.

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