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Chapter 1

Something Rotten in the School of Bumblyburg

It was a typical day at Bumblyburg's Veggie Valley Elementary School. Well, okay, maybe it wasn't such a typical day. In fact, something just plain weird was going on. The teacher, Mr. Asparagus, was acting a bit oddly.

"Don't you think Mr. Asparagus is acting a bit oddly?" asked Lenny Carrot about his teacher.

"He sure is," said Laura Carrot. "And he looks kind of funny. Like cardboard."

"His lips don't move when he talks," Percy Pea piped in. "That's weird."

"You know," said Renee Blueberry, "he looks a bit like a scallion from the side."

"What do you think, Junior?" asked Laura.

Junior Asparagus didn't know what to think! After all, the teacher was his father. But his dad was acting oddly. And he sure did look funny. Almost as if he was wearing a cardboard mask drawn with crayon.

"Time for a math lesson," squeaked the teacher.

"See!" whispered Percy. "His lips didnít move!"

"That doesn't sound like my dad," said Junior.

The teacher put a black bag on top of his desk. "Now, children," the teacher said, "I want you all to put your milk money into this bag. Then we will play a game."

"What game?" asked Junior.

"Hide-and-Seek," replied the teacher. "You will close your eyes and count to a million while I run and hide. Won't that be fun?"

Junior thought hard. His dad sounded funny, looked as if he was wearing a cardboard mask, talked without moving his lips, and now asked the kids to hand over their milk money for a game of Hide-and-Seek.

"Hey!" shouted Junior. "You aren't my dad! You're the Milk Money Bandit!"

"But I look like your dad, don't you think?" asked the teacher.

"I think you're wearing a mask," said Junior.

"Am not," said the teacher.

"Are too!"

"Am not!"

That moment, a rather large suction cup flew through the open window and plopped onto Mr. Asparagus' face. With a loud THWOOP, the plunger was pulled back through the window, ripping off the mask. It was the Milk Money Bandit after all!

"Erk!" shrieked the Bandit.

"I knew it!" exclaimed Junior. "But where did that plunger come from?"

All the students turned and looked out the window. It was Larryboy! One of his suction-cup ears sported the Milk Money Bandit's mask, and he was trying to shake it loose.

"I am that hero!" Larryboy proclaimed.

Then Larryboy leaped through the open window, tripped on the windowsill, and fell into the classroom, landing on his face.

"I meant to do that," the hero said, popping upright. "Now, Bandit, where is the real Mr. Asparagus? Talk now, unless you want the other ear!"

Larryboy leaned threateningly toward the bandit.

"No, not the ears! I'll talk!" howled the villain. "I just wish I had more milk money!"

Larryboy scowled at the bandit.

"Mr. Asparagus is in the closet!" the bandit said, quickly.

Junior ran to the closet and opened the door.



Junior's dad hopped out of the closet.

"It sure was dark in there," Mr. Asparagus said. "Thank you, Junior."

Mr. Asparagus came out of the closet and looked at the Milk Money Bandit quite sternly. "You should learn to be content with the money you have!" he scolded. "Thank you, Larryboy, for saving the day!"

Larryboy smiled. "My pleasure," he said. "And now to take care of that bandit!"

Excerpted from: Larryboy and the Emperor of Envy, copyright 2002. Used by permission. All rights reserved.