An Exciting Event
Wait, Joe! Don’t forget your carrot sticks,” said the lunch lady.
Joe Hardy stopped. “Thanks,” he said, grabbing the carrots and dropping them on his tray.
He rushed to catch up in the cafeteria line. He was in such a hurry that he accidentally bumped into the kid in front of him.
“Hey, watch it!” the kid said.
A teacher named Ms. Prentice was standing nearby. She taught a different third-grade class from the one Joe was in.
“Is everything all right, boys?” she asked.
“Joe almost made me drop my tray.” The other kid frowned at Joe.
“Sorry,” Joe said. “I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”
“No harm done.” Ms. Prentice smiled. “Just do your best not to destroy the cafeteria, all right, Joe?”
As soon as he was through the line, Joe hurried toward his usual table. His brother, Frank, was already there. So were their friends Phil, Iola, and Callie. They all had brown bag lunches in front of them.
Usually Joe brought lunch from home too. His aunt Gertrude, who lived with the Hardy family, made lunches for Joe and Frank every day. But today Joe had been so excited that he’d forgotten to grab his lunch on his way out of the house.
“The lunch line was superslow today,” he said as he sat down. “What did I miss?”
Frank grinned. “Maybe we shouldn’t tell you. That might teach you not to forget your lunch next time.”
“Don’t tease him, Frank,” Iola said. “I don’t blame Joe for being too excited to remember his lunch today. We’re all excited that this Friday is Field Day!”
“I can’t wait,” Callie said. “We didn’t have Field Day at my old school.”
Callie had moved to Bayport recently. Even though she was new, she and Iola were already best friends.
“You’ll love it,” Iola told her.
Joe had just noticed that someone was missing. “Hey, where’s Chet?” he asked. Chet Morton was Iola’s brother and one of the Hardy brothers’ best friends. He always sat with them at lunch.
“I’m not sure,” Frank said. “He was in class this morning.”
“He’d better get here soon or he’ll miss lunch,” Iola said, looking at Phil. “How long until we can go outside and practice?”
Phil checked his fancy digital watch. He always had all the latest high-tech gadgets.
“Twelve-and-a-half minutes until recess,” he reported. “I think I’ll practice for the sack race today.” Each day that week at recess, students were allowed to practice for all the Field Day events.
“I’m going to work on the beanbag toss,” Frank said.
“Don’t bother. I’m going to win that one,” Iola bragged. “And our class is going to beat yours for the class champion, too! Right, guys?”
“Yeah!” Joe cheered with a grin. He traded high fives with Iola and Callie. The three of them were all in the same class.
“No way,” Frank said. “That grand prize is going to be ours!”
“Definitely,” Phil agreed.
Joe noticed that Callie wasn’t paying attention anymore. She was looking over at the next table.
“What are those guys doing?” she wondered.
Joe looked too. Three boys were sitting at the table. “Those are Adam’s friends,” Joe said. “So whatever they’re doing, it’s probably something obnoxious.”
Adam Ackerman was the biggest bully at Bayport Elementary. He wasn’t at the table right then. But his friends were bullies too. They were throwing popcorn at a boy standing nearby holding a lunch tray. One piece of popcorn went wide and landed in Joe’s blond hair.
Joe brushed it away. “Looks like those jerks are harassing the new kid,” he said. “Typical.”
“Oh yeah, that guy just moved here,” Iola said. “What’s his name again? I think it’s Tommy.”
“No, it’s Timmy.” Callie stood up and waved. “Hey, Timmy! Come sit with us.”
Timmy hurried over. He looked nervous but relieved. “Thanks,” he said. “I wasn’t sure where to sit.”
Iola introduced Timmy to Frank and Phil.
“They’re fourth graders, but they’re still pretty cool,” she told him. “Even if we are going to crush them at Field Day.”
“Dream on,” Phil said with a laugh. “Us fourth graders are bigger, stronger, and faster than you third-grade twerps.”
Timmy opened his milk carton. “I’ve been hearing about Field Day since I got here last week,” he said. “I guess it’s a pretty big deal, huh?”
Iola nodded. “It’s superfun. Everyone can compete in as many games as they want. You get points for coming in first, second, or third. Whichever class has the most points at the end of the day wins a big party at Fun World!”
“What’s Fun World?” Timmy asked.
“It’s this cool place that has an arcade and batting cages and stuff,” Frank explained.
“I heard Fun World is donating the grand prize too—two free passes to Fun World!” Phil looked at Timmy. “That’s the prize for the person with the most points from the whole school.”
“That’ll be me,” Iola bragged again. “I’m planning to win everything I enter. Like the jump-roping contest, the beach ball keep-away, the water-balloon-and-spoon race, the relay race . . .”
“Don’t forget the balloon stomp,” Joe said. That was his favorite Field Day event. Each competitor got a balloon tied to his or her ankle. Then they all tried to break everyone else’s balloons by stomping on them. “But you’re not going to win that one—I am,” Joe added. “The only one who beat me last year was Adam.”
Phil nodded. “And that’s only because he kept stomping on people’s toes when the teachers weren’t looking.”
“Yeah,” Joe said. “Anyway, I’ve been practicing all week. Watch my fancy footwork!”
As he jumped to his feet to demonstrate, his elbow hit his tray. It flew off the table and clattered to the floor with a loud CRASH!
“Nice technique, Joe,” Iola said with a smirk.
Joe didn’t answer. He’d just spotted Ms. Prentice rushing toward their table. She had an angry frown on her face.
“I think Ms. Prentice just saw you knock over your tray,” Phil said to Joe.
“She saw me bump into someone earlier too,” Joe remembered.
“She looks really mad,” Callie whispered. “What if she gives you detention for the rest of the week? Then you won’t be able to compete in Field Day!”