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My Dad's Got an Alligator!
 

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My Dad's Got an Alligator!


  This is me – Nicholas.

  This is my dad.

  This is our new pet (having a bath).

  And here come the police – oh dear, trouble!

  Jeremy Strong once worked in a bakery, putting the jam into three thousand doughnuts every night. Now he puts the jam in stories instead, which he finds much more exciting. At the age of three, he fell out of a first-floor bedroom window and landed on his head. His mother says that this damaged him for the rest of his life and refuses to take any responsibility. He loves writing stories because he says it is ‘the only time you alone have complete control and can make anything happen’. His ambition is to make you laugh (or at least snuffle). Jeremy Strong lives near Bath with four cats and a flying cow.

  Read more about Nicholas’s daft family

  MY DAD’S GOT AN ALLIGATOR!

  MY GRANNY’S GREAT ESCAPE

  MY MUM’S GOING TO EXPLODE!

  MY BROTHER’S FAMOUS BOTTOM

  Are you feeling silly enough to read more?

  THE HUNDRED-MILE-AN-HOUR DOG

  RETURN OF THE HUNDRED-MILE-AN-HOUR DOG

  WANTED! THE HUNDRED-MILE-AN-HOUR DOG

  BEWARE! KILLER TOMATOES

  CHICKEN SCHOOL

  KRAZY KOW SAVES THE WORLD – WELL, ALMOST

  PUFFIN

  For the Light and Love in my Life

  PUFFIN BOOKS

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

  Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Mairangi Bay, Auckland 1310, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  penguin.com

  First published by Viking 1994

  Published in Puffin Books 1996

  This edition published 2007

  8

  Text copyright © Jeremy Strong, 1994

  Illustrations copyright © Nick Sharratt, 1994

  All rights reserved

  The moral right of the author and illustrator has been asserted

  Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

  British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

  1A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

  ISBN: 978-0-14-191661-3

  Contents

  1 Introducing a Vegetarian Alligator

  2 How to Redecorate Your Kitchen!

  3 Singsong Time

  4 A Wolf at the Door

  5 Kiss-and-make-up Time

  6 The Deep-pond Diver

  7 Bubble Bath

  8 Anyone for a Picnic?

  9 Stop That Alligator!

  10 Hunt the Granny

  11 A Ride on the Wild Side

  12 The Mad Cyclist

  13 Under Lock and Key

  14 A Night Under the Stairs

  15 The Showdown

  16 Panic in the Park

  17 Please Release Me!

  18 A Toast to Crunchbag

  19 What’s That?

  1 Introducing a Vegetarian Alligator

  My dad’s got an alligator! He brought it home from work. It used to belong to this man at the paper-mill where Dad works, but he couldn’t look after it any longer, so Dad said he would. He’s always doing crazy things like that. He’s great.

  The alligator is almost as long as our sofa. Its eyes are black and yellow and they stare at you all the time. After a while it made me feel quite uncomfortable, as if it thought I was dinner or something. Dad said I was being silly. The alligator couldn’t possibly be hungry

  because it had just eaten six small children and the crossing patrol man outside the school. I suppose he thought that was funny.

  I don’t think Mum is very happy about having an alligator in the house. She hates things with lots of teeth. (She can’t even bear to look at Granny’s falsies when she puts them in cleaning fluid overnight!)

  Dad pointed out that people have lots of teeth too. Mum looked at him really sharply and said she could think of some people she didn’t much care for sometimes. (Ouch!)

  ‘Well, this alligator is completely harmless,’ said Dad. ‘In fact, it’s a vegetarian.’

  ‘Don’t be so stupid, Ronald,’ snapped Mum. ‘Its teeth are pointed. Sharp, pointed teeth are used for eating meat. What on earth do you think Granny will make of it?’

  Dad gave her a tiger-leer. ‘What do you think the alligator will make of Granny?’ he asked. Mum glared back at him. I don’t know why, but sometimes my dad just can’t see when Mum is actually a bit upset. ‘Listen,’ Dad went on. ‘This alligator has never eaten anyone, never even bitten anyone. Not even a nibble.’

  ‘Oh yes,’ Mum retorted. ‘And your name is Crocodile Dundee I suppose?’ She went straight upstairs to lock herself in the bedroom! I don’t know what she’s scared of. I think the alligator is adorable. It has this sort of lopsided smile on its face. Sometimes it closes both eyes and then opens its jaws very slowly and very wide. Then all of a sudden they snap shut. KERLUNK! Dad said it would make a brilliant flycatcher. He’s trying to think of a good name for it, and so am I.

  I don’t know why we have to worry about Granny. She spends most of the day in her room playing pool on the mini snooker-table Dad gave her last Christmas. She’s almost completely deaf. This is what happened when I went to tell her about the alligator:

  See what I mean? It’s hardly worth the bother. Even so, I hope the alligator doesn’t eat her!

  2 How to Redecorate

  Your Kitchen!

  Problems. Dad’s alligator has eaten two cushions from the sofa. The TV remote control has vanished too. We think that’s been swallowed as well, because each time the alligator snaps his jaws shut the TV changes channels.

  Mum shouted at Dad because he had told her the alligator was harmless. ‘It is harmless,’ insisted Dad. ‘It eats cushions. Where’s the harm in that? It was only making itself at home.’

  ‘So what’s it going to nibble next? The whole sofa? I suppose it ate the TV control so it could watch its favourite TV programme. It’s no good, Ron. I am not having it in the house any longer. Have you seen the state of the kitchen?’

  ‘It likes dog food.’

  ‘Yes I know, but it doesn’t have to puncture the cans with its teeth and then pulverize them. There’s dog food squirted all over the kitchen. It’s on the floor. It’s on the walls and, believe it or not, Ron, it’s on the ceiling. Who’s going to clean it up?’

  Dad looked desperately at me. I shrugged my shoulders and retreated rapidly. Mum fixed Dad with a razor-sharp glare. ‘You’re going to clean it, Ron,’ she said in a voice made from pure
Toledo steel. ‘You!’

  I can’t wait to see Dad cleaning. He’s never cleaned anything in his life. Mum’s always complaining about it.

  Mum has got one of Granny’s old walking-sticks and tied a barbecue fork to the end of it so that she can protect herself. Dad just laughed, which is more than he’ll do when he has to clean that kitchen! He’s shut the alligator in the garage because he’s building a cage for it now, out in the garden. He’s using one of the legs from the Tyrannosaurus rex for the cage.

  I know that sounds odd, but last year Dad had one of his BRILLIANT IDEAS. (He gets these about once a week.) He decided he was going to make a slide for me. Then he said he was going to make it in the shape of a Tyrannosaurus rex. He got all this wire and wood and built a huge frame in the back garden.

  It looked a bit weird and Mr and Mrs Tugg, the next-door neighbours, complained to the council. Dad doesn’t like the Tuggs very much because they always seem to be complaining about something or other. Whenever he sees them marching up the front path he yells, ‘The Martians are coming!’ Anyhow, the council said they couldn’t do anything about it.

  Dad never finished the tyrannosaurus. He started covering the head with the fibreglass stuff you use for repairing cars and then he ran out, or just got fed up. The fibreglass head and wire frame is still there. It looks a bit like a vampire horse.

  Now the tyrannosaurus has an alligator in one leg. It must be the only tyrannosaurus in the world that can eat things with its left foot!

  Dad wants to call the alligator Norman. Talk about boring. Mum grunted

  and suggested we call it Armageddon, which I didn’t understand. Dad said it meant The End of the World and Life As We Know It. I still didn’t understand why it should be a good name for an alligator and Dad said it was a stupid name anyway. I thought my name was best – CRUNCHBAG.

  ‘That’s exactly what I was thinking,’ grinned Dad. ‘Crunchbag is a brilliant name. I’m glad I thought of it.’

  ‘But I said it!’ I shouted.

  ‘Ah, but I was thinking it,’ said Dad.

  3 Singsong Time

  The trouble with my dad is that when he thinks he’s done something clever he goes all stupid and starts singing. I don’t mean like normal people sing. On no. Nothing my dad does is normal. He’s got this karaoke machine and a microphone and amplifiers. You could hear him on Mars.

  As soon as he’d finished the cage he was upstairs warbling. I could hear Mum hammering on the door. She was probably telling him to shut up, but he wouldn’t have been able to hear her. He was making too much noise. Even Crunchbag seemed to be trying to bury his head in the ground.

  I went to see if Granny was all right, with such a din going on. I asked if she was OK and she said, ‘Yes, dear. It’s in the top drawer under my karate tunic.’ Don’t ask me what she was talking about. I just shut the door quietly and went into the front room. That was when I saw Mr Tugg charging up our path. He didn’t look very happy.

  What a row! When Dad realized who was at the front door he started singing ‘The Martians are coming, hurrah! hurrah!’ Mr Tugg shouted at Mum, complaining about the racket that was going on. Mum said Dad was only singing.

  ‘You call that singing?’ squeaked Mr Tugg. (Nobody squeaks quite like Mr Tugg. He sounds like a balloon when you pinch the neck and let the air out slowly.) His moustache was jumping about like a caterpillar with a heart attack. Mr Tugg is ever so little, even shorter than Mum. He’s bald in the middle of his head but he tries to camouflage it by combing straggly bits over the top. It looks utterly stupid. I’ll never do anything like that if I go bald.

  Eventually Mum went to the fuse-box and switched all the electricity off. It was the only way to stop Dad’s karaoke machine. After that, he came downstairs.

  ‘Evening, Mr Tugg,’ he said. ‘What a fine night for a moonlit stroll with a beautiful woman on your arm!’ and he slipped one arm through Mum’s.

  ‘That singing…’ began Mr Tugg.

  ‘Ah, you like it then,’ Dad said quickly. (He can be a real stirrer!) ‘Yes, I was in fine form tonight.’ And he started again oil the doorstep. ‘Just a song at twilight…’

  Mr Tugg left very quickly. You could almost see the anger spitting out of him like mini lightning bolts. It was a good thing he didn’t know about Crunchbag. (The alligator was by this time buried under an Everest of mud.)

  Mum wasn’t very pleased though. She said it was all right for Dad, larking about and enjoying himself, but that kind of behaviour upset some people. ‘They take life more seriously,’ she added. Dad went down on one knee and clasped his hands together. Guess what he started singing? ‘Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do…’

  Mum couldn’t help smiling. I’m sure I heard her call Mr Tugg a ‘goblin’!

  Granny was calling from her room, so I went to see if she was OK. She was sitting in front of the television watching a blank screen. She asked me to sort out the sound for her.

  ‘But Granny, there isn’t any picture either,’ I said.

  ‘I think it’s foggy,’ said Granny.

  ‘Mum switched off the electricity,’ I shouted. ‘The TV isn’t on.’

  ‘No thank you, Nicholas. I had a cup of tea not ten minutes ago.’ Sometimes I look at Granny and realize why Dad’s the way he is. After all, she is his mother.

  4 A Wolf at the Door

  Mum and Dad have been arguing again. I don’t believe it. Last night they were all lovey-dovey and went for a smoochy walk. But this morning was as if the fifth ice-age had suddenly begun.

  Mum couldn’t find the chicken she had bought for Sunday lunch. She knew she had put it in the fridge, but the fridge was chicken-less. How mysterious! What could possibly have happened to the poor little Sunday chicken? Who could possibly have eaten it? Go on, guess.

  Of course, Mum knew all along. There was only one possible suspect, and his name had nine letters, beginning with a C. The real mystery was that there was no way Crunchbag could have opened the fridge by himself. For one thing he was still stuck inside the tyrannosaurus’s left leg. Besides, how would an alligator get into a fridge? With a tin-opener? A crowbar? A nice little lump of plastic explosive? I could see Mum going through all the possibilities in her head. She had that Miss Marple look on her face. Finally she looked straight at Dad.

  ‘You gave that chicken to Crunchbag, didn’t you?’

  ‘Me?’ squeaked Dad. He’s hopeless when he’s telling lies. He looked across at me with huge innocent eyes. ‘How can you possibly suspect such a thing?’

  Mum sighed. ‘Ronald, it’s written all over your face. It’s no use denying it. Crunchbag didn’t take the chicken, and Nicholas certainly didn’t. For Heaven’s sake, that was our Sunday lunch. How could you do such a thing?’

  Dad shrugged. ‘I didn’t want Crunchbag to starve. That would have been cruelty to animals.’

  ‘And what about cruelty to poor human beings who have to go without their Sunday lunch?’ demanded Mum. ‘That beast will have to go!’

  I think Dad made a bad mistake then. He laughed. Mum threw the mushrooms at him and went storming off to the kitchen. Dad looked at me, pulled a wry face and shrugged again. ‘What can you do?’ he said. ‘What can you do?’

  I know how Mum feels sometimes. My dad can make you laugh so much you think you’ll die, but it’s a horrible feeling when you can’t help laughing and you know you shouldn’t because actually there’s something serious happening.

  Mum and I had omelettes for lunch, without mushrooms. Dad didn’t have anything. He prowled up and down outside the dining-room. Then he started howling like a hungry wolf. Mum slammed the door and glared so hard at me I didn’t even dare smile. When she was watching telly later I managed to sneak Dad a sandwich.

  5 Kiss-and-make-up Time

  Mum was very quiet and thoughtful this morning. In the middle of lunch she suddenly turned to me. ‘Why did I marry your father?’ she asked. I hadn’t got a clue!

  ‘Was he like this wh
en you first met him?’ I asked. Mum smiled and looked dreamily out of the window.

  ‘I suppose so. I suppose I was a bit daft too – in those days. I must have been daft because I married him.’

  ‘Curried jam?’ Granny squawked suddenly. ‘No, dear, you can’t get curried jam anywhere these days.’

  Mum patted Granny’s hand, winked at me and then sighed fondly. ‘I think I loved him for his beard,’ she murmured. His beard! How can you love someone for their beard?

  When Dad got home from work he had brought Mum a present. He put it on the dining-room table, all wrapped up in pretty paper. I tried to think what it could be but it was such a weird shape. When Mum opened it she found a readyroast chicken.

  She him! She even said she was sorry she hadn’t given him any Sunday lunch. Dad said it didn’t matter because I had sneaked him a peanut-butter sandwich. So much for that secret. You can’t trust anyone. Luckily Mum didn’t seem to mind.

  They’ve made up again. Sometimes I just can’t believe those two. What am I supposed to do now? I want to die. THEY HAVE BOTH STARTED SINGING ON DAD’S KARAOKE MACHINE! I think I’ll go downstairs and play snooker with Granny. She’s certain to beat me, but to have a conversation with her might take my mind off my embarrassing parents. Perhaps I shall leave home.

  6 The Deep-pond Diver

  The doorbell rang at half-past six this morning! It was Mr Tugg, the Martian from next door. He was amazingly calm, at least to start with. He wanted to know if we would like our alligator back because it was in their garden. In fact, it was cruising about their goldfish pond.

 
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