Sample text for Attack of the 50-ft. Cupid / Jim Benton.


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Chapter One: Franny's House

The Stein family lived in a pretty pink house with lovely purple shutters down at the end of Daffodil Street. Everything about the house was bright and cheery. Everything, that is, except the bedroom behind the tiny, round upstairs window.

This was Franny's bedroom, and she loved it more than anyplace else in the whole world, because this was where she came up with some of the most exciting new ideas in mad science.

But, as is often case for mad scientists, it was impossible to get her friends and family to take her work seriously.

Like when Franny presented her recently perfected Personal Cow to her father.

"Hey, Dad. Have a look at this. I genetically engineered a real cow for the portability that today's baby-on-the-go demands. See? Fresh milk anywhere."

"That's nice, Franny," he said without even looking up from his newspaper.

Or when Franny tried to show off her just-debugged Biggerizer to her little brother, Freddy.

"One blast from this device can make things hundreds of times bigger," Franny declared proudly.

"Can you use it in reverse and make your mouth smaller?" Freddy asked.

Franny answered, "It doesn't have a reverse setting. It only makes things bigger, but that's not a bad idea...." Before she could finish, he leapt on his skateboard and, with one swift push, rocketed out of sight.

Or when Franny called Percy, one of her new friends from school, to announce her new Manifester. "You put a picture of something in front of it, flip the switch, and -- ZAP! -- it creates a real three-dimensional reproduction of it."

"Did you ever put ketchup on corn chips?" Percy asked witlessly.

Franny blinked. "Ketchup on corn chips? Did you hear a single word I said, Percy? The Manifester actually makes real things from pictures and pictures from real things. It's total madness."

"I like corn chips," he said, and Franny hung up the phone.

Franny's mom had been watching and she felt bad for Franny.

She might not have chosen to have a mad scientist for a daughter, but that's what Franny was.

And since that's what Franny was, her mom had spent a lot of time trying to learn about mad scientists.

One of the things she learned was this: Mad scientists need assistants to whom they can show their tiny cows, weird devices, and crazy gizmos, assistants who were always excited and who always listened.

Chapter Two: Fleas And Thank You

One afternoon Franny's mom cautiously poked her head into Franny's room. When poking one's head into a mad scientist's lab, it's always best to do so cautiously.

"Franny, honey, I have somebody I want you to meet."

"I'm kind of busy here, Mom. I'm working on a machine that will make dirty socks smell worse."

"Why would you want that?" Franny's mom asked.

Franny paused, then said, "I guess you wouldn't, Mom. But that's how mad science works."

"Okay, but I just thought you might like to meet your new lab assistant."

"A lab assistant?" Franny said, totally forgetting about the sock experiment. More than anything, she had always wanted her very own lab assistant.

"Well," her mom said, "he's not a pure Lab. He's also part poodle, part Chihuahua, part beagle, part spaniel, part shepherd, and part some kind of weasly thing that's not even exactly a dog."

Franny stared blankly at the thing Mom had at the end of a leash.

"But he'll always be interested and excited about your projects, sweetheart, and you can teach him to be your assistant. His name's Igor."

Igor coughed and cocked his head. A few fleas hopped around in his fur. He could tell right away that he liked Franny, and he hoped she liked him.

"Oh. It's a dog," Franny said flatly, looking at Igor like he was half a glass of warm water. "I thought you meant..."

Franny was all ready to tell her mom to take Igor away, but as she looked into her mother's smiling face she could tell that her mom had really and truly thought that Igor was going to be a big hit.

She couldn't bring herself to let her mom down.

"He's perfect, Mom," Franny lied. "Thanks."

"I just knew you'd love him!" Mom squealed, and handed Franny the leash.

Franny led Igor into her room.

"Sit here," she said. "If I need your assistance with anything, I'll let you know."

Igor sat and tried to smile the friendliest smile that a dog with a mouthful of pointy, craggy teeth could smile.

More than anything, Igor wanted to be a mad scientist's assistant. Especially if that mad scientist was Franny.




Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Dogs -- Fiction.
Science -- Experiments -- Fiction.
Valentine's Day -- Fiction.
Schools -- Fiction.
Humorous stories.