Making the Band, page 1
Chapter 1: It’s a . . . Brushbot!
Chapter 2: What’s Your Talent?
Chapter 3: Out of Ideas
Chapter 4: Inspiration Strikes!
Chapter 5: Cereal Boxes and Jingle Bells
Chapter 6: A Leaky Disaster
Chapter 7: Starting All Over
Chapter 8: Practice, Practice, Practice!
Chapter 9: Four Surprises
Chapter 10: Rock On!
How to Make . . . A Cereal Box Guitar
'Tie-Dye Disaster' Excerpt
About the Author
It’s a . . . Brushbot!
“Should we just . . . start?” Bella Diaz asked, glancing at her watch.
“Let’s wait a few more minutes,” Emily Adams suggested.
“Yeah,” agreed Maddie Wilson.
The three friends were at their craft clubhouse—formerly known as the old shed in Bella’s backyard. Usually, it was four friends, but Sam Sharma was nowhere in sight.
The craft clubhouse was filled with all sorts of materials the kids used for their crafty projects. They had a Sewing Station, where Maddie could often be found. There was a Coding Corner, with a computer that Bella had installed. Emily’s Carpentry Cabinet contained tons of tools, gadgets, and materials like nuts and bolts. And Sam’s Painting Pavilion housed different color paints and about a million brushes of different sizes.
But where was Sam?
“Sorry I am late!” someone shouted as the shed door flew open. There was Sam, breathless. “I had to clean my hamster’s cage. It takes forever!” he explained.
Maddie nodded sympathetically. “I know what that’s like,” she said. “I mean, having to do chores. It’s my job to set the dinner table every night!”
“You’re both lucky,” said Bella. “Since my dad is a chef, he uses every pot and pan when he cooks. And guess who has to clean up? But the other night, doing the dishes actually gave me an amazing idea for a new crafting project. Behold!”
Bella handed an object to each of her friends.
“Scrub brushes?” asked Sam, confused.
“Right now, yes,” said Bella. “But we’re going to transform them into: Brushbots!”
Bella opened her notebook to a diagram. “A Brushbot is a battery-powered scrub brush that can move on its own,” she explained.
“And sort of looks like a robot! That’s genius!” exclaimed Sam.
The first step was for each of them to attach a battery pack to a scrub brush. The kids continued working, carefully following Bella’s instructions.
“Before we decorate them, let’s try them out!” Bella suggested. “On the count of three. One, two . . .”
“THREE!” everyone yelled, flipping the switches.
“What did we do wrong?” Maddie asked.
“Maybe these batteries are duds?” suggested Emily.
Bella looked concerned. “But they’re brand-new,” she said.
“Are they the right kind of batteries?” asked Sam.
Bella pulled out a battery and examined it. Then she started to laugh. “I think I know what went wrong. You see how each battery has a plus sign at one end and a minus at the other?”
The other three nodded.
“Well, to make the connection, positive and negative need to be in the right positions. Once we do that . . .”
The friends rotated the batteries and flipped the switches. The Brushbots started working immediately!
Next they got to work on decorations. The hours flew by as they glued, sewed, and painted. When they were done, they set the Brushbots on a shelf to dry. Sam’s looked like a metal insect, with bug eyes and antennae cut from an old hanger. Maddie’s was wearing a beret and a coordinated outfit. Emily’s had nuts and bolts glued on in cool patterns. And Bella’s looked like a real robot, with electric wires wrapping around in all different directions.
“Bring on the dirty dishes!” said Bella.
Maddie laughed. “I think I like mine too much to use it for chores!” she admitted.
Emily and Sam nodded in agreement.
“You guys!” said Bella, though she knew her friends were right. Her Brushbot had turned out really cool too.
Looked like she’d have to keep doing the dinner dishes the old-fashioned way . . . for now.
What’s Your Talent?
At school the next day, the kids gathered for the Monday-morning assembly. Onstage, their principal, Ms. Park, began announcements.
“I have some exciting news!” she said. “Mason Creek Elementary will be hosting a school-wide talent show. Students can participate on their own or in groups.”
Bella, Emily, Maddie, and Sam exchanged knowing looks. Sure, they would need to figure out what to do, but even without discussing it they knew they would work on their act together.
Principal Park continued, saying, “You can perform a song or a dance, read a story or a poem, juggle, or even help out backstage. This is an exciting event that will showcase the talents of our entire school community!”
At recess, the four friends gathered on the playground.
“What should we do for the talent show?” asked Maddie.
“Not singing, please,” said Bella. “I don’t even sound good when I sing in the shower,” she added with a sheepish smile.
“Not dancing, either,” said Emily. “My fancy footwork is strictly for the soccer field.”
“I’m going to twirl my baton,” their classmate Joelle said, marching by and flipping her baton into the air to demonstrate.
“I’m going to do magic,” proclaimed Lyle, another classmate. He pulled out a deck of cards and fanned them in front of the friends.
“And I’ll be his magician’s assistant!” said Lyle’s best friend, Cory.
Alana and Kai, two other classmates, came running up. “Maddie!” said Alana. “We’re going to write a play for the talent show. Would you do the costumes?”
Maddie was really flattered. “I’m sorry!” she said. “But I already have a group.”
“That’s okay! What are you guys doing?” asked Kai.
The four friends looked at each other.
“Well . . . we’re not sure yet,” Sam finally answered.
Kai frowned, then brightened up. “I’m sure it will be something great!” she said enthusiastically.
The school bell rang just then, and Kai and Alana hurried off.
“So . . . meet at the craft clubhouse after school?” Bella asked.
The other three kids couldn’t have said “Yes!” faster.
Out of Ideas
That afternoon at Bella’s house, the four friends grabbed their go-to snack—lemonade and a big bowl of popcorn with Bella’s dad’s special spice blend on it—and trooped out to the craft clubhouse.
“Brainstorming time!” Maddie said. “And just remember, like Ms. Gibbons always says . . .”
“ ‘When you brainstorm, there are no bad ideas,’ ” everyone said together, repeating one of their teacher’s favorite sayings.
“I’ll make a list,” offered Sam.
“No singing,” Bella reminded him.
“And no dancing,” added Emily.
“So far this is a list of things we’re not doing,” Sam pointed out.
Bella sighed. “Well, we can’t exactly code a computer game onstage,” she said.
Emily nodded in agreement. “Or build a tree house,” she added.
“Guys, I hear you,” said Maddie patiently. “But let’s keep thinking. I’m sure something great will come to us. Like, we could do a fashion show.”
“Or paint someth
“Hmm . . . we could build a robot and show how it works onstage?” Bella said.
“Or something out of wood might be a little easier?” Emily added.
“This is a good start,” said Sam, after adding both ideas. “My dad will be here soon to take me to my art class, so here’s our list so far. Add more ideas if you think of any, okay?”
He pinned the list to the clubhouse wall and then left to meet his dad.
The girls crowded around to take a look.
Finally, Emily spoke. She said what everyone was thinking: “There aren’t any bad ideas here. But I’m not sure there are any great ideas yet, either.”
When Sam got home after art class, dinner was almost ready. His little sister, Yasmin, was at the table drawing.
“Hi, Mom! Hi, Yazzy!” called Sam. He hung up his backpack and kicked off his sneakers.
Sam quickly set the table and gave Yasmin a piece of naan to nibble so she wouldn’t complain when he swapped her paper and crayons for a place mat and dishes.
“Such a busy day at work today!” said Sam’s mom, who was a high-school art teacher. She carried a steaming bowl of chana masala to the table. Sam’s mouth watered. Usually he didn’t like chickpeas. But somehow his mom made them delicious!
“You should have been an architect instead of a teacher,” teased his dad. “Much less stressful.”
“Oh, really? What about that time you cut your finger building that model of the museum?”
Sam’s parents laughed.
“When you guys were in school together,” said Sam, “did you ever have to do a talent show?”
“Sure,” said his dad. “At our school talent show, I got everyone on their feet with my rock and roll.”
“You did?” Sam was impressed.
“Kind of,” admitted Sam’s dad. “Mostly because they got up to use the bathroom when I played. I was pretty bad. Your mom’s the real musician.”
“You played rock music?” Sam asked his mom.
She smiled. “Classical guitar and jazz.”
“I really want to find something I can do with my friends,” Sam said. “We tried to figure it out today, but we just don’t have any good ideas.”
“Give it time,” said Sam’s mother gently.
“Inspiration can strike when you least expect it,” added his dad.
Sam waited for inspiration to strike all through dinner. He waited for it as he helped clear the table. He waited for it through his science homework, then math.
Stumped by a division problem, Sam began tapping his pencil. Come on, inspiration. Where are you? he thought.
“You about ready to call it a night, Sam?”
Sam looked up and saw his dad standing in the doorway. “Oh. Uh, sure. Just a few more math problems.”
“Okay,” said his dad. “Nice beat.”
“Beat?” Sam looked down and realized that he was still tapping his pencil against the desk.
“Sounds good. You’re already a better drummer than I was a guitar player,” his dad said.
Sam grinned. Then, all of a sudden, an idea hit him. If he could make a drum out of a pencil and a desk, maybe he and his friends could create other instruments too! Then they could perform a song while showcasing their crafting talents. And they wouldn’t have to sing or dance!
Sam tried to turn his attention back to math, but he kept tapping his pencil excitedly. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends!
Cereal Boxes and Jingle Bells
At school the next day, Sam shared his idea.
“I love it!” said Emily.
“Ooh, and we’ll need something cool to wear as a band,” said Maddie. “I’m on it!”
“Awesome!” said Bella. “What instruments should we make?”
Just then their teacher walked in.
“Come along, everyone,” said Ms. Gibbons. “We have music first today.”
“Perfect!” whispered Bella as the kids lined up. “Now we can look at everything in the music room and figure out what instruments to make.”
The suggestion sounded simple enough. But there were so many different instruments in the music room: triangles, drums, guitars, shakers, tambourines, and more! The four friends all took note of the instruments and how they might re-create them. They didn’t have a chance to talk about their ideas for the rest of the day, so they were all excited to meet up at Bella’s house later.
“We’ll definitely need a guitar,” said Bella, putting some homemade cookies on a plate for them to take out to the clubhouse. “I took lessons, so I know how to play. I just have to figure out how to make one.”
Sam picked up a wooden spoon from the counter and pretended to play it like a guitar.
“Hey, wait a second!” Emily took the spoon and positioned it by a box of cereal that was nearby. The spoon formed the long neck of the guitar and the box formed its body.
“Awesome!” said Bella. Then she went over to the kitchen recycling bin. “What if instead of the spoon we used this?” She pulled out a long box that had once held spaghetti.
“Oh, and look!” Maddie reached into the recycling bin and pulled out two oatmeal containers. “What could we use these for?”
“Drums!” said Sam instantly.
They carried their cookies and found materials out to the craft clubhouse and got to work. Maddie was still excited about the idea of band outfits, so she dug through the boxes of sewing supplies in search of just the right things.
“What about these?” she asked, pulling out a bag of shiny silver balls.
“Jingle bells?” asked Emily. “Won’t we look a little silly, like jesters or elves, if we wear those?”
Maddie laughed. “Not for our outfits,” she said. “For an instrument!”
“Ohhhh!” Emily took the bag and shook it. “Right! These remind me of the bell shakers in the music room!”
Emily grabbed two long wooden dowels. “I can drill holes and attach the bells!” she said excitedly.
She took the supplies over to the woodworking bench and put on her safety goggles.
“I guess that just leaves me,” said Maddie.
Bella looked up from her work. “There are lots of things you can make, Maddie. You’re so talented!”
“I’m sure something will come to you,” added Sam. “Inspiration can strike when you least expect it!”
“You guys are probably right,” said Maddie. “I’ll just keep working on our outfits until I think of something. It would be terrible if we didn’t look as great as we sounded!”
A Leaky Disaster
By Friday the friends had created an amazing assortment of instruments. Bella had built a guitar out of a cereal box and two pasta boxes. It had rubber-band strings and cork knobs. It also had paperclip frets, so it actually could be played! Sam had a complete oatmeal-canister drum set, plus cymbals made out of paper plates. In typical Sam fashion, he had painted the drum set with all sorts of patterns and designs in every color imaginable. Emily had made several percussion pieces, including her bell shakers and shakers made out of paper cups filled with dried beans.
“We’re going to rock!” said Sam, and the others cheered in agreement.
The only band member who was still instrumentless was Maddie. She kept busy sewing while waiting for inspiration to strike.
• • •
On Saturday morning Bella woke up early. She looked outside and noticed that the grass was wet. Really wet. The sun was shining, but it looked like it had probably rained all night.
I’ll go see if the glue on my guitar is dry, she thought.
She slipped on her rain boots and sloshed out to the clubhouse. She flung open the door and—
“Oh no!” she cried.
A little while later the other three kids arrived at the clubhouse.
They all gasped when they saw the damage.
“What are we going to do?” asked Bella.
“Well, I say we start by cleaning up,” said Emily.
The others agreed. They got to work inspecting the contents of the clubhouse. They threw out what was damaged and set other things out to dry in the sun. Emily grabbed a ladder and a flashlight and climbed up to examine the roof.
“Be careful!” said Bella. “It’s probably slippery up there.”
“I don’t have to actually go on the roof,” Emily reassured her. “I just need to stand on the ladder so I can reach the spot that needs patching.”
“I’ll help you,” offered Maddie. She held the ladder steady, handed up tools, and accepted items that Emily handed down. Emily passed down a big square of corrugated metal that was filled with holes. Clearly that was the cause of the leak.
Throughout the morning, the team worked hard on cleaning and repairs. At lunchtime Bella’s father brought out a tray of sandwiches, plus tortilla chips and delicious homemade salsa. He also brought something else.