Authors: Jerry Spinelli
Aunt Sally scratched her ear. “Guess it don’t rightly have a name. I usually just call it ‘hey you.’ ”
Tooter stepped back to look the goat over. It was the color of dirty white socks before they went into the washer. She was thinking of naming it “Socks” when suddenly she burped. And the burp tasted like last night’s pizza.
“I got it!” she cried. She leaned in nose to nose with the goat. “Pepperoni!”
Blue Ribbon Blues
Books for older readers
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 1998 by Jerry Spinelli
Illustrations copyright © 1998 by Donna Nelson
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
and colophon are registered trademarks and
A STEPPING STONE BOOK
and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Blue ribbon blues / by Jerry Spinelli; illustrated by Donna Nelson.
p. cm. — “A Stepping Stone book.”
: When Tooter Pepperday and her family move to her aunt’s farm, she decides to show everyone and win a blue ribbon at the county fair.
[1. Farm life—Fiction. 2. Fairs—Fiction. 3. Family life—Fiction. 4. Aunts—Fiction.]
I. Nelson, Donna Kae, ill. II. Title.
PZ7.S75663B1 1998 [Fic]—dc21 97–5659
To the grandkids, every one of you
Kathy Morgan—and her beloved goats—were a
big help in writing this story. —J.S.
The policeman got into his car and drove off. Mrs. Pepperday waved from the porch. “Thank you, Officer! Have a nice day.”
When the police car was out of sight, Mrs. Pepperday stopped smiling. She went into the house and stood at the foot of the stairway. “Tooter!” she called. She waited a moment. In her hand was a paintbrush, tipped with blue paint. She waved the brush in the air. “Tooter!” she shouted again, louder this time.
Chuckie came running. “Is Tooter in trouble again, Mom?”
“One guess,” said Mrs. Pepperday.
Mrs. Pepperday stormed up the stairs. Chuckie followed close behind. They found Mr. Pepperday in his office. He was sitting at his computer, writing.
“Have you seen Tooter?” asked Mrs. Pepperday.
Mr. Pepperday turned around. “No. What’s she done now?”
“She called 911, that’s what. A policeman was here.”
Just then a voice came from above. “You dumb chicken!”
“She’s in the attic!” Chuckie cried.
Mrs. Pepperday and Chuckie climbed the stairs to the attic. They were joined by Harvey, their rusty, shaggy dog.
In the attic they found Tooter and Eggbert. Eggbert was two months old. Eggbert had been hatched from an egg. Eggbert was a chicken.
Tooter made a stern face. She pointed at Eggbert and said, “Sit!”
Eggbert ran off to the corner. Harvey sat.
Tooter growled at Harvey. “Not you, dog.” She threw up her hands. “See, Mom? This dumb chicken won’t do anything I say.”
Mrs. Pepperday made a stern face of her own. “Is that why you called 911?”
“Of course,” said Tooter, surprised that her mother would ask.
“911 is for emergencies.”
Tooter sighed. “Mom, you think I don’t know that? Look—” She pointed to Eggbert, who was toddling across the bare wood floor. “That chicken is two months old and
won’t obey its mother. He hid under the old bed and wouldn’t come out. If that’s not an emergency, what is?”
Mrs. Pepperday held up a finger. “One, you are
that chicken’s mother. You were
simply there when it was hatched.” She held up another finger. “Two, a chicken is not a dog. You can’t teach it tricks. And three, hiding under a bed is
a police emergency.”
She poked a finger in Tooter’s face. “
do it again.”
Chuckie pointed and grinned. “Yeah,
do it again.”
Tooter grabbed Chuckie’s finger. She put it in her mouth. Mrs. Pepperday warned, “Tooter, don’t you dare bite.”
Tooter rolled her eyes.
At last Tooter released the finger. “I wasn’t going to bite it anyway,” she said. Chuckie and Harvey ran down the stairs.
Mrs. Pepperday went down a step, then turned back to Tooter. “Would you like some advice from your mother?”
“Don’t holler at Eggbert. And especially don’t call him names. Mothers don’t do things like that.”
“But you said I’m not his mother.”
Mrs. Pepperday smiled. “I didn’t say you couldn’t pretend.”
Tooter sat down on her father’s desk.
“What are you writing today, Dad?” she asked.
Mr. Pepperday wrote books for children.
“A new story,” he said. He rested his fingers on the keyboard. “Just started it.”
“What’s it about?”
“Oh,” he said, “it’s about a girl.”
“What’s her name?”
“Haven’t decided yet.”
“What’s the story about?”
Mr. Pepperday folded his hands over his
stomach. “Well, I haven’t figured it all out yet. I think I’ll start with the girl moving from her home in the suburbs to a farm in the country.”
Tooter’s eyes opened wide. “Dad, that’s me!”
Mr. Pepperday laughed. “Not really. Remember, it’s just a story. It’s made up. It’s not real life.”
Tooter’s smile drooped. “I wish you could make up my real life for me.”
Mr. Pepperday squeezed her knee. “What’s the matter, Toot?”
Tooter slumped. “Eggbert doesn’t like me.”
“How do you know what Eggbert is feeling?”
“I can tell,” said Tooter. “If he liked me, he would listen to me.”
“Doesn’t listen, huh?”
“Nope. No matter what I tell him to do, he doesn’t do it. He never obeys me.” She threw up her arms. “His
Mr. Pepperday took Tooter’s hands in his. He patted them. “Tooter, I’m afraid I have some shocking news for you. Eggbert is a chicken. He is not your son. You are not his mother.”
that!” Tooter scolded him. “But Mom said I can pretend.”
“Oh, well, then,” said Mr. Pepperday. “By all means, pretend away.”
“Can you help me, Dad?” Tooter asked.
Mr. Pepperday folded his arms, bowed his head, and closed his eyes.
“Dad,” said Tooter. “You can’t go to sleep now!”
“I’m not,” said Mr. Pepperday. “I’m thinking. Shhh.”
Tooter remained silent while her father
thought. At last he opened his eyes. “Your mother used to sing to you.”
Tooter brightened. “A lullaby?”
“No. Not a lullaby. But it’s a song everybody knows.”
“What?” said Tooter.
“ ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ ”
Tooter laughed. “You’re kidding.” She looked at her father’s face. “Right?”
Mr. Pepperday shook his head. “Nope. Not kidding. You hated lullabies. ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ was the only song that put you to sleep. When you started to talk, you called it ‘The Tar-Bangled Banner.’ ”
Tooter shrugged. “Okay, I guess it’s worth a try.” She went back up the stairs.
Mr. Pepperday heard Tooter singing in the attic.
“Oh! say, can you see …”
Mr. Pepperday smiled at the sound of his
daughter’s voice singing the national anthem.
“… and the home of the brave?”
What followed was definitely not singing.
Then came footsteps stomping down the stairs and into his office.
Mr. Pepperday cut her off. “Okay,” he said, “how about this? Eggbert is a chicken, right?”
“So maybe Eggbert will only listen to another chicken.”
“Great thinking, Dad,” said Tooter. “Except for one little thing. I’m not a chicken.”