School was over for the day. Whew!
It was time for the Zigzag Afternoon Center.
Mitchell McCabe darted into the lunchroom. He scooped up a snack from the counter.
It was some kind of bread thing. It had green stuff inside. The green stuff crunched against his teeth.
Mitchell gave his best friend, Habib, a poke. “Weird,” he whispered.
The lunch lady must have heard. “I like to give out surprises all the time,” she said.
“Dee-lightful,” Gina said.
Mitchell and Habib grinned at each other. Dee-lightful was the music teacher’s favorite word. Gina was in love with music.
Too bad she sang like a coyote.
The lunch lady was watching. Mitchell didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He jammed the snack into his mouth.
Habib was juggling his snack. It left little green chunks on the floor. Mitchell watched him swoop down and juggle them up again.
“Come down to the auditorium, everyone,” Ellie, one of the college helpers, called. “There’s news! Great news!”
Mitchell crossed his fingers. “Maybe they’re going to shut down the school,” he said.
Habib stopped juggling. “Really?”
“I saw it on television. A huge snowstorm. Whoosh. No school.”
“It’s not winter,” Habib said. “Not even close.”
Mitchell nodded. Still, this was the best time for school to shut down. His birthday was at the end of the week. He would have the whole week to celebrate.
They passed the outside door. Mitchell looked around. Mrs. Farelli, the art teacher, would have a fit if he went out.
He took a chance. He needed fresh air to get rid of the snack taste.
He opened the door. A gust of air blew in. So did Popsicle sticks, an old homework paper, and--
Enough for a bath.
Mitchell opened his mouth wide to catch a drop. Ahhhhhh!
“Shut the door!” Gina screamed behind them. “I’ll catch the worst cold of my life. My grandma Maroni says I have a weak throat.”
Habib grabbed his neck. “Your throat needs muscles. Take it to the gym.”
“Not funny,” Gina said.
“Listen,” Mitchell told her. “We’re going to hear big news in the auditorium. Who knows? The school might shut down. You could stay in bed all day.”
“Maybe it’s a trip to Hawaii,” Habib said. “You could go away.”
Mitchell slid across the floor. “Look out, waves. Here I come!”
That was Mrs. Farelli. She was on her way down the hall.
She was a great finger snapper.
“Someone is using his outside voice inside the Afternoon Center,” she said.
It was a good thing Mrs. Farelli was standing straight as a stick.
If she looked down, she’d see that homework paper floating in a rain puddle on the floor.
Mrs. Farelli turned. She went the other way.
“Dee-lightful,” Habib said.
They dashed into the auditorium. Mitchell couldn’t wait to hear the news.
His big sister, Angel, was in the front row. She was sitting with her friend Yolanda.
Ellie was standing on the stage.
Mr. Oakley, the grandfather who helped out, stood next to her. He wore his best jacket, with zigzag lines.
And there was Mitchell’s teacher, Ms. Katz, with new purple eyeglasses.
Mrs. Farelli slid into a seat at the end of Mitchell’s row. Her face was serious. And she was looking his way.
Mitchell tried to look serious, too. He frowned hard. His eyebrows half covered his eyes.
Ellie stepped forward. “Here’s our news,” she said.
Mitchell forgot to look serious. He crossed his fingers and his toes.
“No school, please,” he said under his breath.
“Dee-lightful,” Habib said.
Excerpted from Bears Beware by Patricia Reilly Giff. Copyright © 2012 by Patricia Reilly Giff. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, 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.