Patrick Shannon is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Thirty-three years with a major oil company brought him rich experiences from traveling in Asia, the Middle East and the U.S. Born and raised in Southern California, he attended East Carolina and Oklahoma universities and UCLA.
by Patrick Shannon
by Patrick Shannon
Published Apr 16, 2009
Genre: JUVENILE FICTION / Readers / Beginner
Nearly true tales of a really cool parrot
Visit the valley of Topopootl on any given day, and chances are it will be in a stew over another one of Cisco the Parrot's schemes. In Book One, his show-biz debut bombs big time; he is trounced, in Anything Goes wrestling, by a pair of cockroaches; his attempt at a high altitude flying record ends in a crash landing; and then he starts the weirdest business you ever heard of.
Book Two has Cisco registering 10 on the Richter Scale as a private eye who, amazingly, solves a crime. Only it isn't a crime.
In Book Three, Cisco and his pals go on a dangerous but wacky mission to find a long forgotten story, preserved in a secret room in a strange pyramid.
José Paco was back on the stage of the Music Hall, rehearsing for his next performance. For days, things had been serenely quiet. Topopootl had returned to normal since he and his amigos had found a way to constrain Cisco’s reckless search for fame. They all felt pleased and confident that they had finally set Cisco upon the proper path. A path of reason. A path of language. Yes, they had done a good thing.
He moved to the center of the stage and struck the traditional Flamenco pose. But just as he was about to begin the intricate footwork, a door at the back of the theater banged open, and Alfonso dashed down the aisle.
“José! José! Come with me. You gotta see it!”
José’s heart was pounding from being so abruptly interrupted. “Holy cow, Alfonso! You almost made me hurt myself.”
“I’m sorry, José, really sorry, but you gotta come with me.”
“Why?! What the heck’s the matter?”
“Don’t ask questions, just come with me. Aquila’s waiting outside. We’ve gotta go get Awful.”
Alfonso had already turned and sped up the aisle, so José trotted down the stage steps and followed him out the front of the theater. Aquila was there, pacing back and forth and mumbling.
“A dad gummed crime, that’s what it is! Haul a man out of his house just when ‘Days of Our Children’ is startin’. How’ll I find out whether Maria gets her operation? Dang! And today is when we’re s’posed to find out if Alberto and Julio were switched at birth, and Alberto is actually the President’s son instead of his gardener. Dang!”
Alfonso took him firmly by the arm and led him away. José followed quickly, and the three scurried down the street with Aquila still mumbling about the soap opera he was missing.
Three blocks away, they met up with Awful Alfredo who had dropped everything at his training camp to respond to Alfonso’s urgent message. “What is it, Alfonso? What’s the emergency? Are you in trouble?”
“We may all be,” said Alfonso. “Has either of you heard from Cisco the last few days?”
The other three shook their heads.
“Neither have I, but I found out this morning what he’s been up to. C’mon!”
José, Aquila and Awful held back.
“Wait just a second here, boy!” said Aquila. “Do you mean this all has something to do with that crazy Cisco?”
“I thought he was retired from crazy,” gasped José.
“He was gonna do somethin’ with words, wasn’t he?” asked Awful, “a book, or a poem, or somethin’?”
“Oh, he’s doing something with words, all right,” said Alfonso.
“Well, then, what’s the problem?”
“C’mon with me. It’s just around the corner.”
Alfonso led them around the corner and halfway down the block.
Confused, they gazed at the building in front of which Alfonso had stopped.
“I don’t see anything,” said Awful.
“What’re we supposed to be seeing?” asked José.
“Look across the street.”
They looked, and their jaws dropped in perfect unison. There, covering most of the top floor of a three-story building, was a huge sign in bold letters on a brilliant orange background:
THE WORD MAN
Learn a big word and impress your friends.
Office On Second floor
Cisco the Parrot, R.W. E.
(Resident Word Expert)
“Great Gobs O’ Gravy!” said Aquila. “This is what he’s gonna do with his ‘Word Power’?”
“I guess………….whatever it is he’s doing.”
“Let’s go up,” said José.
“Yeah,” said Awful, “this I gotta see.”
They entered the building’s main entrance, climbed the stairs to the second floor, and walked down the hall to Word Man’s offices. Just as they were about to enter, Emilio the Squirrel bustled up and slipped in in front of them.
“Let him go ahead,” said Alfonso. “If Cisco is actually pulling in customers for this crazy scheme, we’d better not interfere. Let’s just watch from the door here.”
The four watched Emilio approach the great man sitting behind a large desk……………large for Cisco, anyway.
“How may I help you?” asked Cisco.
“I’d like a big word that’ll impress anyone, not just friends. Have you got one that big?”
Cisco nodded. “I think you need one of our De Luxe models. How about ‘Extracurricular.’ It’s a big impresser.”
“What does it mean?” asked Emilio.
Cisco rose from his chair and began pacing, adopting an expression of great wisdom. “Well, if you have all the curriculars you need and you get one more, that one is an extracurricular.”
“I see,” said Emilio. “How would I use it in conversation?”
Cisco thought for a moment. “Look for someone who has a curricular he doesn’t know what to do with. Then walk up to him, nodding your head knowingly, and say, ‘Ahh, the old extracurricular problem, eh’?”
“And that’ll impress him, huh?”
“It’ll wow him!”
“Okay, I’ll try it. Thanks Cisco.”
The four amigos backed out of the way before Cisco could spy them. As Emilio came out the door, a flashy looking weasel suddenly appeared and pushed his way in before the boys could enter. He had a tape recorder slung over one shoulder and a microphone in his hand. Perched on his head was a Porkpie hat with a card stuck on the side with the word, “Press.”
Cisco, thinking that the customers must be lining up in the hall, said, “Come in, come in. You’re just in time, fella. They’re goin’ like hotcakes. What kinda word you lookin’ for?”
“Oh, I’m not here to buy a word.”
“You’re not? Well, why’re you wastin’ my time?”
“I came here to interview you.”
“Yeah, I’m Scoop Weasel, ace reporter for the Topopootl Times Tribune Chronicle Picayune Journal.”
“Oh!..........Oh!.........well, why didn’t you say so?”
“I just did.”
“Huh?..........Oh, yeah, so you did. That’s a good one, Mac.”
“The name’s Scoop.”
Cisco wasn’t sure he liked how this was going. This guy was just a little too quick. Almost as quick as himself.
“Well, sit down, Scoop. Gosh, this is a real honor, bein’ interviewed for the newspaper. Waddya wanna know?”
“It’s a personal question. That okay?”
Cisco caught his breath and raised one eyebrow. “How personal?”
“I wanna know how come you got so smart with words. You know, Answer Man and now Word Man and all that? You can really talk, Cisco.”
Cisco’s tension released itself in one great sigh. His eyes lit up. “That’s it? That’s what you wanna know?”
“Yeah, for me and all your fans out there.”
The four boys at the door looked at each other and made barfing gestures.
Cisco could hardly believe it was happening. This was it!..........the big moment!........ an article in the newspaper, about him!...............fame!!!
He leaned back in his swivel chair and slowly plopped one foot at a time onto his desk. Again, he put on the “wise” expression. To the guys at the door it was nothing more than a smug expression.
“Well, thanks, Scoop old boy. I’ll be glad to give you and my fans out there anything you want. Actually, it’s a pretty fascinatin’ story about how I became the old ‘Word Master’.”
“Tell me, Word Man, tell me.”
More mock barfing at the doorway.
“It all began way back when I was in High School. Some of the guys dared me to do somethin’ pretty risky.”
“Wow! What was it? What’d you have to do?”
“I kissed Topopootl’s famous Blarney Cactus and received the Gift of Gab.”
“Huh? I thought it was the Blarney Stone, or somethin’ like that?”
“Blarney Stone? Anyone can kiss a stone. There’s nothin’ hard about that. Did you ever try kissin’ a Cholla Cactus with a kajillion needles stickin’ out of it?”
“Well, unless you’ve got a hard beak like mine, I wouldn’t try it. Your face’ll look like a pin cushion.”
“That’s amazing. Say, where is the Blarney Cactus? I’d like to see it, maybe take a pitcher of it.”
“Huh?..........oh……….oh……….well, I’m not allowed to tell you.”
“Why?..........why not, you ask?”
“Because……….fer cryin’ out loud!..........you oughta know why not!”
“I don’t. Why can’t I see the Blarney Cactus?”
“Oh, this is too much. Everybody knows why not.”
“I don’t. But I’ll tell you what I do know. You never kissed no Blarney Cactus.”
“I did so!”
“Did! And the only reason I can’t let you go see it is because……….because………. because it’ll break the spell for me. Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to be the Answer Man anymore, or the Word Man, because I wouldn’t have the Gift of Gab anymore. There! Are you happy? Are you real happy, fella, that you forced me to tell you that?”
“Is that the truth, Word Man? Is all that for real?”
“Well, if it’s not true, then I bet you get eleventy-seven stomach aches and all your toes drop off. That’s how real it is.”
“Wow! I can’t argue with logic like that. Will you forgive me for ever doubting you?”
“Yes. Yes, of course I will.”
Scoop turned off his tape recorder and started to leave. “Thanks a lot for the swell interview, Word Man.”
“Yeah, yeah. Go in peace, my son.”
Alfonso and the others ducked quickly out of sight and started down the hall, heads bowed.
“You know what we’ve done, dontcha fellas?” asked José.
“Yeah,” said Alfonso. “We’ve created a monster.”