Mailbox Mania, page 1
Beverly Lewis Books for Young Readers
In Jesse’s Shoes • Just Like Mama
What Is God Like? • What Is Heaven Like?
THE CUL-DE-SAC KIDS
The Double Dabble Surprise
The Chicken Pox Panic
The Crazy Christmas Angel Mystery
No Grown-ups Allowed
The Mystery of Case D. Luc
The Stinky Sneakers Mystery
The Mudhole Mystery
The Crabby Cat Caper
Backyard Bandit Mystery
Tree House Trouble
The Creepy Sleep-Over
The Great TV Turn-Off
The Granny Game
Big Bad Beans
The Upside-Down Day
The Midnight Mystery
Katie and Jake and the Haircut Mistake
Copyright © 1996 by Beverly Lewis
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Ebook edition created 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Cover illustration by Paul Turnbaugh
Story illustrations by Janet Huntington
Kendra Verhage, my talented young cousin.
Someday, I hope to see your
stories in print!
The Cul-De-Sac Kids Series
About the Author
Other Books by Author
Abby Hunter yawned and stretched. And yawned again.
Summer had come. Hot, fly-buzzin’ summer.
No school. Nothing to do.
Abby missed school. She missed her favorite teacher, Miss Hershey. “Summer’s boring,” Abby said.
Abby’s sister, Carly, crabbed about her paper dolls. “They’re floppy,” she said.
Their adopted Korean brothers, Shawn and Jimmy, were tired of American rice. “It’s too dry,” they said.
All the Cul-de-sac Kids were bored.
Dunkum Mifflin boxed up his basketball. “Too hot to play,” he said.
Stacy Henry was sick of sculpting. “The clay’s too soft when it’s hot outside,” she said.
Jason Birchall fussed about his frog. “Croaker never says, ‘Rib-bitt’ anymore.”
Eric Hagel complained about his paper route. “I never get to sleep in,” he said.
But the Fourth of July was coming. The United States of America’s birthday.
Abby and her friends stood in front of her house. “Four more days,” she said. “I can’t wait!”
Eric and Dunkum, Stacy and Shawn agreed.
The younger Cul-de-sac Kids looked at each other. Dee Dee, Carly, and Jimmy shrugged their shoulders. “We oughta have a club meeting,” Dee Dee said.
“Good idea,” Abby said. She was the president of the Cul-de-sac Kids. Nine kids who lived on one street.
Dunkum smiled. “Let’s meet at my house.”
Abby grinned. They always met at Dunkum’s house. He had the biggest basement. “How soon?” asked Abby.
“Give me ten minutes to straighten things up,” said Dunkum. And he jogged down the cul-de-sac.
Carly, Dee Dee, and the others crowded around Abby.
“Let’s think up something to do,” Jason said. “Something really fun!”
“Yeah,” Eric said. “Let’s brainstorm.”
Stacy leaned on Abby’s mailbox. “I can’t think of anything fun.”
Abby tried to dream up something.
Just then, a mail truck came down the street. Mr. Pete, the postal worker, stopped at each house. The kids watched him till he came to Abby’s house.
Mr. Pete waved to them. “Good morning, kids!”
The Cul-de-sac Kids waved, too.
Stacy backed away from the mailbox. Mr. Pete stuffed the Hunter mailbox full.
Abby stared at the mailbox. Then an idea hit. “I know!” she shouted. “I know what we can do!”
Carly spun around. “What?”
“Tell us!” Jason said.
Dee Dee’s eyes got big. “Please?”
“Come on,” Abby said. “It’s time for our meeting. I’ll tell you about it there.”
And she raced down the cul-de-sac to Dunkum’s.
Abby took off her sneakers. They were new. One red, one blue.
The kids lined up their sneakers along the wall.
Jason plopped down on the floor. The others did, too. “Okay,” Jason said. “Let’s get started.”
Abby sat in the president’s seat—a beanbag. “The meeting will come to order,” she said. “Does anyone have old business?”
“Forget the old business,” Jason hollered. “Let’s have the new stuff!”
“Tell us your idea, Abby!” Carly shouted. “We can’t wait!”
Soon, all the Cul-de-sac Kids were shouting.
Quickly, they settled down.
“Now,” Abby began. “Let’s start over.”
Eric’s eyes shone. “Abby sounds like a teacher.”
Abby grinned. She liked that. Maybe someday she’d be a teacher like Miss Hershey.
Jason swayed back and forth. He seemed wound up. “Forget school,” he said. “Let’s hear Abby’s idea.”
“Ya-hoo!” Dee Dee said.
Abby’s voice grew soft. “I have a great Fourth-of-July idea.”
The kids leaned forward, listening.
“A contest,” she said. “We’ll call it Mailbox Mania.”
Eric yelled. “What’s that mean?”
“Sh-h!” said Dee Dee. “Just listen.”
“We’ll decorate our mailboxes for America’s birthday,” Abby said. “With American themes. Whatever you want.”
“How about Paul Revere’s horse?” Jason stood up and trotted around.
The kids laughed. But Dunkum pulled him back down.
“Someone can judge our mailboxes,” Abby said. “The best mailbox wins.”
Jimmy raised his hand. “I judge! I good judge.”
Abby smiled. “Maybe it should be a grown-up.”
Dunkum suggested someone. “How about Mr. Tressler?”
“Let’s take a vote,” Abby said. “How many want Mr. Tressler to judge the mailbox contest?”
Hands flew up.
Shawn stared at Abby. “Who will decorate Hunter family mailbox? Four kids in Hunter family,” he said in broken English.
“Good question,” Abby said. “Any ideas?”
Eric raised his hand. “The four of you should work together. What’s so hard about that?”
The rest of the kids agreed.
Abby glanced around. “Every Cul-de-sac Kid except Carly, Jimmy, Shawn, and me, is an only child. So the Hunter family will work together.”
Shawn and Jimmy clapped. “Yip-p-e-ee!”
Carly frowned. “That’s too many kids for one mailbox. Way too many!”
Abby hoped her sister was wrong about that. She hoped with all her heart.
After lunch, they got started planning. Abby and Shawn, Carly and Jimmy Hunter.
They sat in the backyard under a shade tree. They sipped on lemonade and played with Snow White, their dog.
Abby began, “How should we decorate our mailbox?”
None of them knew.
“Any ideas?” She waited for her sister and brothers to respond.
None of them did.
“Don’t we want to win the contest?” she asked.
Carly pouted. “You’re the president of the Cul-de-sac Kids, NOT the president of the Hunter family.”
Now it was Abby’s turn to frown. “Why’d you say that?”
Shawn shook his head. “This not working.”
“Just a minute!” Abby snapped. “Remember what Eric said? We have to work together.”
“Good luck,” Carly muttered.
“Let’s choose a theme for our mailbox,” Abby said.
Shawn looked puzzled. “Like what?”
Abby thought. “The Statue of Liberty?”
“Too hard,” Carly said.
“We can try,” Shawn said. He smiled at Abby. “I will try.”
Carly shook her head. “Dumb idea.”
“Don’t say dumb,” Abby replied.
“You’re not the boss!” Carly stomped across the lawn. She sat on the back porch step.
Jimmy climbed a tree. “No contest for Hunter kids,” he said.
Snow White barked up at him.
Shawn told Jimmy to come down. He said it in Korean. Abby could tell he was mad. “We cannot plan this way,” he said. He glared up at Jimmy.
“I stay up here,” Jimmy shouted. “I not come down!”
Abby felt like a jitterbox. She reached for her notebook and pencil. And her lemonade. Then she stood up.
“Where you go?” Shawn asked her.
Abby brushed off her shorts. “Maybe you’re right. This won’t work.”
“But we try . . . and try,” Shawn replied.
Abby glanced toward the house. Carly was pouting on the porch.
Abby stared at the tree. Jimmy was hanging upside down. “Looks like two against two,” she said.
Shawn nodded. “We find a way,” he said. “You see.”
“I don’t know.” Abby sighed. “Maybe they should have Mailbox Mania without us.”
Shawn’s eyes were kind. “You say, ‘Cul-de-sac Kids stick together,’ well . . . Hunter family do, too.”
Abby sat down in the grass. She wanted to feel good about Mailbox Mania. She really wanted to.
But how could she when her family was fighting?
The next day, Abby got up early.
She read her Bible. And prayed. “Dear Lord, help Carly and Jimmy. They aren’t trying very hard to win the contest. Help us work together. Amen.”
At breakfast, Carly ate her pancakes with too much syrup. Even Mother noticed.
Jimmy slurped his milk. The sound bugged Abby. “Where are your manners?” she said.
“Where are yours?” he shot back.
“Children, please,” said Abby’s mother.
Shawn was the only quiet one. Abby wished she had just one brother and no sister. Jimmy and Carly could go fly a kite!
Abby and Shawn helped clean up the kitchen. Then Abby went to Stacy’s house.
“Let’s go swimming,” Abby suggested.
“Can’t,” Stacy said. “I’m working on my mailbox.”
“Oh, yeah. Lucky you!” Abby turned to go. She was heading home when Mr. Tressler came outside. He was swinging his cane as he walked.
“Hello there, missy,” Mr. Tressler called to her.
Abby waved. She ran across the street. “Can I talk to you?”
He smiled his wrinkled smile. “You’re talking, aren’t you?”
Abby explained all about Mailbox Mania. “We need a judge,” she said. “Someone who can be fair.”
He leaned on his cane. “Hm-m, sounds interesting.”
“Do you want the job?”
He rubbed his pointy chin. “What’s the pay?”
“Very funny,” Abby said.
Mr. Tressler’s eyes twinkled. “I’d be honored, Abby. When’s the big day?”
“The Fourth of July.”
“I’ll be there with bells on.”
Abby wondered, Bells on? Then she saw his smile and knew what he meant. “Thank you!”
Mr. Tressler waved his cane.
Abby felt good about Mr. Tressler doing the judging. But she wondered about her own mailbox. Could she get Carly and Jimmy to work on it? Would it be done in time?
The contest was only three days away!
“Maybe Shawn and I’ll decorate by ourselves,” she said out loud. Excited, she rushed across the street—to her side of the cul-de-sac.
At that moment, Stacy came out of her house. She carried a shoebox full of paints, paper, glue, and scissors. An eager look spread across her face.
Abby waved to her. “Hi, Stacy!”
“What’s wrong?” Abby asked.
Stacy hid the shoebox behind her back. “I . . . uh . . . I didn’t want you to see this.”
Abby frowned. “Why not?”
“Well, I—” Stacy stopped.
“What?” Abby had a weird feeling.
“You won’t steal my idea, will you?” Stacy asked.
Abby held her breath. She didn’t say a word.
“Well, you won’t, will you?” Stacy said.
Abby folded her arms across her chest. “You know me better than that, Stacy Henry!”
And she ran home.
That night, Abby couldn’t sleep.
Crackity-boom! Early fireworks.
Something else kept her awake. Starting tomorrow there were only two days left. The Fourth of July—and Mailbox Mania—was coming fast!
It was late when Abby fell asleep. Her dreams popped with the sounds outside. In one dream, Jason was making popcorn in his mailbox. The hot sun beat down.
Ka-bang! The mailbox exploded into a giant popcorn ball.
Abby woke up. Caught in her covers. Too hot. She kicked them off and went back to sleep.
The next morning, Abby crept into Carly’s room. Her closet door stood open. Carly was humming.
Inside the closet was a secret place. The sliding door led to a tiny space under the steps.
“Ps-s-t! Are you in there?” Abby called.
The humming stopped.
Then—“Keep out!” Carly shouted.
Abby caught a glimpse of Carly. She was working on something. Probably something for Mailbox Mania.
Abby inched closer. “What are you doing?”
Carly hid whatever she was making. “Go away!”
“We have to talk,” Abby said.
“I’m not talking. And that’s final.”
Abby sighed. “I know what you’re doing, and it’s not fair. We have to work together.”
“Nope,” Carly said. “I’m making my own mailbox creation. And you can’t stop me!”
“Fine,” Abby said at last. “We’ll
“Mommy!” Carly yelled.
Abby shook her head as she hurried outside. Such a baby! she thought.
Across the street, Eric was working on his mailbox.
Abby watched him from her front porch. It looked like he was using green clay. A clay sculpture!
She stood up for a better look. It was the Lady of the Lamp, all right. The Statue of Liberty!
Just then, Jason ran over to Eric. Abby could see what was happening. Jason and Eric were arguing.
“You copied my idea!” Jason hollered.
Eric shrugged his shoulders. “How was I supposed to know?”
“Well, I won’t let you make it!” Jason shouted. He leaped toward the Lady of Liberty.
Abby gasped. “No!”
But it was too late. Eric’s clay sculpture fell to the ground.
Abby felt sick. This wasn’t Mailbox Mania at all! It was a Mailbox Mess!
Abby dashed across the street. “Let me help,” she said.
Eric didn’t say a word.
Abby could hear his short, quick breaths.
“What an awful thing,” she said. “I can’t believe Jason did this!”
Eric carried his clay pieces inside.
Next door, Mr. Tressler sat on his porch. His face looked very sad. As sad as Abby felt.
She stormed up to Jason’s house. Mrs. Birchall came to the door. Abby wanted to tell on Jason. But she didn’t. “May I speak to Jason, please?”
Mrs. Birchall nodded. “I’ll get him.”
In a few minutes, she returned. Without Jason. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t seem to find him.”
Abby knew why. Jason was hiding!
“I’ll talk to him later,” she said. “Thank you.” And down the cul-de-sac she ran—to Dunkum’s.
Dunkum Mifflin would know what to do. He always did.
When she got there, Dee Dee Winters was ringing his doorbell. Her face looked like a prune. “I quit,” she said.
“I’m quitting the mailbox contest,” Dee Dee insisted.
Abby looked at the little girl. “What’s wrong?”
Dunkum came to the door. “Hi,” he said. “What’s up?”
“You busy?” Dee Dee asked him.
“Kinda,” he said.
“Don’t tell me,” she said. “You’re working on your mailbox?”
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