To the kids of St. Francis of Assisi School
in West Des Moines, Iowa
My name is A.J. and I hate dead fish.
Live fish are okay, but I don't like the dead ones.
We just finished pledging the allegiance in Mr. Granite's class when our principal, Mr. Klutz, came in. He has no hair at all. I mean
. But you wouldn't know it, because he was wearing a baseball cap on his head.
On the front of his cap was the word HATS.
That was weird. He was only wearing
“Why does your hat say âHATS' on it?” asked my friend Michael, who never ties his shoes.
“Yeah, Mr. Klutz, do you label
your stuff?” asked Ryan, who will eat anything, even stuff that isn't food.
It would be weird to have a lamp with a sign on it that said LAMP. Or a table with a sign on it that said TABLE. Some stuff you don't need to name.
“HATS stands for Helping All to Succeed,” Mr. Klutz told us. “That's what we try to do every day at Ella Mentry School.”
Mr. Klutz doesn't come into our classroom very often. I figured he must have something really important to say. I hoped that we weren't in trouble. Maybe he found out what we did to Mr. Granite's pencil sharpener. Or maybe he found out what Ryan tried to flush down the toilet the other day. I tried to remember all the bad things I did recently.
“I came here to tell you children that next month is our annual school carnival,” Mr. Klutz said. “I'm hoping we'll be able to raise five thousand dollars so we can buy new playground equipment.”
Five thousand dollars?
Is he crazy? That's almost a
“How are we ever going to raise
much money?” asked Neil, who we call the nude kid even though he wears clothes.
“I could sell my sister,” I volunteered.
“That's illegal, Arlo!” said Andrea Young, this annoying girl with curly brown hair. She calls me by my real name because she knows I don't like it.
“Yeah!” said her crybaby friend, Emily, who agrees with everything Andrea says. “That's illegal.”
“Well, maybe we can sell my sister's American Girl doll collection,” I suggested. “It's worth a lot of money.”
“How about we sell all these desks and chairs and school supplies?” suggested Alexia, who rides a skateboard everywhere. “We don't need that stuff.”
“I know,” said Ryan. “Maybe we can sell the whole
! It must be worth at least five thousand dollars.”
“Yeah!” all the kids agreed, except for Andrea and Emily.
Ryan should get the No Bell Prize for that idea. That's a prize they give out to people who don't have bells.
“If we sold the school, we wouldn't have any place to put the playground equipment,” said Mr. Granite.
“The reason I wanted to speak to you today,” Mr. Klutz continued, “is because I'm looking for a parent who will volunteer to be in charge of fund-raising at the carnival.”
“Fund-raising?” I asked. “What does
“Well,” explained Mr. Klutz, “funds are money, and raising isÂ .Â .Â . raising.”
“So you're looking for a parent who picks up money off the ground?” I asked.
Everybody laughed even though I didn't say anything funny.
“No, dumbhead,” said Andrea, rolling her eyes. “Mr. Klutz is looking for a parent who knows how to raise money.”
“I knew that,” I lied.
“My mom used to be a professional fund-raiser,” said Alexia. “But I don't want her to volunteer.”
“Why not?” asked Andrea. “I bet she would be great.”
“My mom is weird,” said Alexia. “She'll embarrass me if she comes to school.”
parents are weird and embarrassing,” I told Alexia.
“Yeah, you should see my dad,” said Michael. “He trims his ear hair with a little machine that he sticks in his ear.”
dads trim their ear hair,” said Neil.
“All dads are weird,” I pointed out. “And if our dads didn't trim their ear hair, they would have five-foot-long hair sticking out of their ears! If that's not weird, I don't know what is.”
“What about nose hair?” asked Ryan. “That's way weirder than ear hair.”
“Boys are gross!” Andrea said.
Why can't a truck full of nose hair fall on Andrea's head?
We were all arguing about which was weirder, nose hair or ear hair. Mr. Klutz clapped his hands and made a peace sign with his fingers, which means “shut up.”
“Alexia, is your mother's name Sue?” asked Mr. Klutz.
“YeahÂ .Â .Â .”
“I'm going to give her a call,” Mr. Klutz said. “She could be a big help to us.”
Alexia sank under her desk.
You'll never believe in a million hundred years what happened the next day. Mr. Klutz came in and told us that Alexia's mom, Ms. Sue, volunteered to do the fund-raising for the school carnival!
Or maybe you
believe it, because this book is called
Ms. Sue Has No Clue!
If Ms. Sue said she
want to volunteer, the book would have a different title. Like
Miss Mitsy Is Ditsy!
Mr. Putty Is Nutty!
Mrs. Julia Is Peculiar!
“Yay!” everybody yelled when Mr. Klutz told us the news.
“Boo!” said Alexia. “I'm telling you, this is a
But nobody heard her, because guess who walked into the door at that moment?
Nobody! It would hurt if you walked into a door. But you'll never believe who walked into the
It was Alexia's mom, Ms. Sue!
Alexia hid under her desk so her mother wouldn't notice her. When your mom or dad comes into your classroom, you should always hide under your desk. That's the first rule of being a kid.
Ms. Sue was all smiles and looked very excited. She had a plate full of cupcakes in one hand. In her other hand she was lugging a giant thermometer. And I mean
. That thing was taller than
“What do you think that thermometer is for?” I whispered to Ryan, who was sitting next to me.
“I guess Alexia's mom is going to take our temperatures,” Ryan whispered back.
“I can't fit that thing in my mouth,” I whispered to Ryan.
“What makes you think she's going to put it in your
Ms. Sue put the giant thermometer in the corner and rested it against the wall. Then she passed out cupcakes to all of us.
“Hi boys and girls,” she said while we ate. “People call me the Queen of Cupcakes. I'm so excited to be fund-raising for the school carnival. We're going to have lots of fun and raise lots of money so we can buy new playground equipment for the school.”
“Tell the children some of the great fund-raising ideas you have,” said Mr. Klutz.
“Sure!” said Ms. Sue. “We're going to sell cupcakes and blah blah blah blah bingo blah blah blah blah prizes blah blah blah blah car wash blah blah blah blah parents blah blah blah blah money blah blah blah blah pony rides blah blah blah blah blahÂ .Â .Â .”
She went on like that for a million hundred hours. It was hard for me to pay attention to what she was saying, because all I could think about was that giant thermometer and what Ms. Sue was going to do with it.
“I think we can raise even
than five thousand dollars,” she told us. “If we raise
thousand dollars, we could buy a really nice swing set and a zip line for the playground!”
Zip lines are cool. Everybody was getting excited. But not me. I kept staring at the giant thermometer. Ms. Sue probably needed to take everyone's temperature to see if we were healthy enough to ride on the zip line we were going to buy.
“Who knows?” Ms. Sue continued. “Maybe we can raise
thousand dollars! With that much money, we could get a SMART Board for every classroom in the school.”
“I could really use a SMART Board,” said Mr. Granite.
“The sky's the limit!” said Ms. Sue. “If we put our minds to it and work really hard, we could raise a
thousand dollars. Or even a million!”
Ms. Sue was waving her arms around excitedly. She had a glassy look in her eyes.
“Think of it!” she said. “We could buy an iPad for every student in the school. We could get a climbing wall and a swimming pool for the gym! We could put an ice cream machine in the lunchroom! We could buy a hot tub for the teachers' lounge!”
Alexia was still hiding under her desk. I leaned over and whispered to her. “You said your mom used to be a professional fund-raiser. How come she stopped doing that?”
“She got fired,” Alexia told me. “My mom tends to go overboard.”
“She falls out of boats a lot?” I asked.
“No, I mean she gets carried away,” Alexia told me.
“Does she get carried away after she falls out of boats?”
“She doesn't fall out of boats!” said Alexia.
the one who said she fell out of a boat,” I said. Why is everybody always talking about boats?
Anyway, Ms. Sue told us more of the great stuff we could buy with the money we were going to raise.
“We could get personal robots that carry your backpacks to school for you! We could blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blahÂ .Â .Â .”
I wanted her to keep talking, because as long as she was talking she wouldn't be able to take our temperature with that giant thermometer. I bet the only reason why she gave us cupcakes was to distract us so we wouldn't think about the thermometer. Well, it didn't work with
Finally, Ms. Sue stopped talking. She went to the corner of the room.
It was thermometer time.
I was sweating. I thought I was gonna die.
Ms. Sue smiled as she picked up the giant thermometer.
I wanted to run away to Antarctica and go live with the penguins. This was the worst thing to happen to me since TV Turnoff Week!
“And what are you planning to do with that giant thermometer, Ms. Sue?” asked Mr. Klutz.
“This will let everybody know how much money we raise,” she replied. “Every time we get a hundred dollars, we'll record it on the thermometer.”
“You mean you're not going to take our temperature with that thing?” I asked.
Everybody laughed even though I didn't say anything funny.
“Of course not!” said Ms. Sue. “That would be ridiculous.”
Oh. Never mind.