Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Quest for the Magic Porcupine
John Dougherty; illustrated by Sam Ricks
The BADgers are back in Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face's second adventure, perfect for fans of The Stinky Cheese Man and Pseudonymous Bosch.
The villainous badgers have escaped from prison, and it's up to Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face to find them and put them back! Only someone who knows about stories can point them in the right direction, so they consult Miss Butterworth, the Ninja Librarian.
After referring to a copy of Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Quest for the Magic Porcupine, Miss Butterworth sends them on their quest. Along the way they encounter raccoons who are definitely NOT badgers in disguise, a really REALLY long traffic light, a rabbit in a prickly coat, and a banana-eating hammerhead shark, all leading to a showdown with the badgers. Can the kids think fast enough to save the king from being shot out of the biggest water rocket in the world? We don't know. But we're going to read it and find out!
Excerpt from Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Quest for the Magic Porcupine
In Which Our Story Begins
It was a dark and stormy night on the island of Great Kerfuffle, and in the village of Loose Pebbles the streets were deserted. Nothing could be heard but the lashing of the rain, and the crashing of the thunder, and the thrashing of the wind.
The rain lashed, and the thunder crashed, and the wind thrashed; and then they lashed and crashed and thrashed some more.
After a bit the rain tried thrashing, and the thunder tried lashing, and the wind had a go at crashing, but it sounded stupid. So they swapped back, and the rain went on lashing, and the thunder went on crashing, and the wind went on thrashing.
And that was about it, really. After about half an hour, it became clear that the whole story had started too early. So it waited for a bit, and then started again.
In Which Our Story Begins AGAIN,
and the Villainous Badgers Escape from Prison
It was a dark and stormy night on the island of Great Kerfuffle, and in the village of Loose Pebbles the streets were deserted. Nothing could be heard but the lashing of the rain, and the crashing of the thunder, and the thrashing of the wind—until the story started and, in the village jail, something stirred.
The village jail was full of badgers. They had been there since the end of the last story, and they were bored, because there was nothing to do but drive the little car too fast around the Monopoly board, knocking over all the houses and hotels. They had once tried playing the game properly, but it was no fun because the smallest of them, Stewart the Badger, had eaten all the pretend money.
Now most of the badgers were staring gloomily through the prison bars at the pouring rain. A few were driving the little dog too fast around the board just for variety’s sake, but they weren’t really enjoying it, and two were sitting in a corner with the little top hat, trying to imagine it was a garbage can and taking turns knocking it over. Stewart the Badger was snuffling through the Monopoly box looking for something else to eat, but he found nothing except a lot of pink- and peach-colored cards. He nibbled thoughtfully on the corner of one, pretending it was a worm, but it just didn’t have the same wriggly quality that made worms so tasty. He tried another corner in case it was any different, but it wasn’t.
Just as he was about to try a third corner, the card was snatched from his paw.
“What’s this?” Harry the Badger asked gruffly.
“It’s not a worm,” Stewart the Badger explained. “Or a garbage can.”
“I can see that,” said Harry the Badger, turning it over and grinning a badgerish grin. “It’s even better than worms and garbage cans!”
“Ooooh,” said all the other badgers, suddenly interested. They didn’t know anything could be better than worms and garbage cans. “What is it?”
“You’ll see,” said Harry the Badger, strolling over to the door in a way that he hoped made him look cool. “Now all we need is a handy passerby.”
As it happened, somebody was just about to pass by the jail. His name was Blimey O’Reilly. He was out on this miserable night because he was going to visit his best friend, Gordon Bennett, and he was struggling onwards under the lashing of the rain, and the crashing of the thunder, and the thrashing of the wind, and the flashing of the lightning, and the bashing of the bats. The bats were bashing into him quite a lot, because their ears had gotten all filled up with rain and they couldn’t hear where they were going.
“Hey!” said Harry the Badger. “Let us out!”
“Please,” added Rolf the Badger, a big badger with a big badge that said “Big Badger.”
He didn’t think being polite would make any difference, but he was anxious to make his first appearance in the story before the end of the chapter.
“Ooh, no,” said Blimey O’Reilly. “The king said you had to stay in prison until the end of the next book.”
“I know,” said Harry the Badger. “But that was before we found . . . this!”
He held up the card he had taken from Stewart the Badger. It said:
GET OUT OF JAIL FREE
Blimey O’Reilly read it carefully. “Does it still count if the corners have been nibbled?” he asked.
“Oh, yes,” said Harry the Badger persuasively, and all the other badgers nodded and tried to look sincere.
“Oh,” said Blimey O’Reilly. “All right, then.” And he opened the jail door.
“Ha!” said Harry the Badger. “Free at last!”
cried all the other badgers, and they rushed out of the cold gray prison into the world, free badgers once more.
Then they rushed back in again. “Yuk!” they said. “It’s raining!”
Harry the Badger rolled his eyes. “What does a bit of rain matter,” he said, “compared to freedom?”
“But it’s cold,” the other badgers complained. Harry the Badger sighed and turned to Blimey O’Reilly. “Can we borrow your umbrella?” he asked.
“Please?” added Rolf the Badger, for much the same reason as before.
“Um, okay,” said Blimey O’Reilly, handing it over. “But it’s not very big. You won’t all fit underneath it.”
“Oh, yes, we will,” said the badgers, as they scurried outside again and formed themselves into a tall thin badger tower with Harry the Badger at the top holding the umbrella.
Then Blimey O’Reilly struggled wetly onwards, to a house around the corner where Gordon Bennett and his girlfriend, Maya Goodness, were waiting for him. And the tottering stack of badgers, claws glistening in the rain, wobbled off to the woods to plan some evil and wicked doings to do evilly and wickedly.
In Which Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face Wake Up
The sun had risen high, and the clouds had blown away. Birds were chirruping in the treetops, lambs were frolicking in the fields, squirrels were happily throwing nuts at one another, and a class of excited little maggots was having a party in a dead rat in a corner of the backyard.
The backyard belonged to a lovely house on a hillside overlooking the little village of Loose Pebbles, and inside the lovely house, in a beautiful pink bedroom, a little girl called Ketchup-Face was snoring like a steamroller.
In the tree outside Ketchup-Face’s bedroom, a blackbird was singing. Normally, this would have been enough to wake Ketchup-Face, but on this particular morning it wasn’t. So the blackbird flew away, and came back with a trumpet.
Perching on the branch nearest the window, it raised the trumpet to its beak and blew an exploratory toot. It peered into the wide bell.
It carefully polished the mouthpiece with one black-feathered wing. Then, like a world-famous soloist, it lifted the trumpet with a flourish, and hurled it as hard as it could at Ketchup-Face’s head.
The trumpet bounced off Ketchup-Face’s forehead with a CLANG!!!
Ketchup-Face leapt crossly out of bed and rushed to the window.
“Hey! Blackbird!” she yelled.
The blackbird blew a raspberry, and flew away.
Ketchup-Face shrugged, picked up the trumpet, and crossed the landing to bother her brother. But as she entered his room, she saw something that filled her with horror.
“Stinkbomb!” she cried. “Stinkbomb! Wake up!” Stinkbomb rolled over, grunted, and said something that sounded like, “Hmmmph. Wombats.”
“Wake up now, Stinkbomb!” Ketchup-Face pleaded, jumping onto his bed and hitting him repeatedly on the head with the trumpet.
Stinkbomb opened one bleary eye.
“What is it?” he grumbled.
“We’ve overslept!” Ketchup-Face wailed.
“What???” Stinkbomb exclaimed, sitting up. “What time is it?”
“It’s almost Chapter Three!”
“Look!” Ketchup-Face yelled, pointing at the clock.
And just as she spoke, the clock began to strike.
In Which the Next Bit of Story Happens
The clock was still bonging Chapter Three as Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face shoved themselves into their clothing.
“Okay!” Stinkbomb said. “We have to get on with the story.”
“Yes,” Ketchup-Face agreed. “What are we supposed to be doing?”
Just at that moment, there was a knock on the door.
“Hurray!” said Ketchup-Face, rushing to answer it. “It must be the story! Hello!” she added, flinging the door open. “It’s King Toothbrush Weasel!”
“I am not King Toothbrush Weasel,” said King Toothbrush Weasel. “I am the royal trumpeter.” He pointed at his badge, which said Royal Trumpeter, and then he went:
“Toot toot toot tooty-toooot, toot toot toot tooooooooooooooot!”
Stinkbomb looked at him with interest. “Shouldn’t you have a trumpet?” he said.
King Toothbrush Weasel gave him a hard stare. “I do have a trumpet,” he said. “It’s probably the best trumpet in the world. It’s too good to take outdoors, that’s for sure.”
“Well, you ought to have a second-best one, then,” Ketchup-Face said. “Have this.” And she gave him the one the blackbird had thrown at her.
“Oh, thank you,” said King Toothbrush Weasel. He put it to his ear and went:
“Toot toot toot tooty-toooot, toot toot toot tooooooooooooooot!” again.
Then he said, “Announcing His Royal Majesty King Toothbrush Weasel, monarch of the island of Great Kerfuffle, ruler of even the little crinkly bits around the edge, and commander in chief of Malcolm the Cat.
Then he took off the badge that said Royal Trumpeter, and put on a small crown and a badge that said King.
“Good morning, Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face,” he said gravely. “Bad news! The badgers have escaped from prison!”
“Oh,” said Stinkbomb disappointedly. “Is this another story about the badgers? I wanted to be in a story about zombies this time.”
“What are zombies?” Ketchup-Face asked.
“They’re sort of like crocodiles, but with two humps instead of one,” King Toothbrush Weasel said.
“Um . . . that’s camels,” Stinkbomb told him.
“Nonsense!” said King Toothbrush Weasel. “Camels are nothing like zombies. Zombies can’t fly. And they don’t hang upside-down in dark caves.”
“But that’s bats,” Stinkbomb said.
“Bats,” said King Toothbrush Weasel firmly, “are what you hit golf balls with when you’re playing tennis. But that’s not important. What’s important is that we’ve got to catch the badgers and put them back in prison before they do any evil and wicked doings.”
“How?” Ketchup-Face asked.
King Toothbrush Weasel’s face fell. “I thought you’d know,” he said. He took off his crown and scratched his head. Then he scratched Stinkbomb’s and Ketchup-Face’s heads, and then he tugged thoughtfully at his long golden beard until it came off in his hand. “Wait a minute!” he yelped suddenly. “I’ve got it!”
“No, you’ve dropped it,” said Ketchup-Face, picking up the beard and helping him put it back on.
“No, not the beard,” said King Toothbrush Weasel. “I mean I’ve got an idea. We are in a story, aren’t we?”
“Yes,” said Stinkbomb. “Most of the way through Chapter Three.”
“Right,” said King Toothbrush Weasel. “So to find the badgers, we need someone who knows about stories!”
“Of course!” said Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face together.
“Yes!” said King Toothbrush Weasel dramatically. “So, we need to go to . . . the post office!”
“Oh,” said Stinkbomb. “I thought you were going to say the library.”