Book Nerd Spotlight
Jack (of the beanstalk fame) and his magical talking chicken, Betsy, have always been great at making new friends, like their BFFs Red and Rapunzel. But when Jack spots Anansi, the new kid in town, talking to a troll in the Deep Dark Woods, he immediately becomes suspicious. Everyone knows that trolls mean trouble, and Jack will do anything to prove to the rest of his friends that Anansi is a troll spy. Even if that means using stolen magic!
A Ship Comes In
Jack walked through the Deep Dark Woods with his pet hen Betsy tucked under one arm. He took a deep breath of the woodland air. It smelled fresh and exciting. Today was going to be a good day—he could just tell.
He walked toward a small, wooden cottage surrounded by a well-kept wooden fence. There was a fountain in the garden, also made of wood, but instead of water, it was blowing sawdust high into the air.
“Don’t worry, Betsy. It’s only sawdust,” replied Jack. He wasn’t surprised that his hen had just spoken to him. After all, Betsy was a magical hen. Sadly, “What?” was the only thing she could say, which made most of their conversations rather one-sided.
Jack wiped his feet on the wooden doormat and knocked on the door. He heard booming footsteps from inside. The door swung open with a creak and a very woody smell.
A large man stood in the doorway, covered in wood shavings and holding a lopsided wooden cup.
“Well, look who it is!” he exclaimed with a smile, “Come on through, Jack! Red and the others are all out back.”
He ushered Jack inside, where every surface, and in fact everything, seemed to be made from wood…including the carpet and the curtains.
“So, how have you been, Jack?” asked Red’s dad.
“Good, thanks,” replied Jack politely. “How about you?”
“Oh, good, Jack, very good!” exclaimed Red’s dad. “In fact, I’ve just made a breakthrough!”
“A breakthrough?” asked Jack.
“With the wooden socks!” replied Red’s dad.
“Don’t you mean woolen?” countered Jack.
“Woolen socks?” repeated Red’s father, as if it was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard, “I’m a wood-cutter, Jack, not a wool cutter!”
“Er, right…” said Jack.
“Do you want to try them on?” asked Red’s father, holding out two very solid, very wooden--looking socks.
“Um, not right now,” replied Jack. “I’d better go and catch up with Red. But thanks for the offer.”
Jack’s friends were all sitting in the main room when he climbed in.
“Morning, all!” he called out.
Red grinned, Rapunzel did her very best curtsy, and the twins waved enthusiastically.
“Hey,” started Hansel.
“Jack!” finished Gretel.
Hansel and Gretel often finished each other’s sentences. Sometimes it could be confusing.
“Hey, Jack!” called Red. “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”
“The good news?” asked Jack hesitantly.
“The good news,” said Rapunzel, leaving a long pause, “is that there’s a ship coming into town from Far Far Away!”
Jack gasped. A boat from Far Far Away! His dad might have sent him a letter…
“Yep!” added Red. “It should be arriving any minute! We’re going to have a race up to Lookout Point to watch it come in—last one there is a smelly troll!”
“So what’s the bad news?” asked Jack.
“The bad news is that Hansel’s just tied your shoelaces together!” said Rapunzel, as she and everyone else scrambled excitedly from the tree house.
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