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The 411: Youth

Robyn Reports: The Nutty Neighborhood Block Party

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July 24, 2013 | 1,990 views | Post a comment

Story By Stacy Tornio
Illustrations By Roel Wielinga

Teacher guides available upon request.

Chapter 4: Leaping Lizards!

The story so far: The staff of The Robyn Report is covering the neighborhood block party. There’s an animal missing from the petting zoo. Robyn just heard a scream.

“What was that?” Mrs. Peterson asks. She takes off running. I follow.

The scream came from Crazy Cat Corner. It’s Allison.

“What happened?” I ask.

Allison looks scared. Her eyes are huge with fright. She’s gripping Buster tightly against her chest. He doesn’t look that happy, either.

“Over there,” Allison says, trembling and pointing to a nearby shrub. “It was over there.”

I have a feeling I know what Allison is talking about. Aidan and Roxanne rush over.

“Where is he?” Aidan asks.

“Where is who?” Mrs. Peterson asks.

“My lizard,” he says. “Didn’t you find Scruffy?”

Now Mrs. Peterson does not look happy.

“You lost your lizard?” she says. “It was supposed to stay in its cage at all times. That’s one of the rules.”

Aidan knows he is busted. “Scruffy just wanted to get out for a minute,” he says. “All of the other animals get to be out.”

“Hold on a minute,” I say to them. “Whether the lizard was supposed to be out or not, it’s still missing.”

Aidan looks at Allison. “I thought you found it,” he says.

She glares at him. “I did find it, but then it slithered away.”

“Why didn’t you catch it?” he asks.

Allison glares at him again. “I don’t chase lizards,” she says.

I don’t blame Allison for that. I wouldn’t chase a lizard, either.

“What happened, Allison?” I ask. “Where did you see the lizard?”

I take my notebook out of my backpack. I don’t want to miss any details.

“I was over there,” Allison says, pointing to one of Mrs. Peterson’s shrubs. “Buster was lying in the shade. Then, all of the sudden, he went into attack mode.”

“What do you mean by attack mode?” I ask.

Allison smiles. “Buster can catch anything. One time Dad put him out in the garage because there were some mice out there. In just two hours, those mice were toast.”

I watch Buster, licking his fur. Those poor mice didn’t stand a chance.

“What happened after the attack mode?” I ask Allison.

“That’s when it happened,” she says. “I saw Buster with his tail all puffed up and his back arched, so I went to see what he was looking at.”

“And that’s when you saw my lizard?” Aidan asks.

“Yep, that’s when I saw him, all right,” she says. “He was hanging on a branch. Buster tried to pounce on him.”

“What!” Aidan says. “Your cat pounced on my lizard? That is definitely against the petting zoo rules. Rule number seven: No animal shall cause harm to another animal.”

Allison rolls her eyes. “Calm down,” she says. “I said Buster tried to pounce on him. He missed.”

Roxanne tries to break in.

“Aidan, why don’t you tell us more about your lizard?” she says. “What color is he? How big is he?”

Aidan takes a deep breath. “Well, he’s just the best pet I’ve ever had,” he says, glaring at Allison. “He’s usually green and he’s about ...”

I think about what Aidan just said.

“Wait just a minute,” I say. “What do you mean he’s usually green?”

Aidan shrugs. “He’s a chameleon. They change color.”

“Why didn’t you tell us that?” I ask.

Aidan shrugs again. “I thought you knew.”

“What’s a chameleon?” Allison asks.

“It’s a special type of lizard,” I say. “They change color so they blend in with the background.”

“Why do they do that?” Allison asks.

“It’s a defense mechanism,” I say. “It keeps them safe from predators, like cats!”

Allison holds Buster even closer.

“OK. Nobody move,” I say. “Look around for the lizard’s eyes. You’ll probably see them before anything else.”

Within a few minutes, Roxanne spots the lizard at the top of a nearby shrub. Aidan goes over, picks up the creepy crawler and returns it to its cage. He looks much happier than he did a few minutes earlier. So does Scruffy, come to think of it.

By this time, a crowd has formed around Aidan’s lizard. They all want to know more about chameleons. I think it might be the most popular animal at the petting zoo. And you can’t even pet it!

Roxanne walks over to me.

“I’m glad we figured that out,” she says loudly. “So what’s next?”

“I have to get back to the seed-spitting contest,” I say.

“I hear it got delayed,” Roxanne says. “Maybe we should go see what J.P. is up to.”

Roxanne doesn’t know my grandfather’s old saying.

“A reporter’s work is never done,” he says.

“I’d better go check it out,” I tell Roxanne. “Come with me.”

“OK, but are you sure you don’t want me to check on J.P.?” Roxanne asks. “He might need help.”

“No,” I answer. “We’ve got other work to do.”

When we get to Logan’s house, we see that there is a delay in the contest. Some of the spitters were complaining about the seeds being too small, so they are finding replacements.

I spot Sarah across the yard. She’s practicing. Before I can go over to her, Corinna runs up to me. She seems frantic.

“Help!” she says.

A Hot Topics Hot Serials Story
Copyright © 2006 Stacy Tornio

See Chapter 5, p. 6E

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