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The Rescue at Fragment Crag A Classic Words Novel

By Michael Clay Thompson

Royal Fireworks Press ____________________________________________ Unionville, New York

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Copyright Š 2013, Royal Fireworks Publishing Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No copying or reproduction of any portion of this book is permitted without the express written consent of the publisher. Royal Fireworks Press First Avenue, PO Box 399 Unionville, NY 10988-0399 (845) 726-4444 fax: (845) 726-3824 email: website: ISBN: 978-0-89824-840-1 Printed and bound in the United States of America using vegetable-based inks on acid-free recycled paper and environmentally-friendly cover coatings by the Royal Fireworks Printing Co. of Unionville, New York.html/ Design and text by Michael Clay Thompson Paintings by Milton N. Kemnitz Beetle illustration by Michael Clay Thompson ____________________________________________

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Classic Words For years I have dreamed of writing novels for young readers and incorporating, in a methodical way, the literary words that I have identified in my Classic Words vocabulary research. In this research I have developed a computer database that analyzes and collates hundreds of words that appear in great British and American novels of several centuries, and I have learned that powerful words such as countenance, manifest, odious, serene, and grotesque appear not only in mature novels by Hawthorne and Austen, but also in great books that children read, such as Treasure Island, The Wind in the Willows, and Peter Pan. A national neglect of formal vocabulary instruction has left many children unable to read standard books that have been the favorites of children for generations, and so you will find these words emphasized in this Mud the Fish trilogy, with definitions at the bottoms of the pages so that the vocabulary is not an obstacle but a treat. These novels about Mud will prepare children to read childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s classics with ease and enjoyment. ____________________________________________

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Michael Clay Thompson (1947---) If indications may be believed, Michael Clay Thompson was once a boy, lost in a stack of classics and archeology books, looking through his telescope at night, dangling his feet off of the dock that extended from his back yard, and walking the muddy banks of canals in Florida, catching fiddler crabs and watching barracuda patrol the rich water. There are reports that he once had a duck, with muddy feet and ill manners, and that his mother refused the duck proper entrance into the family, though this can scarcely be credited. ____________________________________________

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1. Mud’s Obsession . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Ch. 2. Turner Turns Turtle . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Ch. 3. Baldwin’s Bad Attitude . . . . . . . . . 27 Ch. 4. A Wave of Bad News . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Ch. 5. Click’s Fall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Ch. 6. The Dread Crossing . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Ch. 7. Mud Sneaks Off . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Ch. 8. The Rat with No Name . . . . . . . . . 77 Ch. 9. Mud Is Banished . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Ch. 10. To Stick Together . . . . . . . . . . . . 99


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CHAPTER ONE Mud’s Obsession No doubt you read Sentence Island, and you recall the story of the fish whose name was Mud and how he swam to Sentence Island to study the secrets of sentences. There, many sentence-wise animals helped him, and after what we will call—to be gentle—a series of misunderstandings, Mud began to understand sentences. Partly. Some years had passed since Mud first journeyed to Sentence Island, and though he had sometimes jumped back in the ocean for visits home to his splashy reef, he had become ever more attached to the wind-blown island and his new sentence friends there. Life was ____________________________________________

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fine. Everything was in its place. Everyone stuck together and talked about sentences, and it was so much fun. Mud finally had gotten used to walking on his tail fins, and everyone on the island loved sentences. Especially Mud. Each year, it seemed, Mudâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love of sentences grew more profound, and everything he did made him think about them. If he had a snack, he thought how tasty sentences are. If he raised a right fin, he thought how sentences have right sides and left sides. If he was not finished with his supper, he thought about how sentences are complete. If he made a subtraction mistake, he was reminded that subject-verb disagreements are odious. (Fidget, the tough little cricket, had taught him that.) If he watched the blue sky scrolling above, pulling white puffs along, he thought of how sentences roll by, pulling one word after another. If Mud saw ____________________________________________ profound: adj. deep odious: adj. hateful

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a beautiful sunset, he thought how beautiful sentences are. Mud’s sentence obsession did not abate with time; it only got stronger. Mind you, Mud did not know as much about sentences as he thought he did, but his enthusiasm was impressive. Too impressive, at times. Sometimes Mud would sink into a dazed, glazed sentence spell— he called it a sentence distraction—and his blue scales would grow gray, and his normally alert countenance would freeze into a wideeyed stare, and his fishlips would silently form sentence words, such as “Agreement” or “Object,” and no one could snap him out of it. Of course, being a fish, Mud had no eyelids and was always wide-eyed, but his dilated sentence stare was still something to see. When Mud went into one of those sentence ____________________________________________ abate: v. diminsh, lessen countenance: n. facial expression dilated: adj. wide-eyed

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stares, even his sentence friends thought he was over-doing it. “Eccentric,” they called him. That means odd. Fidget, Mud’s subjectverb cricket friend, was particularly disturbed. One morning on the gleaming beach, with the ballet winds dancing white foam over the waves, Mud and Fidget went for a walk. They were having a nice talk about singular and plural ideas. Suddenly Mud got that tremulous sentence look, stopped walking, and turned his empty gaze out to the far ocean. Fidget, alarmed, tried everything to break Mud’s trance. “Mud!” cried Fidget, but Mud did not react. He had a vacant, distant look, like a scaly statue. “Agreement,” he whispered, speaking to something in the unknown distance. He smiled as though greeting a friend. “Mud!” Fidget expostulated, frustrated by ____________________________________________ tremulous: adj. trembling expostulated: v. cried in disapproval

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Mud’s goofy grin to nowhere. “Get it! Get it!” and Fidget jumped at him, bouncing Mud’s scaly nose with all six feet. It was no use. Mud was locked in his strange stare, and visions of sentences danced in his head. Even for a creature with the wisdom of a cricket, this was exasperating. The incredulous cricket stared at Mud, who was in his own world. “Mud…get it…get it…,” Fidget chirped pitifully, but he could not finish his thought. A white cloud softly traversed the blue sky, and Fidget’s left antenna slumped, as only cricket antennaes can. High above, the cloud billowed along until it was out of sight on the right. On the moving sea, the cloud’s reflection followed nervously behind, and Mud saw two pelicans chase the reflection out of sight.

____________________________________________ incredulous: v. full of disbelief traversed: v. crossed billowed: v. swelled and bulged, like a cloud

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Suddenly Mud got that tremulous sentence look, stopped walking, and turned his empty gaze out to the far ocean. Page 10. Punctuation is not random. In good writing, it is not personal, allowing anyone to punctuate however he or she pleases. Instead, there is a relationship between the punctuation and the story. Like words, punctuation points have meaning. Here, two commas pause and resume the sentence, allowing the sentence to stop walking just as the character does.

____________________________________________ Language: Notice the alliteration on the f consonant in the first lines of page 13.

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CHAPTER TWO Turner Turns Turtle Of course, Mud was a fine fish-fellow with a friendly fish face, at least frequently, and he did not fall into one of his funny reveries every day. Every reverie was not very average. Furthermore, Mud did not want to make a spectacle of himself. Most days, he behaved like a self-respecting fish, watching palm trees swish and sashay in the wind, studying sentence secrets, reviewing valuable verbs, and conversing with his friends. They were an amiable group of specialists, and they stuck together. Being a fine fish, Mud kept up his good relationships with his first friends on Sentence ____________________________________________ sashay: v. to saunter with exaggerated hip and shoulder motion amiable: adj. friendly, pleasant

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Island, such as Cow Loon, who taught him that sentences have two sides, Oopsy and Daisy, the goofy pelicans who taught him the parts of sentence (Who could forget the excitement of action verbs launching their energies at direct objects?); Fidget, the feisty cricket who disliked verb disagreement; the buddies Click the sandpiper and Clack the lobster, who taught Mud to put words in good places; Herman the kingfisher and Merv the mouse, who taught Mud to complete his thoughts; and FFFFFOWW, the tremulous tree, who trained Mud to hear the music of sentences. Mud had become friends with little Click the sandpiper, could speak in normal words when he wanted to, but who usually communicated in charming, tweety eeeps. Click and Clack were the best of friends, but they let Mud hang around with them. Clackâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ____________________________________________ tremulous: adj. trembling

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lobster power had made him a leader in the group, and his strength was intimidating to Mud, but Clickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s little eeeeps were delightful. Click was a great flyer, and he flitted in and out of the branches, never making a sound except for a slight, flappy fth fth fth of his wings. He liked to zip high into the serene blue sky and fly over the nearby islands, and he would come back with stories of what he saw. He told Mud what Sentence Island looked like from high in the air, and he described the next island, Comma Island, and the way it made you pause, even as you were flying. Click rarely flew farther than Comma Island, but he had been thinking about it. His friends advised him to stick closer to home. Flying sounded like a great adventure to Mud, and he wished that he could fly too. He would love to see Comma Island and the islands beyond. ____________________________________________ serene: adj. calm, clear

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During the past year, Click had become prodigiously fond of poetry, and he was always writing ballads after he discovered the great ballads of Lobster Burns, Clack’s great grandlobster. Click’s most recent ballad was about Stanley, a weed: Eet EEET eet EEET eet MEEP eet CHIRP Eet MEEP eet SWEET eet MEED, Eet NEEET eet DEET eet SMEEP eet OOT Eet TWEET stan LY eet WEED!

Click was especially proud of the final rhyme. Everyone liked Click’s ballads, though they did not understand the technical details, and they all had a new respect for Click, now that he was a poet. They knew how smart he was, and they knew that poets tell the truth, so they would ask him questions when matters ____________________________________________ prodigiously: adv. hugely, enormously

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were serious or difficult to understand. Poets explain matters like those. With his tiny, sweet tweet, Click was a fine conversationalist. Mud recalled a happy talk he had had with Click a year or so earlier, when they had taken a walk together and discussed their favorite arrangements for words. As they walked down the beach, Click made little bird footprints in the wet sand, and Mud left small swish marks from his tail fins. “Click,” Mud began, “do you think it really matters what order words come in?” “Eeeeet,” the sandpiper replied. “Really?” Mud was perplexed. “Eeeet, eet eeeet sweeet,” Click said. “But can’t we put adjectives anywhere we want to?” Mud asked. “Eeeeeeeeeeet,” Click squeaked, raising one feather over his right eye. Click looked ____________________________________________ perplexed: adj. confused, baffled

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straight at Mud. “Eeeeeet?” he asked, putting one little foot forward. “No,” said Mud, “but I do not see that much difference. I could say Eating bugs, Mud saw Click, or Eating bugs, Click saw Mud, and those two sentences mean exactly the same thing.” “Eeeeeet#$%&eet*&%!!!!” Click retorted. “Oh,” Mud said, with less confidence than before. Now he understood that the two sentences did not mean the same thing at all. “Eeeeetttt!” Click assured Mud, and the matter was settled. Click knew his stuff. With Click you could discuss any sentence topic, and he still liked you, and you still liked him. Click told the truth about sentences, and he did not mind if your idea won, so long as it was true. Click had an honest mind, and Mud admired him. Of course, there were other animals on ____________________________________________ retorted: v. replied sharply

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Sentence Island, and some of them were friendly, while others were not so friendly. One who was not so friendly was the sleepy guy, Turner. Turner was a turtle, slow to respond, and Mud sometimes grew impatient with him. Mud’s sentence friends said that Turner knew how to keep sentences from being wordy, but when Mud asked Turner about wordiness, Turner would say, “Uhhhhhh, mmmmmm,” and slowly move one foot forward for a few minutes, and then forget what he was thinking about. He was not indolent, but he was so slow. It drove Mud crazy. Whenever the animals were going anywhere, Turner would slowly stir from his languid state and mumble, “Wait for me,” except that it sounded like “Wwwaaaiiiiiiiitttt ffffffffoooooorrrrrrrr meeeeeee.” Mud, of course, is a fish, and fish are snappy, and this sluggish turtle got under Mud’s scales. ____________________________________________ indolent: adj. lazy languid: adj. slow, lazy

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Sometimes Mud would rebuke Turner, saying, “Turner, move!” Then Turner would slowwwwly begin to open his mouth, and the uuhhhhhhh would begin to begin, and Mud would zip this way and zap that way and spin into a frenzy of impatience, his loose scales flying in all directions. In his poky way, Turner was smart, and he knew he was driving Mud crazy, but what could he do? Slow was his top speed. When the situation grew too unbearable, Turner would turn turtle and roll upside down and not peek out until the moon looked over the sea. The other animals would crowd around and beg him to come out. They would knock on his tummy scales, as on a door. “Turner?” they would ask. Knock, knock, knock. “Turner?” But Turner would not move. The only sign that he heard them was a slight, melancholy urfitymurphit whispery sound that came out ____________________________________________ rebuke: v. criticize sharply melancholy: adj. deeply sad

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