Excerpt from Nate Rocks The World
“The score is three to two in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. The Philadelphia Phillies have a man on first, but honestly folks, I think this game is over. The Phillies have just not been able to pull it together this World Series, and now with all of these injuries, who could the Phillies possibly put in to bat? It looks like this hometown team is running out of options. I hate to say this, but I think the dream of winning this year’s World Series is now over for this team. Wait a minute – is that Nate Rocks approaching the plate? He hasn’t been off the bench all season. Surely, the Phillies have someone more experienced they can use. Even Nate looks confused, as he steps up to the plate. I don’t know about this. Here comes the first pitch … swing … and a miss. Second pitch … ooh, a 95 mph fastball … and that’s strike two. The Philadelphia crowd of 45,000 is silent, as we wait for the third pitch … the pitch that determines this year’s world champions. The pitcher looks around, winds up, and … CRACK – that ball is OUT OF HERE! I don’t believe it, folks! Nate Rocks has hit a home run and the Philadelphia Phillies have won the World Series!!!”
The Phillies rush out of the dugout, running toward me, as I cross home plate. They pile on top of me. Thunderous cheers of enthusiastic fans echo through the stadium. I can barely breathe. I feel a hand reach out to me.
“You did it, Nate! You did it!” The Phillies’ first baseman yells. He pulls me to my feet.
Two other players help hoist me up over their shoulders. I wave to the crowd in victory. The players parade me around the bases and the crowd begins chanting:
“Nathan! For the fourth time – dinner is ready!”
“Huh?” I ask.
Mom is standing in my bedroom doorway, hands on her hips, staring at me, as I sit on my floor among a sea of colored pencils.
“I said dinner is ready. And for goodness sake Nathan Michael Rockledge, clean up this mess!”
“Okay, Mom,” I say. Mom turns around and heads down the steps.
I look back at my drawing. “Not too shabby,” I note, staring at the cartoon. I pick up a pencil and finish drawing myself holding the World Series trophy. Okay, so maybe I made my red hair not quite so bright, took out the freckles and added a few muscles to my scrawny body, but I still think it looks like me. I gather all of my colored pencils and scraps of paper off my carpet and throw them into my desk drawer.
Excerpt from Nate Rocks The Boat
“Welcome, Hawks. I’m Matt, your counselor. I’ve been coming to Camp Spring Ridge every summer since I was your age. This is a great place, and it’s my job to make sure you boys have the best summer ever.” Matt looks up at the sky as the wind rustles through the papers on his clipboard. “Now, before it starts raining, let’s see if we can get through some of the camp rules.”
“Rules? We don’t need any dumb rules! It’s summer!”
I look over toward the sound of the husky voice to see a boy who looks more like he’s Abby’s age than my age. He also appears to have arms as big as my thighs and no-neck. I’ve never seen anyone without a neck before. I’m sure it’s there somewhere. It’s just that this kid’s head is enormous. I am in the right bunk aren’t I?
Matt doesn’t seem disturbed by the outburst as he continues right along. “The rules are only there to make sure you have the most fun possible while staying safe. We wouldn’t want anyone getting hurt...or worse.”
Worse?! Tommy and I look at each other. I turn around to scan the dirt road. Dad must still be at Abby’s bunk. If I left right now and ran, I could probably get there before he and Mom leave. I’m sure Mom would take me with her to see Grandma once I explained about how dangerous it is here at camp. She’s always saying we don’t get to visit with Grandma enough. Or I could just stay at Tommy’s house. I’m certain Tommy would follow me if I took off running. But what if they were already gone? Then I would have to return to my bunk. I could already hear the other kids laughing at me as the camp director returned me to the Hawks.
“Okay,” Matt starts, holding down the paper on his clipboard. “Rule #1: Always listen to your counselor—he’s the coolest guy here.” Matt starts laughing, but quickly notices no one else joins in. He clears his throat and continues. “Rule #2: Stay with your bunk at all times unless you have specific permission to go somewhere. Rule #3: Lights out at 10:00pm. Rule #4: When it’s our turn to have kitchen duty, everyone must participate, and the most important rule—Rule #5: Stay out of the forest! Look, you guys are old enough to hear this, so I’m just going to tell it to you straight. The forest may look cool, but it’s big and dangerous. Every summer, one or two campers decide to wander in there, and the same thing always happens. They get lost. The camp has to call in a search party with dogs and the whole bit. If you wander too far in, you might run across snakes or even coyotes and wolves. So do yourselves a favor and stay out!”
I look around the table to see everyone staring at Matt... Even No-Neck.