Big Whopper is a part of the Zigzag Kids collection.
The author of the beloved Kids of the Polk Street School series introduces a new generation of readers to a multicultural group of kids who enjoy all the activities of an after-school center.
It’s Discovery Week at the Zigzag Afternoon Center! Everyone writes their discoveries on a big sheet of paper in the hallway. But Destiny Washington can’t think of anything new to discover. Before she knows it, Destiny has told a BIG whopper. And snooty Gina, who’s great at discovering things, knows all about it. Destiny has to find a way out of the whopper. In the end, she makes the best discovery of all.
In this delightful new series, award-winning author Patricia Reilly Giff introduces readers to a quirky, lovable group of kids, capturing all the excitement and surprises of new friends and after-school fun.
An Excerpt fromBig Whopper
Everyone--kindergarten through sixth--stamped down the stairs. Destiny stamped, too. It was time for the Afternoon Center at the Zelda A. Zigzag School. Destiny Washington opened her mouth. "Hellooooo!" she called in her loudest voice. It was a test. She really wasn't calling anyone. Except maybe her new friend Mitchell McCabe. The test was to see if anyone could hear her. The other kids were screaming, too. No one turned around. No one but Terrible Thomas. Terrible Thomas was Jake the Sweeper's cat. He liked to sneak into the school. He ate the snacks that Jake's broom missed. He liked to hiss, too. The Afternoon Center took up most of the school's basement. It was a great place. The art room was down there. So was the lunchroom. Destiny loved everything about the Center. Dancing, and plays, art, and snack. She loved bouncing on the trampoline. Gina raced along in front of Destiny. Her loopy pearl necklace swung back and forth. "Don't push!" she yelled. Her voice sounded like a jet plane. Not only was she loud! She was bossy, too. "Sorry," Destiny said. Suddenly, a whistle blew. It was the screechiest noise Destiny had ever heard. Everyone stopped yelling. Everyone stopped stamping. Destiny leaned over Gina's shoulder. What was going on? "If you don't mind," Gina said. Destiny stepped back. "Just trying to see." Mrs. Farelli, the art teacher, stood at the bottom of the stairs. Her cheeks were as red as her whistle. One of her arms was raised. She looked like the Statue of Liberty. "Is this a herd of cattle?" she asked. "Moooooo," Habib whispered. "Humpf." Mrs. Farrelli shook her head. Destiny followed Gina into the lunchroom. Snack time was first. Everything about the lunchroom was huge. Even the flowerpots on the windowsills. Too bad the pots were full of dirt instead of flowers! They'd planted a bunch of seeds ages ago. But not one of them had popped up. Destiny slung her backpack onto an empty lunch table. "Listen up," Mrs. Farelli said. Uh-oh, Destiny thought. They were in trouble. Mrs. Farelli leaned forward. "Afternoon Center boys and girls don't stampede down the stairs. They don't push each other." Destiny made herself as small as she could. Did Mrs. Farelli mean her? "Afternoon Center boys and girls don't moo," Mrs. Farelli said. That was definitely Habib, Destiny thought. He ducked in back of Mitchell McCabe. Mrs. Farelli could probably see him anyway. She said she could see through walls. "Be kind," Mrs. Farelli said. "That's the way we do things in the Afternoon Center." "That's me," Gina said. She looped her fingers around her pearls. "Kind!" "Humpf," Destiny said. "Here's some exciting news," Mrs. Farelli said. Something exciting was always happening in the Afternoon Center. Destiny tried to hear. Gina was humming opera. She sang, "La donna mobile home . . ." Habib was juggling with one apple. Trevor, the kindergarten kid, was reading a book upside down. He was making up the words. His friend Clifton was listening. He was making up words, too. Mrs. Farelli reached for her whistle. Brrrrrrrr! "This is Discovery Week," Mrs. Farelli said, when everyone stopped holding their ears. "I like to discover new things," said Gina. "We'll discover things all week," Mrs. Farelli said. "Anything you see or learn for the first time counts." "I'll be great at this," Gina said. Destiny wanted to say humpf. She didn't, though. That wasn't the way they did things at the Zelda A. Zigzag Afternoon Center. Mrs. Farelli twirled her whistle. "The best part is--" Destiny held her breath. "--on Thursday, we'll take a bus. We'll visit the Discovery Museum." Mrs. Farelli was smiling. An after-school trip, Destiny thought. Cool! She was lucky her mom was a hairdresser. Her mom would do something special with her hair. She'd lend Destiny neon green nail polish. Destiny would look spectacular! In the meantime, she'd have to discover something. But what? She thought of Christopher Columbus. There was no land left to discover. She thought of the guy who discovered lightbulbs. Destiny had plenty of light in her house. Maybe there wasn't anything new left. Humpf!
What was that? A blast of noise. Rattling! Everyone raced out to the basement hall. "Out of my way!" Gina screeched. Habib was juggling with one apple. "Be careful!" he yelled. "This apple is mostly mush." Destiny didn't waste time screeching or yelling. She ducked around Mitchell. She slid around Charlie. She hopped over Terrible Thomas. Thomas swished his tail back and forth at her. Ellie and Ramon, the college helpers, were zigzagging down the hall. They pushed a giant cart. The wheels galumphed. A huge roll of paper clunked back and forth on top. "This is Discovery Week," Ellie shouted. Her ponytail zipped around behind her. "Get aboard," yelled Ramon. He held onto his baseball cap. A bunch of kids hopped onto the cart. Destiny and her friend Sumiko ran together. Sumiko even did an almost-cartwheel. She was great at gym. Mitchell and Habib ran with them to the end of the hall. The cart banged into the wall. "Yeow!" Ellie said. "Double yeow!" Destiny sank down on the edge of the cart. Discovery Week was fun. Especially when you didn't have to think of discoveries. "Here comes the hard part," Ramon said. Destiny looked at the roll of white paper. It was as big as an elephant. But Ramon was as big as an elephant, too. She watched him wrestle the roll off the cart. Ellie held out a box of pushpins. "We're going to roll this paper across the wall . . . all the way back down the hall." "Won't it cover the doors?" Destiny asked. What if Mrs. Farelli couldn't get into the art room? She'd have another fit. Besides, what was this paper stuff all about? "Don't worry." Ellie made cutting motions with her fingers. "We'll make doorways." Ms. Katz came down the stairs. "Super work," she said. "And all for Discovery Week. We'll list our discoveries on paper." Destiny helped Ramon unroll the paper. It slipped away from them. It rolled halfway down the hall. Terrible Thomas raced ahead of it. He dis appeared into the mop closet. The roll of paper stopped by itself. "Now," Ramon said. "We'll tack this up along the wall." It won't be easy, Destiny thought. Everyone held part of the paper. Ramon tacked it up. It was more fun than coming up with a discovery. When the paper was up, it was full of: Apple mush. Footprints. A lump of someone's cheese popper. A smear of pizza from snack time. Something pink. Maybe Ellie's lip gloss? Chocolate. "Whew," Destiny said. "Yuck," Gina said. "I think I see some of your cheese popper, Gina," Sumiko said. But she said it kindly. She did one more cartwheel in front of Gina. Charlie pointed to a spot. "That's from my chocolate nutto bar," he said. "Never mind," Ellie said. "No one will notice." Ms. Katz handed out a pile of markers. "Mrs. Farelli said it was all right to use these. But don't make a mess on the floor." Destiny nodded. Jake the Sweeper would have a fit, too, if they made a mess. Lots of fits going around, she thought, and smiled to herself. Ramon brought benches for everyone to stand on. "Put your names up there. Leave plenty of room for your discoveries." "I'm in luck," Yolanda said. "I just discovered how to draw with markers." Gina stood up on the bench next to Destiny. "You'd better move over." Gina made a gigantic circle in the air with her marker. "I need room. I'm great at discovering things." Destiny moved over. She didn't think she needed plenty of room. She didn't need any room at all. She didn't have one idea for a discovery.
Destiny stopped at the bottom of the stairs. The not-so-white paper stretched from one end of the basement hall to the other. Doorways were snipped out. People had begun to write their discoveries on the paper. Destiny read what Charlie had to say: I made a magnet once. It was a great discovery. I forget how. If I remember, I'll write it down. Destiny wished she could think of a discovery she'd forgotten! She read Gina's next. When a singer hits a high note, her voice WIGGLES. Her high note can break a glass. I found out I can break a glass, too. Lucky Gina. Destiny sang like a crow. If only she could think of something like . . . How to make a rocket ship. It would blast off from the schoolyard, right into space. Destiny snapped her fingers. How about the guy who came up with earplugs? Your ears stayed dry as a bone when you went swimming. Everybody thought that was terrific. A little thing like earplugs! If only she had thought of it first. Right now, Mitchell was writing. Destiny leaned forward to see. He crossed it out. "I know how to make a bell ringer," he said. "But I just remembered. Someone did that already." "That's the whole problem," Destiny said. "There's nothing left to discover." She waved at Mitchell. Then she climbed down and ducked into the girls' room. She leaned toward the mirror. Her nose almost touched the glass. Her eyes crossed. Today she had a purple stripe in her hair. Her mother had sprayed it on last night. What could be better? She wasn't going to think about discoveries right now. Today was filled with good things. She was going straight to the art room. In the hall, Trevor, the kindergarten kid, was sitting on Mr. Oakley's shoulders. Mr. Oakley was a grandfather. He helped out at the Center. "Hurry," he told Trevor. "You're a big guy. I'm going to sink." "One more second." Trevor reached up. He began to write on the wall. Destiny stopped to see what he'd write. It was only a bunch of letters. Trevor looked down at Destiny. "I wrote about my discovery. I can make sparks. I wave my blanket around in the dark." "Wave yourself off my shoulders, please," said Mr. Oakley. "Me next," said Clifton. "All right," Mr. Oakley said. "Never mind," Clifton said. "I've never discovered anything in my life." Destiny nodded. "Me neither." Destiny hurried toward the art room. Everyone else hurried, too. They were going to the gym, or outdoors to the nature center, or to the lunchroom for snack. Wait a minute! Snack. She had almost forgotten. She rushed to the lunchroom. The lunch lady was giving out chocolate pudding in little cups. Or vanilla. Destiny hurried past the flowerpots that were full of dirt. No flowers! She stood next to the lunch lady. She liked to help with snacks. The lunch lady was tall and round. She wore a shower cap on her head. Her ears stuck out. She looked like a doughnut. A nice sugary doughnut. "I'll give out the pudding, too," Destiny said. "Whew," said the lunch lady. "That will help." Destiny smiled. She felt sugary inside, too. She gave chocolate pudding to Mitchell and Habib. They were good friends. She gave two chocolate pudding cups to Sumiko. That was only fair. Sumiko was learning Japanese from her mother and father. Her brain needed lots of vitamins. So did the rest of her. She wanted to be a gymnast when she grew up. "Arigato," Sumiko said. "That means 'thank you.' " Destiny gave a plain vanilla pudding to Gina. That was only fair, too. Gina had a pearl necklace. Besides, she didn't deserve chocolate. She was going around breaking glasses with her wiggly voice. Mr. Randolph, the principal, came along. Destiny gave him the biggest pudding on the tray. She reached for a chocolate one for herself. And that was fair, too. She had helped the lunch lady. Destiny licked her spoon, back and front. Then she headed for the art room. Right now, Ms. Katz was in charge of art. That was because Mrs. Farelli wanted to go home after the bell rang this week. "Enough school is enough," Mrs. Farelli had said. Great! Ms. Katz was one of Destiny's best friends. That was if you counted grown-ups. Destiny knew a lot about Ms. Katz. Her first name was Vivian. But something else. Ms. Katz wasn't glamorous. She didn't polish her nails. And her hair! Plain brown. Sometimes she wore glasses. They were plain, too. Poor Ms. Katz. She should give orange or purple hair a try. Habib walked in front of Destiny. He was juggling with one apple again. An almost rotten apple. "Great purple hair," he told her. He didn't wait for her to say thanks. His apple had just thumped away. He ran to catch up with it. Apple mush was all over the stairs. All that was left of the apple was the core. Destiny jumped over the mess. She stopped at the art room. Terrible Thomas was curled up in front of the door. He was fat. And sleepy. "Excuse me," Destiny told him. "How did you get in here again?" She leaned over him and opened the door. The room was filled. Every seat was taken. "No room." Gina waved her necklace around. "Try something else today." That Gina! Humpf!