Chapter 1: Front-Page News! 1 Front-Page News!
Ring! Ring! The phone rang at Allie Anderson’s house. Allie raced to get it.
“Hi,” she said.
“Want to go to the playground?” asked a voice at the other end.
The voice belonged to Amy Cooper. Allie and Amy were best friends. When they weren’t together, they were talking on the phone.
“I need five minutes to get ready and one to get downstairs,” said Allie.
“See you in six!” said Amy.
Allie and Amy lived in apartment buildings next door to each other. They each lived on the sixth floor.
Five minutes later, they each got into their elevators and pressed the first-floor button. They watched the numbers light up. Six, five, four, three, two, one!
The girls burst out of their buildings at the exact same time.
“We’re amazing!” said Amy.
“You can say that again,” said Allie.
“We’re amazing!” said Amy.
“Very funny,” said Allie. “I’ll race you to the playground.”
It was a nose-to-nose tie all the way. When they got there, they came to a screeching stop. The playground was shut tight, with a big lock on the gate. A sign said:
“Closed?” said Allie. “What are we supposed to do without a playground?”
“It’s too horrible even to think about!” said Amy.
“Come on,” said Allie. “We might as well go home.”
The girls did an about-face. On the way back, they passed a newsstand and saw a copy of the Peabody Daily.
“Look! Front-page news!” said Allie.
The headline read:
The girls stopped to read all about it.
The report in the paper said the town needed new playground equipment, and there’d be a street fair over the weekend to raise money.
“That means games and rides and food!” said Allie.
“We can have a booth,” said Amy.
“Let’s do something new and different,” said Allie.
“I know!” said Amy. “We could have a storytelling booth. We’ll be good at that.”
Just then bouncy, bubbly Gracie came along. Gracie always made the girls laugh.
“Hi!” Gracie said. “Did you hear about the fair? We should have a joke-telling booth. I already have a great joke. What did the Ferris wheel say to the carousel?”
“We give up,” said Amy.
“See you around… and around… and around!” said Gracie.
The girls rolled their eyes around… and around… and around.
“We were thinking about having a storytelling booth,” said Allie.
“Ooh, that’s a good one,” said Gracie. “It can be an Instant-Story Booth.”
“Cool,” said Amy. “Whoever buys a ticket will tell us three facts about themselves. Then we’ll make up a fabulous story on the spot.”
“Let’s try it,” said Allie. “Fact number one—”
Whoosh! Before she could finish, she was almost knocked off her feet.
“Why don’t you watch where you’re going!” called Allie.
“Why don’t you watch where you’re standing!” Marvin answered.
Marvin could be a lot of fun, but he could also be pretty obnoxious.
Whoosh! Something missed Amy’s toes by a nose.
Dave had just moved into the neighborhood and was already best buddies with Marvin. Dave came in a close second in the obnoxious department.
“You’re blocking traffic,” said Dave. “You could get a ticket for that.”
“Speaking of tickets,” said Allie, “we’ll be selling them at our booth.”
“What? The goofy-girls booth?” asked Marvin.
“That’s so funny, I forgot to laugh,” said Amy. “For your information, we’re having an Instant-Story Booth.”
“That’s so boring, I forgot to wake up,” said Dave.
“We’re giving skateboard lessons at our booth,” said Marvin.
“Oh really? Then we’d better have a Band-Aid Booth,” said Allie.
“Just for that, we’re going to charge you double,” said Marvin.
“We wouldn’t go to your booth even for free,” said Amy.
“Come on,” said Allie. “We don’t have time to waste. We have places to go!”
“Things to do!” said Amy.
“People to see!” said Gracie.
The three girls linked arms, put their noses in the air, and stomped off.
The truth was, they had no idea where they were going.