Sunday, December 13, 2009
You asked for it!
Here is my favorite chapter from my (as of yet unpublished) book, illustrated by my brother Nik. By the way, congratulate him! He now has an agent!
All work copyright 2003-2009...as if any of you darlings would steal it :) The web site is a work in progress at this point. Thank you, Mr. RK and Mike D for the work so far!
The book is a series of vignettes in the life of Antonia Elizabeth Jones, a sassy six-year-old who has "changed" her name to Black Jack Pepper. She lives in Minnesota with her three-year-old brother, Will, their dad, and their cat, Rocco, who likes to eat pancakes.
Lucky the Blue Lobster
"Hey, dad!" Black Jack Pepper called. "Can we get a lobster?"
"To eat?" he asked.
"No, for a pet," she said. "Come and look."
Her dad walked over from the cat toy aisle, shaking his head. She pointed to the tank with an Australian blue lobster, which was about 4 inches long.
"You said we could get any kind we want," she reminded him. "And besides, he looks kind of lonely."
Her dad sighed.
"OK," he said. "You can get the lobster. Just be sure to ask the lady behind the counter what kind of food he eats."
"French toast?" asked Black Jack Pepper.
"No," her dad replied, "I don't think you can feed him French toast."
"Oh good," she said. "Then Rocco won't get jealous."
Black Jack Pepper, Will and their dad bought an aquarium, food for the lobster, the lobster itself, and a book about how to take care of it.
"Is it a him or a her?" Black Jack Pepper asked.
"I'm not really sure," her dad replied.
"Is there a way we can find out?" she asked.
"I don't think so," her dad said.
"Well, I think it's him, because he's bigger than the other ones," she said.
"Him!" Will said gleefully.
"It could just mean that he's older," their dad said. "But OK. We'll just assume that it's a boy lobster."
"What's his name?" Black Jack Pepper asked. "Did the people at the pet store name him?"
"No, they don't name the lobsters," her dad said. "We do. Do you have a name in mind?"
"Not really," she said.
"Do you, Will?" he asked.
"No," Will said.
"Well, let's go home and get this aquarium set up, and you two can think about it," their dad said.
Once they got home, Black Jack Pepper and Will decorated the empty aquarium with colorful rocks on the bottom, and a small castle on top of them. They added small plants and watched their dad fill it with water.
"Is that lobster grass?" Black Jack Pepper asked.
"It came with the aquarium," her dad said. "It's probably just for decoration."
"Does he eat it?" she asked.
"I don't think so," her dad said. "In nature, they eat small fish, algae or shrimp. We bought him some food pellets with a mixture of those things."
"Yuck!" Black Jack Pepper said. "That would be even worse than eating grass."
"Yuck," agreed Will.
Their dad winked.
"Just be glad you're not a lobster," he said.
When everything was set up and the lobster was in the tank, their dad told them he was going outside to work in the garden.
"Can we stay here and watch the lobster?" Black Jack Pepper asked. "Maybe we can come up with a name for him."
"Sure," her dad said. "Just don't tap on the tank, because it will give him a headache."
He went outside, and Black Jack Pepper and Will continued staring at the lobster.
"He isn't doing much," Black Jack Pepper said. "Shouldn't he be swimming around, or eating or something?"
Will shrugged his shoulders.
"Any why is he blue?" Black Jack Pepper asked. "Aren't lobsters supposed to be red?"
"He's cold," said Will.
"Aha! I think you're right," Black Jack Pepper said, jumping to her feet. "We need to warm him up, and then he'll be a red lobster."
She opened the blinds to that the sun was shining directly onto the lobster tank.
She and Will sat and waited for a few minutes, but nothing happened.
"He's still blue," Black Jack Pepper said. "His tank is too heavy to put in the microwave. How else can we warm up the water?"
She and Will both thought for a moment.
"I've got it! Follow me," she said, leading the way downstairs to the basement.
She opened up a box labeled "CAMPING" and found a portable stove.
"This should work," she said. "Come on, Will, let's go warm up the lobster."
As they were coming back upstairs, their dad was coming in to check on them and to get a glass of water.
"Where are you going with that stove?" he asked.
"We're going to warm up the lobster," she explained. "He's blue because he's cold. So we thought if we warmed him up, he'd turn red."
"Do you want to eat him?" their dad asked.
"Yuck! No way, Dad!" Black Jack Pepper said, making a face. "What made you think that?"
"Because lobsters don't turn red," he replied, "until they're cooked."
Black Jack Pepper and Will each let out a small shriek.
"Oh no! You mean if we heat up the lobster's tank, we'll cook him?" Black Jack Pepper asked.
"Yes," her dad said. "And you are not allowed to use the stove anyway, remember?"
"No cook!" Will said.
"No way! Black Jack Pepper said. "I'll put the stove back."
She ran down to the basement, put it back in the box, and came back.
"Wow, Dad, you came in just in time," she said.
"Just make sure you don't do anything to the lobster's tank from now on," he said.
"OK," they said.
"And there's one more thing," he said. "I think I came up with a name for the lobster."
"What are you going to call him?" Black Jack Pepper asked.
"I think, under the circumstances," her dad said, "his name should be Lucky."