Winkler, Henry_ Oliver, Lin - The Night I Flunked My Field Trip

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Table of Contents

Title Page



About the Authors

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Text copULJKWE Fair Dinkum and Lin Oliver Productions, Inc.


eISBN : 978-1-101-15379-6

For Esther Newberg. Thank RXIRr
making this RXUILUVWFKLOGr en’s book.
And Stacey , alwaV+W .

For Leslie King and T eresa Nathanson,
pr ecious friends and Pilgrim
mothers for ever.—L.O.

“ZIP , DO N’T TELL ME YOU FORGOT YOUR permission slip,” my
best friend Frankie Townsend whispered as we slid into our seats in Ms.
Adolf ’s fourth-grade classroom.
“I didn’ t sa I forgot it,” I whispered back. “I said I might have forgotten
“Dude, I am not liking the sound of this,” Frankie said, shaking his head.
I pu lled m backpack onto the top of m desk and began a complete
search for the permission slip.
“It’ s got to be here,” I told Frank ie as I unzipped m backpack and began
looking through the main compartment.
“Zip, this is the last da”
“I know ,” I inte rrupted, “to bring it in. The field trip is tonight. Why
would I for get mSHUPLVVLRQVOLS"”
“Because RXUH Hank Zipzer , King of the Morons,” answered a voice
from the row behind me. It was Nick McKelty , the true king of the morons,
who never misse s a chance to hurl an insult m way . He laughed reall loud
and blasted some of his nastGUDJRQEUHDWKP way .
I kn ow I for get a lot. I mean a lo t, a lot. But I reall wanted to go on this
trip. And I didn’ t need McKeltRQP case about it.
“Listen up, McKelty ,” I began. “I’m tired of RX”
The bell rang before I could continue. Ms. Adolf walked over to her desk
and put her sack lunch into her bottom drawer. I sit close enough to her
desk to smell that she was having something involving tuna fish. And a
daROG banana. I can sniff out a daROG soft, turning-black banana a block
away .
“That will be quite enough, Henry,” Ms. Adolf said to me, tapping on her
desk with this pointer stick she has.
Enough? I hadn’ t even started. If she onlNQHw .
“But, Ms. Adolf, I didn’t start this.”
“Henry, if RX keep talking, I’m going to send RX to Princip al Love’ s

Wh was I getting into trouble? McKelty called me a moron. And why
was she still calling me Henr when I’ve been telling her since September
m name is Hank? Come on, this was April already . That’ s eigh t months of
Henr and zero months of Hank . Even m orthodontist Dr. Gibbons started
calling me Hank four months after I had asked him to, and he’s deaf in one
ear .
Ms. Adolf took the silver keVKHZHDUVRQDODQard around her neck and
unlocked the top drawer of her desk. She took out her roll book and carried
it ov er to m desk. Opening the book, she ran her finger down the list of
names, stopping at the ver last one. I had a bad feeling about that, since
mQDPHLV=LS]Hr , and it starts with the last letter of the alphabet.
Sure enough, Ms. Adolf looked at me over the top of her glasses and
frowned. And I don’ t mean just a regular frown, either. She looked at me
like there were worms crawling all over mIDFH%URZQKDLU worms.
“Congratulations, Henry,” she said in a voice that matched her face. “You
are the onlSXSLO who has not turned in his permission slip.”
“I’m sure it’ s in here, Ms. Adolf ,” I said, practicall diving headfirst into
Ms. Adolf folded her arms across her gre shirt. She tapped her foot
impatiently . She was wearing gre shoes with a gre buckle on them. Grey
is her favorite color . That’s because it goes so nicelZLWKKHUJUH face.
“I’m waiting,” Ms. Adolf said. As if the whole class hadn’ t noticed.
Wow , this was a lot of pressure. EverRQH in the class stared at me,
except Luke Whitman, that is, who was scratching a rash on his arm with
one of his vocabularIODVKFDUGV.
I pulled out a crumpled paper from the bottom of m backpack. At first, I
thought it was the permission slip. But when I uncrumpled it, I saw that it
was last week’ s math quiz, the one with the big red C-minus on top.
Tap , tap , tap. Ms. Adolf ’s feet were going faster. She was getting pretty
The zipper pouch! That’s it. I bet I stuffed the permission slip in my
zipper pouch.
I pulled m head out of the bag and said, “I think I know where it is!”
Then I dove back in.
I dug around in the zipper pouch and finall pulled out a half-eaten
granola bar. It ha d a clump of greenish lint from the bottom of m backpack

hanging off of it. You’re probabl thinking it’s gross to have a linty , old
granola bar crammed in RXU backpack, but if RX saw the kind of granola
bar m mom gives me for snack, trust me, RXG stuff it in RXU zipper
pouch too. M mom doesn’ t believe in granola bars that have chocolate
chips and marsh mallows and fun stuff in them. That would be the kind that
taste good. She gives me what she calls health-nola bars. That would be the
kind that taste like brown construction paper .
Tap , tap , tap . Ms. Adolf ’s fe et were certainl getting a workout. Now she
was getting thos e red splotches on her neck too. The start appearing when
I’m late or if anERG laughs in class.
“Mr. Zip zer, all permission slips were due no later than this morning,”
she said.
Uh-oh. It’ s bad enough that Ms. Adolf calls me Henry . Now it was Mr.
This called for extreme action. I turned m entire backpack upside down
and dumped everWKLQJ out on m desk. A whole bunch of crumbs and
broken pencil stubs and Snapple tops and a pink high bounce came
tumbling out. It wasn’ t a prett sight. Worst of all, there was no permission
slip anZKHUH.
Ms. Adolf shook her head.
“I told RXesterday , Henry, that if I did not have RXUVLJQHGSHUPLVVLRn
“NO!” I shouted. Whoops. I m eant to sa that to mVHOI She wouldn’ t
make me miss this field trip , would she?
There are some field trips I wouldn’ t mind missing. Like the one in
second grade when we took the bus to the pumpkin patch and Luke
Whitman got carsick and threw up all over m new Converse high-tops. I
could’ve missed that.
But tonight’s field trip wasn’ t just an old one. It was the coolest one
ever. Our entire fourth-grade class was going to spend the night on The
Pilgrim Spirit , a tall sailing ship that was dock ed in New York Harbor . And
that’ s not all. We were going to sleep over on the ship and live just like the
sailors of long ago did. That means we were going to do neat things like
stand watch and tie knots and sing sea songs with the captain and crew .
And now Ms. Adolf was telling me that I couldn’t go? No way.
“Ms. Adolf, this isn’ t fair,” I said.

“It’s a school rule, and we cann ot just break it an old time we choose,”
she said. “W e cannot let RX go on a field trip without our parents’
permission, Henry . That’s final.”
“But m dad signed the permission slip this morning,” I said. “Just
before he left for his crossword puzzle convention. In green ink!”
Another blast of bad breath came flLQJDFURVVWKHURRPDQGKLWPHLQWKe
face like a stinkEDOORIEXUQLQJUXEEHr .
“A cros sword puzzle conventio n!” Nick the Tick hooted. “Could RXr
familEHDQ nerdier?”
I have to confess, m famil is what some people might call nerdy . Like
m sister Emil has a pet iguana named Katherine and the both like to eat
sardines. And m dad loves to do crossword puzzles in his boxer shorts at
the end of the dining room table we don’ t eat on. He’s a crossword puzzle
nut. I mean, he’ll wake up in the middle of the night just to write down a
seven-letter word for monke fur. And m mom, all RX need to know
about her is that her favorite thing to cook is wheatgrass noodle casserole
with blueberr flecks. And then there’ s our dog, Cheerio. When he’s not
spinning in circles, he likes to lick the bricks on the fireplace just for fun.
But me thinking m famil is a little on the nerd side is a whole lot
different than Nick the Tick mouthing off about it. He wasn’ t getting away
with this.
“For RXULQIRUPDWLRQ0F.HOWy ,” I said, turning around to face him. “My
dad once finished an entire New York Times crossword puzzle in four
minutes and thirtVHYHQVHFRQGV7KDW’ s a tri-countUHFRUG”
“Big deal,” snor ted McKelty . “M dad once shook hands with the king of
“Like that has anWKLQJ to do with anWKLQJ piped up Ashle Wong, my
other best friend, who was sitting across the aisle from me.
Ashle hates it when McKelt brags, especiall since most of what he
saV isn’t true, anZDy . Like in this case, mabe Nick McKelt saw a map
of Ethiopia once. Suddenly , he makes it seem like his dad is best friends
with the king. W e call this the McKelt)DFWRUWUXWKWLPHVDKXQGUHG.
Ashle went over to McKelt’ s desk. Even though he’s huge and she’s
little and wears glasses, Ashley’s not afraid of McKelty . She saV he’s all
hot air. Rotting food, bad-smell ing hot air, I might add. Don’t his parents
encourage him to brush?

I’m not sure exactl what Ashle was planning to do, but Ms. Adolf
didn’ t like the look of things and hurried over to settle the argument. That
gave Frankie a chance to talk to me.
“Take a deep breath, Zip, and fill RXUEUDLQZLWKR[gen,” he said.
Frankie’ s mom is a RJD teacher . She’ s so flexible, she can touch the
back of her head with the tips of her toes. She’s been telling us since we
were little that oxJHQ is brain food. I took a deep breath, in through my
nose and out through mPRXWKMXVWOLNH)UDQNLH’ s mom had taught us.
“Now think, Zippola,” Frankie went on, “because RXU field trip future
depends on this. What did RXGRZLWKWKHSHUPLVVLRQVOLS"”
I plaHG back the morning in m mind, like rewinding a tape from
Blockbuster .
“I got out of bed and took a reallORQJSHH”
“Nix the XFN details,” said Frankie.
“I got a pen. Got the permission slip from mWKUHHULQJELQGHr .”
“Took the permission slip to m dad. Had him sign it. Put it on the hall
table under the Chinese vase. Got dressed. Put on m green jacket. Kissed
“And for got the permission slip under the Chinese vase,” said Frankie.
There it was.
At least I knew the location of the permission slip. Now all I had to do
was get it—immediately , if not sooner!

1. I could go to the of fice, get a new permission slip, and sign my
father’s name on the parent signature line.
2. Then I could go to jail for the rest of mOLIHIRUGRLQJWKDW,WKLQk
3. I’ll teleport mVHOIULJKWLQWRP living room, get the permission
slip, and beam mVHOIEDFNWRP seat before anRQHNQRZV,ZDs
4. Before I do that, I’ll have to invent the T ime Travel T eleportation
5. I’ll pretend to have a horrible stomach-ache so the school will call
an ambulance to take me to the hospital. I’ll ask the driver to swing
bP apartment so I can pick up the slip.
6. I could call Permission Slips R Us. Hey , maEHLWH[LVWVYou never
7. I could pretend to be Mr . Sicilian, the other fourth-grade teacher ,
and walk right out the teachers’ entrance. Oops, I’d have to grow a
mustache first.
8. I’ll learn to talk dog talk, call Cheerio, and ask him to bring the
permission slip to school. Hey , boy , arf , arf , bow wow , ruff ruff .
Sounds right to me.
9. Hank, face it, RXUHQRWJRLQJYou’re going to miss the best field
10. NO! I’m not giving up ... not HWDQway .

IT TOO K MY VERY BEST TALKING, but I finall convinced Ms.
Adolf to give me another hour to get m signed permission slip to her .
Since m dad was in New Jerse for most of the day, m onl hope was to
call m mom at work and ask her to bring the permission slip to school. A
lot of moms would get reall mad about having to leave work and come to
school for something like that, but I knew m mom wouldn’ t. She’ s used to
me forgetting things. She knows it’s not reall m fault. It’s the wa my
brain works, or doesn’ t work, in this case.
Ms. Adolf gave me permission to go to the office to use the phone. The
office at PS 87 is down on the first floor, past the kinder garten rooms and
all the wa at the end of the hall. Ms. Adolf said I had to be back in five
minutes because she had a surprise waiting for us. I had no choic e but to
run all the waWRWKHRf fice.
As I ran through the halls, I kept m ears open for the sound of Principal
Love’ s footsteps. He walks around the halls wearing these black Velcro
tennis shoes, and RX can hear them squeaking on the linoleum when he
walks. If Principal Love sees ou running in the halls, he’ll either give Ru
detention or a big old safet lecture like, “Running can lead to hurting or
breaking RXUERGy .” I don’t know which is worse, detention or the lecture.
Luckily, the onl grown-up I saw on the wa to the office was Mr. Rock,
who’ s our musi c teacher and maEH the coolest teacher I know . When he
saw me speeding down the hall, all he said was, “Whoa, Hank, got a train to
“No, but I’m going to miss m boat if I don’ t hurry ,” I said as I whizzed
past him.
Mr . Rock looked a little confused, but I didn’ t have time to explain.
Finally, I reached the office. Mrs. Crock, the attendance person, was at
her desk eating a green salad. She alwaV eats salad, even for breakfast. She
saV it’s because she’s on a die t, although I don’ t know why. I think she
looks nice just the waVKHLV.

“Hello, Hank,” she said. “Have RX been sent to see Principal Love
“Not this time,” I answered proudly .
It’s not like I get sent to the principal’ s of fice ever day. Let’ s just sa I
get sent there often enough that Mrs. Crock knows m parents’ phone
number b heart. At the beginn ing of fourth grade, I was sent to Principal
Love’ s office so man times that the chair in his office was actuall starting
to take on the shape of m butt. But then our school psFKRORJLVW Dr. Ber ger
figured out that I have learnin g challenges and started giving me some
special help. Now I don’ t get sent to the principal’ s office nearlDVPXFK.
I no ticed that there was a leaf green piece of lettuce stuck between her
front teeth. It was hard not to notice, since it covered one whole tooth and
half of the other one. It’s tough to decide whether RX should tell a grown-
up that the have something stuck in their teeth. Papa Pete, m grandfather ,
has a big , fluf f mustache that he calls his handlebars. We have a deal that I
alwaV have to tell him when there’s anWKLQJ hanging off of it. On
Saturda mornings, he likes to have crumb doughnuts with his cof fee and,
boy, do those things leave a trail in his mustache. Trust me, crumb
doughnuts aren’ t called “crumb” for nothing.
I de cided I didn’ t reall know Mrs. Crock well enough to brin g up the
lettuce in her teeth.
“Can I use the telephone to call mPRP",DVNHG0UV&URFN.
“Of course, honey,” she said, smiling again. I just couldn’ t keep m eHs
awa from her lettuce ... I mean ... tooth. It was just smiling out at me,
leafier and greener than before. I thought I saw it wave hello.
She handed me the phone and I dialed m mom’ s number . M mom runs
the Crun ch Pickle, which is our deli on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Papa Pete started it a long time ago, and recentl turned it over to m mom
when he retired. It has the best sandwiches in New York City , except (and I
mean this in the nicest wa for the food m mom makes. She’ s alwas
trLQJ to invent a new kind of health deli food. Yumm treats like tofu-
salami and chickenless chicken salad. Her food experiments ma be
healthy , but theKDYHDORQJZD to go in the taste department.
“Buenas dias, the Crunch Pickle,” said a voice on the other end of the
phone. It was Carlos, m mom’ s number one sandwich-maker . H e’s m pal.

Sometimes after work, we go to the park and he teaches me how to throw a
“Hi, Carlos,” I said. “Is mPRPWKHUH"”
“Hankito,” he answered. “How’ s mOLWWOHPDQ"”
“I’m good,” I said, “but I need to talk to mPRPLQDKXUUy .”
“Oh, Hankito, she’s not in the house.”
“Carlos, I gotta talk to her . Can RXILQGKHU"”
“No can do, little man. She’s in Queens doing Mrs. Gristediano’ s
birthda party. Three kinds of sandwiches. Roast beef, tuna, and liverwurst.
She’ s try ing to sneak in her potato free potato salad made with mung beans,
but I don’ t think it’s going to fly .”
“Excuse me, Carlos.” I hoped it wasn’ t rude to interrupt him, but b the
time he finished with the menu, Ms. Adolf would have crossed me off the
field trip list forever . “This is an emergency,” I explained.
“An emergenc Carlos said, sounding concerned. “You sta right
where RXDUH,PWKHUHDQG,PWDNLQJou to the doc.”
“No, Carlos. It’s not a hospital kind of an emer gency . It’ s a permission
slip kind of emer gency.”
“Wow, that’ s wa better ,” said Carlos. “Your mamacita, she can take care
of that when she gets back. She’ll be here at three o’clock. Well, knowing
her, maEHIRXr .”
This was bad news. I onl had an hour to turn in m permission slip.
After that, it was over . Finito, as Carlos would say .
I couldn’ t call m mom and ask her to leave the party . Wh should Mrs.
Gristediano have her whole birthda messed up just because I’m the king of
the for getters?
“Thanks anZDy , Carlos,” I said.
“Call back, three o’clock. MaEHIRXr .”
That was going to be too late. It looked like the boat was sailing without

I GOT BACK TO CLASS JUST IN TIME to hear Ms. Adol f sa my
least favorite sentence in the English language.
“Pupils, take out a piece of paper and number it from one to ten.”
In m ex perience, nothing fun ever comes after that sentence. Was I ever
right, because the next thing out of her mouth went a little something like
“You are about to take a social studies pop quiz.”
So that was the surprise Ms. Adolf had prepared for us. Wow , does she
know how to have fun or what?
“For this quiz, I will read ten words out loud,” Ms. Adolf droned on.
“You will write the correct definition for each. Spelling counts. The first
word is dinghy .”
We had been studLQJ nautical vocabular to get read for our field trip
to the ship. Nautical vocabulary includes onl words that have to do with
ships and sailing and the seas and stuf f like that. Ms. Adolf said that when
we go on The Pilgrim Spirit , the captain and crew were going to talk to us
like we were real sailors. We have to know the nautical vocabular if we
want to understand them and talk back.
“Dinghy ,” she repeated.
Dinghy. Think , Hank.
I remember reviewing that word , but I couldn’ t remember what it meant.
All I could think about was that sometimes I’m a little dingy when I for get
to focus. Man, did I not like mEUDLQULJKWQRw .
Come on , brainster. Do something.
M brain wasn’ t cooperating. It was thinking that everRQH else was
going on the field trip except me.
Dinghy . It sounds like the noise a bell makes when it rings . Dinghy .
I was prett sure that wasn’ t th e right definition, so I left number one
“Aft,” she said.

Yes! I knew that! Sailors don’t talk about the front or back of a ship, they
sa fore and aft.
I wrote m definition. “The rear end of a ship.” Ordinarily , I might have
laughed at the words “rear end” because the remind me of a human butt.
But I was feelin g so bad about the permission slip that the idea of laughing
was verIDUIURPP mind.
“Starboard,” Ms. Adolf said, continuing on with the quiz.
Okay , I sort of knew that. I rem embered that sailors call one side of the
ship the starboar d side and the opposite side is called port. But wh ich one
was the left side and which one was the right? Oh, boy. I have trouble
telling left from right, no matter what RX call them. You could call them
flibberGo and flibberGHH, and I’d still be confused. Dr. Ber ger has told
me kids with learning challenges sometimes have a hard time telling left
from right—that makes me feel better . The onl wa I can tell for sure is to
check m fingers, because the pink finger on m left hand is a little shorter
than the one on mULJKW.
“Starboard,” Ms. Adolf repeated.
I loo ked down at m hands. Which pink finger was the starboard one? I
didn’t know .
I was so relieved when the quiz was over and the recess bell rang. Ashley
and Frankie were all over me before I even had time to get mMDFNHWRQ.
“Hank, what are RX going to do?” Ashle asked as we headed down the
stairs to the school DUG “You absolutel positivel have to go on this field
“She’ s right,” Frankie agreed. “I’ve heard that it’s more awesome than
“Rub it in,” I said as we ran down the stairs.
Nick McKelt pushed past us, almost knocking both Frankie and me into
the railing.
“Watch it, McKelty ,” said Frankie. “StaRXWRIP house.”
“Got to get by,” said Nick the Tick. “Can’ t RX see the girls are expecting
me to walk with them?”
Katie Sperling and Kim Paulson, onl the two most beautiful girls in the
fourth grade, were a few stairs ahead of us. I’m sure the last thing they
wanted was to have Mr . Bad Breath panting along next to them.

“Watch,” said Ashley . “As soon as the get a whif f of him, theUH going
to duck into the girls’ bathroom.”
McKelt shoved his wa up to Katie and Kim and gave them a big smile.
I cou ldn’ t hear what he said, but I could see both of them back awa from
his fishy breath. I bet the smell fried the ends of their hair. Just as Ashley
predicted, when Katie and Kim got to the hall, the immediatel ducked
into the girls’ bathroom.
“Nice call, Ashweena,” Frankie said.
I pushed open the double door to the school DUG and we went outside.
Even though it was officiall spring and there were little green leaves on all
the trees, it wa s still prett cold. As we stopped to zip up our jackets,
“You bring an of those XPP Twinkies in RXU lunch toda" he asked
Ashley . McKelt alwaV comes b our table at lunch and tries to swipe
Ashle’ s dessert. He’ s a total Twinkie hog.
“What’s it to ou?” answered Ashley, snapping her head around so her
ponWDLOIOLSSHGLQKLVIDFHY ou won’t be having any .”
“We’ll see about that,” he said. A basketball came bouncing toward him.
Bonk! It hit him on the head and bounced of f. The big lug didn’t even react.
“Nice reflexes,” Frankie said.
“Oh HDK"0F.HOW shot back.
“Nice comeback too,” AshleDGGHG.
The conversation was moving too fast for McKelt and he stomped off to
join the basketball game. Ordinarily , Frankie would have been the first one
on the court. He’s got the best moves of an kid in our class. He can stuff it
from the inside, and from the outside it’s nothing but net. But he said no
when Ryan Shim ozato asked him to join his team. Ashle staHG back too.
I’m luck to have such good friends, the kind that won’ t just go off and
shoot baskets when I have a problem.
Ashle pushed her glasses back on her nose and started twirling her
“Operation permission slip,” she said. She was all business. “Let’s come
up with a plan. The wa I see it, gentlemen, we have fortILYH minutes.”
She checked her watch, which was decorated with blue and lavender
rhinestones. Ashle glues rhinestones onto all her clothes, so when RX see
her in the sunlight, she’ s verVSDUNOy.

It was quiet. Too quiet.
“All ideas are welcome,” Frankie said. “Speak right up.”
I couldn’ t think of anWKLQJ M dad was in New Jersey . M mom was in
Queens. M dachshund Cheerio was spinning in a circle . And the
permission slip was at home with him. End of story .
“Come on, guV she said. “Where there’ s a will, there’ s a way . Isn’ t that
what Papa Pete alwaVVDs?”
Bam! There it was. Papa Pete!
Y ou kno w how when RXYH been friends with people for a reall long
time, sometimes RX get the exact same idea at the exact same time? Well,
that’ s what happened.
“If I’m not mistaken, I believe Papa Pete has a ke to RXU apartment,”
“That he does,” I answered with a big grin.
“Gentlemen, we have our plan,” said Ashley .

WE RAN TO THE OFFICE faster than RX can say, “Hank Daniel
Zipzer, RXUH going on the field trip, after all!” Go ahead, tr saLQJ it.
Now RXNQRZH[DFWO how long it took us to get there. PrettIDVWKXK?
Mrs. Crock was at her desk. She smiled at us. Yup, RX guessed it. Old
Mr . Lettuce Leaf was still there. I looked away , but Frankie didn’t.
“If you don’ t mi nd m saLQJ so, Mrs. Crock, RX have someth ing large
and green plaLQJ hook on RXU teeth,” Frankie said withou t batting an
eH Then he flashed her that big grin, the one that makes the dimple pop in
on his left cheek.
“Thank RX for pointing that out, Frankie dear,” said Mrs. Crock. Then
she reac hed in her drawer , got out her mirror , pulled the piece of lettuce off
her tooth, and sent it on its merr waWRWKHZDVWHEDVNHW.
See, that’s the difference between Frankie Townsend and me. I spent five
whole minutes wondering if I should sa anWKLQJ to Mrs. Crock, but
Frankie, he just broke the news like it was nothing. That’s called
confidence, and it’s what RX have when RXUH good at everWKLQJ like
Frankie is.
“Ma we use the telephone?” Ashle asked Mrs. Crock. “Hank has to
call his grandfather because he for got his permission slip.”
“Certainly, AshleGHDr ,” said Mrs. Crock.
And that’s the difference between Ashle Wong and me. She knows
exactl what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it. Boom, just like that.
From her brain to her mouth, out it comes.
Ashle picked up the phone. “What’s Papa Pete’s number at home?” she
asked me.
“He’s not there,” I said. “He bowls T uesdaDQG7KXUVGD mornings.”
Papa Pete is the best senior bowler on the Upper West Side. His team, the
Chopped Livers, has won the league championship at McKelt’ s Roll ’N
Bowl for three HDUV in a row . A long time ago, when he was in the navy ,
Papa Pete bowled a 300. In cas e RXUH not up on RXU bowling statistics,
that is a perfect game. He never brags about it, though. I just happened to

see the scorecar d once when we were looking at pictures in his old photo
“I’ll go ask Nick the Tick what the phone number is at his dad’ s bowling
alley ,” said Ashley .
Nick McKelt’ s father owns the bowling alle on 86th Street where Papa
Pete bowls. That’ s whLW’s called McKelt’ s Roll ’N Bowl.
“Forget that creep,” Frankie said. “W e’ll find the number ourselves. Mrs.
Crock, can we borrow RXUSKRQHERRN"”
“Certainly , dear ,” she said, smiling. Her teeth were as white as those little
Mrs. Crock got the phone book from her drawer and handed it to me. I
flipped it open to the M’s and looked at the page. It seemed to me like there
were a million little gre letters swimming around on that page like
tadpoles in a pond. I could feel mHes crossing.
In case I haven’ t mentioned it, I’m not too good at spelling. You might
even sa I stink at spelling . Ditto for reading. Double ditto for
alphabetizing. Put all that together , and what RX get is that looking up a
name in the phone book is not m idea of a good time. And don’t even talk
to me about dictionaries. How can RX look up a word that Ru don’ t know
how to spell in the first place, or even know how to sound out? I’m still
waiting for someone to explain that to me.
Frankie has known me m whole life, so he knew that if I looked up the
phone number , w e could have been there until next Easter , or maEH even
summer .
“Mind if I have a look, Zip?” he said, taking the phone book out of my
hands. He flipped through the pages and found the number easily. Ashley
dialed it, and handed the phone to me. W e’re a good team, the three of us.
“McKelt’s Roll ’N Bowl,” answered Mr. McKelt in a friendl voice. I
wondered how such a nice man could produce such a jerkNLG.
“Hello, Mr. McKelty . This is Hank Zipzer ,” I said. “Is m grandfather
“Is he here?” he shouted. “Son, he just bowled four strikes in a row . He’ s
here and he’ s hot. Hang on, and I’ll trWRSU him of f the lane.”
I could hear all the bowling alle sounds through the phone as I waited
for Papa Pete to pick up. The balls rolling down the oiled woode n lanes, the
pins clattering as the fell over , Fern the waitress calling out orders in the

coffee shop. That Fern, she makes an excellent root-beer float. If RXUe
ever in the neighborhood, check it out.
“Hankie, m boy. What’d RX forget?” It was the first thing Papa Pete
said when he picked up the phone, before he even said hello.
“Grandfathers know these things,” he said. “It’ s our job.”
Wow , he was amazing.
“I left m permi ssion slip for tonight’ s field trip under the Chine se vase,”
I said. “TheZRQ’ t let me go unless I turn it in.”
“When do RXQHHGLW"”
“Ten minutes ago.”
“Ten minutes ago, it is,” said Papa Pete. “I’ll jog over to RXU apartment
licketVSOLW and be at school in two shakes of a lamb’ s tail. Meet me in the
lobbE the trophFDVH”
“Papa Pete, I’m sorr RX have to leave,” I said. “I hear RXUe on a hot
“Hot, schmot,” said Papa Pete. “Bowling’ s a game. You’re m grandson.
Be right there, Hankie.”
Click. Before he even said good-bHKHZDVJRQH.
Do I have the best grandfather in the world? Let me answer that for RX.
Yes I do.

FRANKIE AND ASHLEY WENT BACK to our classroom to tell Ms.
Adolf that I would be a few minutes late getting back to class. I waited by
The walls all around the lobb were covered with kinder garten art. I
guess RXG call it art. There were about fift pieces of colored paper taped
to the wall, each one with a green leaf glued in the middle. The theme was
springtime. I went and looked at one of the leaves close-up. When I got
near enough to the paper , I could smell the white glue, the kind we used in
kinder garten. I loved school then. No spelling tests, no pop social studies
quizzes, no home-work, no pressure. Just building with blocks and dressing
up like firefighters and gluing a piece of noodle on colored paper. Man, I
was a whiz with glue.
Finally , the front door burst open and Papa Pete came running in. He was
wearing his red sweats, and he looked like a giant strawberry . A giant
sweating strawberry . Y ou’ve got to hand it to him, though. He jogged all the
wa there, which is prett good for a gu who’ s going to be sixtHLJKW on
June 26.
“Hankie, I got something RXUH going to love,” Papa Pete said with a big
“Sure, sure, I got that,” he said, handing me the blue slip of paper . “But
look what else I brought.”
He handed me a ziplock baggie. It had a pickle inside.
“Y our mother happened to have a couple of dills in the fridge. I thought
Papa Pete and I love to eat pickles together . Sometimes, he stops at the
Crunch Pickle and picks up whatever is fresh—half dills, garlic rounds,
bread and butter s—and we sit on the balcon outside m livin g room and
eat them.
“Thanks, Papa Pete,” I said. “It looks great, but I’ve got to get the
permission slip to m teacher now . I’m reallODWH”

“You go,” Papa Pete said. “And don’ t worry . I’ll save the pickle for after
school and—”
He was interrupted b a sound I’ve never heard coming from Papa Pete.
It was a cell phone plaLQJ “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Papa Pete
reached into his pocket and took out a brand-new , shiny, silver phone.
“Papa Pete!” I said. “When did RXJHWDFHOOSKRQH"”
“Yesterda he said. “Do RX know RX can pla games on this thing?
And check the baseball scores?”
Papa Pete reached out and pinched mFKHHNOLNHKHDOZDs does.
“I love this chee k and everWKLQJ attached to it,” he said. Then he turned
to leave. I could see him pressing buttons on his cell phone like craz and
I looked at the clock in the hall. I had three minutes to get to class and
turn in mVOLS,GLGP super -speed walk down the hall to the stairway .
Squeak , squeak , squeak. Oh, no. Principal Love’ s Velcro shoes were
coming down the hall from the opposite direction. And he was in them! Just
“Well, RXQJ Mr. Zipzer ,” Principal Love said in a boomin g voice.
Principal Love has this mole on his cheek that Frankie and I swear looks
just like the Statue of Liberty , but without the torch. When he talks, he
sounds like he should be tall with bush black hair, but actuall he’s short
and mostlEDOG.
“Nothing, sir ,” I said. MYRLFHVRXQGHGUHDOO little.
“Nothing accomplishes nothing, which is nothing RX can use the next
time RX need it,” he said, holding one finger in the air like he had just said
something reallLPSRUWDQW5HPHPEHUWKDWY oung Zipzer.”
“Yes, sir , I will,” I squeaked. “I have to go now .”
“First, I have something of extreme importance to tell RX Principal
Love said, getting so close to m face that I thought I could see eHV on his
Statue of LibertPROH.
Oh , no. Her e comes one of his lectur es.
I have never understood one thing Principal Love saV when he lectures
me. And the most annoLQJ thing is he saV everWKLQJ twice, which means
I don’ t understand it twice in a row .

“The greatest accomplishments are put into effect b doing something,”
he said. “That’ s what I alwaV tell RXQJ people. Yes, indeed. The greatest
accomplishments are put into ef fect bGRLQJVRPHWKLQJ”
“I’ll never forget that, sir,” I said. “Thank RX but I have to get my
permission slip to Ms. Adolf now .”
I looked up at the clock on the wall. I had one-and-a-half minutes left. I
reall had to go, but Principal Love looked like he had more to say . Please
let him be finished , I thought. Then a luck thing happened. Phillip
Gunning, a huge fifth-grader with size-twelve Nikes, came running down
the stairs at breakneck speed.
“Mr. Gu nning,” Principal Love said in his bushKDLUHG man voice.
“There is no running in these halls. Approach me immediately .”
That was m chance. I said a silent good-bH to the Statue of Liberty
mole and started up the stairs as fast as I could go without running. I could
hear Principal Love beginning to lecture Phillip Gunning, but I never
looked back.
MFODVVKDGDOUHDG started science when I came bursting in.
“Here, Ms. Ado lf,” I said, waving m blue permission slip at her . “I’ve
got it.”
Ms. Adolf looked at the clock, then at me.
“Y ou’re late,” she said. “It’ s thirtVHFRQGVSDVWWKHKRXr .”
Oh , no. She wasn’ t going to keep me from going because I was thirty
seconds late. She wouldn’ t do that. Not even Ms. Adolf would do that.
“Please, Ms. Adolf,” I said, thrusting the permission slip practicall in
her face. “I did m super -speed walk all the wa here, even though I have a
big blist er on m left heel and reall shouldn’ t be speed-walking at this
moment in time. And, besides, Principal Love stopped me in the hall.”
Ms. Adolf took the permission slip and looked it over . M heart was
beating fast. I glanced over at Frankie and Ashley . The looked like they
were hardlEUHDWKLQJ.
“All right, Henry . I’ll make an exception this time,” she said.
“Does that mean I can go on the field trip?” I asked.
“Yes, Henry . You maJR”
“Thank RX0V$GROI7KDQNou so much!”
I w as so happy , I could have hugged her. W ait. I take the hugging part
back. But I was reallKDSSy .

To mFRPSOHWHVKRFNHYHUone in the class burst into applause.
“W a to go, Hank,” all m friends said. Wow , that made me feel really

Christmastime, but it’s unbeli evable. The best thing about it is that
everERG’ s in a great mood. Just walking down the street looking at the
decorated store windows and watching the snow fall makes everERGy
happy. No one in the whole citLVPHDQRUJUXPSy .
Well, that’ s the wa it felt that da in Ms. Adolf ’s class. We were all so
happ to be goi ng on The Pilgrim Spirit and so excited about the trip, that
no one was mean or grumpy . And, HV that included Nick McKelty . The
big lug actuallWXUQHGQLFH.
In the afternoon , we were discussing all the jobs kids were going to be
assigned on the ship. Some people were going to be on the cleaning crew or
on the ropes crew. Some were going to be line handlers. Other kids were
going to work in the galley , which is what theFDOODNLWFKHQRQDVKLS.
Nick McKelt said that his big brother Joseph had been on The Pilgrim
Spirit three HDUV before, and he thought the most fun job was the captain’ s
assistant. The captain’ s assistant got to accompanWKHFDSWDLQRQKLVURXQGs
and help give orders. That sounded so cool. I could see mVHOIGRLQJWKDW.
Just to show RX how good a mood everRQH was in, during our class
discussion, Nick actuall suggested that I should be the captain ’s assistant.
He said he thought I deserved it since I almost didn’t get to go. At first, I
thought I was hearing things. I mean, ever since we were in pres chool, Nick
McKeltKDGRQO said mean things to me.
“What’ s up with RX0F.HOW?” I whispered to him.
“Can’t a gu do something nice ever once in a while?” he said. “I feel
sorrIRUou, Zipzer . You had a rough morning.”
Hey , I’d take his pity , if it meant I’d get to be captain’ s assistant. I’m not
too big for that.
The class took a vote and I got the job. Onl one person vote d against
me, and believe it or not, it wasn’ t Nick McKelty . It was Luke Whitman,
who felt that he deserved the job more because he owned a real pirate hat
with a big feather . When Ms. Adolf explained that The Pilgrim Spirit wasn’t

a pirate ship, Luke changed his mind and voted for me. He said he only
wanted to be a captain’ s assistant on a pirate ship, anZDy .
This was too good to be true. I was spending the night on The Pilgrim
Spirit and I was going to be the captain’ s assistant.

SCHOOL WAS OUT AT THRE E O‘CLOCK, but we had to be back by
five o’clock sharp with our bags. It would take us about a half hour by
school bus to reach the South Street Seaport where The Pilgrim Spirit was
docked. Even though we weren’ t scheduled to go on board until six, we had
to leave time for New York Cit traffic. Once we were aboard the ship,
we’d be under the command of the captain until nine-thirt the next
morning, when our parents were coming to pick us up at the dock.
I had a lot to do to get ready , so I was nervous when Frankie’ s dad didn’ t
There were five of us waiting in front of the school. Frankie, Ashley, and
I all live in the same apartment building on 78th Street. We alw aV walk to
and from school together. Then there was m sister Emily, who
The fifth person was the supremel annoLQJ Robert Upchurch, the
biggest third-gra de nuisance that ever tried to breathe. I sa tried because
his nasal passages are alwaV clogged with mucus. M sister Emil’ s nasal
passages are in the same clogged condition, so the two of them have
bonded, nasall speaking. Robert hangs out with us a lot, because m mom
saVLW’ s not polite to leave him out since he lives in the building too.
Robert is the kind of kid who wears a white shirt and tie to school just
because he feels like it. He’ s no t even in the orchestra or anWKLQJ Lately,
we’ve gotten luck because Robert has been spending a lot of time with
Emily . The share a deep interest in iguanas and geckos and snakes and
Frankie’ s dad arrived a few minutes after three. It’s onl a few blocks to
our building, but he set out at a reall fast pace. We had to take four steps
for each one of his.
Dr. T ownsend is a professor at Columbia Universit and he uses so many
big words that I have trouble following what he’s saLQJ As we walked, he
talked a lot about our field trip that night. Even though he teaches African-
American Studies, he seemed to know a bunch about sailing ships.

“I hear that The Pilgrim Spirit is a precise replica of the brig that Richard
Henr Dana sailed,” he said as we passed Kim’s Grocery . I could smell all
the flowers in their buckets of water lining the front of the store.
“What’ s a brig?” I asked. “And while we’re at it, could RX tell me what
a replica is too?”
“A repli ca mea ns that the ship RXUH staLQJ on is an exact cop of
Dana’ s original,” Dr . Townsend said. “And a brig is a tSHRIVKLS”
“Actually , a brig is a two-masted vessel with square sails on bot h masts,”
piped up Robert.
Dr . Townsend looked ver surprised that Robert would know something
like that. The rest of us weren’ t surprised. We have to listen to Robert all the
time, and he’ s like a walking encFORSHGLD of useless informati on. Without
asking, he will tell RX the main crop of Outer Mongolia, besides rocks.
“Was Richard Henr Dana a pirate?” Emil asked. “I’d like to be a
“Oh HDKou’d look a lot better with an eHSDWFK,VDLG.
She wrin kled up her nose at me, and I wrinkled up mine back at her . T wo
can plaWKDWJDPH.
“Richard Henry Dana was a writer ,” said Dr. Townsend. “He authored
the classic book Two Years Befor e the Mast. It described what life was like
on a merchant sailing ship almost two hundred HDUVDJR”
“Actually , his book was published in 1840,” Robert said.
“How do RX know that, Robert?” Dr. Townsend asked. I couldn’ t tell if
he was impressed or annoHG$VIRUPH,ZDVLQWKHDQQRed category .
“I read all about The Pilgrim Spirit dur ing librar period today,” said
Robert. “I have manPRUHIDFWV,GEHKDSS to share with RX”
“Thanks, dude, but m ears are closed for business right now,” Frankie
“Uh ... when we get back from our sea-faring,” Frankie said.
“Besides, we won’ t be able to hear RXRYHUWKHWUDf fic,” AshleDGGHG.
“Good one, Ashweena,” Frankie whispered to her .
“I’d love to hear what RX learned,” m sister Emil piped up. See what I
mean about Emil and Robert sharing an interest in super nerd things?

There was no turning off Robert now. And, believe me, I looked for the
“Richard Henr Dana’s ship set sail from Boston and sailed around Cape
Horn, which is the tip of South America,” said Robert.
“EverERG knows what Cape Horn is, dude,” Frankie snapped.
EverRQHEXWPH,GLGQ’ t know. So I kept mPRXWKVKXW.
“The ship picked up animal hides in California,” Robert droned on.
“Then it sailed all the wa back to Boston where the hides were made into
shoes and other leather goods.”
“I don’t believe in making shoes from the skins of animals,” said Emily .
“You don’ t have to worr about her ,” I said. “Katherine’ s too ugl to be
made into anWKLQJ Who’d want a pair of scaly , gre shoes with a long,
snapping tongue?”
“That’ s not funny , Hank,” said Emily . “I happen to love Katherine.”
“Sorry, Em,” I said. “I hope Katherine lives a long and happ life. Just
not in mEDWKWXE”
Hey, I know what I’m saLQJ She loves to poop in there. Katherine, not
Emily, that is.
With Dr. Towns end setting the pace and all of us running awa from
Robert, we reached our apartm ent building in world-record time. As we
approached the front door, we ran into Papa Pete and m mom. The were
just coming up the street from the other direction. I could tell that m mom
had been working all day , because she was wearing one of her big head-
bands. She puts them on to keep her curl hair out of her face so it doesn’ t
get all crust with her food experiments. Before she discovered that trick,
she alwa V used to have little chunks of soODPL or mock tuna in her hair at
the end of the day .
“Hi, everRQHP mom said. “Big night tonight, huh?”
Then she sang, “Yo ho, R ho, a pirate’ s life for me.” M mom has a song
for everRFFDVLRQ.
She rubbed me on the head as I held the door open for her. I wondered if
Carlos had told her about mSKRQHFDOO.
“How’re m grandkids?” Papa Pete said, giving each of us a pinch on the
cheek as we walked b him into the lobb area. Papa Pete wasn’ t just
talking about me and Emily . He calls Frankie and Ashle his grandkids too,

because he likes them so much . I can’ t imagine he feels that wa about
Robert, but Papa Pete would never leave him out. He even gave his bony
little face a pinch. Ick and double ick.
As I pressed the button for the elevator , AshleFKHFNHGKHUZDWFK.
“It’s thre e-thirty ,” she said. “We have to be at the bus at five. That gives
us an hour -and-a-half to pack, snack, and get back to school.”
“Hank,” m mom said. “Be sure RX remember to pack RXU sleeping
“I will, Mom.”
“In fact, before we leave for school, I want to check RXU duffel bag to
make sure RXKDYHLW”
“You don’ t have to do that, Mom,” I said.
“You know how RX alwaV forget things,” Emil said to me. “You’re
such a brainless one.”
I reallGLGQ’ t feel like letting her get awaZLWKWKDW.
“Oh really, Emil"T ell me, when was the last time I for got something?”
I looked over at Papa Pete, but he said nothing. He just kept looking at
the numbers above the elevator . Frankie and AshleGLGWKHVDPH.
“Okay, I take it back,” EmilVDLG.
It wasn’ t until we were inside the elevator , tucked against the back wall,
that Papa Pete looked over at me and winked.

“MOM, DO YOU KNOW where m Mets sweatshirt is?” I hollered
from mEHGURRP.
I mu st have HOled a little too loud, because I startled Cheerio, who was
sleeping underneath m desk. He jumped up and started to spin around,
chasing his tail like crazy , and spun himself right out of m room. He
moves prettIDVWFRQVLGHULQJWKDWKH’ s going in circles.
“Your sweatshirt should be in RXU bottom drawer, where it alwaV is,”
I had alread pulled everWKLQJ out of m bottom drawer. M Mets
sweatshirt was missing. It was the one thing I reall wanted to take on the
overnight on The Pilgrim Spirit. It made me feel warm, both inside and out.
As if RXFRXOGQ’ t tell, I’m a major New Y ork Mets fan.
“I can’t believe it! It’ s not here, Mom,” I HOOHG.
M dad appeared at the door of m room. He was in an excellent mood,
having come in second in the All New Jerse Crossword Puzzle
Competition. Apparently, he was the onl one who had known that a
“plover” was a six-letter word for a round-bodied, short-tailed wading bird.
If that doesn’ t put a guLQDJUHDWPRRG,GRQ’ t know what will.
“Hank, sweatshirts don’t just get up and walk away ,” he said.
No soon er had he said those words than I looked down and saw my
sweatshirt walking away . I’m not kidding. It was heading out the door of
“Want to bet?” I said, and ran after it. B the time I reached it, it had
walked right into Emil’ s room.
“Come back here!” I cried, grabbing the sweatshirt with both hands. As I
pulled it of f, underneath it was her lovelLJXDQD.DWKHULQH.
“Hank, what are RXGRLQJWRKHU"(PLO wailed.
“What? What am I dong? I’m taking back what’s mine,” I said. “And
please tell RXUVFDO lizoid to keep her claws out of mGUDZHUV”
“Then let her curl up in RXUVRFNGUDZHr. M0HWVWKLQJVDUHRff-limits.”

Emil patted Katherine on the snout. “It’s okay , sweetie,” she said in her
“Yes, I do,” I shouted. “Don’ t believe her, Katherine. I mean it.”
The bathroom door opened and Papa Pete came out.
“What’s all the commotion about?” he asked. “A man can’t concentrate
in there.”
“WhGRou have to concentrate in the bathroom?” asked Emily .
“I was reading,” said Papa Pete. “For RXU information, RXng lady , a
bathroom is an excellent place to catch up on fine reading material.”
He held up a booklet. It was the instructions for his new cell phone.
“I tell RX Stan,” he said to m dad. “I need a college degree in cell
Boy , I couldn’ t agree more. I’ve never been able to understand one word
of an operating instructions manual. That’s a problem when ever single
to or electronic device RX get comes with a book of instructions.
Fortunately , Fra nkie likes to read instruction books, so he figures out how
something works, then shows me how . I can work anWKLQJ once I see how
to do it.
“Technology ,” m dad said to Papa Pete. “It’s a ten-letter word for the
Sometimes I think mGDGDFWXDOO thinks in crossword puzzles.
“What are RXWUing to learn, Papa Pete?” I asked.
“I just want to set up m voice mail on this phone. Think RX can do it,
“Sure,” I said. Frankie and I had done it on his dad’ s phone. “I’ll take a
look as soon as I finish packing.”
I took his cell phone and stuffed it in the pocket of m jacket. Then I
went back into mURRPWRILQLVKSDFNLQJP duf fel bag.
“Got everWKLQJ"P mom said, sticking her head in mGRRr .
“Yup,” I answe red, checking off each item as I put it in. “Change of
shoes. Camp pillow. Mets sweatshirt. Clean socks. Wool cap. Toothbrush.
Striped toothpaste. Flashlight.”
“Snack,” she said, and handed me a baggie with something inside that
didn’t look like it belonged to anIRRGJURXS,NQRw .
“What’s this, Mom?”
“Tofu jerky .”

“Sounds ... uh ... interesting.”
I put it in m duffel, stuffing it wa at the bottom so I would never have
to see it again.
“Where’ s RXUVOHHSLQJEDJ"P mom asked.
“Oops. I was just going to get it. And RX thought I for got it, didn’ t
I went to m closet and dragged out m sleeping bag, the blue one with
the plaid flannel inside. I had shoved it in there last weekend after Frankie
slept over. I’m supposed to put it back in its stuf f sack, but I can never get it
back in. I don’ t know wh the make stuff sacks so small. I mea n, RX have
this huge puff sleeping bag and a tin bag it’s supposed to fit in. Every
time I trWRVWXf f it in the sack, a huge clump of it is left hanging out.
M mom tried to help me, but even she had trouble. B the time we got
the sleep ing bag jammed in its stuf f sack, m dad was in m room pointing
to his watch.
“Time to go,” he said. “The Townsends called and I told them to go on
ahead with the W ongs.”
I added the sleeping bag to my duf fel, zipped it up, and dragged it out
into the living room. Papa Pete gave me a hug good-bH It’s more of a lift
than a hug, because m feet alwaV leave the floor . He was staLQJ home
“Good luck, Hankie,” Papa Pete said. “I wish I were going with RX I
was quite a sailor in m nav daV RX know . What RX want to watch out
for are high winds and pea soup fog. Those are dangerous conditions.”
“You don’ t have to worr about that,” I answered. “We’re not even
leaving the dock.”
“You’re not? What kind of ship is this?” he asked.
“It’ s a floating classroom,” I said. “We’re going to experience what life at
sea was like in 1840, but we’re not actuallJRLQJRXWWRVHD”
“That sounds like an exciting waWROHDUQVDLG3DSD3HWH.
“And guess what?” I added. “I’m the captain’ s assistant, which is a pretty
important position.”
“I’m impressed,” said Papa Pete.
Papa Pete put his hand up to his forehead and saluted me.
“W ell, Captain’ s Assistant. Anchors aweigh.”

Then he pinched mFKHHNOLNHDOZDs.
As we were leaving, I bent down to saJRRGEe to Cheerio.
“So long, boy,” I said, scratchin g him behind his ears. “I’m not going to
I’m prett sure he understood me, because he started to whimper in a
wa that made me so sad. Then he rolled over for me to scratch his stomach
“I guess so,” m dad said. “He could use some fresh air. I’ll get his
We rode down the elevator and walked up 78th Street across Amsterdam
Avenue to m school. Cheerio kept stopping to snif f ever little thing. The
pink carnations outside of Mr. K im’ s grocer store. The wheels of the hot
pretzel stand on the corner . And let’s not forget the old French fr he dug
out of a sidewa lk crack. And the fire hGUDQWV ever single one of them.
His nose was working overtime, but, boy , was he happy.
I got reall excited when we got close to the school building. I saw the
big HOORZ school bus parked in front. M whole class was there, saLQg
Ms. Adolf was standing b the door , checking each person off in her roll
book. Wow , I didn’ t think that book had ever been that far from the top
drawer of her desk. She was wearing jeans and tennis shoes and a pink knit
hat with a pom- pom on top. She looked almost normal without her all-grey
“Hello, Henry ,” she said. “I see RXUHODWH”
“I’m so sorry , Ms. Adolf,” m mom said. “We had trouble getting the
sleeping bag in the stuf f sack. I’m sure RXXQGHUVWDQG”
“No, I don’t,” Ms. Adolf said in her usual sourpuss voice.
The thing about Cheerio is that he either likes RX or doesn’ t like RX If
he likes RX he wags his tail and nips at RXU ankles and makes the cutest
little Lpping sounds. But if he doesn’ t like RX he points his nose straight
up in the air and starts to howl like a coRWH Then he runs in circles around
RXDQGZRQ’ t stop until either he falls over or RXGR.
He did not like Ms. Adolf. No sir . Make that a definite dislike.
The minute he heard her voice, he stuck his nose up in the air and howled
like a werewolf in a horror movie. Then he broke loose from m dad, who

was holding his leash, and starting circling her like his feet were on fire.
“Can ou please stop him,” said Ms. Adolf. Her teeth were clenched
M dad lunged for Cheerio’ s leash, but he missed. This made Cheerio
run faste r and howl louder . I saw Frankie and Ashle out of the corner of
m eH. The were hanging out of the bus window , covering their mouths
so theZRXOGQ’ t laugh.
“Cheerio,” I said. “Come here, boy .”
Cheerio stopped and looked me right in the eH He was thinking hard
about it.
“Get this animal awa from me,” Ms. Adolf HOOHG “We’ve been through
this once before on the ball field.”
That did it. Cheerio just does not like the sound of her voice. He howled
louder than before and started circling again. Ms. Adolf tried to jump away,
but her feet somehow got caught up in Cheerio’ s leash.
Boom! Down she went onto the sidewalk.
What was that?
I’ll tell RX what it was. It was Ms. Adolf ’s jeans, ripping right down the
rear end. It wasn’ t a little rip, either .
As if an of us would want to. W ell, except for Luke Whitman, who
reported that theZHUHZKLWH.
M mom handed Ms. Adolf a jacket to tie around herself. M dad
grabbed Cheerio and picked him up.
“I’m so sorry , M s. Adolf,” m mom said. “I don’ t know what got into
“That’ s wh I do n’t approve of pets of an kind,” said Ms. Adolf. “Some
people find them cute, but I find them unpredictable and much too furry .”
We all had to wait on the bus while Ms. Adolf went inside and changed
into different clothes. When she came out wearing her gre school skirt
with tennis shoes and her pink pom-pom hat, it was all we could do not to
burst out laughing.
She climbed onto the bus and the doors closed.
“South Street Seaport, next stop, driver ,” she said.

As we pulled awa from the curb, I turned and looked out the window .
M dad was holding onto Cheerio, and as the bus headlights flashed on
him, I could see his little face clearly .
I could have sworn he was smiling.

SOUTH STREET SEAPOR T IS in Lower Manhattan. That’s all the way
downtown near the BrooklQ%ULGJH6LQFHZHOLYHRQWKH8SSHUW est Side,
we had to trave l down along the West Side Highwa to reach the seaport.
The traffic was terrible like it usuall is in New York. EverRQH was
honking and taxis were cutting in and out, but we didn’ t care . W e could
The sk was turning gre b the time the driver stopped the bus at the
seaport. We got out and walked a little waV to the Maritim e Museum,
which is in the center of the Seaport Village. Ms. Adolf made us stand stiff
and still while she read us the plaque in front of the museum.
The sign told about the histor of South Street Seaport. I don’ t know how
interested RX are, so I’ll just give RX the short version. In the old daV of
New York, it used to be a reall bus harbor , so bus that the called it the
Street of Ships. But when sailing ships got replaced b steamsh ips, people
stopped using the harbor , so the South Street Seaport got prett grungy . Not
too long ago, it got restored to what it is now , which is a reall cool new
place that looks like a reallFRROROGSODFH.
Ms. Adolf had to stop reading a couple of times because Luke Whitman
kept talking to the seagulls. He can make this sound in his throat that I
swear sounds like he’s a bird. A whole bunch of seagulls were circling
around us.
“Luke,” Ms. Adolf finall said, “unless RXG like a flock of seagulls to
do their business on RXUKHDG,VXJJHVWou stop making that sound.”
Boy, tha t shut him up fast. Nothing like the threat of bird poop dripping
B then it was getting dark, but I could see prett well with the light of
the old street lamps. We were surrounded b winding cobblestone streets.
No cars were allowed, probabl to make it seem like it used to be back in
the old daV I noticed that even the shops and restaurants were replicas of
old buildings. Then I thought how proud Dr . Townsend would be if he knew

that the word “replica” was just floating around in m brain with other
normal words like “home run” and “bird poop.”
We walk ed about two blocks down to the waterfront. Another HOORw
school bus was parked in the lot and a group of kids about our age was
getting out.
“Watch out! Pirates!” Nick McKeltelled.
After she told us to stop laughin g immediately , Ms. Adolf explained that we
were sharing The Pilgrim Spirit with a fourth-grade class from PS 9. We
were supposed to show them our best manners.
Frankie tugged at the sleeve of mMDFNHW.
“Y ou’re facing the wrong way , Zip. Check it out.”
I turned around and looked toward the water . Man oh man oh man oh
man. There she was, The Pilgrim Spirit. It was the coolest ship I had ever
I’m not kidding RX The Pilgrim Spirit looked just like one of those old
ships RX see in a glass bottle, onl big. I mean reall big. The don’t call it
a tall ship for nothing. The masts were as tall as telephone poles, and the
sails were the size of ten bedshe ets. Ropes were strung everZKHUH tied in
big knots to shinEUDVVULQJV.
“He’ s beautiful,” AshleZKLVSHUHG.
“She’s bea utiful,” I cor rected her. W e had learned that RX alwaV refer to
a sh ip as she, even though theUH not officiall girls. Like RXG say, “The
Queen Mary, she’ s a fine ship, that she is.” I was surprised that Ashley
hadn’ t remembered that.
“I’m not talking about the boat,” AshleVDLG,PWDONLQJDERXW him .”
Ashle was staring at the buslo ad of kids from PS 9. Actually , she was
staring at one boD tall good-looking gu with a reall thick head of
blond hair . She couldn’ t take her eHVRf f him.
“Ashweena, what’ s wrong with RX")UDQNLHVDLG.
“Then what are RXVWDULQJDW"”
“Collin Sebastian Rich the Fourth,” she said.

“Then how do RX know his name?” I said. We had never seen Ashley
like this before.
“He went to soccer camp with me. He was MVP everGDy .”
“So the dude can kick. What’s the big deal?” Frankie said.
“No big deal,” AshleVDLG+H’ s just perfect, that’s all. He’s reallVPDUt
A girl I had neve r seen before came running up to Ashley . The looked at
each other and screamed.
“Chelsea!” Ashle squealed right back. “Are RX staLQJ on the ship?
This is so awesome!”
The hugged each other and jumped up and down like baseball plaHUs
who had just won the W orld Series.
“Come meet mIULHQGVIURPP school,” Chelsea said.
“Is he one of them?” Ashle asked, pointing to the gu with the big head
of hair .
“Collin?” said Chelsea. “He’ s great. Come on, I’ll introduce RX”
“Go right ahead,” I said.
“Yeah, Hank and I have knots to tie and sails to trim and important stuff
like that. Don’ t we, mPDQ")UDQNLHGLGQ’ t seem too happy.
Ashle ran off with Chelsea. I could see her getting introduced to Collin.
He seemed to be staring at Ashle’ s rhinestone hat with a sea-blue
rhinestone tall ship that she had made especiall for our field trip. He was
smiling and looked like he had just stepped out of one of those Teen People
magazines that are on the cof fee table in mRUWKRGRQWLVW’s office.
I sta red at the gu for a long minute. I thought about what it would feel
like to be him instead of me. I do that sometimes.
If I were Collin Sebastian Rich the Fourth, I’d be reall happy with my
great head of blond hair that was perfectlFXW.
Okay, Hank. Y ours is dark and pr ettPHVVy, but if RXSXWHQRXJKPRXVVe
in it, it can look decent, at least for a while.
I’d be tall and everRQHZRXOGORRNXSWRPH.
Okay, Hank, so RXr e a little on the short side. Y ou’ll grow. MaEH.
If I wer e Collin, I’d be a grea t soccer and football plaHr. But I’d be

Don’t feel bad, Hank. Y ou are definitelDERYHDYHUDJHDWDr chery.
So what if the Zipzers don’t car e wher e the shop? M dad alwaV sas
clothes ar e good as long as theFRYHUWKHERGy .
Along with being great-looking and a great athlete, I’d be reall smart in
You have dVOH[LD Hank, but you can get C’s if RX focus, work hard,
and, hey , even smart guVOLNH$OEHUW(LQVWHLQGLGQ’ t do well in math.
Wait a minute. Can I be honest with RX for a minute? As I stood there at
South Street Seaport wondering what it would be like to be Collin Sebastian
Rich the Fourth, I had onlRQHWKRXJKW.

BEFORE THEY LET US ON THE SHIP, a man from the Coa st Guard
came and talked to us about boat safety . He told us where the life vests were
and how to signal if we were in distress and what to do in foul weather . I
don’ t kn ow wh we had to hear all that stuff. It wasn’ t like we were even
leaving the dock.
After he left, we waited in line to go onto the ship, which wasn’t so bad
because it gave me time to take a good look at The Pilgrim Spirit. She was
painted black on the bottom, and made entirel out of wood. The sails were
mostl square, except for three big triangle ones at the front and one at the
back. Excuse me. I meant to sa for e and aft. T here was a ga ngway , which
is a ramp, leading from the dock onto the ship.
Ms. Adolf and Mr. Lingg, who was the teacher from PS 9, got on board
first. We couldn’ t see where the went, but someone said the went below
deck where there are special quarters for the teachers.
The let the kids go on board one at a time. Just before RX stepped on
the deck, RX had to sa RXU name to the sailor at the top of the gangway
and salute.
Ashle had gone off with Chelsea and some kids from PS 9 including
Collin “Mr . Perf ect” Rich. Frankie and I were among the last kids to get on
board. I arranged it that wa because I figured the last ones to go on were
going to be closest to the front. When RXUH on the short side like I am,
RX alwaV have to figure out how to be in front. That’s one of m rules.
“I think I’m seasick,” she said.
“Heather, get it together . We’re on drODQG)UDQNLHSRLQWHGRXW.
“Then I think I’m landsick,” she answered.
We let her go ahead of us, just in case she barfed. Never stand in front of
someone who’ s about to barf. That’ s another one of mUXOHV.
Although The Pilgrim Spirit was tied to the dock, it was still bobbing up
and down in the water . Y ou couldn’ t tell it was moving from looking at it.

But when it was m turn to walk up the gangwa to get on board, I could
feel the motion. In fact, the boat swaHG so much, I had to grab onto the
rope so I wouldn’ t fall over into the water .
“Aho there, RX scurv dog,” I heard a man HOO I looked around. Was
he HOOLQJDWPH"+HFRXOGQ’ t be. I didn’t do anWKLQJet!
“That’s right! I’m talking to RXou lilOLYHUHGIOHD”
I looked up and standing on the deck of the ship was a lar ge man with a
ponWDLO and a bright red beard. He was wearing a ruf fled shirt and a black
sea captain’ s jacket with those gold fring things on the shoulders. There
was no doubt about it. He was definitel talking—make that HOOLQJDt
“AH I’m talking to RX landlubber ,” he HOOHG putting his face right
next to mine. “Did RXIRr get to bring RXUVHDOHJVou little worm?”
“No, RXUKRQRr. I’m sure I packed them.”
“You’ll call me sir when RX speak to me, or speak not at all!” he HOOHG.
He whe eled around and faced the other kids. “And that goes for all Ru
scurv dogs. You’re a sorr lot, and RXOO respect RXU captain or I’ll have
None of us could tell if he was being serious or not. Wow . Ms. Adolf had
told us that the captain would be acting like real captains did back in the old
“I am Captain Josiah Barker,” he said. He pointed to another man, much
shorter and chu bbier , who was dressed in a leather vest like an old-time
sailor . “This is mILUVWPDWH7KHRGRUH*ODGVRQW e run this vessel and Ru
don’t breathe without an order from Officer Gladson or myself. Is that
We all looked at our feet and muttered something like, “Yes, sir.” I
noticed that Collin, who was standing right across from me, answered,
“AHDe, Captain.” It figured he’d know the right thing to say .
“Go below and stow RXU bags,” Captain Barker shouted. “And step
lively. I want all hands on deck in five minutes. AnRQH who’s late will pay
dearly .”
We all hurried down a little flight of stairs and put our duffels away .
There wasn’t much time to look around, but I could see two big rooms
filled with bunk beds. I assumed one was for the boV and the other was for
the girls.

“You’ll each be assigned a job,” said the captain as we gathered up on the
deck. It was cold, and a nipp breeze was kicking up from the river . “Mr .
The first mate stepped forward. He wasn’ t nearlDVVFDUy.
“We’ll be traveling round the Cape to pick up a load of hides from
California,” he said.
“It’s going to be a rough voDJe . Ever man and woman aboard needs to
work in order for us to complete the voDJH”
Luke Whitman put his hand up.
“I don’ t like to work,” he said. “It makes me gag. I thought this was
supposed to be fun.”
“Mr. Gladson, put that man on first watch,” the captain bellowed. “We’ll
teach him a lesson about working on a tall ship. Fun does not live on my
“You there!” Mr. Gladson said, pointing at Frankie. “You’ll join this man
in the first watch. He looks like he needs a strong hand next to him. Watch
out for pirates and looters who ma come aboard and raid us in the middle
of the night.”
Pirates and looters! This was fun. It was like a movie, but for real.
“Each of RX will stand watch,” said the first mate. “We wor k in two-
hour shifts. When RXUH not on watch or asleep, RXOO be working on a
crew . W e’ll need galle crew, bilge crew, hide gatherers, deck swabbers,
and line handlers.”
“An of RX rats and dogs have a problem with that?” the captain
interrupted. He flashed us a cra zed smile and I noticed that his teeth were
I saw a hand shoot up in the air . It was Nick McKelty.
“Sir, what about the job of captain’ s assistant?” he asked.
“This is the man we’ve chosen from our class,” Nick said, giving me a
little shove.
I strutted over to him, trLQJRXWP most confident walk.
“Pleased to be of service to RXVLr ,” I said, saluting at the same time.
“Did I speak to RX maggot?” he roared. “No one speaks on this vessel
unless I give him permission. Is that clear?”

I didn’ t know whether I had perm ission to answer or not, so I ju st nodded
like a bobble-head doll. This was getting a little less fun.
“I have been chosen from m class, sir.” It was Collin Sebastian Rich the
Oh, no. Of all the assistants in the world, I had to get partnered with
I mean, if RX were the captain, who would RX like better—Mr . Perfect
or me?

THE FIRST MA TE SAW TO IT that everERG got to work right away.
Frankie and Luke had to stand at the bow of the ship, looking for pirates.
The didn’t see an of those, but the did see a New York Cit garbage
barge going by. Luke said it sm elled like pizza, which makes RX wonder
what he gets on his pizza. Orange peels and flies? Or maEH potato skins
and candZUDSSHUV?
Ashle and her new best friend Chelsea Soccer Camp had to lower
buckets into the river to get water to swab the decks. A couple other kids
had to polish all the brass on the ship. The first mate took four kids in a
rowboat and the paddled over to the next dock to look for hides.
Unfortunately , one of those kids was Heather PaQH who finall barfed up
her lunch in the East River .
The captain told Collin and me to wait for him on the poop deck while he
marched around shouting orders. You’re laughing, but it’s true. There is an
actual place on a boat called the poop deck.
“I’m Collin Rich,” Mr . Perfect said to me.
“Hank Zipzer,” I said, trLQJWRVHHPWDOOHr .
“I know. AshleSRLQWHGou out. She said RXUHDUHDOO cool guy .”
Wait a minute her e. I was prepa red to hate this guy. But he’s being nice.
Real nice, in fact.
“The probabl call it that becau se during storms, the captains would get
Collin burst out laughing. “Ashle said RXUH funn too,” he said,
slapping me a high five.
“She’ s right. So how’d RXJHWWREHFDSWDLQ’ s assistant?”
“A guQDPHG0F.HOW nominated me,” I said. “The class voted. Y ou?”
“M teacher picked me. He said I was tough enough to take it, whatever
that means.”
Suddenly , I felt a hand on mVKRXOGHr . The captain was back. I gulped.

“This isn’t a party , RX laz slugs,” he snarled. “Follow me to my
quarters, and shake a leg or RXOOIHHOP whip.”
I thought he was going a little overboard on the mean captain routine. If
he was trLQJ to show us that sea captains in the old daV ruled with an iron
hand, we got the picture. MaEHKHGOLJKWHQXSQRw .
He headed below deck. Collin and I followed. I was looking forward to
getting to know the captain awaIURPDOOWKHRWKHUVZKHQKHGLGQ’ t have to
act so mean. I couldn’ t wait to get m special assignment. I wondered what
it wo uld be. What would a captain’ s assistant get to do that nobod else got
to do? Look at old maps and help chart our imaginar course? Look at the
stars with a telescope? Or maEH just share a mutton chop at the captain’ s
None of the above.
When we got below , the captain made us pull of f his boots.
“Polish these until RX can see RXU face in them,” he order ed. “And
don’ t look up until RXUH done. You there,” he growled, turning to me.
“Clean the head.”
“What head? Your head, sir?” I asked, not knowing whether or not to
He didn’ t answer , just handed me a bucket and a toothbrush. That was a
new one. I’d never heard of washing RXUKHDGZLWKDWRRWKEUXVK.
“Excuse me, sir,” I said. “But shouldn’ t RX use a toothbrush to brush
“On a ship, a he ad is a toilet, RX green maggot!” he shouted. I couldn’ t
believe it. He was asking me to clean the bathr oom! W ith a toothbrush! I
didn’t even do that at home.
“I’m going to lie down,” he said. “When I wake up, I’ll have RX dog
hairs peel onions for mVWHw .”
He stomped off into his bedchamber and slammed the door .
A lig htbulb went on in m head . The captain’ s assistant wasn’t a special
job at all. It was a miserable, low-down job. The worst one on the ship, as a
matter of fact. Look at what he was having us do: Clean his bathroom,
polish his boots , peel his onions . What was next—cut his toen ails? No, he
wouldn’ t. That’s got to be against the law , even at sea.

Then it hit me. McKelt knew it all along. His brother must have told
him exactl what a captain’ s ass istant does. That’s wh he nomi nated me—
Oh, that Nick the T ick.
I was going to get him for this.

1. I’m going to find all the creepFUDZO bugs that live on this boat
and hide them in McKelt’s dinner.
2. After he eats the bugs, I’ll tell Old Nick that the creepFUDZOLHVDUe
3. I’ll hide Nick%R’s belt and then get him to do a sailor ’s jig in
front of both classes. His pants will fall down, and everERG will
see his G.I. JOE underpants.
4. He’ll be so embarrassed, he’ll throw himself overboard.
5. I’ll find a sea cucumber on the bottom of the river , which I happen
the sea cucumber, and when he puts his big fat head down on Mr .
Cuke, it will pee purple stuff up his nose.
6. No, I can’t do that to a sea cucumber .
cream on his chapped kneecaps.
8. I’ll tell the captain that the rash on his knees is scurvDQGYHUy
contagious, so theOOKDYHWRORFNKLPXSLQWKHVKLS’ s jail and
throw the keDZDy.
9. When he’s asleep, I’ll squirt whipped cream in his hand and then
tickle his nose with a feather so when he scratches, he smears
whipped cream all over his big, uglIDFH.
10. I’ll put his hands in warm water while he’ s sleeping so he pees up a
storm in his sleeping bag.
11. Numbers one through ten are all so good, I could never choose just
one. I think I’ll have to do them all.
12. I know this is more than ten, but I’m so mad I can’ t stop mVHOI.

“WHA T ARE YOU WRITING?” Collin asked, looking over my
shoulder .
“It’s not hing,” I said, covering up the list with both hands. The last thing
I wanted was for Collin to see m horrible handwriting and spelling. He’d
think I was a moron.
“You’ve been hunched over that paper for the last five minutes,” he said,
lifting one of m fingers and trLQJ to peek under it. “What’ s the captain
going to saZKHQKHVHHVou haven’ t cleaned the head?”
“He’ll say, ‘Get cracking, RX scurv dog, or we’ll feed RX to the sharks
below ,’ ” I answ ered, doing a prett sweet imitation of the captain’ s voice,
if I do saVRPself.
Collin laughed. “You’re a genius with impressions,” he said. “You sound
just like him.”
A genius? If he onlNQHw .
“Come on, show me what RXZHUHZULWLQJKHEHJJHG.
“Sometimes I make lists,” I said . “This one is how I’m going to get even
with that rat punk Nick McKelty . He set me up for this job.”
“How?” Collin asked.
“He knew it was a terrible job, so he suggested me. He did it to get me,
just to be a punk.”
“I can’ t stand punks,” said Collin. “Read me the list.”
That was a whole lot better than letting him actuall see the list. If Collin
looked at m handwriting, he’d think it was a Japanese comic book. And if
he ever saw my spelling, I’d have to tell him I’m dVOH[LF or he’d think I
was a total moron. We were reall hitting it off and I didn’ t want him to
think I was “dif ferent.”
So I rea d him the list. He started laughing and didn’ t stop. You would
have thought he was watching a “Scoob'RR cartoon or something really
“You’re too much,” he said, holding his sides. “You’re a total riot! How
do RX think this stuff up? I sa we blast McKelty . Which number on RXr

list should we start with?”
We? He said we. He wants to help get Nick the Tick. Wh" Is he kidding
I gu ess not, beca use we decided that most everWKLQJ on the list couldn’ t
possiblEHSXOOHGRf f. But we did come up with something that was perfect.
Nothing fancy, just a sweet little plan that would do the job.
For the plan to work, I had to get Nick down to the captain’ s quarters.
That wasn’ t going to be easy . I knew he wouldn’ t come if I called him down
there. And Colli n didn’ t know him, so it would be strange for him to invite
McKeltGRZQW e needed bait to attract him.
But what kind of bait do RX use to catch a smell fatt fish like Nick

WHILE WE WERE MAKING OUR PLAN, we still had to loo k like we
were working. The captain stuck his head out ever few minutes to make
sure we were doing our jobs.
“No lollJDJJLQJ around or I’ll have RX scrubbing the galle next,” he
said to me. “And use some elbow grease on those boots, RX laz laddie,”
he snarled at Collin.
Collin polished the captain’ s boots and I—are RX read for this—
cleaned the bathroom with the toothbrush. I did a reall bad job, if I have to
sa so mVHOI I don’ t want to gross RX out, so let’ s just sa I gave the old
brush a few swishes around the old bowl and got out of there fast.
Ms. Adolf came b to check on us, still wearing her pink pom-pom hat.
She said we could take a five-minute break to eat the snack we had brought
from home. Dinner wasn’t for another hour, and it was onl going to be
gruel. I had no idea what gruel was. Collin said it was like cream of wheat,
onlOXPSLHr .
When the capta in heard Ms. Adolf ’s voice, he came barging out of his
“And who might RXEH"KHKROOHUHG.
“On m ship, RXUH just another sailor,” he said. “Now , Fanny , get RXr
fann up top and help with the lines. And remove that stupid hat while
Ms. Adolf turned all red in the face and those splotches showed up big
time on her neck. I smiled. Usually, I would laugh. It was prett funn to
see Ms. Adolf get HOOHG at. But it was weird seeing this stranger HOO at our
teacher like that. I was glad when she left.
“And as for RX RX scalawag, wipe that grin off RXU face,” he said to
me. He stomped back into his cabin and slammed the door .
I go t the snack from m duffel and sat there munching on m tofu jerky .
It tasted like tree bark, onl tougher . But I was so hungry , I just pretended I
was a koala bear sitting in a eucalSWXV tree chomping down leaves. I was

thinking about how koala bears are the cutest animals in the world when I
noticed what Collin was having for his snack.
TWINKIES! It was just what we needed to put our plan into action!
I lov e RX Collin’s mom, whoever RX are. I love RX for packing him
I rea ched out and grabbed the package awa from him before he took the
first bite.
“Hey, what’ s up with that?” he said.
“This is our bait,” I said. “McK elt is a Twinkie hog. He gets word we
have Tw inkies, and he’s down here before RX can sa gotcha. And once
he’s here, we can do what we talked about.”
“Good thinking, Hank,” Collin said. “Y ou’re the smartest.”
“Collin, RXUH not going to believe what we’ve been doing,” Ashley
“Can I hear too, since I am one of RXU two best friends?” I said to
Ashley .
“I was talking to both of RX Ashle answered. “I meant to sa Hank ,
“Yeah, the two names are reallKDUGWRVD together .”
That came out a little snappier than I had meant it to. I didn’ t want to be
mad at Ashle for liking Collin. I could understand it. He was cool. I
wondered what I’d be like if I w ere perfect like Collin. Would I strut around
like some kind of jerk, or would I be reallQLFHOLNHKHZDV?
“We just finishe d swabbing the decks,” Chelsea said. “It’s time to change
shifts and the first mate said we could be line handlers.”
“Poor Frankie. He’s bummed out,” Ashle whispered to me. “He asked if
he could change partners, but the first mate saVZHKDYHWRVWD in the same
teams all night. So he’ s stuck with Luke Whitman.”
“And that Luke is so gross,” Chelsea added.
“While the were on watch, he kept picking his nose and trLQJ to wipe it
on the ropes. W e have to touch those to lift and lower the sails.”
“Well, McKeltVWXFNPHZLWKWKHZRUVWMREHYHr ,” I whispered back.
I thought I heard the captain moving around in his room. It sounded like
he was coming out again. I had to act fast.

“Ash, we need RXU help. Go find McKelt and tell him to come here
right away .”
“I’ll tell RXODWHr . Just tell him we have T winkies. Hurr”
I gave Ashle a strong nudge, something close to a push. She and
Chelsea disappeared just as the captain DQNHGRSHQWKHGRRUWRKLVURRP.
“Did I hear someone DPPHULQJRXWKHUH"KHelled.
“No, sir , Captain, sir ,” Collin and I both said at once.
“Hand me m boots,” he said to Collin. “Bring me m dinner while I get
He snatched his boots from Collin and disappeared into the bathroom, or
head, as we sailors like to say. Two seconds later, McKelt’ s big face
appeared at the window , just like I knew it would.
“I hear RX got Twinkies,” he said. His bead eHV fell on the pack of
Twinkies I had left near the windowsill. His huge hand reached out and
He stuf fed one whole T winkie in his mouth.
“Haphing a grood time bing za chapn’ s assisfhunt?” he asked.
“I’ve reall got to thank RX Nick,” I said to him. “This is the best job
That got his attention. Nick Bo stopped chewing long enough to look.
A squirt of the cream snuck out of the corner of his mouth.
“Yeah,” Collin chimed in, just like we had planned. “While all RX gus
are up top working in the cold, we’re down here hanging with the captain.
Telling jokes. Hearing about his adventures at sea.”
I could tell this was verFRQIXVLQJWR0F.HOWy .
“Reall" he said, swallowing the Twinkie and smearing the cream all
over his chin. “He’ s not mean?”
“Mean?” I laughed. “He couldn’ t be nicer.”
“Yeah, he offered to take us out in the rowboat after everRn e goes to
bed,” Collin said.
“We don’ t want to be late for that, do we, Collin?”
“You’re kidding, right?” said McKelty . There was some Twinkie goop
hanging on the tip of his nose now .
“We’re going to get him dinner now,” said Collin. “Captain asked if we’d
eat with him. It’ s roast chicken, right, Hank?”

“No, steak,” I said. “Thick ones. Oh, and fries.”
“Hey, Nick,” Collin said. “I hear RX guV are going to have to eat
“That’ s tough,” I said, “because we get chocolate mousse for dessert.”
“That’s French,” Collin said.
McKelt looked like he was going to cry . “But I thought that this job was
supposed to—”
He didn’ t finish his sentence. The big lug was about to giv e himself
away .
“The old captain used to treat his assistants ver badly ,” I said. “But this
new captain, he’s changed all that. He thinks his assistants should be treated
like princes. Isn’ t that what he said, Collin?”
“No. I think he said kings.”
McKelt’s little eHV were popping out of his big, thick head. I had him
right where I wanted him. It was time to make mPRYH.
“A new assistant was suppose d to start at shift change,” I said very
quietl to Nick, like I was letting him in on the secret formula for
“The whole time?”
Collin and I nodded.
“That’s not fair,” said McKelty . “Y ou’re not giving anRQH else a
“Hey, wh would we sleep in those creak old bunk beds,” Collin said,
“But keep that between us. W e’re trusting RX,ZKLVSHUHGWRKLP.
“I wanna be the captain’s assistant,” McKeltZKLQHG.
“Hey, who doesn’ t?” I said. “And thank RX1LFNIRUWKLQNLQJRIPH”
“Please, Hank,” begged McKelty . “Let me have the job.”
This was the most fun I’d had since Halloween when I dressed up as a
chicken and walked into Mrs. Fink’ s house and asked to be put in her soup.
“If I let RXKDYHWKHMREZKDWZLOOou do for me, Nick?”
“What do RXZDQW+DQN"”
“And I want RXWRVWRSVZLSLQJ$VKOH’ s Twinkies from her lunch.”
He paused a minute.

“Can I have just one?”
“No,” I said.
“Okay,” he said finally .
“Deal,” I said. I held out m hand and we shook. “Congratulations, Nick.
You are now the captain’ s assistant.”
I turned to Collin. “I guess we better be going.”
Collin and I grabbed our duffels fast. We could hear the captai n starting
to come out of the bathroom. W e had to get out of there.
“See Ru, McKe lty,” I said as we bolted out the door . “Give our regards
to the captain.”
We ran out of the captain’ s quarters and hid in the bunk room next door.
We put our ears next to the wall to see what we could hear. W e heard a door
slam and then the captain holler .
“Who in blazes are RX"KHVDLG.
“I’m RXUQHZDVVLVWDQWVLr,” answered Nick.
“What happened to those other rascals?” The captain didn’ t sound happy.
“I know RX wanted them for the whole time, sir, but I requested the job
at shift change.”
“Then what are RX standing there for? Make m bed!” the captain
roared. “And where is m dinne r? When RXUH done with that, sweep the
floor. A nd unpa ck m provisions. You look like a laz dog if ever I saw
“Keep RXU mouth closed. No one speaks on this vessel unless I sa he
can! Is that understood, RXRYHr -filled flea?”
I think Nick tried to sa somethi ng, but all we could hear was the captain
It wasn’ t until we reached the deck and closed the hatch that we burst out
laughing and high-fived each other about ten times.

what was so funny .
“You look like RXUH having a good old time,” he said without his usual
“We got even with McKelty ,” I said to him. M sides were hurting from
laughing so much. “You should have seen his face, Frankie. He stuck me
with the captain’ s assistant job, and we stuck him right back. It was
incredible, wasn’ t it, Collin?”
“This gu is hVWHULFDO Collin said, slapping me on the back. “I had a
blast. And Nick McKeltLVDT winkie-loving fool.”
He grabbed me b the arm and practicall DQNHG me over to the railing.
“Man, am I glad to see RX he said. “Luke Whitman is driving me nuts.
That dude can’ t keep his finger out of his nose. I’ve got to get awa from
him. How about if RX and me partner up. I’ll talk the first mate into a
change and I’ll ditch Luke.”
I might as well tell RX right here and now. I’m not proud of what I did
next. But it’ s what reallKDSSHQHGVR,KDYHWREHKRQHVWZLWKou.
Frankie Townse nd is m best friend. He has been ever since we were
born. I should have wanted to partner up with him. But I didn’ t. Nothing
against Frankie. It’s just that I was having such a great time with Collin.
And to be abso lutel honest, it felt reall good to have the gu everRQe
wanted to be friends with want to be with me. Collin Rich thought I was
smart and funny . He thought I was a genius. Me, Hank Zipzer .
So I said no to mEHVWIULHQG.
“Listen, Frankie, I want to partner up,” I said, “but I alread promised
Collin I’d staZLWKKLP”
“Collin?” said Frankie. “Y ou promised Collin?”
“So let me get this straight. Y ou and Collin are going to hang together?”
“Yeah, I promised him.”

“For the whole night?”
I didn’t answer . Frankie gave me a cold stare. I couldn’ t blame him.
“So that means I’ll just be with Luke Whitman and be covered in boogers
from head to toe,” Frankie said.
I looked over at Collin. He was waiting for me. I turned back to Frankie.
“I want to hang with RX)UDQNLH5HDOO I do.”
“Right,” said Frankie. “And mQDPHLV%HUQLFH”
He shook his head and walked away .

“Yeah, fine,” I said. I knew Frankie was mad, and I didn’ t feel good
about that. But what could I do?
We all gathered on deck while the galle crew handed out dinne r. Each of
us got a portion of gruel, which looked like thin oatmeal and tasted like
paper and paste. The served it in wooden bowls and we ate it with a
wooden spoon.
I took a bowl and handed one to Collin. I could see Frankie out of the
corner of m eH He was stand ing with Luke on the starboard side of the
ship’ s deck. Or maEH it was the port side. I couldn’ t tell becaus e it was too
dark for me to see mSLQN fingers.
“Excuse me, Mr . Mate,” Katie Sperling said, interrupting him. “But when
do we get our real dinner?”
“This is RXU dinner ,” answered Mr. Gladson. “And I would be grateful if
I were RX”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” said Kim Paulson, letting the gruel drip off
her spoon and back into the bowl.
“T omorrow at daEUHDN RXOl get RXU ration of salt beef and ship’ s
bread. Now that’s a meal,” Mr. Gladson said. “For now, all RX get is
“But I saw some chicken downstairs. And fruit,” Ashle said. Good old
fearless Ashley . Of course, she’d be the one to speak up.
“AH that’ s for the captain,” said Mr. Gladson. “You can’ t expect him to
be eating gruel.”
“I don’ t see whQRWVDLG$VKOHy . “We’re eating it.”
“How dare RX compare RXUVHOYHV to the captain,” said Mr. Gladson,
shaking his finger at her . “No more talk! Avast, matey.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” AshleDVNHG.
“It mean s stop it right now. No lowl sailor talks back to an officer on
The Pilgrim Spirit .”

I could see Ashle getting mad. She was opening her mouth to answer
when I saw Frankie reach out and sa something to her . I bet RX anWKLQg
that he was telling her to take a deep breath in through her nose and let the
anger out through her mouth. It seemed to be working, because Ash didn’ t
sa anot her word. Part of me wished I was over there with them. But the
After we finished our gruel, the first mate handed out our next
assignments. He told Katie Sperling and Hector Ruiz that the were on
galle cleanup crew . He assigned Frankie and Luke to swab the decks. Then
he came over to Collin and me.
“You two sailors were captain’ s assistants on the first shift. Correct?”
“AHDe, sir ,” said Collin. “And I’ve never had so much fun in mOLIH”
Mr. Gladson seemed surprised. “That’s not the usual reaction,” he said.
“Captain tells me RXU successo r, Mr . McKelty , is having a dif ficult time of
I started to snicker , but stopped when Mr . Gladson shot me a look.
“Sorr to hear that, sir,” I said, trLQJ to look serious. “He wanted that
job so badly .”
“This shift, RX two will be line handlers,” Mr. Gladson said. “You’ll tie
down the ship for the night. Y ou know anNQRWV"”
“No, sir,” I answered.
He handed me a book that had been tucked under his arm. It was called
One Hundred Most Useful Nautical Knots. Oh, boy, I didn ’t like the sound
of that. I had so much trouble just learning to tie m shoes. TLQJ a boat
knot seemed impossible, let alone one hundred knots!
“Stud this book,” said Mr. Gladson. “It’s the first thing sailors read right
What I wanted to sa was, I have no idea what RXre talking about. But
instead I said, “W ill do, sir. Can’t wait, sir .”
“Learn the basic knots,” he said. “Bowline, square knot, figure eights,
cleat hitch. When RXYH got that down, use a hitch to tie the mooring lines
on the starboard side to the two cleats on the dock.”
“Will do, sir .”
I sai d it again! What is wr ong with RX Hank? Wh are RX agreeing to
do something when RXKDYHQRLGHDZKDWou ar e agreeing to do?
“Which knot should we use, sir?” Collin asked.

“Whatever feels the most secure,” Mr. Gladson said.
He started to walk away, and then he stopped to face us again . “B the
way, ge ntlemen. If RX complete this assignment, RXOO get the line
handlers certificate of merit. Captain will give it to RX himself. Good
“Let’s get busy ,” Collin said after Mr. Gladson had left. “It’d be fun to
show that captain we’re not the losers he thinks we are.”
Collin and I went up to the front of the boat. Collin picked up some
coiled ropes and lugged them over to us. I looked out on the water and for
the first time, reall noticed where we were. The BrooklQ Bridge stretched
across the river right near us. I know it’s just a bridge, but, boy, is it a
beautiful thing to look at. It’s like a shiny , steel spiderweb without the
spider, strung with lights. If I turned and looked out into the harbor , I could
see the Statue of Liberty . She was all lit up too. She looked a whole lot
better in person than on Principal Love’ s cheek, I’ll tell RXWKDW.
“Earth to Hank,” Collin said, tapping me on the shoulder . “Mooring lines.
Cleats. Knots. Sound familiar?”
I guess mPLQGKDGZDQGHUHGRff. It likes to do that.
“Do RX have an idea what exactl we’re supposed to do?” I asked
Collin, snapping to attention.
“Not really . But we can figure it out.”
He looked out onto the dock and thought for a minute. He pointed to a
big wed ge-shaped metal thing sticking up from the dock. A fat rope was
tied around it, holding the boat in place while it bobbed in the water .
“I’ll bet that metal thing is a cleat,” he said. “Do RXDJUHH+DQN"”
“Couldn’t agree more,” I said.
I had no idea what a cleat was. What I did know was that Collin was
smart. I could almost see the thoughts racing ar ound his mind.
Collin picked up two loose ropes that were coiled up on the deck near us.
“These must be the mooring lines,” he said. “What do RXWKLQN+DQN"”
“I have to sa HV to that,” I said. “The look like mooring lines to me.
Indeed theGR”
I wo uldn’ t know a mooring line from a dotted line. But who was I to
disagr ee with Collin Sebastian Rich the Fourth?
Collin took a flashlight out of his pocket and shined it onto the dock. We
could see two smaller metal things jutting up behind the big one.

“I’ll bet those are the two cleats he wants us to tie the boat onto,” Collin
said. “What do RXWKLQN+DQN"”
“I think that I’m in total agreement.”
Hank, you ding-dong! Can’t RX sa anWKLQJ other than ‘I agr ee’?
You’r e sounding stupid even to RXUVHOI.
“Do RXNQRZKRZWRWLHDQ knots?” Collin asked me.
“Nope, but we have this book. One Hundred Most Useful Nautical Knots.
Sounds like a thriller .”
“Let’s get started,” Collin said. “How hard can it be to learn how to tie a
I flipped open the book. When I looked inside, it was m worst
nightmare. No, worse than m worst nightmare. It was m worst nightmare
having a nightmare. It was uglSDJH after page of diagrams and
instructions. There were drawings of right hands and left hands pulling
pieces of rope inside and outside of loops. I couldn’ t tell wha t was what.
The letters and pictures started to move around on the page, just like
alwaVT adpoles swimming in a pond.
How hard can it be to learn how to tie a knot?

FRANKIE, ASHLEY, AND I HA VE a magic act called Magik 3. Frankie
is the magician, and we’re the assistants. There’s this one trick Frankie does
where he cuts a rope in two pieces and drops it into a top hat. He waves a
magic wand over the hat and says, “Zengawii,” whi ch is his magic word he
learned in Zimbabwe. When he pulls the rope out of the hat, it’s back in one
As I sat there with the book One Hundr ed Most Useful Nautical Knots in
front of me, I wished I knew a magic word that would make the stupid rope
I was staring at tie itself into a knot.
“Zengawii!” I muttered, giving the coiled rope a kick. Nothing happened.
“What’d RXVD?” asked Collin.
“I said Zengawii, which in Zimbabwe means wh did the make these
dumb dir ections so complicated?”
Collin laughed. “W e’ll get it, buddy. Just read me the steps.”
We were trLQJ to tie a hitch, which is the kind of knot RX use to tie a
boat to the dock. You’d think that would be eas enough. But noooooo!
Turns out there are cleat hitches and clove hitches and rolling hitches and
half hitches and other kinds of hitches RXQHYHUHYHQGUHDPHGRI.
We decided to tr a cleat hitch. It sounded so right. I looked it up in the
table of contents and opened the book to page 97. So far, so good. There
were about twent little compl icated diagrams. The were mostl hands
with arrows that showed how the hands would move if the could move.
Next to each diagram was a sentence describing what the picture was
supposed to be showing RX.
I tri ed to read the first few sentences to mVHOI before I read them out
loud to Collin. Ever other word was one I couldn’ t read or pronounce.
Like tension and taut and counter clockwise. I knew if I tried to read those
directions out loud, I wou ld stumble all over mVHOI and sound totally
dumb. I had two choices. I could either confess to Collin that I had a
reading problem or I could talk mZD out of this.
Guess which one I chose?

“Tell ou what,” I said to Collin, trLQJ to make it seem like a gigantic
light had just gone on in m head. “You read the directions and I’ll do the
“Because,” I answered. That was a stupid answer .
I didn’ t wait for him to tell me that, though. I just handed the book to him
From the corner of m eH I could see Katie Sperling and Kim Paulson
looking at us. The were on watch at the stern of the ship, but the person
the were watching was Collin. He kept his face in the book, concentrating
on the diagrams . I thought it was amazing that he never seemed to notice
that girls looked at him all the time.
Mr . Lingg strolled bDQGVPLOHGDWXV.
“You boV need an help?” he asked. “I got a Bo Scout badge for rope-
I wanted to sa pull up a chair , Mr . Lingg, and help us figure this mess
out. But, instea d, I heard m voice say, “W e’re doing fine. No problem
I hate it when m voice speaks without asking me first. Mr. Lingg passed
“Okay, I think I got it,” Collin said, looking up from the book. “Step
Number One.”
I hate instructions that begin with Step Number One, because that means
there are seven thousand more steps coming.
“Step Number One,” Collin repeated. “T ake the line to the ear of the cleat
furthest from the load.”
“Step Number Two,” Collin read on. “Start RXU figure eight across the
top of the opposite ear .”
Check, please. I’m out of her e.
“Hey, Collin,” I said. “Excuse me a minute. I’ve got to use the head.”
I dropped the rope and took of f. I needed Frankie.
I found him and Luke sitting with a group of kids at the stern of the ship.
(How about that for naut ical vocabular" The were studLQJ the sky
while Mr . Gladson explained how sailors navigate using the stars.

“Psst, Frankie,” I whispered, and motioned for him to come over to me.
Mr . Gladson stopped talking and frowned at me.
“Are RXKDYLQJWURXEOHZLWKour knots, sailor?” he asked.
“No way. Piece of cake. We’ll be getting that certificate for sure. I just
need to talk to Frankie for a second.”
“I’m in trouble,” I whispered to him. “I need help.”
“Go ask RXU new best friend Collin,” Frankie said. He started to leave,
but I pulled him back.
“Frankie, listen. W e’re supposed to tie the ship down, but I can’ t figure
the knot out. W e’re all going to float away .”
“No we’re not,” he said. “Use your head, man. The boat is alread tied
down. Didn’t RX see the huge rope wound around that thingamajig on the
“It’ s called a cleat.”
“Wow, listen to RX matey . Whatever . Y ou think theUH going to let a
kid be responsible for making sure we don’ t drift out to sea?”
He had a point. But Mr. Gladson told us we had to tie down the other two
ropes. And there was the line handlers certificate to consider . C ollin really
wanted that.
“Frankie,” I begged. “You know how I am with directions. Come on,
“But Frankie—”
“This is the waou wanted it, dude. Tie RXUKHDUWRXW”
Frankie went back and took his seat with the group.
On m wa back to our station, I ran into Collin. He was heading down
the stairs to go below deck.
“I just got cold,” he said. “I’ll get our jackets and be back.”
While I waited for Collin, I leaned over the railing and stared out at the
dock. That big rope Frankie had talked about was bouncing up and down as
it straine d again st the cleat. The moon was shining, and I could see the knot
clearly . It didn’ t look so complicated from where I was. In fact, all of a
sudden, it was big and clear .

The should make diagrams in books that big, I thought. Then theG be
much easier to follow .
Wait a minute. That’s it. M brain started going so fast that I thought I
actuallKHDr d it clicking.
Yes! Hank Daniel Zipzer . You just had a brilliant idea.

YOU HAVE TO KNOW THIS ABOUT ME. When I get a good idea, I
move fast. There’ s no stopping me. M brilliant idea required that I leave
the boat. So I zipped over to the gangwa as fast as m short little legs
could carrPH.
I co uld see one of the boat’ s cr ew members leaning up against the rail
guarding the gangway .
Hector Ruiz and a kid from the other school were standing watch on a
platform just past the real sailo r. I walked past the guard as naturall as I
could and over to Hector .
“I can’t now. I’m on watch,” he said.
“Hector , this is important. Wou ld RX call the guard over and ask him
“I know how long it is. It’ s two hours.”
“Then ask him something RX don’t know . I need RX to keep him
“Trust me, it’s for the good of the ship.” I was luck that Hector didn’t
ask me in what wa it was good for the ship. He did, however , say , “Why
should I do this for RX"”
“Hey , Hector , remember the time ...”
“You know , the time,” I said, stalling a minute for m brain to catch up
with me. “The time I passed that note for RX to Tif fan Marshall so Ru
wouldn’ t get caught throwing it to her .”
“So?” Hector said.
“So? Are RX kidding? Ms. Adolf looked up just as I handed Tif fan the
note. And I took the heat.”
“Oh, HDK he said, smiling. “You went to Principal Love’s of fice for the

“No, but RX can now. Just go talk to that sailor , and keep him bus until
Hector nodded and called the sailor over to him. The gu turned his back
to me and started walking toward Hector’s platform. Once I saw them
talking, I was off that ship, down the gangway , and on the dock in no time. I
scurried right up to the metal cleat with the huge rope fastened to it. I got
down on m knees and inspect ed the knot closely . I looked at it from the
top and from the side and from underneath. I could see ever loop of it.
This was much better than any old diagram. This was study ing the real
thing, up close and personal.
Frankie and I ha ve put together enough toV for me to know that I learn
how to do it bes t when I actuall do it mVHOI He shows me once, then I do
it mVHOI.
I knew that if I could just take that knot apart one time, to see how the
rope slipped through the loops, I could do it again. It would just take a
minute. The boat wasn’ t going anZKHUHLQMXVWDPLQXWH.
It was a four-step plan.
1. Take the knot apart verVORZOy .
2. Remember everVWHS.
3. Put the knot back together just the waLWZDV.
4. Go back and impress Collin with how smart I am.
The rope was wet and slim when I touched it. It practicall took up my
whole hand just to hold it. This wasn’ t an little rope. It was as thick around
as one of the salamis that hang over the counter in our deli.
I took a deep breath.
Ready , begin. Concentrate, Hank.
I slipped the end of the rope off the cleat and unwound it carefull and
slowly. I could see wh the call it a figure eight. The rope was wrapped
around the cleat so that it looked like the number 8. I kept unwinding it
until I could see the bottom of the cleat. There was one funny loop down
there. It had a kind of hook in it. I pulled hard on the rope and the hook
came undone. It slid of f the cleat straight into mKDQG.
Excellent job, Hank. You wer e reall concentrating. Now just put it back
“Hank, where are RX bud?” It was Collin, coming back from below

Hurry, Hank. You don’ t want him to see RX here. Re-tie the knot. Just
like it was.
Ooops. It’ s not staLQJ:K is it sliding off?
“Hank! Get RXU butt over here,” Collin called again. “This isn’t hide-
I had to move on to the figure eight part of the knot. I wrapped the rope
around the cleat in the shape of the number 8.
Wait a minute. That doesn’ t look like an eight. It looks more like a thr ee.
MaEHHYHQDWKr ee-and-a-half.
“Hank, the captain’ s coming up from downstairs for inspection,” Collin
I had to hurry . I figured that my figure eight was close enough. Now all I
had to do was fasten the rope down with a little loop.
Uh-oh. That’ s a big loop. A r eallELJORRS.
I stood back and looked at the knot I had tied. It didn’ t look exactl like
the one that had been there before. I admit it wasn’ t perfect. But it was good
enough. I was sure of that.
At least, I was prettVXUH.

I CR EPT UP THE GANGW AY SO QUIETL Y that Collin couldn’ t hear
me. Keeping low to the ground, I snuck across the deck until I was in back
of him, and then popped out from behind a sail.
“Boo!” I said.
“I have m place s,” I said. “An experienced sailor like me knows his way
around a ship.”
“I brought RX this,” he said, tossing me m jacket. “In case RXUe
interested, RXUSRFNHW’ s glowing.”
“It must be mWLQ alien brother ,” I said.
Collin cracked up.
“He begged to come along,” I continued. “You know what pests alien
brothers can be.”
Then I looked at m pocket. There actuall was a blue light coming from
it. Papa Pete’s cell phone! I had forgotten to give it back to him. TSLFDO,
Suddenly , we heard footsteps coming toward us.
I turned off the phone and stuffed it in m pocket just as the captain
appeared in front of us.
“You two pollZRJVWing up the ship for the night?” he said.
“A H Captain, but we’re having a little trouble with our cleat hitch,”
Collin said. “Do RXWKLQNou could help us, sir?”
A funn look crossed his face. It was the same look I get when Ms. Adolf
asks me to locate Nebraska on the map and I have no idea where it is.
“Y ou’re asking me to help?” he roared.
“Yes, sir .”
“Not on RXU life, mate he shouted. “I’m captain of this ship, not a
“If RX could just—” Collin began, but the captain stomped off really
fast. Obviously , he didn’t want to be talking to us about tLQJNQRWV.

We did the best we could with the two mooring lines. Collin read me the
directions, and I tried to remember how to wrap the rope around the cleat.
When I was done, the knots looked a little better than the big one I had tied.
“That’ s good enough,” Collin said, looking over m two mess knots. At
least he didn’ t think I was a tot al moron. “The big line is secure, anZDy.
It’s not like the boat is going anSODFH”
I gulped hard. Boy , did I hope he was right.
After that, we had a lot of fun. All the kids got to gather below deck and
listen as Mr . Gladson told us an exciting stor about a ship that crashed
during a storm at Cape Horn. Then it was time to get in our bunks. Ashley
went off with all the girls. Frankie chose the bunk next to RDn Shimozato
and farthest awaIURPPH.
Collin and I too k the bunks closest to the door , because we had to wake
up in two hours to stand watch. Our shift was from two in the morning until
four. A couple of guV from PS 9 said the had dibs on the bunk next to
“Back off, guV he said. “This one’s saved for Hank.” I felt pretty
As we were settling down into our bunks, Nick McKeltZDONHGEy .
“You’re a turkey ,” he said, giving me a poke in the ribs.
“You got what RX deserved, McKelty ,” I answered. “Doesn’t feel so
good, does it?”
“The captain’ s a turke too,” he said. “I’m going to tell m dad. He’ll get
that guILUHG”
“Your dad can’ t do that,” Collin said.
“Sure he can,” McKelt said. “He’s best friends with the maRU of New
“Y eah, and mQDPH’ s Bernice,” I said.
Collin laughed reallKDUG.
That was Frankie’s line. When he saVLWLWDOZDs makes me laugh too.
I looked over at Frankie. He was hanging out with RDQ Shimozato and a
bunch of the guV in our class. The were all watching while he was
making a nickel disappear . Frankie was alwaVDORWRIIXQ.

m skin . I had no idea where I was or who was waking me up in the middle
of the night.
“Stand up, matey ,” said a voice. “It’ s time for RXUZDWFK”
I ru bbed m eyes and looked around. It was pitch-black in the bunk
room, except for the candle that Mr . Gladson held next to his face.
“Up on deck with RX he said . “I’ll sta below with the others. Hurry,
now. Keep a lookout for pirates and looters.”
I woke Collin. W e put on our jackets and we dragged ourselves out of our
bunks and up the stairs. And when I sa dragged, I’m not exaggerating. I
was so tired, I felt like I was walking through mud.
We pushed open the hatch and went out on deck. It was cold out there. A
prett strong wind had blown up during the night. The boat was swaLQJ a
lot. The sails were flapping in the wind. Funny, the hadn’ t done that
Collin flopped himself down on a bench next to the poop deck. He
looked like he was asleep sitting up. I hauled m dead legs over to the
railing to have a look around. You never know when RXUH going to meet a
pirate in New Y ork City. You can’ t be too careful.
I looked out toward the dock. The dock wasn’ t there.
I ran to the other side of the boat and looked down. The dock wasn’ t
there either .
Oh, no! Where were those docks? The were there when we went to
We were surrounded on all sides b water . The lights from the pier were
far away . The BrooklQ Bridge wasn’t right next to us, like it had been. It
was of f in the distance.
I looked down into the deep black water . I couldn’ t see much, but I could
see the rope dragging along behind us. No knot, no cleat, no land. We had
drifted out to sea!
“Collin!” I HOOHGW ake up!”

“What is it, Hank?” he said with a DZQ3LUDWHV"”
He look ed out at the water with a little grin. He rubbed his eHV and
looked out at the water again. The grin disappeared from his face.
“Where’ s the land?” he asked.
“Hank,” he said, his voice sounding a little panicky . “W e need to do
something fast.”
“HELP!” I screamed at the top of mOXQJV620(%2'<+(/3”

I MUST HAVE REALL Y SHRIEKED m lungs out, because everRQe
came running up on deck in a flash.
“What is it, Hen r" Ms. Adolf said. She was wrapped in a blanket and
still had the pink pom-pom hat on her head.
All I could do was point into the darkness around us. It took a minute for
“We’re out at sea!” she cried. “I feel seasick.”
She ran to the railing and barfed up her gruel.
Not onl were we out in the middle of the harbor , we were picking up
speed, as well. The wind was blowing hard, filling the sails with cold air.
We were cutting through the water at a prett good pace. And let me just
“NobodSDQLFelled Ms. Adolf in a panickYRLFH.
“How could this have happened ?” shouted Mr. Lingg. You cou ld hardly
hear him over the flapping of the sails. I’m not sure wh he looked at me,
but he did.
I fel t terrible. I knew what had happened. I had untied that big old cleat
hitch and then put it together backwards or upside down or maEH even
sidewaV Whatever I did, the knot wasn’t a knot anPRUH I was
responsible for this mess.
Ms. Adolf and Mr. Lingg had us all put on life vests. After that, no one
knew what to do.
At last, a good idea. We’d just tell the captain to turn the ship around.
Frankie ran down the stairs. Collin went with him. A minute later , they
came back without the captain.
“Where is he?” Ms. Adolf demanded.
“He saVKH’ s not coming out,” said Frankie.
“He’s do wn there with the first mate,” added Collin. “He saV theUe
both seasick.”

“This is ridiculous,” said Ms. Adolf. “I’m going to get him.”
“I’ll come help,” said Ashley . Ms. Adolf didn’t object. Mr. Lingg was
staLQJ up top to watch over us kids. Ms. Adolf probabl felt like she could
use a good head down there. And I don’ t mean of the bathroom tSHHLWKHr.
We were clipping along, heading wa out b the Statue of Liber t now . I
looked at Lad Libert’ s face in the distance, and I swear she was looking
right into m eHV And instead of saLQJ “EverERG welcome to
America,” she seemed to be saLQJ “You did it, Hank Zipzer . Y ou screwed
up again.”
Ms. Adolf hurried back up the stairs, practicall dragging the captain
behind her. She had him b the arm. Ashle had Mr. Gladson. Both men
were green in the face.
“Captain,” said Mr . Lingg. “Take us back to shore immediately .”
“I can’ t,” said the captain. He sounded reall different. His big shouting
voice was gone, and when he did talk, he sounded like he was from T exas.
“I’m not a real ship’s captain,” he answered. “I’m an actor!”
“An actor?” Ms. Adolf said. “What kind of actor?”
“I do musical comedRQ%URDGZDy ,” he said. “I tap dance a little too.”
Ms. Adolf turned to the first mate.
“And what abou t RX Mr. Glad son? I suppose RXUH one of those silly
actor people too?”
“I work in commercials,” he said. “Actors do these roles on the ship
between gigs. It’ s steadZRUN”
“I thoug ht I knew his face,” Collin whispered to me. “He’ s that gu on
“Mr. Pea-nut-a-licious,” I said. “W ow. He’ s not verJRRGDWWKDWHLWKHr .”
Ms. Adolf ’s face had turned as pink as her pom-poms. I think she was
mad and scared and confused all at the same time.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” the captain said to her . “I’m going to be sick.”
He bolted for the railing.
“You mean to tell me here we are at sea with no help?” Ms. Adolf said to
Mr. Pea- nut-a-licious. Her teeth were clenched reall tight. “What are we to
It was freezing out there. I stuck m hands in m pockets to tr to warm
them up. And there it was. Papa Pete’ s cell phone.

“Ms. Adolf,” I said. “I have an idea.”
“Be quiet, Henry. This is no time for one of RXUKDOIEDNHGVFKHPHV”
“But, Ms. Adolf—”
“Did RX hear me, Henr" She pointed to the poop deck. “If RX can’t
keep still, go stand over there and let the grown-ups handle this.”
I did go over to the poop deck. But I didn’ t keep still. I took the cell
phone out of m pocket and dialed Papa Pete’s number . I figured that since
he had been in the navy , he would know how to help us.
M hand s were shaking so bad l from the cold that I dialed the wrong
number bPLVWDNH.
“We are not able to connect RXUFDOODV dialed,” said a computer voice.
Before I knew it, someone was taking the cell phone out of m hands. It
was Frankie.
“Let me dial that for RX=LS”
I gave him Papa Pete’s number . He dialed the phone and handed it to me.
“Breathe,” said Frankie. “OxJHQLVSRZHr .”
I too k a deep breath, and b the time I had finished exhaling, Papa Pete
picked up.
“Hello,” he said with a DZQ.
“Papa Pete, it’ s me. We’re in trouble.”
“Hankie, where are RX",FRXOGKHDUKHZDVZDNLQJXSYHU quickly .
“On The Pilgrim Spirit. It got loose from the dock.”
“You’re adrift?”
Adrift! I remembered that word from our nautical vocabulary . It meant
“Y es, Papa Pete. W e’re verDGULIW0DNHWKDWH[WUHPHO adrift.”
“I’m calling the Coast Guard right now,” said Papa Pete. “Where are
“We’re just passing the Statue of Liberty . But we’re heading out real
“Are the sails up?” Papa Pete asked.
“Yes. Halfway .”
“Hankie, listen to me. I’ll call for help. But RX have to get the sails
down now. If RX keep RXU sails down, RXOO sta put until the Coast
Guard comes.”

“I don’ t know how to take them down, Papa Pete. And neither does the
captain. But he can tap dance.”
“The sails are held up bURSHV'Rou see which ones theDUH"”
“Yes, I do.”
“Untie the knots and let the rope out. The sails will come down. You can
do it, Hankie. Ask the other kids to help.”
Papa Pete hung up.
He had a point. I couldn’ t tie a knot, I had proven that. But I w as a whiz
I turned to Frankie and Collin.
“Come with me,” I said. “W e have a job to do.”

WE SENT ASHLEY TO TELL Ms. ADOLF that I had used the cell
phone to call my grandfather and the Coast Guard was on the way . I knew
Ms. Adolf wouldn’ t listen to me, but she’d listen to Ashley . And was I right.
When she heard the news, Ms. Adolf didn’t even sa anWKLQg about how
cell phones weren’t allowed. She hugged Ashle so hard, she knocked her
glasses off. Watching Ms. Adolf, I could tell she was reall worried about
us. In a weird way , that made me feel good.
Collin took me over to his teacher , Mr. Lingg. Frankie came too.
“This is Hank Zipzer ,” Collin said. “He’s the one whose grandfather has
called the Coast Guard.”
Mr. Lingg reached out and shook mKDQG.
“Good thinking, Hank,” he said.
“M grandfather said we have to take the sails down, so we can sta put
or at least slow down until the Coast Guard arrives,” I told him.
“That sounds like a logical thing to do,” said Mr. Lingg. “I wish I knew
how to lower the sails.”
“T ake over , Hank,” Mr . Lingg said. “Y ou’re the captain.”
“OnlLIKH’s one too,” I said, putting mKDQGRQ)UDQNLH’ s shoulder.
Collin put up his hand for a high five. “Two first mates are better than
one,” he said. Frankie looked at Collin’ s hand a minute. Then he slapped
him five.
“EverRQH gather round,” Mr. L ingg shouted. “The Coast Guard is on the
way . In the meantime, we have to lower our sails. Hank is in char ge and
I climbed the steps going up to the poop deck. Frankie stood on one side
of me, and Collin on the other . W e looked like those guV in a movie I saw
once called The Three Musketeers. Except we were wearing tennis shoes
and baseball caps, and those dudes were wearing boots, swords, big hats
with feathers, and tights. But RXJHWWKHLGHD.

“We’ll split into two teams,” I said. I had to shout reall loud to be heard
over the wind and the sails. “One team will take the starboard side.”
I started to point, but realized I didn’ t know which side was which. There
it was again, that stupid right/le ft thing. I wonder if an sea captains in the
Thank goodness Frankie saw that I was confused. He stepped in front of
me and pointed to the right side of the ship. Starboard, right. Port, left.
Remember that, brain.
“The other team will take the port side.”
Frankie pointed to the left side.
“Your job is to untie all the ropes that are holding the sails up,” I said.
“This won’ t be easy , because as RX can see, there are hundreds of ropes all
over this ship. And the sails are heavy . Three kids to a rope. It doesn’ t
matter which school RXJRWR-XVWWHDPXS”
“When the sails come down, RXOO have to tie them up so the don’t flap
around in the wind,” Collin added.
That was a nice touch. I never would have thought of that. Frankie gave
him a high five.
“Hey , a few of RX get RXU flashlights,” Frankie added. “We’ll need
light out here.”
“Now , everERG move quickly ,” I said. The wind was still strong and
we were wa out in the middle of the harbor . “And, hey, if RX see a loose
jacket, bring it topside. It’ s cold.”
“Wh should we listen to RX" Nick McKelt called out. “You’re a
“You’re the one who’ s a turkey,” AshleVKRXWHGEDFNDWKLP.
“Yeah, be quiet, turkeKHUIULHQG&KHOVHDVDLG.
Chelsea started to gobble. Then Ashle joined in. And, prett soon, every
kid on the whole ship was looking at Nick McKeltDQGJREEOLQJ(YHUone
except Heather PaQHWKDWLV6KHZDVWRREXV barfing.
Collin and Frankie and I ran around the deck, making sure all the ropes
got untied. I did a whole bunch of them mVHOI because, remember , I’m
As I looked around the deck, it seemed as if the kids—both schools—
were standing around sort of fro zen, not knowing what to do. Kim Paulson
was closest to me and somehow had ended up on Luke Whitman’ s rope

gang. There was a smile on Luke’ s face that looked like his lips were glued
to his ears.
As I ran past them, Kim grabbed m jacket from behind and started
HOOLQJEXWWKHUHZDVQRZD I could understand what she was trLQJWRVDy .
“TrWRUHOD[.LP,VDLGLQP best calm voice. And, believe me, it was
not eas to be calm at that moment. “We’re going to be fine if we just lower
the sails.”
“Eeuuw , eeuuw , eeuuuw ,” she sputtered, and then she started stomping
her feet. It looked like her toes were on fire.
“What is it, Kim?”
“The ropes! Eeuuw, eeuuw , eeuuw . Hank, I can’ t!” she HOOHd with her
Luke was still grinning.
Ooohhh. Now I got it. Of course. Kim was pulling Luke Whitman’ s rope,
the one he hid his boogers on. Disgusting. Double disgusting.
I took off m scarf and gave it to Kim so she could wrap it around her
“When you hear me count to three, untie the rope and lower the sail,” I
said. “Can RXGRWKDW"”
Kim nodded, and I ran.
“Good job, RDQ I HOOHG as I passed him and his posse, Justin and
Ricky. T he had found the rope that was holding the main sail at half-mast.
“W ait for me to count to three, and then we’ll lower all the sails together!”
I didn’ t wait for them to answe r. W e were moving prett fast down the
East River . I couldn’t show it, but I was getting nervous.
“Hey, gu V that rope is not going to help us. It’s the wrong one. Grab the
one next to it.”
I ran farther along the deck.
“Hey, RX in the blue and HOORZ parka,” I called. “I’m sorr I don’ t
“Charlie,” he answered back.
“Charlie. Can RX help Hector here find the right rope that lowers the
front sail?”
“AHDe, Captain,” he answered while saluting me. W ow, that felt great.
“Thanks,” I shouted over m shoulder , heading toward Heather , who was
still bent over the railing feeding the fish.

She couldn’ t speak, and looked really , reall green. So she nodded and
went back to barfing.
“Just hold on,” I said. “Help is on the way .”
I got back to the poop deck and started shouting.
“Okay, let’ s get read I shouted. But there was so much noise from
everRQH talking at once and the wind snapping the sails back and forth that
I w asn’ t sure anRQH could hear me. Frankie and Collin were on the poop
deck with me and the started getting everRQH’ s attention. The cupped
their hands around their mouths and traded off shouting, “He First
Frankie, then Collin, then Frankie, then Collin. Finally, the two classes
quieted down enough for me to HOO.
“Okay , everRQH8QWLHour ropes!”
All the kids shot into action at once, and removed each rope from its
cleat. Some of the kids weren’ t strong enough. The wind in the sails was
pulling the ropes in the opposite direction and DQNHG the kids holding them
forward across the deck.
“On three!” I HOOHG$OOWRJHWKHU$UHou read"”
“You bet! Let it rip! Let’ s go!” came the answers from all over the deck.
“One! Two! Three!” I shouted louder than I had ever HOOHGEHIRUH.
When the first sail came down, we all cheered. One b one, the big sails
were lowered. As each one came down, The Pilgrim Spirit moved slower
and slower through the water .
Suddenly, I saw a light in the distance.
“Aho there,” came a voice from a loudspeaker . “This is the Coast Guard
cutter Orca. Are RXLQGLVWUHVV"”
I don’ t alwaV learn from books ver well, but if RX tell me something,
I’ll remember it forever . What I remembered at that moment was the signal
for distress that the Coast Guard officer had showed us before we boarded
the boat . He said one wa RX signal distress is b waving our arms up
and down over RXUKHDG.
I ran to the stern of the boat and faced the Coast Guard cutter. I stood
right in front of their searchligh t beam and waved m arms up and down
over m head so hard, I almost took off. Collin and Frankie and Ms. Adolf
joined me too. We must have looked like we were doing the wave at a Mets

game. But it wo rked, because the next thing we heard from the Coast Guard
ship was this:
“We are sending an inflatable boat out to RX We are coming aboard.
With that, Ms. Adolf grabbed the sides of her pink pom-pom hat and
pulled it down over her face. Between RX and me, I don’ t think she wanted
us to see her cry , even if it was a crRIKDSSLQHVV.
The sent a skip per to board our ship and steer us into port. He turned us
around so we were headed in the right direction. Boy, were we ever glad to
see him. You should have seen his face when he saw the pretend Captain
Josiah Barker hanging over the ship railing, his face green as the lettuce in
Mrs. Crock’ s teeth.
“When he has finished answering RXU questions,” Ms. Adolf said to the
skipper , “ask him to dance. Apparently , he’s quite good at tap.”
The Coast Guard cutter Orca pushed us from behind and we floated into
the South Street Seaport harbor . We went verVORw .
When we reached the dock, it was alread morning. A crowd of people was
standing on the pier and waving to us. It was all of our parents.
Even from that distance, I could make out one big gu standing in the
middle of the crowd. He was wearing red sweats and looked like a giant
strawberry .
Papa Pete didn’ t look like a hero, but I knew that he was.

THE GOOD NEWS WAS that we landed safely. EverRQH was totally
okay. Oh , as usual, I almost forgot. There was one crisis. Ms. Adolf lost her
pink pom-pom hat in the water . There’ s probabl some sharp-to othed eel at
the bottom of New York Harbo r whose fish friends are all laughing at him
because he’ s wearing that dorkKDW.
The bad news was that as we were getting off the boat, Captain Adam
McPherson, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard cutter Orca, said
he wanted to see Collin and me in the harbormaster ’s of fice.
Right away .

“YOU BOYS CARE T O tell me what happened?”
Collin and I were sitting in the harbor -master ’s office facing Captain
Adam McPherson, commanding officer of the Coast Guard cutter Orca. He
didn’ t yell or anWKLQJ like the ship’ s fake captain had. He was quiet and
calm, but when he looked at RX with his dark eHV RX could tell he meant
“WhDUHou asking us?” I asked.
“Because I’m told RX were the sailors on watch when RX went adrift,”
he said. “The Coast Guard needs to know the facts. All the facts.”
I do n’t think I’ve ever been more nervous in m life. Well, maEH the
time when Mr . Gristediano’s apartment got totallWUDVKHGEHFDXVH,EURXJKt
Cheerio in and let go of his leash. Mr. Gristediano lost thousands and
thousands of dollars of expensive stuff, and it was all m fault. I screwed up
big-time that day . Just like I knew I had screwed up big-time last night.
M leg was bouncing up and down like it had a jet engine in it. I wanted
to bite m nails, but I had alrea d bitten them all off in the waiting room.
Collin didn’t seem nervous. That’s because he hadn’ t done anthing wrong.
It was me. I’m the one who messed everWKLQJ up, and I was trLQJ to
Collin went first.
“The captain told us to learn how to tie a couple of knots,” he said. “So
we did. Then we tied the two mooring lines onto the two small cleats on the
dock. I guess we didn’ t do such a good job.”
“You did fine, son,” Captain McPherson said. “Those small lines were
never meant to tie up the boat. The were just for practice, part of the
educational program The Pilgrim Spirit provides.”
“Reall"&ROOLQVDLGY ou could see how relieved he was.
“It’s the main mooring that ties the boat down,” the captain said. “Did
either of RXWRXFKWKDW"”
Okay, ther e it was. The big question.
“No, sir ,” said Collin. “W e wouldn’t do that.”

I sq uirmed around in m seat like m pants were on fire. Captain
McPherson looked over at me.
“Something wrong, son?” he asked.
“W ell, I did kind of touch the main mooring,” I said.
“I don’ t understand,” said the captain.
“Either RXWRXFKVRPHWKLQJRUou don’ t touch it. »
“Well, if that’ s the wa RXUH defining it, then I guess I did touch it,” I
said. M forehead was sweating. No other part of me, just m forehead.
That’ s not true, either . MXQGHUDUPVZHUHSUHWW wet too.
“So that’s wher e RX were when I kept calling RX Collin said. He
looked upset.
Captain McPherson got up from behind the desk. He went to the window
and opened the blinds. I could see the people waiting for us outside.
Three people were standing b a reall nice car. I think it might have
been a BMW . The were probabl Collin’s family . A prett mom, a
handsome dad, and a cute little sister with bright red hair and freckles. Then
there was m family , standing b our minivan. M mom with her hair
flLQJ all over the place. M dad still wearing his slippers, with his favorite
mechanical pencil behind his ear. Emily , who was reading a book on
reptiles while she was standing in the parking lot. Papa Pete was there too,
looking worried in his bright red sweats.
What would Papa Pete do if he wer e in m situation? I bet he’s never told
a lie in his life.
I didn’ t plan on what happened next. But when I opened m mouth, out it
“I didn’ t mean to do it,” I blurted out. Captain McPherson turned from
the window and looked me right in the eH.
“What?” he asked. “Y ou can tell me, son.”
“I was just trLQJ to figure out how to tie a cleat hitch,” I said, almost in
tears. “We had this book of instructions, but the truth is, I don’ t read very
well. And I can’ t follow diagrams, either. See, I have these stupid learning
challenges and lots of things that are eas for everRQH else are hard for
I wasn’ t almost crLQJ anPRUH There were real tears streaming down

“So I untied the main knot, because I thought it would help me learn how
to tie a knot. You know , if I took it apart, then I’d see how it worked. But
then I couldn’ t put it back together. I tried, but I guess the knot just didn’ t
Collin’ s mouth was hanging open. “Hank, wh didn’t RX tell me all
this?” he asked.
“Wh didn’t I tell RX" Are RX kidding? I didn’ t tell RX becau se RXd
think I was stupid. I just wanted to be friends, and I didn’ t think RXd
I w aited for Collin to sa something, but he didn’ t sa anWKLQg . Not one
word. Captain McPherson walked over to Collin.
Collin got up and left. I watched him go.
BH be, Collin Sebastian Rich the Fourth. I never should have tried to
Captain McPherson sat down on the edge of the desk.
“Accidents happen, Hank,” he said. “That’ s wh we call them accidents.
You didn’ t intend to hurt anRQH”
Captain McPherson put a hand on mVKRXOGHr .
“You made a mi stake in not telling an adult what RX did,” he said. “But
then again, RX did a lot of things right too. You called for help. You
lowered the sails. You signaled that RX were in distress. Hank, RX showed
real leadership. Y ou have a lot to be proud of, RXQJPDQ”
“So am I,” said Captain McPherson. He offered me a box of Kleenex,
and I blew mQRVH.
I looked out the window and saw mIDPLOy .
The were trLQJ to look inside, to see if I was okay . Suddenly , I wanted
to be with them more than anWKLQJ.
Captain McPherson walked me to the door of the of fice.
“You did the right thing in tellin g the truth,” he said. “To me and to RXr
“You mean mH[IULHQG,VDLG.
“Real friends accept RX for who RX are,” he said. He reache d out and
shook m hand. Boy, did he have a huge hand. As we shook, I could no
longer see mine. It’ s like it got lost somewhere in his palm region.

I went outside. Frankie and AshleZHUHVWDQGLQJULJKWE the door.
“You okay , Zip?” Frankie said.
“We were so worried,” AshleVDLG.
“I’m okay ,” I said. “Let’ s go home.”
As we walked toward our families, Frankie reached into his duffel and
pulled something out.
“I’m supposed to give this to RX he said. “We all got one. It’s a
souvenir from The Pilgrim Spirit.”
Frankie handed me the souvenir .
It was m ver own cop of One Hundr ed Useful Nautical Knots. Just
what I alwaVZDQWHG.

I W AS SO TIRE D, I slept the whole day. When I got up, m mom made
me breakfast for dinner . Scrambled eggs and bacon and toast. She knew I
was feeling like I had flunked m field trip, so she was being reall nice.
She didn’t even tr to throw an tofu in the eggs or pass off her crunchy
veggie-strips as real bacon.
After dinner , Frankie and Ashle came up and we sat on the living room
floor, pr acticing our knots. Ashle got bored with the knots and made
sailing ships out of rhinestones instead. She glued them on construction
paper and made one for her and one for her new friend Chelsea. Frankie
taught me how to tie three knots in about ten minutes. It turns out theUe
not so hard, if RXGRQ’ t have to read the directions.
While he was teaching me the bowline, which in case RXUH interested is
called the king of knots, the phone rang.
“I’ll get it,” Emil said, diving for the couch to grab the phone. “It’s
“If he wants to come over, tell him he has to put Scotch tape over his
mouth first,” Frankie said.
“It’s for RXVKHVDLG,W’ s that gu&ROOLQ”
“Now if he wants to come over , tell him to hurry,” AshleVDLG.
“Get real, Ash,” I said. “He’s calling to tell me how much I screwed up
his life.”
I took the phone and went into mURRP.
“Hello,” I said.
“Hank?” said Collin.
“Listen, I have a question for RXKHVDLG.
Let’ s see. Which one was it going to be? Wh did RX ruin m field trip?
Wh are RX so stupid? What’s wr ong with RX anZD? There wer e so
“What is it, Collin?” I asked.

“I was wondering,” he said. “Do RX want to have a sleep over this

WE HAD A GREA T TIME at our sleepover . Papa Pete took us bowling
and got us root-beer floats. We watched scar movies on TV and plaHd
MonopolDQGWROGNQRFNNQRFNMRNHVXQWLOP parents said we had to go to
sleep. Oh, b the way , there were three of us. Collin, Frankie, and me. We
all got along great together . AshleVOHSWRYHUDW&KHOVHD’ s house.
I lea rned a wh ole bunch about Collin that night. And I gue ss about
mVHOI too. The most important thing I learned was that Collin likes me the
wa I am. He doesn’ t care if I le arn differently . He saV he doesn’ t pick his
I also learned some other interesting things that night about Collin
Sebastian Rich the Fourth.

1. He bites his nails too.
2. He pulls cards from the middle of the Chance pile in Monopoly .
3. He likes the Yankees better than the Mets. That made Frankie happy .
4. At night, he wears headgear the size of a flLQJVDXFHr . That’s how
he gets those perfectlVWUDLJKWWHHWK.
5. His favorite fruit is prunes.
7. He is scared of scarPRYLHV.
8. He is also afraid of iguanas.
9. He can’ t make himself burp unless he’ s had a Coke first.
10. He is one lousERZOHr.

I showed this list to Papa Pete. He saV it proves one thing: Nobod’ s
perfect, even the perfect people.


About the Authors

H ENRY WINKL ER is an actor , producer , and director , and he speaks
publicl all over the world. In addition, he has a star on HollZRRd
Boulevard, was knighted b the government of France, and the jacket he
wore as the Fonz hangs in the Smithsonian Museum in Washi ngton, D.C.
But if RX ask him what he is proudest of, he would say, “W ritin g the Hank
Zipzer books with mSDUWQHr , Lin Oliver.”

He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Stacey . The have three children
named Jed, Zoe, and Max, and two dogs named Mont and Charlotte.
Charlotte catches a ball so well that she could definitel pla outfield for
the New Y ork Mets.

L IN OLIVER is a writer and producer of movies, books, and television
series for children and families. She has written over one hundred episodes
of television and produced four movies, man of which are based on
children’ s books . She is cofound er and executive director of the Societ of
Children’ s Book Writers and Illustrators, an international organization of

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alan. The have three sons
named Theo, Ollie, and Cole. She loves tuna melts, curious kids, an sport
that involves a racket, and children’ s book writers everZKHUH.