Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Danger for Boys: The Great Mosquito, Bull, and Coffin Caper by Nancy Lamb

"Marvin says we'll forget each other a week after you move," I told Jimmy the next morning in the clubhouse.

"No way," said Jimmy.

"Do you think it's possible?" I asked. "Is it that easy to forget someone when they live far away?"

Jimmy thought about it. "Not if you've done something together that's hard to forget..." he said.

That's what gave me the idea. "What if we did something really weird together, something absolutely impossible to forget," I said. "If it was scary enough, if it was awful enough, we'd be sure to remember it as long as we live."

When Zander finds out that Jimmy's family is moving all the way to California in just three weeks, he and his best friend sign a pact to do three really weird things together before Jimmy goes.

The first weird thing isn't so bad. They promise to let a mosquito land and bite them without a wiggle or a swat. It's weird and a little icky, but they carry it off bravely.

The second weird thing takes a bit more doing--going into Farmer Baker's pasture and doing the matador thing with his humongous Brahman bull. The only red things Jimmy can come up with for their capes are the tops and bottoms of his homemade barnyard pajamas, and the stupid things don't seem to do anything to the bull--until the boys start walking back toward the fence. Then--stampede! The boys scoot under the barbed wire fence just in time to avoid being bull bait.

But it's the third weird thing, sleeping all night in a coffin in the showroom of the Heavenly Rest Mortuary, that really tests the power of their pledge. Wriggling in through the forgotten pet door at the rear of the funeral home, the boys, armed with their 10-year guaranteed lithium battery flashlights and an alarm clock to wake them before dawn, put their oath of friendship forever to the test as they rest very warily in the two most expensive coffins in the Heavenly Rest showroom.

"Have you ever known anybody who slept in a casket?" I whispered.

"Nobody besides vampires," Jimmy answered.

"I'm sorry you said that."

"Me, too."

The Great Mosquito, Bull, and Coffin Caper is just the kind of risky business that danger-dodging kids will love. It's fun for solo summer bedtime reading and also works well as a read aloud for sleepovers. And who could ever forget that sleepover in the mortuary?



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