Excerpted from Animal Rescue Team: Gator on the Loose! by Sue Stauffacher; illustrated by Priscilla Lamont Copyright © 2010 by Sue Stauffacher. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Books for Young Readers, 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.
The call came in at 10:40 a.m. on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Keisha was at the desk, Razi and Daddy were out back bottle-feeding the raccoon cubs and Mama had taken the baby with her to the farmers' market. It was Grandma's turn to be at the desk, but she had traded with Keisha so she wouldn't miss her favorite show: How Not to Look Old.
Keisha looked at the ringing phone. It might be someone calling for information. But if her parents had to go out on a call, that meant Grandma would take them to the Grand River city pool's opening celebration. Grandma was not fun to be with at the pool. She made everyone wear big floppy hats, even in the shade. Plus, her swim cap had purple flowers on it, and instead of pinching her nose when she jumped in like everybody else, she wore a color-coordinated nose plug.
Keisha checked the caller ID and was surprised to see that it was the city pool. She picked up.
"You have reached Carters' Urban Rescue," she said in a deep voice. "Our office is now closed. If this is an emergency, please dial--"
"Is that you, Keisha?" It was Mr. Ramsey, the pool manager.
"Yes, sir," Keisha said.
"I need to talk to your mom or your dad."
"We're going to be there in an hour," Keisha said. "I'm working on my cannonball today."
" 'Fraid not, honey. You know that big alligator the kids climb all over? The one that spouts water out of its nose?"
"Mmmm-hmmm." When Keisha was little, she spent a lot of time climbing on that alligator and sliding down its tail. But she could go on the diving board now, so she didn't hang around in the kiddie area.
"Well, it appears it had a baby."
"A baby? As in a baby alligator?"
Keisha got out an intake form. At least it sounded interesting. She wrote Mr. Ramsey's name at the top.
"Tell me what happened, Mr. Ramsey."
"This morning when I came to open up, there was a real alligator lying in the pool below the fiberglass one."
"How big is it?"
"Big enough to make me jump back over the fence. And I've got knee problems."
"That doesn't tell me how big, Mr. Ramsey," Keisha said in her calmest voice. "You have to talk in inches and feet."
Keisha knew a little something about alligators. She had written a report on them in Mr. Frost's class last year. Then she watched a special on TV. She loved the way they bobbed in the water with only their eyes showing. She planned to try floating like an alligator herself this summer. If Mr. Ramsey could give her an idea of the size, she could probably tell how old it was.
"Is it bigger than the spine board?" Keisha asked, referring to the board that hung on the wall by the locker rooms, the one they used if anyone had a bad accident at the pool.
"No . . . no, not that big," Mr. Ramsey said. "More like the rescue tube."
Keisha thought a minute. The rescue tube was about three feet long. That was no baby lying in the city pool.