Sample text for Gotcha! / by Jamie Gilson ; illustrated by Amy Wummer.
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"Four," said Mrs. Zookey. She crossed her arms and waited. Outside our
room, lightning zigged across the sky.
"Five," said Mrs. Zookey.
I blinked, but I didn"t make a peep. Nobody did. Only a minute before, all the
kids at Tables Two and Three had been holding our noses and calling each
other stink bugs.
That"s why the whole class now had to sit with our lips zipped tight while
Mrs. Zookey counted to ten.
"Six," she went on. The thunder rumbled louder.
Over at Table Three, Patrick the Pest was straightening his red bow tie. He
wore it every day. Today he had it on with a brown-and-green camouflage
shirt that hung down way below his knees. It looked really dumb.
Okay, at Table Two, we"d been saying "stink bug!" too, but Patrick"s table
had been saying it loudest. Just the week before, Mrs. Zookey had put him at
Table Three, with the quiet kids. Already he"d got them in trouble.
Patrick grinned at me, reached into the pocket of his huge shirt, and pulled
something out. I looked over to see if Mrs. Zookey was watching, but as soon
as I turned my head, a rubber band hit me smack on the ear.
I yelped. "Ouch!" I turned around, but Patrick was looking at the ceiling, like
he hadn"t done anything.
Mrs. Zookey heard my yelp. "Seven!" she counted. Then she caught me with
her eyes. Mrs. Zookey has this way of staring at you that stops you from
doing stuff you shouldn"t do. Tess was sitting right next to Patrick at Table
Three. She leaned forward like she was going to tell, but he shook his head
at her. She rolled her eyes but leaned back.
Mrs. Zookey had stopped looking. She was writing on the chalkboard: ONE
MORE ARACHNID. We were doing arachnids. They"re all the spiders in the
spider family. It"s my new favorite word. A-rack-nid. It feels good in your
mouth when you say it out loud. But I didn"t say it. That would have been
I rubbed my ear where Patrick had zapped it. He made sure Mrs. Zookey
wasn"t looking, and then he held up a piece of yellow paper with a red crayon
sign that said "GOTCHA!!!!!" I"d seen it before. He made it the day he moved
to Table Three. I think it"s his new favorite word.
Patrick is trouble. He"s not scared to do stuff. When he does something that
makes him look smart or makes you look silly, he flashes the sign. Mostly
he flashes it at me. A lot of kids laugh. They don"t want him to "Gotcha!"
I could get away with stuff, too, if I wanted to. Right now I wanted to. We"d all
zipped our lips like Mrs. Zookey said. What if I just unzipped my lips, but no
noise came out? What if?
I crossed my eyes at Patrick and I yawned. Huge.
Mrs. Zookey saw my yawn. She shook her head at me. "Now, Richard," she
said. I zipped my lips up. She turned back to the chalkboard.
"GOTCHA!!!!!" Patrick flashed his sign at me again. He and Tess covered their
laughs with their hands. Then he leaned his chair back just far enough so
that it almost fell but didn"t.
Mrs. Zookey has lots of red hair. When she gets mad at us she shakes her
head and her hair goes from side to side. And then she counts. She counts
really, really slow. She likes to count. She"s always counting stuff.
No thunder now. No lightning. No talk. The room was just totally quiet.
I looked up at the paper spiders hanging from the ceiling. There were twenty
of them dangling from strings. We had each made a different kind. Mine was
an orange-and-black garden spider.
Under ONE MORE ARACHNID, Mrs. Zookey was drawing a great big spotted
spider. It had two parts. All spiders have two parts. That"s how you know
they"re spiders and not just insects. Insects have three parts. Spiders are
definitely not insects.
WOLF SPIDER, she wrote.
Patrick locked his thumbs together and wiggled his fingers at me like they
were wolf spider legs.
"Eight," counted Mrs. Zookey.
Ben passed me a note. Watch out. Patrick is out to get you!!
Ben is my best friend since kindergarten. And I"m lucky he sits next to me at
Table Two. He was right. But no way I was going to let Patrick make me look
silly again. I just stared up at my hanging spider.
Only seven of its eight legs were left. If it was a real live spider, it could grow
another one. But mine couldn"t. That leg was probably stuck on the bottom of
some kid"s shoe.
Patrick was watching me. I could tell. He thought I was scared to do stuff like
he did. And so I did something I shouldn"t have done. I knew when I did it that
I shouldn"t, but I leaned my chair back, way back. Way farther back than he
had, even. I took a deep breath and I blew straight up to make the ceiling
Kapow! My chair crashed to the floor. Me, too. I bonked my head.
It broke everybody up. They were all laughing with their lips shut tight. Even
Ben had to put his head on the table to keep from cracking up. I guess
maybe I did look funny waving my arms on the way down.
This time, Mrs. Zookey wrote my name on the chalkboard. While she was
writing, Patrick reached in his big shirt pocket, snuck out a green gummy
worm, and sucked it into his mouth. A minute later he stuck out his tongue
at Dawn Marie. Half a sticky green worm was sitting on it.
Dawn Marie sits across from me at Table Two. She"s not afraid of anybody.
She raised her hand to tell.
"Nine," Mrs. Zookey went on.
Patrick smiled like he hadn"t unzipped his lips at all.
"Ten," said Mrs. Zookey, finally. "All right, my dears," she went on. "Now it"s
time to take three deep, deep breaths and think about how to behave. Think
about No Name Calling. Think about what it"s like to be called "stink bug.""
"One." She held her breath a long time. Then she let it go.
There. We could unzip our lips and talk again.
"Now, did you have a question, Dawn Marie?" she asked.
Dawn Marie pulled her arm down. Those three deep breaths had stopped her.
I knew she wanted to tell, but telling could be Name Calling. She shook her
Then she leaned over and whispered, "Patrick started it." Ben, me,
and Yolanda, the other kid at Table Two, all nodded.
"Patrick always starts it," I whispered back.
"But you"re the one who got caught," Yolanda said, pointing at my name on
Copyright © 2006 by Jamie Gilson. Reprinted by permission of Clarion
Books / Houghton Mifflin Company.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Schools -- Fiction.
Spiders -- Fiction.
Behavior -- Fiction.