Stars and sparks on stag.., p.1

Stars and Sparks on Stage, page 1

 

Stars and Sparks on Stage
slower 1  faster

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font   Night Mode Off   Night Mode

Stars and Sparks on Stage


  Contents

  Chapter: One

  Chapter: Two

  Chapter: Three

  Chapter: Four

  Chapter: Five

  Chapter: Six

  Chapter: Seven

  Chapter: Eight

  Chapter: Nine

  Chapter: Ten

  Study Guide

  This book is dedicated to

  Crystal Draper and Kenyon Adams,

  two genuine stars who are sparks on any stage.

  ZIGGY’S BATHROOM, HOT AND STEAMY FROM THE torrent of water that poured into his shower, was filled with mist and music. Ziggy’s enthusiastically loud singing voice echoed through the room. He sang as much as he could remember of “On Top of Old Smoky” while he lathered himself with his favorite shower gel. It smelled like grapes. While he rinsed off, he sang several verses of “My Darling Clementine.”

  “IN A CAVERN, IN A CANYON,

  EXCAVATING FOR A MINE,

  LIVED A MINER, FORTY-NINER

  AND HIS DAUGHTER CLEMENTINE.

  OH MY DARLING, OH MY DARLING,

  OH MY DARLING CLEMENTINE!

  YOU ARE LOST AND GONE FOREVER,

  DREADFUL SORRY, CLEMENTINE!”

  As he toweled himself dry, he wondered who Clementine was and what had happened to her, marveling how the words to songs sometimes didn’t make much sense. He got himself dressed for school, choosing a bright red T-shirt and purple cut-off shorts. He continued to sing, this time trying out his favorite Jamaican folk song. He always sang his own crazy version of the popular words.

  “DAY-O, DAY-O,

  DAYLIGHT COME AND ME WANNA GO HOME.

  DAY-O, DAY-O,

  DAYLIGHT COME AND ME WANNA GO HOME.

  COME MR. SILLY MAN, PEEL ME A BANANA.

  DAYLIGHT COME AND ME WANNA GO HOME.

  COME MR. SILLY MAN, PEEL ME A BANANA.

  DAYLIGHT COME AND ME WANNA GO HOME.”

  Still humming, he hurried down the stairs to the kitchen, taking two steps at a time and almost bumping into his mother.

  “What be the hurry, my singin’ son?” she asked as she hugged him. Ziggy and his family had moved from Jamaica to Ohio when he was a little boy.

  “The tryouts for the school talent show are after school today, Mum!” Ziggy told her as he packed his lunch box with three pickles, three bananas, three soft taco shells, and a small jar of orange marmalade. “The Black Dinosaurs are going to enter the competition. First prize is two hundred dollars!”

  “And what would the Black Dinosaurs be doin’ with that much money?” she asked. She said nothing about his strange choices for lunch—she had long ago given up trying to understand what Ziggy liked to eat. Today it would be banana-pickle tacos covered with marmalade.

  “We’re gonna fix up the clubhouse! We’re gonna buy a card table and some lawn chairs that aren’t broken. Maybe get some paint for the walls. Carpet! Cable TV! A video game player! A computer with Internet access!” His mother rolled her eyes. “Okay, okay. You know I get carried away, Mum. But we do want to get some stuff to make it just a little bit nicer. The Black Dinosaurs deserve the best! Plus we’ll have a little left over to buy CDs and stuff.”

  The Black Dinosaurs was the name of the club Ziggy and his friends Rashawn, Rico, and Jerome had started during one summer vacation. They had built a clubhouse in Ziggy’s backyard, and they had meetings when they felt like it—usually on Saturdays during the school year. Sometimes they met just to goof off and eat pizza, and sometimes they tried to solve neighborhood mysteries.

  “Don’t you think you should win the competition before you start spending the money?” Ziggy’s mother asked with a chuckle.

  “Oh, we’ll win, Mum,” Ziggy said with confidence. “We’ll win for sure. Didn’t you just hear me singing?” He ate a cold piece of pizza and drank a cup of warm chicken soup for his breakfast.

  His mother laughed out loud. “Yes, son, I heard you singing. Loud and clear. Have a great day at school, and good luck at the tryouts.”

  Ziggy waved good-bye and headed out the door, bursting into song once again. He headed down the street, his arms swinging beside him in rhythm with the music.

  “SHE’LL BE COMING ’ROUND THE MOUNTAIN WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE COMING ’ROUND THE MOUNTAIN WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE COMING ’ROUND THE MOUNTAIN,

  SHE’LL BE COMING ’ROUND THE MOUNTAIN,

  SHE’LL BE COMING ’ROUND THE MOUNTAIN WHEN SHE COMES.”

  Ziggy was so caught up in his singing that he didn’t notice when Rico, Jerome, and Rashawn tiptoed behind him. They put their hands to their mouths, stifling their giggles as they followed Ziggy, imitating his every move. Ziggy continued to sing at the top of his lungs.

  “SHE’LL BE WEARING RED PAJAMAS WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE WEARING RED PAJAMAS WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE WEARING RED PAJAMAS,

  SHE’LL BE WEARING RED PAJAMAS,

  SHE’LL BE WEARING RED PAJAMAS WHEN SHE COMES.”

  “Red pajamas?” Rashawn finally said, as he bumped into Ziggy. “Who’s gonna be wearing red pj’s?”

  “And what’s her name?” Rico asked with a laugh. “Nobody knows her name! All you ever hear is she!”

  Ziggy stopped, turned, and made a funny face, and the four friends burst into laughter. “You been followin’ me? Tryin’ to take notes so you can sing as good as Ziggy at the tryouts?”

  “Yeah, right,” Jerome said, bumping Ziggy on the other side.

  The four boys lived on the same street and usually walked to school together in the morning. The school building, which was only a couple of blocks away from where the boys lived, had been built more than a hundred years ago. It was large and brown and scary-looking at night, but in the daytime the boys had decided it just looked old and tired.

  “I thought we were going to sing as a group—a quartet,” Rico said.

  “We are,” Jerome answered with excitement. “The four of us are gonna be so good at the talent show that some big-time recording dude will probably try to cut us a CD!”

  “Yeah!” Rashawn added. “And offer us a million-dollar recording contract!”

  “And we’ll have our pictures on the cover, mon!” Ziggy said, posing as if for a camera.

  “You think we ought to practice a little more for the tryouts first?” Rico asked sensibly. The boys had been practicing their singing routine for weeks now. They had added dance moves and had even talked about costumes for the show.

  “Good idea, mon!” Ziggy said cheerfully. “Let’s go behind the school before the bell rings and make sure we’ve got our act together. We don’t want anyone to copy our moves!”

  The boys ran eagerly toward the school, all four of them loudly singing more crazy verses to “She’ll be Coming ’Round the Mountain.” Ziggy started out, and the other three boys joined in.

  “SHE’LL BE EATING FRENCH-FRIED CARROTS WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE EATING F’RENCH-FRIED CARROTS WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE EATING FRENCH-FRIED CARROTS,

  SHE’LL BE EATING FRENCH-FRIED CARROTS,

  SHE’LL BE EATING FRENCH-FRIED CARROTS WHEN SHE COMES.”

  “SHE’LL BE RIDING ON A SKATEBOARD WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE RIDING ON A SKATEBOARD WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE RIDING ON A SKATEBOARD,

  SHE’LL BE RIDING ON A SKATEBOARD,

  SHE’LL BE RIDING ON A SKATEBOARD WHEN SHE COMES.”

  “SHE’LL BE SMELLING LIKE A MONKEY WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE SMELLING LIKE A MONKEY WHEN SHE COMES.

  SHE’LL BE SMELLING LIKE A MONKEY,

  SHE’LL BE SMELLING LIKE A MONKEY,
/>
  SHE’LL BE SMELLING LIKE A MONKEY WHEN SHE COMES.”

  The sillier the verses got, the more the boys laughed as they sang. When they got to their school, they ran to the back of the building instead of waiting at the front door with the other students. Tall grasses grew in the ragged field behind the building. In the distance, their gravel-covered track waited for runners, and the old wooden bleachers sat empty. Most of the athletic areas of their school were sadly in need of repair. They were not quite broken, but they were very old and cried out for modernization.

  Ziggy and his friends paid no attention, however, to the grass-covered athletic areas, but stayed close to the building where there was more dusty ground than flowers. The shadow of the school building made it cool and shady where they stood.

  “You ready to try our four-part harmony?” Rico asked.

  “Yeah, mon!” Ziggy said excitedly. “Let’s do it.”

  Jerome, who had a beautiful baritone voice, started out by giving them a note. Each boy then used it to find his own place in the four-part harmony. “Let’s try ‘Home on the Range,’” he said. “We’ll start with the refrain. Ready?”

  “Ready,” the others said, paying close attention.

  “Home,” Jerome sang in a voice that was pretty close to baritone.

  “Home,” chimed in Rashawn’s deep bass. Sometimes his voice cracked, but he was proud of how he could usually reach the low notes.

  “Home.” Rico’s shaky tenor mixed in perfectly.

  Finally Ziggy added his voice. “Home,” he sang in a voice that was not quite tenor and not quite baritone, but always loud and enthusiastic. But he was on key, and the other boys nodded in approval as Ziggy hit the right note.

  “HOME, HOME ON THE RANGE,

  WHERE THE DEER AND THE ANTELOPE PLAY,

  WHERE SELDOM IS HEARD,

  A DISCOURAGING WORD,

  AND THE SKIES ARE NOT CLOUDY ALL DAY.”

  “Hey, now!” Jerome said with enthusiasm. “We sound really good!”

  “Oh, yeah!” they all said in agreement, slapping hands.

  “Should we sing that one for the tryouts?” Rico asked.

  “We’ve got all day to decide,” Rashawn said. “Let’s get to class now.”

  Just then the bell rang and the four friends gathered up their book bags and scrambled to enter the building from the front. None of them noticed the car that was parked in the tall grass behind the athletic stands.

  THE DAY SEEMED TO TRUDGE SLOWLY AS THE FOUR excited boys waited for the last bell. When it finally rang, they rushed down to the auditorium with the rest of the kids who were trying out for the talent show. Over a hundred boys and girls waited in the large, overheated room.

  Mr. Cavendish, the music and drama teacher, was a chubby, cheerful man who was popular with all the kids. He stood on the stage and waited for everyone to get into a seat and quiet down. He didn’t have to say a word; he just stood there silently.

  “Cavendish is so cool, mon,” Ziggy whispered to Rico. “He makes sure that anybody who wants to be in the band has an instrument, whether they can afford it or not.”

  “Yeah, and he lets anybody be in the band, whether they can play it or not!” Rico whispered back. “He let you play the trombone last year, didn’t he?”

  “I gotta admit that was an experiment that bombed big time. I don’t think the trombone was meant for me!” Ziggy laughed quietly.

  “We were all glad when you figured that out!” Jerome, who was sitting on the other side of Ziggy, added. “My ears still hurt!”

  Miss Blakely, the other music teacher in the school, sat on a wooden bench in front of the piano, ready to play for anyone who had not brought a background music CD. She was tall and thin with really skinny fingers, but she could play anything. Sometimes in class she’d play classical music, and sometimes she played what she called “boogie-woogie.” Ziggy thought those songs were the best.

  “May I have the attention of all the creative young entertainers who are sitting in this room,” Mr. Cavendish began. Every face in the audience was turned toward him. “Welcome to the tryouts for this year’s talent show, which we’re calling Stars and Sparks. I consider all of you to be talented beyond measure—full of what it takes to make you a success in life. In my book you are already stars, and you certainly have that magical spark of artistic expression.”

  “He must be talking about us,” Rico whispered with a chuckle.

  “Yeah, mon,” Ziggy replied, his voice full of confidence.

  Mr. Cavendish continued. “This talent show is designed not to choose a winner, but to allow you to showcase your skills, share your abilities with your families, and show the importance of the arts in our lives. Without music and drama and the arts, we are nothing. Are you with me, young entertainers?”

  The audience cheered and applauded, even though some kids weren’t sure exactly what Mr. Cavendish meant.

  He took a breath. “What I mean to say is this show is not about winning. It’s about sharing. I don’t want to hear one word about who is better, or who is not so good. Do you understand?”

  Ziggy jumped out of his seat and raised his hand. “Then why is there a two-hundred-dollar prize?” he asked.

  Mr. Cavendish tried to explain. “The prize money was not my idea. Mr. Gordon from the Double-Good Grocery down the street wanted to help our struggling arts program, so they gave us a total of one thousand dollars—eight hundred to help students rent instruments, and two hundred as the grand prize for this contest. I appreciate the donation—really I do. But I don’t want you kids to try out for this competition for the money. I want you to do it because you want to perform on stage, because you want to showcase your talents, because you want to be the best you can be.”

  Ziggy looked at Rico and Jerome and Rashawn. They nodded at each other. “Sounds good to me,” Rashawn said.

  “Let’s begin then,” Mr. Cavendish said. “I will call to the stage each group or individual who has signed up, and we’ll all listen politely as everyone tries out. No one will make rude comments or noises. When each person has finished, the audience will applaud, and the next one on the list will try out. Everybody clear?” He waddled off the stage and stood in the front of the auditorium, a clipboard in his hand.

  The first person called to the stage was Mimi, the shyest girl in their class. She trembled noticeably as she stood alone on the huge stage.

  “She’s terrified, mon,” Ziggy whispered to Jerome.

  Miss Blakely started to play the beginning of Mimi’s song, but nothing came out of Mimi’s mouth. She just stood there. Miss Blakely started the song again. Mimi started to cry. Mr. Cavendish headed back to the stage, but Ziggy beat him to it.

  Ziggy sprang up from his seat, ran to the front and, ignoring the stage steps, leaped onto the stage from the floor. Mimi jumped a little in surprise.

  “Not to worry, Mimi,” Ziggy whispered in her ear. “Don’t be scared. You know how silly I am. I’ll be standing right here behind you, and if anybody in the audience says something, I’ll make them eat my lunch! I’ve got one banana-pickle taco left over!”

  Mimi looked at Ziggy with gratitude, smiled at his silliness, and relaxed. She looked over at Miss Blakely, nodded that she was ready, and the piano intro to “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” began once more. Her sweet soprano voice rang out as clearly as the song of a bird on a summer morning. She never even noticed when Ziggy tiptoed from the stage and took his seat.

  “MICHAEL, ROW THE BOAT ASHORE, HALLELUJAH.

  MICHAEL, ROW THE BOAT ASHORE, HALLELUJAH.

  SISTER, HELP TO TRIM THE SAILS, HALLELUJAH.

  SISTER, HELP TO TRIM THE SAILS, HALLELUJAH.

  RIVER JORDAN’S DEEP AND WIDE, HALLELUJAH.

  MILK AND HONEY ON THE OTHER SIDE, HALLELUJAH.

  RIVER JORDAN’S CHILLY AND COLD, HALLELUJAH.

  CHILLS THE BODY, BUT WARMS THE SOUL, HALLELUJAH.”

  Everyone in the audience applauded thunderously when
she finished, with Ziggy and the rest of the Black Dinosaurs hooting and cheering the loudest. Mimi looked around, a little amazed, and blushed as she ran to her seat. She whispered a small thanks to Ziggy as she hurried by the row where he sat. She did not stay in the auditorium but left with her mother, who had arrived to pick her up.

  Mr. Cavendish, before he called the next name on the list, said to the crowd when they had quieted, “It’s very difficult to be on stage alone, and it’s especially hard to be the first one to try out. I’m proud of the support all of you showed Mimi.” He paused and gave a nod of approval to Ziggy. “Our next group to try out calls themselves Snakes and Spiders. Would Bill and Tito come to the stage, please?”

  Rico leaned over and whispered to Jerome and the others, “Remember when we had our backyard animal show? Bill owns that big old snake, and Tito has the pet tarantula!”

  “Well, I hope they don’t include the animals in their act,” Jerome replied.

  Bill and Tito’s performance was a take-off on a heavy metal act, and they had even brought costumes for the tryouts. With two huge plastic snakes wrapped around their necks, cloaks around their shoulders that looked like spiderwebs, and black makeup on their lips, they looked pretty effective.

  “I told you we should have worn costumes for the tryouts!” Ziggy said, bopping himself on the head.

  “No, now they have nothing to surprise us with at the show. Our costumes will be a big surprise!” Rashawn reasoned.

  “We haven’t even decided what we’ll wear, have we?” Jerome asked.

  “Our costumes won’t include snakes, will they?” Rico wanted to know.

  “Of course not, mon,” Ziggy answered. “We’ll have to think of something really cool, though.”

  Bill and Tito had even brought their own background music. It was loud and metallic, about as different from Mimi’s “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” as ice cream is from hot sauce. It was very impressive, however, and everyone clapped with approval as they took their bows.

  The next person to try out was Brandy, who read some of her original poetry to the delicate classical background music she had brought on a CD.

  “She’s pretty good,” Rico said as she finished.

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll

Comments 0