Keisha Carter set out five pieces of bread and buttered them. Using a biscuit cutter, she made a hole in the center of each piece and settled them butter-side-down into Daddy's hot pan.
Excerpted from Animal Rescue Team: Hide and Seek by Sue Stauffacher; illustrated by Priscilla Lamont Copyright © 2010 by Sue Stauffacher. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
"Please get Grandma the ice pack from the freezer," Daddy said as he cracked eggs into the empty spaces.
Keisha stood on her tippy-toes and felt for the ice pack. "Did she have yoga last night?"
"Yes. According to Bob, she was showing their instructor the new move she's made up. Cat-falling-off-counter or something like that. She strained her back a little."
Big Bob, as all the kids called him, worked as a vet tech at the Humane Society, was the leader of their 4-H's Wild 4-Ever Club and always put his yoga mat next to Grandma's at Yoga You Can Do. But he was not Grandma's boyfriend. "Take it right up and ask her if she wants breakfast in bed. And please find Razi for me. You don't want to be late for school. Tell him I'm making toad-in-the-hole. That'll get him going."
As Keisha hurried down the hall, she heard the phone ringing in the office. Grandma usually answered the phone on school mornings, but she was upstairs groaning.
"I'll get it," Keisha called back to Daddy in the kitchen, so he didn't have to leave the eggs. "Carters' Urban Rescue," she answered, a little out of breath.
"Oh dear. Oh, the poor little deer."
"Excuse me?" Keisha asked.
"I have a deer here that needs rescuing."
"Do you live in the city?" Though the Carters had rescued a lot of animals since they set up their business, it wasn't often they got a call about a deer.
"I should think so. I'm right on the edge of Huff Park."
Huff Park was less than a mile from the Carters' home.
"Is the deer injured?" Keisha sat down at the desk and opened the "animal info" file drawer. She yanked out the file labeled "deer."
"Well, no. Not precisely . . . Good heavens, look at the time! I'll miss my bus."
Keisha felt her stomach grumbling. "If the deer isn't injured, why does it need to be rescued?" she asked, hoping to hurry the call to an end for the lady who was about to miss her bus and for her empty stomach.
"Because he can't get the pumpkin off his head!"
Keisha was so surprised, she didn't know what to say.
"Hello? Did you hear me? If I miss the 7:42, I'll be late for work. And I'm the one who makes the coffee. Dr. Trimble says it is the only civilized cup of coffee he gets in a day."
Keisha did not know the difference between civilized coffee and uncivilized coffee, but in the end they were supposed to be talking about a deer, weren't they?
"About the deer . . ."
"I live at 422 Joan Street. The street dead-ends into the park. In a few months, we'll have cross-country skiers trampling my perennial beds. I'm looking out my back door right now and he's . . . he's taking the trail that leads to the baseball diamonds. Oh, the poor deer. How will he eat? How will he drink? Please come out and get this pumpkin off his head."
"But how did he get--"
"Every Halloween time, I put it out for birds with the seeds right in it. He must have been after the salt on the seeds, poor thing, and it got stuck on his head. There's nothing I can do about it now, and being late for work and having Mary Nell make the coffee won't help the deer's plight. I just don't understand why it's stuck so fast. Isn't there something you can do?"
"Well, I can tell my dad--"
"Your dad? Isn't this . . . I thought I was calling Carters' Urban Rescue."
"You are. We're a family business."
"A family business that rescues wildlife? What will we think of next? Well . . . please relay this information to your father and see if he can do something for that poor, unfortunate deer. I really must dash. Good day, young lady." Keisha heard the phone disconnect. She sat still for a minute, trying to figure out how a deer would get into the city in the first place. Then she remembered that Big Bob had once explained that deer could come into the city by traveling through "wildlife corridors," or stretches of nature that weren't proper forests. Wildlife corridors could be a city cemetery or urban garden, even a bunch of empty lots.
From the Hardcover edition.