Ellray Jakes Walks the Plank

BOOK: Ellray Jakes Walks the Plank
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Ellray Jakes
walks the plank!

BY
Sally Warner

illustrated by

Jamie Harper

An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

VIKING

Published by Penguin Group

Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in 2012 by Viking, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Text copyright © Sally Warner, 2012

Illustrations copyright © Jamie Harper, 2012

All rights reserved

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

Warner, Sally.

EllRay Jakes walks the plank / by Sally Warner; illustrated by Jamie Harper.

p. cm.

Summary: Third-grader EllRay is becoming famous for messing up when his little sister accidentally kills the classroom goldfish EllRay is taking care of and then he leaves his teacher’s read-aloud book at home.

ISBN: 978-1-101-56584-1

[1. Behavior—Fiction. 2. Responsibility—Fiction. 3. Schools—Fiction. 4. African Americans—Fiction.]

I. Harper, Jamie, ill. II. Title.

PZ7.W24644Ep 2012 [Fic]—dc23 2011016029

Manufactured in China

Set in ITC Century

Book design by Nancy Brennan

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

For Lucy and Noah Parsons
—S.W.

For Alison and Maddie —J.H.

CONTENTS

1 ZIP, NOT SWIMMY

2 TWO SHAKES

3 A DISASTER

4 DEAD OR ALIVE

5 INVISIBLE PET DAY

6 NUTRITION BREAK

7 AN EXTRA LITTLE VACATION

8 THE NAME YOU GET

9 OCTOPUS TAG

10 TUG-OF-WAR

11 YOU OWE ME!

12 CLASH

13 PLANNING MY GETAWAY

14 SUCH A STUPID FIGHT

15 BLAME IT ON ELLRAY

16 MAYBE

17 THE GEODE

18 PERSONAL BEST

ZIP, NOT SWIMMY

“Why do you hate Swimmy?” my four-year-old sister Alfie asks me one rainy afternoon in April during spring break.

“I don’t hate him,” I say, pressing PAUSE on my hand-held video game. And it’s true. I just don’t want to start liking him too much, that’s all. He has to go back to school on Monday.

Alfie and I are both sitting on my bed, but I am the only one who is supposed to be here. I was alone in my room, leaning against my pillows minding my own business, trying to top my personal best in
Die, Creature, Die
. Mom thinks the game is too violent, but it’s not. It’s just space creatures you are socking with your
FIST OF DOOM
. But Alfie ruined the whole thing.

“He’s just a regular goldfish,” I say. “He’s barely
even two inches long. What is there to hate?”

“But you don’t
like
him,” Alfie says, not backing down.

Everyone says how cute my sister is, but they don’t know how stubborn she can be. She is golden-brown like an acorn, and she has big brown eyes. She usually wears her hair in three puffy little braids, one on each side of her head and one sort of in the back. It’s hard to explain girls’ hair right.

I am
so
glad I do not have to be the one to fix Alfie’s hair each morning, by the way! You should hear the yelling. And Alfie’s braids have to be just perfect. I feel sorry for my mom.

“That fish is not even ours, Alfie,” I remind her—and I remind myself, because I secretly really do like him. He is very unusual for a goldfish. He has a white spot on his stomach, and you can just tell how smart he is. Also, I think he knows me now. “And his name’s Zip, not Swimmy,” I remind Alfie. “You’ll
just confuse him if you start calling him by the wrong name.”

Zip is actually Ms. Sanchez’s goldfish, and Ms. Sanchez is my third grade teacher at Oak Glen Primary School, in Oak Glen, California. Oak Glen is about an hour away from San Diego if the traffic is bad, which my dad says it always is.

Ms. Sanchez’s boyfriend won Zip for her at a church festival two weeks ago when he tossed a ping-pong ball into a bowl of water the size of a softball. Ms. Sanchez says this is a lot harder to do than it looks.

And then Ms. Sanchez brought her new fish to our classroom so it wouldn’t be alone all day. She says Zip will be our class mascot, and that having an official pet will also “help remind us of other living things.”

I think there are plenty of “other living things” in our class already, like fifteen girls and ten boys, only
ten
, and I am reminded of them every single day.

But whatever!

When it was time for our school’s spring break, I volunteered to take care of Zip at my house for
the whole week. Ms. Sanchez was going to fly to Texas to see her family, but
my
family wasn’t going anywhere, because our dad had geology classes to teach at a college in San Diego.

Our family’s vacations almost never come out even, except in the summer.

A goldfish is probably the only thing in the whole universe Alfie isn’t allergic to, so this was going to be my big chance to see what it was like having a pet in the house. And I was happy to volunteer to take care of Zip, because I kind of felt sorry for him, not getting to go to Texas with Ms. Sanchez just because he’s a fish.

He can’t help that.

Maybe I’ll get extra credit from Ms. Sanchez for taking such good care of her new pet, our class mascot. I could use some extra credit, that’s for sure.

My name is EllRay Jakes, and I am eight years old, and I am having the worst semester
EVER
.

But that means things can only get better, right?

BOOK: Ellray Jakes Walks the Plank
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