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Dinosaur Pox
 

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Dinosaur Pox


  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.

  Are you feeling silly enough to read more?

  MY DAD’S GOT AN ALLIGATOR!

  MY GRANNY’S GREAT ESCAPE

  MY MUM’S GOING TO EXPLODE!

  MY BROTHER’S FAMOUS BOTTOM

  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

  Other books by Jeremy Strong

  THE AIR-RAID SHELTER

  THE DESPERATE ADVENTURES OF SIR RUPERT AND ROSIE GUSSET

  FANNY WITCH AND THE THUNDER LIZARD

  FANNY WITCH AND THE WICKED WIZARD

  FATBAG: THE DEMON VACUUM CLEANER

  GIANT JIM AND THE HURRICANE

  THE HUNDRED MILE-AN-HOUR DOG

  THE INDOOR PIRATES

  THE INDOOR PIRATES ON TREASURE ISLAND

  THE KARATE PRINCESS

  THE KARATE PRINCESS AND THE CUT-THROAT ROBBERS

  THE KARATE PRINCESS TO THE RESCUE

  THE KARATE PRINCESS AND THE LAST GRIFFIN

  LIGHTNING LUCY

  MY DAD’S GOT AN ALLIGATOR!

  MY GRANNY’S GREAT ESCAPE

  THERE’S A PHARAOH IN OUR BATH!

  THERE’S A VIKING IN MY BED

  VIKING AT SCHOOL

  VIKING IN TROUBLE

  Jeremy Strong

  Dinosaur Pox

  Illustrated by Nick Sharratt

  PUFFIN BOOKS

  This is for everyone in Birmingham who made me so welcome, especially David and Jenny and the lunch-providers!

  PUFFIN BOOKS

  Published by the Penguin Group

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

  Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2

  Penguin Books India (P) Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

  Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, Cnr Rosedale and Airborne Roads, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand

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

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

  www.penguin.com

  First published 1999

  26

  Text copyright © Jeremy Strong, 1999

  Illustrations copyright © Nick Sharratt, 1999

  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

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

  Contents

  1 Jodie’s Extraordinary Trick

  2 A Bad-hair Day

  3 A Visit to the Doctor

  4 Mark to the Rescue

  5 The Hunt Begins

  6 Twinkletoes Makes a Mistake

  7 Jodie to the Rescue

  8 Strange Business in the Night

  9 Boo!

  1 Jodie’s Extraordinary Trick

  Maybe it happened because Jodie Bolton fancied a change. Maybe it didn’t, but Jodie was fed up with the way things were. If she had to write a list of the things she disliked most, it would have looked like this:

  1 Her hair She had short, dark, curly hair and she had always hated it. When she was seven she had sneaked off with Mum’s best scissors, shut herself in the bathroom and cut most of it off. This was not simply to get rid of it, but in the strange hope that when it grew back it would be long and blonde.

  What Jodie wanted was long, blonde, straight hair like a fairy-tale princess. The sort of hair you could do things with like putting it into French plaits, or even a simple ponytail. Jodie thought short, dark, curly hair was useless and horrible.

  2 Freckles There weren’t just a few scattered across her nose, like some of her friends had: these freckles were EVERYWHERE. They had marched across her nose, conquered her cheeks, invaded her forehead and even colonized her ear lobes. Jodie reckoned her face looked like the car windscreen in summer – splattered all over with tiny dead flies.

  3 Her brother, Mark She was ten and he was only nine, so how come he was already taller than she was? They got on like two scorpions shut in a box only big enough for one. (Not that it was ever Jodie’s fault. She was the oldest, and full of common sense – how could it possibly be her fault?)

  4 She didn’t like being bossed around Jodie wished she was big and powerful enough to do all the bossing herself.

  In other words, LIFE WAS UNFAIR and she frequently told her parents just how unfair it was.

  ‘But, Jodie,’ said Mr Bolton, ‘life is unfair to everybody. You’ll understand that as you get older.’

  This comment was supposed to make Jodie feel better. It didn’t. Jodie was grumpy at home, grumpy at school, grumpy at mealtimes, grumpy at bedtime and, well, just generally grumpy.

  ‘Why don’t you enjoy yourself more?’ suggested Mum.

  ‘What is there to enjoy?’ muttered Jodie, and she went stamping upstairs and looked in her bedroom mirror. I’m sure I’m getting more freckles. I think my freckles are having baby freckles all over my face.

  Mark put his head round the door. ‘You’ll turn into stone,’ he grinned.

  ‘What?’

  ‘If you stare at yourself in that mirror you’ll turn into stone. Ugly scary faces always turn people into stone.’

  ‘Ha, very-funny-I-don’t-think, ha.’

  ‘Oh well, suit yourself. Dad says come down for tea.’

  When they sat down, Mum put a vegetable lasagne on the table.

  ‘It hasn’t got any meat in it!’ whined Mark.

  ‘That’s because it’s a vegetable lasagne,’ Mum explained patiently.

  ‘Lasagne is meant to have meat in it!’

  ‘Not if it’s a vegetable lasagne,’ Jodie pointed out.

  Mark fixed his big sister with a threatening glare. ‘It’s all because you’re a vegetarian. We’re only having this because of you!’

  Mr Bolton sighed quietly. ‘Vegetables are good for all of us,’ he said.

  ‘So is meat,’ protested Mark. ‘Anyhow, what’s wrong with eating meat?’

  ‘It’s wrong to kill animals,’ Jodie said.

  ‘Not if you want to eat them it isn’t. Anyhow, what about killing vegetables? Why isn’t it wrong to kill vegetables?’

  ‘Don’t be stupid, Mark. You can’t kill a vegetable,’ Jodie snapped.

  ‘Oh yeah? How do you know? Just because you don’t hear onions yelling when you slice them up doesn’t mean they don’t feel anything.’
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  Mrs Bolton had turned a shade paler. ‘Really, Mark, I think that’s just a bit fanciful, you know.’

  For a few moments Mark remained quiet. He was brooding on something. ‘The dinosaurs were vegetarians,’ he muttered darkly. ‘They were herbivores. Look what happened to them.’

  ‘What did happen to them, Mark?’ his father asked politely

  ‘They died out. Extinct. Kaput. Gone for ever.’ Mark leaned across the table and grinned at his big sister. ‘You’re going to become extinct.’

  Mrs Bolton gave a quiet giggle while her husband frowned and wagged a finger at Jodie.

  ‘You have been warned,’ he said, in a Voice of Doom.

  ‘This family is so amusing,’ Jodie said icily and after that things were quiet for a while.

  After they had eaten, when Mr Bolton was stacking the dishwasher, he said he wished that Jodie wasn’t so miserable.

  ‘I’d just like her to be happy,’ he said. ‘Not all the time, but sometimes. She never seems to enjoy anything.’

  ‘She’ll grow out of it,’ said Mum.

  ‘When? How long do we have to wait?’

  ‘Don’t worry,’ said Mum, little knowing what Jodie was about to do.

  *

  That night something unusual happened. In fact it was more than unusual – it was extraordinary, incredible, fantastic, mind-boggling and bizarre – and it happened to Jodie.

  Nobody knew how it happened, or why it happened. All they knew was that when Jodie went to bed she was herself – in other words, grumpy – but when Jodie woke up the next morning she had changed. She wasn’t Jodie any longer.

  She was a dinosaur.

  It was a dinosaur that got out of bed the next day – a dinosaur with fat, stumpy legs like thick tree trunks. Instead of freckles, she had purple and green blotches all over her fat, scaly body. She had a long thick tail. She had great leathery plates sticking out of her back, like fins that had been designed by somebody who couldn’t draw. She had a small head with little red glinting eyes, a long snout, and an even longer thick purple tongue.

  Jodie knew something was wrong the moment she woke up. She struggled across to her mirror.

  ‘Oh, isn’t that just great,’ she muttered. ‘I’m a dinosaur. Just my luck. Why does nothing nice ever happen to me? First I’m given freckles and horrible hair, and now I’ve turned into a dinosaur.’

  She suddenly had a thought. Maybe she had stared at herself in the mirror too long, just like Mark said.

  Jodie trotted across to Mark’s room and pushed open his door with her snout. ‘You were wrong,’ she announced triumphantly. ‘I haven’t turned into stone. I’ve turned into a dinosaur, so there.’

  Mark took one look at his sister and his jaw dropped. ‘Wow!’ he breathed. ‘That is incredible! How did you do it? Can I do it too?’ He fished around in a box beneath his bed and pulled out a plastic dinosaur. ‘You’re just like this model. You’re a stegosaurus.’

  Jodie was secretly pleased that, just for once, she had managed to impress her brother, but Mr and Mrs Bolton were not impressed at all.

  ‘How long are you going to stay like that?’ asked Dad. ‘You’ve got school in fifteen minutes.’

  ‘Everyone will laugh at me,’ complained Jodie.

  ‘They laugh at you anyway,’ smirked Mark. ‘Shall I put your cereal on the floor, or are you going to sit up at the table?’

  ‘Don’t tease,’ said Mum, putting Jodie’s bowl on the kitchen floor.

  ‘I don’t want it anyway,’ grumbled Jodie.

  ‘You must eat something.’

  ‘I expect she wants plants,’ said Mark. ‘Stegosauruses were plant eaters.’

  Jodie hated to admit it, but Mark was right. She did fancy some plants.

  ‘It’s because you’re a vegetarian,’ Mark claimed. ‘Eating all those vegetables has turned you into a dinosaur.’

  Mrs Bolton let Jodie out into the back garden and watched as her daughter wandered round the flower beds chewing bushes and nibbling at tender buds. ‘Oh dear, I rather liked those big white daisies, but Jodie seems to like them too.’

  When Dad left for work, he decided he ought to make an appointment for Jodie at the doctor’s surgery. ‘I’ve never heard of a child turning into a dinosaur before, but maybe the doctor has. I’m sure Jodie will be back to normal soon.’

  ‘Jodie? Normal?’ sniggered Mark. ‘That’s impossible.’

  Dad’s face clouded. He was worried that Mark was quite probably right. On the other hand, he didn’t really fancy bringing up a dinosaur in the family.

  2 A Bad-hair Day

  Mrs Bolton sent Jodie into school with a note for her teacher.

  Mrs Farouk was not at all sure she should have a dinosaur in her class, especially one that wasn’t wearing school uniform. Jodie’s clothes didn’t fit any longer of course, but Mrs Bolton had managed to get a school tie round her neck, even though the tie bit was rather short.

  Jodie was the centre of attention, not surprisingly. Most of the children thought it was brilliant and wished that they had thought of coming to school as a dinosaur. Rebecca Bangle was the only one who laughed.

  Rebecca Bangle was generally considered to be the most beautiful girl in the school and the boys always made a fuss of her. However, a stegosaurus in the classroom was far more exciting than Rebecca, and everyone flocked round Jodie, who was delighted to get so much attention for once.

  ‘I think it’s stupid,’ said Rebecca, tossing back her long blonde hair. ‘Why have you come to school as a dinosaur?’ she demanded.

  ‘I’ll come to school however I like,’ answered Jodie. ‘I shall probably come as a tiger tomorrow and eat you.’

  ‘Bet you won’t – Spotty.’

  ‘Spotty yourself.’

  ‘I have not got spots!’ yelled Rebecca, because she did have lovely clear skin.

  ‘You have so,’ Jodie retorted. ‘I saw them when you were changing for swimming. You’ve got spots all over your fat b –’

  ‘Girls! Girls!’ interrupted Mrs Farouk hastily. ‘Go to your desk, Rebecca. Now Jodie, where are you going to sit?’

  ‘On my bottom, like everyone else,’ Jodie answered, and the class burst out laughing.

  ‘But you can’t sit at your desk,’ said Mrs Farouk.

  ‘I shall sit by my desk,’ Jodie insisted.

  ‘But how will you write?’

  ‘With difficulty,’ Jodie admitted. ‘Anyhow, it’s Tuesday, and we always have PE first thing on a Tuesday.’ Jodie was thinking that PE would be OK. It had always been her favourite. (She just made sure that she never told anyone she was enjoying herself.)

  But before the class could have PE, they trooped into the hall for assembly. When they sang a hymn, Jodie joined in and suddenly everyone else stopped singing and listened to her, because Jodie couldn’t sing like a girl any longer – she sang like a dinosaur. Her voice was as tender as sandpaper. There was no tune at all. It was more like endless grunting mixed with a squeaky snarl.

  The headteacher was definitely not impressed. ‘Jodie Bolton!’ cried Miss Gatling. ‘Go and stand over there by yourself. How dare you spoil our hymn.’

  ‘I didn’t do it on purpose. I was trying to sing.’

  ‘I am not going to stand here arguing with

  a stegosaurus,’ snapped Miss Gatling. ‘Do as you’re told.’

  ‘It’s not fair,’ muttered Jodie, and she went and stood in the corner. She had not been there very long before a desperate urge overcame her. She began to twitch and lift her thick legs and stamp on the floor. She whisked her tail and pressed her wrinkly knees together hard – all four of them. Miss Gatling soon noticed.

  ‘Oh, for goodness sake! Whatever is the matter with you now?’ she said at last.

  ‘Can I go to the toilet?’

  ‘Yes – go, go!’

  Jodie pounded off to the girls’ lavatory and skidded to a lumbering halt at the door.

  This was ridiculous. How could a di
nosaur sit on a toilet seat? She glanced around desperately. Everyone was still in the hall. Jodie slipped outside and found a nice big bush. She disappeared behind it for several seconds and when she came back she felt a lot better. The bush tasted nice too.

  PE turned out to be a bit of a disaster. In the changing room Jodie stared at her PE bag, hanging on a peg.

  ‘What’s the matter?’ asked Carly.

  ‘I’ve got four feet and only two plimsolls,’ Jodie growled, ‘and there’s no way I shall ever get my leotard on.’

  ‘What about your netball skirt?’

  ‘Don’t be daft, Carly, look at the size of me. I’d need six skirts to go round this waist.’

  ‘So – you can borrow mine, and Susanna’s and Fran’s and so on. We’ll hook them all together to make one big skirt.’

  The skirts were fed round Jodie’s enormous belly until it looked as if she was wearing some kind of strange ballet frock.

  ‘Oh look,’ cried Rebecca as they lined up. ‘It’s the dancing dinosaur.’

  ‘Pimple-bottom,’ Jodie snapped back, and even Mrs Farouk hid a smile.

  Jodie liked climbing the ropes most of all, but it was obvious she wouldn’t be able to do that now. Anyway, Mrs Farouk wanted her class to practise backward rolls. Jodie, who prided herself on her athletic skills, found that the best she could manage was a sort of accidental tumble sideways.

  She crashed to the ground and almost squashed poor Mrs Farouk, who just managed to leap out of the way in time. ‘Silly girl! Go and do some jumps over the box, and do try and be more graceful.’

  Jodie took a good run at the springboard. She launched herself into the air and landed on the board with an ear-splitting CCRRAACCKK! She watched glumly as the two halves of the broken board went spinning up into the air and clattered to the ground, sending splinters flying in all directions. Jodie stood there, surrounded by bits of broken wood.

 
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