When Judy Moody arrived in third grade, her teacher, Mr. Todd, stood by the door, welcoming everyone. "Hello there, Judy."
"Hello, Mr. Toad," said Judy. She cracked herself up.
"Class, please hang your backpacks on the hooks and put your lunches in the cubbies," said Mr. Todd.
Judy Moody looked around the classroom. "Do you have a porcupine named Roger?" Judy asked Mr. Todd.
"No, but we have a turtle named Tucson. Do you like turtles?"
She liked turtles! But she caught herself just in time. "No. I like toads." Judy cracked up again.
"Rocky, your seat is over by the window, and Judy, yours is right up front," said Mr. Todd.
"I knew it," said Judy. She surveyed her new front-row desk. It didn't have an armadillo sticker with her name on it.
Guess Who sat across the aisle from her. Frank Eats-Paste Pearl. He glanced at Judy sideways, then bent his thumb all the way back, touching his wrist. Judy rolled her tongue like a hot dog back at him.
"You like sharks too?" he asked, passing her a small white envelope with her name on it.
Ever since they had danced the Maypole together in kindergarten, this boy would not leave her alone. In first grade, Frank Pearl sent her five valentines. In second grade, he gave her a cupcake on Halloween, on Thanksgiving, and on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Now, on the first day of third grade, he gave her a birthday party invitation. Judy checked the date inside-his birthday was not for three weeks! Even a real shark would not scare him off.
"Can I look inside your desk?" asked Judy. He moved to one side. No sign of paste.
Mr. Todd stood in front of the class. GINO'S EXTRA-CHEESE PIZZA was printed in large letters on the board.
"Are we having extra-cheese pizza for lunch?" Judy asked.
"For Spelling." Mr. Todd held his finger to his lips like it was a secret. "You'll see."
Then he said, "Okay! Third grade! Listen up! We're going to try something
different to kick off the year, as a way of getting to know one another. This year, each of you will make your own Me collage. All about YOU. You can draw or cut out pictures and paste things to your collage that tell the class what makes you YOU."
A Me collage! It sounded fun to Judy, but she didn't say so.
"We don't have to draw a map of our family, then?" asked Jessica Finch.
"I'm passing out a list of ideas for things you might include, like your family. I'm also giving everyone a folder for collecting the things you want to put on your collage. We'll work on these as we have time over the next month. At the end of September, you'll each get a chance to tell the class about YOU."
All through Language Arts and Social Studies, Judy thought about one thing-herself. Judy Moody, star of her own Me collage. Maybe third grade wasn't so bad after all.
"Okay, everybody. Time for Spelling."
"Yuck. Spelling," Judy said under her breath, remembering her bad mood.
"Yuck. Spelling," Frank Pearl agreed. Judy squinched her eyebrows at him.
"Take out a piece of paper and write down five spelling words you can find hidden in the words on the board, GINO'S EXTRA-CHEESE PIZZA."
"Cool Spelling, huh?" said a note passed to Judy by Frank.
"No," she wrote back on her hand, flashing it at him.
Judy took out her brand-new package of Grouchy pencils with mad faces on them. GROUCHY pencils-for completely impossible moods, said the package. Ever see a pencil that looks like it got up on the wrong side of the bed?
Perfect. The new Grouchy pencil helped her think. She found the words TREE, TEXAS, and TAXI hidden in Mr. Todd's spelling on the board. But instead she wrote down 1)NO 2)NO 3)NO 4)NO 5)NO.
"Who would like to tell the class five words they came up with?" asked Mr. Todd.
Judy's hand shot up.
"NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!" said Judy.
"That's one word. I need four more. Come up and write them on the board."
Judy Moody did not write TREE, TEXAS, and TAXI. Instead she wrote RAT and GNAT.
"How about BRAT?" called Rocky.
"There's no B," said Frank Pearl.
TIGER, wrote Judy.
"One more word," said Mr. Todd.
SPIT, wrote Judy.
"Can you use any of those words in a sentence, Judy?" asked Mr. Todd.
"The tiger spit on the rat and the gnat."
The whole class cracked up. Frank laughed so hard he snorted.
"Are you in a bad mood today?" asked Mr. Todd.
"ROAR," said Judy Moody.
"That's too bad," said Mr. Todd. "I was just about to ask who wants to go
down to the office and pick up the pizza. It's a welcome-back surprise."
"Pizza? Pizza! For real?" The room buzzed with excitement.
Judy Moody wanted to be the one to pick up the pizza. She wanted to be the one to open the box. She wanted to be the one who got to keep the little three-legged plastic table that kept the box top from sticking to the pizza.
"So. Who would like to pick up the pizza today?" asked Mr. Todd.
"Me!" yelled Judy. "Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!" everyone shouted at once, waving their hands like windmills in the air.
Rocky raised his hand without saying a word.
"Rocky, would you like to pick up the pizza?"
"Sure!" said Rocky.
"Luck-y!" Judy said.
JUDY MOODY by Megan McDonald. Copyright (c) 2000 by Megan McDonald. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
Excerpted from Judy Moody (Book #1) by Megan McDonald. Copyright © 2010 by Megan McDonald. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.