The Heart of . . . What?
Hiya! I’m Agatha Jane Parrot and THANKS for reading this book. It’s very nice of you, because the title is a bit strange!
If you want to know why this book is called The Heart of Mud, it’s something that somebody says later on in the story. If you like, you can flip through the pages and see if you can spot who says it. Remember, you’re on page 2 now, so I’ll wait here and you can come back when you’ve found it.
I’ll just hum some waiting music . . . Tum-tee-tiddly-tum!
If you think the title is kind of silly, it could have been a LOT worse. There’s one part in the story where my friend Ivy sends secret messages with her leg! It’s true. She really does, so Ivy wanted this book to be called Ivy Malting and Her Secret-Message-Sending Leg. Ha ha! But it was too long to fit on the front, so we used that title for one of the chapters instead.
Before we start, I should warn you that this book does have a bit of LOVE in it. (That’s why it has Heart in the title.)
Don’t worry. There’s no long kissing or holding hands or anything gross like that. YUCK! We don’t do that sort of thing on Odd Street—except once. It was Dad’s birthday, so Mom had to give him a kiss, but they didn’t like it much because he’s bald and she’s got hairy legs. What a pity Mom couldn’t take the hairs off her legs and plant them on Dad’s head! That would have been an awesome birthday present for him. How very thoughtful.
Anyway, Ivy’s leg is waiting for you, so we’d better get on with the story. WAHOO!
The Return of the Mud Creature
In our house, Wednesday’s dinner is the BEST dinner of the week.
What makes Wednesday so good is that Mom cooks up “A Real Taste of Italy.” It’s made with fresh pasta and handpicked tomatoes with an exciting blend of herbs and covered with a rich cheese sauce. Each serving also contains 377 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 832 mg of sodium (whatever that means).
How do I know all this? Because that’s what it says on the box. YUM!
We love dinner from a box. Even Dad can’t cook it wrong, except for the time he forgot to poke holes in the top with a fork and it went BADDOOF in the microwave. The smell lasted for weeks! Mom went ballistic, but secretly she was happy, because when her friends came over they thought she’d been cooking fancy stuff like they do on TV.
“What IS that lovely smell?” said the friends.
“It’s my new secret recipe,” said Mom, the Big Fibber.
Gosh, if I told whoppers like that, I’d be sent straight to bed with no arguing.
The bad thing is that we can only have box dinner on Wednesdays, because Wednesday is the only day when there are four of us for dinner. The box says serves four and WE MUST OBEY the box.
So anyway, one Wednesday we were all sitting around the table waiting for our exciting herbs and 13 grams of fat. The four of us were Mom, Dad, me, and my little sister, Tilly. As usual, Tilly was dressed as a fairy, and she was watching the numbers on the microwave count down so she could do her magic spell at the end.
“Five, four, three, two, one . . .” said the fairy. Then she waved her wand.
PING! went the microwave oven.
Dad got the plastic box thing out and peeled the top back. Oh wow, smell that smell, love it love it. He was just dolloping it out onto four plates when we heard an evil scraping sound coming from outside.
The front gate squeaked and the scraping sound got closer, and then the front door burst open. A hideous creature covered in mud staggered into the hallway, leaving a slimy trail all over the rug.
“UM OME!” wailed the creature.
“Oh, no!” said me and Tilly. The last thing we wanted to see was the Mud Creature from Planet Smelly, but there it was.
The Mud Creature had been playing soccer. Usually he had dinner at his friend Matt’s house on Wednesdays, but obviously something had gone wrong.
“UM OME!” he said again.
“What’s he saying?” asked Dad.
“He says ‘I’m home,’” said Mom. Then she shouted into the hallway, “Don’t come in the kitchen like that!”
“Like what?” said the Creature.
“Like THAT!” snapped Mom. “You’ll have to get undressed in the hall.”
By now you’ve probably guessed that the Mud Creature from Planet Smelly was actually my big brother, James. This was not good news for me and Tilly. We started shoveling the pasta inside us as fast as we could, because we knew what was coming next.
“Did you get dinner at Matt’s?” asked Dad.
“No,” said the Creature. “He wasn’t playing today.”
Dad went to the cabinet to get another plate out.
Shovel, shovel, shovel, went me and Tilly.
“Wait, you two,” said Dad. “We’ll need to save a bit for James.”
And sure enough, Dad spooned HUGE scoops off both of our plates and plunked them on a plate for the Mud Creature. UNFAIR. I just hope James got all my 13 grams of fat in his portion. It would serve him right.
After we had eaten our SMALL HELPINGS of box dinner, Dad stood up and tried to look important.
“I’ll leave you to clean up. I’ve got some work to do in my office.”
Office? That sounds grand, doesn’t it? I bet you’re thinking that Dad’s office has a big desk with lots of telephones and a giant window with helicopters outside.
Actually, it’s not quite like that—surprise surprise, gosh, faint in shock.
There’s a cabinet in the corner of our living room, and one of the shelves has the computer on it. You have to get a kitchen chair and sit with your knees in the bottom of the cabinet and your bottom sticking out blocking the TV. That’s Dad’s office! No big desk and no helicopters. Aw, shame! Let’s all weep for Dad, boo hoo hoo.
While Dad turned his computer on, Mom went to clean up the hallway. James fetched his soccer clothes and plunked them by the washing machine, but when he thought Mom wasn’t looking, he dumped a...