Sample Chapter: Phineas L. MacGuire . . . Erupts!

plm_erupts_paperCHAPTER ONE

My name is Phineas Listerman MacGuire.

Most people call me Mac.

It’s okay if you call me Phin.

You can even call me Phineas.

Forget about calling me Listerman.

I am allergic to fifteen things. My mom says this is not true, that I’m only allergic to two things, peanuts and cat hair. But I am a scientist, and she’s not. I have scientific proof that it makes me itchy to think about the following items:

Avocados Yogurt, any flavor Cottage cheese Grape jelly Any kind of kissing, especially when there’s lipstick Celery Purple flowers Purple Magic Markers Purple crayons Anything purple Moist towelettes in foil packs Telephone calls All girls

I started fourth grade three weeks ago. When I started, I had a best friend. His name was Marcus Ballou. Marcus is also a scientist. We were a scientific team. We specialized in volcanoes, caves, fossils, all insects, and the solar system. But mostly volcanoes.

We have made and erupted over eighty-seven volcanoes in our lifetime. It’s very simple. You take an empty soda bottle (big) and put it in a baking pan (also big). Fill the bottle with lots of baking soda and four or five squirts of dishwashing liquid.

Then add vinegar and stand back.

You should do it outside, in case you were wondering. Unless you have a less irritated mom than mine. Then maybe you could do it on the kitchen table. If you’re like me and spill stuff everywhere even when you’re trying really hard to be careful, you should definitely do it at a friend’s house.

Here is the problem with Marcus: He moved. To Lawrence, Kansas. This is bad for at least two reasons. Now we aren’t a scientific team anymore. Also, he waited until the second week of school to move. If he had moved before school started, then I would have known to look around for a new best friend on the first day.

But I didn’t know to do this. I still had Marcus.

Everybody knew that me and Marcus were best friends and a scientific team. No one else tried to be best friends with us. They picked other best friends.

Here’s what you would hear all the time:

“Mac and Marcus” “Mac and Marcus” “Mac and Marcus”

Now all you hear is:

“Mac” “Mac” “Mac”

Scientifically speaking, it’s a pretty lonely sound.

Text copyright © 2006 by Frances O’Roark Dowell
Illustrations copyright © 2006 by Preston McDaniels

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