Take Monkey, a literary genius with flatulence; Bean, a science and math guru; Vinny, a computer whiz; and Art, an artist who can shoot a basketball like a pro, confront them with a mess of fourth grade trouble, and watch the fun explode.
In this first book of the Smartboys Club series, the members of the Smartboys Club use their skills to fight a group of crazed Ninjas that take over the school. And it happens on a day when Monkey has the worst case of flatulence imaginable.
The Bees Attack
Hi, my name’s Monkey. Though my parents call me Johnny Lovebird. Lovebird, can you think of a worse name for a ten-year-old boy, I ask you?
Well I have to tell you, I’m a smart boy, and someday my teacher might discover the truth. I hope not anytime soon though. If she finds out how smart I am, she’ll ship me off to the Gifted Program. Then I’ll have to work, work, work, with no time left to spend with my friends, and no chance to learn all the interesting things I care about.
Yesterday she almost found out though. My troubles started at breakfast. First I got a squirmy wormy feeling in my gut and then . . .
Out it came like a swarm of bees, a fart so big even the neighbors down the street could hear it. Mom dropped her spoon and glared at me.
“Eeeeeew,” my sister, Megan, screeched. She used to think passing gas was cool, but now she’s in High School.
“Say excuse me,” Dad ordered without looking up from his computer magazine.
I couldn’t. I was laughing too hard and trying to hold my breath from the stink.
“Time out!” Mom pointed to the living room.
I abandoned my scrambled eggs and laughed all the way in there. The bees attacked three more times before I got to the couch. Pft! Pft! Pft! Boy did that smell bad. I sat in the stink and waited until my mom came in.
“Time to leave for school, Johnny. Why is your hair sticking up?” She licked her fingers and swiped at the back of my head.
I twisted away and grabbed my backpack. “Bye.” I figured I’d get out before she gave me the lecture about passing gas at the table.
“Wait.” Mom said. “Do you have any notes or papers for me from yesterday?”
I don’t know why she always waits until the last second to look in my take-home folder. I mean, what if I had a note that said I had to bring ten dozen cookies that morning? Boy, she’d be in trouble.
She lifted the heavy backpack out of my hands. “Ugh, what have you got in here, a brick?” The zipper rasped open, and she reached in.
Uh-Oh. My face grew hot and my palms sweaty.
Mom pulled out a big fat book, The Norton Anthology of English Literature. “Hey, that’s my college textbook. What are you doing with it?”
My mind spun, looking for an answer. The truth is, I’d been reading it, but I couldn’t tell her that. “Well you see,” I said, “we’re pressing fall leaves in class, and I needed a big book to put them in.”
“Oh.” Frowning, she opened the book to the place I had marked.
“Gotta go, Mom.” I grabbed the book and shoved it into my pack. My hand brushed hers as she pulled out my homework folder. I rubbed my sweaty palms on my jeans and edged toward the door while she flipped through it.
“Johnny.” Her eyes riveted on my multiplication test. “You missed every question on this. What kind of answers are these? Since when does eight times six equal one point three?”
“Um, I felt kind of sick yesterday.” This was bad. I tried to get outside, but she grabbed my arm.
“Wait a minute.” Mom’s forehead wrinkled. “You divided all these numbers instead of multiplying?”
Actually I’d made them into improper fractions, then divided to get a mixed number and converted that into decimal form—all in my head of course—and finished long before the timer went off.
Abandoning my homework folder, I raced out the door, my heart pounding, my feet churning across the lawn. I couldn’t help playing with the math. Mrs. Red keeps making us do the same dumb times-table drills over and over again. I had to do something to make them interesting.
I ran down the street to Bean’s house. Bean is my best friend. His name is really Tommy Jones, but we call him Bean because he loves math. He says people who are good at numbers are called bean counters. Anyway, Bean stood on the sidewalk out front waiting for me. “Hey Monkey. What took you so long?”
I doubled over, panting. “Mom got hold of my folder. I’m in trouble. She figured out what I did on the times-table test.”
“Hmm,” Bean said, staring back toward my house. The wind ruffled his short white-blond hair. I wish my hair were blond like that. Mine’s just dirty brown-blond to match my brown eyes. At least I’m taller than Bean. That’s got to count for something.
“Maybe she’ll forget about it by the end of the day,” Bean said. “Remember, she sometimes forgets where she’s going by the time she gets halfway out of the driveway.”
I laughed. Maybe Bean was right. Mom is forgetful. Still I worried.
Bean started walking toward school. “Hey, isn’t your mom supposed to be at the Family Fitness Center for water aerobics in the morning. What’s she doing home?”
I shrugged. “She and her friends started taking another class later on. Don’t know what. You should see the bruise she has on her knuckles though. Big green circle. She said she hit her fist on something.”
Bean shook his head. “You’ve got a great mom, Monkey. My mom is too busy correcting papers for her university students to look at my work. Good thing too. She never notices when I do interesting stuff on my math papers.” He hitched up his backpack and kicked a rock down the sidewalk in front of us.
Thinking about my mom and my math quiz made my gut hurt. Pft. Pft. Pft. The bees came swarming out again.
Bean wrinkled his nose.
“Phfftt!” I faked the sound then laughed to hide my embarrassment. But that was just the beginning.
The Smartboys Club
Bean and I reached Chrom-El just as the bell rang. That’s short for Chromatic Elementary. Of course the school’s real name is Rainbow Elementary. It’s a big building made with red bricks, and it has colored tiles over the front entryway that make a rainbow. Anyway, chromatic is a neat sounding word for color. Why use a boring word like rainbow when you could say chromatic? Just my opinion. I love words and books.
Bean and I waved to Tom Brown, the janitor, as we headed inside. Tom waved back and called for us to hurry or we’d be late. We rushed to our room and sat down. Our class is divided into three groups. The teacher’s favorite kids sit on the right side. The average kids sit on the left. The rest of us sit in the back.
“Roll Call,” Mrs. Red said. She’s our teacher. She’s really old, like twenty-eight years, and she keeps her hair pulled back in an elastic, which makes her face look like a horse.
Everyone knew I was there and wished I wasn’t.
“Excuse me,” I chirped before Mrs. Red could protest my bodily outburst. What a smell.
While Mrs. Red took the roll, Bean crawled toward the pencil sharpener. I gave him a low-five under the desk as he passed. One of these days he’s going to make it all the way to the sharpener and back without getting caught. Then he’s going to try for the drinking fountain.
Vinny says he should just raise his hand and ask to go sharpen his pencil, but what’s the fun of that?
Oh, Vinny’s our friend. You see, Bean and I started a Smartboys Club for everyone who finished their math workbooks the first week of school. Of course that was just him and me. And . . . except . . . well Vinny did too. She’s a girl. Virginia Garcia Diaz. She finished even faster than we did, and she can speak two languages, Spanish and English. Besides that, she’s a whiz on the computer. We had to let her into the club.
Poor Vinny. The teacher found out about the math workbook and gave her another, harder one. That’s why Bean and I keep this sort of thing secret.
Then there’s Art. His real name is Kyung-sam Gee. He’s still working on his math from third grade. But we let him in because he makes a basket almost every time he shoots the ball, and he can draw spaceships and robots and dinosaurs better than Mrs. Lavender, the art teacher. I guess it’s obvious why we call him Art. He even has an uncle in the city who is a famous artist. Oh, and he speaks Korean too. I wish my parents spoke a different language so I could learn one like Art and Vinny.
Bbbffppt. The bees in my butt speak a language all their own.
“Peeew,” Bean said. He was on the floor by my desk, right in line with the blast.
Art made a pretend fart and spit all over his desk.
Vinny turned around to glare at him. “Guh-ross!”
“Tommy, get back in your seat and be quiet,” Mrs. Red said.
“Hey, I didn’t,” Bean complained. “I was just going to sharpen my pencil.” But Mrs. Red wrote his name on the white board.
If you get your name up there, that’s a warning. If you get a check mark by it, you have think-time for five minutes in the little desk out in the hall. If you get another mark, you have to stay in from recess.
I don’t know why Mrs. Red bothers to erase our names off the board everyday after school. Bean and Art and I. She might as well leave them up there.
Bean says having our names on the board hides our secret identity as members of the Smartboys Club. Vinny sits on the right side of the room with the teacher’s favorite students. She has her own secret identity. She pretends to be a good student even though she’s really a member of our club.
Bean returned to his seat next to me. “So what’s up with the farting?” he whispered.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “I think I must have been sleepwalking last night and swallowed a whole beehive or something. I got the pesky things flying around all through my guts and bursting out like crazy. Who knew bees could smell so bad?”
“Hmmm,” Bean said, getting out his English workbook and propping it up on his desk so Mrs. Red couldn’t see what he was doing.
I got mine out as well and started the morning work.
Bean pulled his cell phone from his pocket. Keeping it hidden behind his workbook, he linked to the Internet. He says you can find the answer to almost anything online. Of course you have to cross-check the research to make sure it’s correct.
A moment later he had a medical website up.
“Flatulence, also known as gas, is air in the intestines that passed out through the rectum.” Bean wrinkled his nose at me as a prime example of flatulence burst out.
“Intestine and rectum,” Art said, “what are those?”
“Art, if you didn’t play basketball so well, we’d have to kick you out of the club,” I said. “Intestine is your gut and rectum is the doctor’s word for butt.”
Bean clicked to the next page and continued. “Gas is formed in the intestines by digesting foods. It can create bloating and cramps. That’s your bees, Monkey.”
“Okay,” I said. “So how did I get this stuff?”
“Better question. Is it catchable?” Art asked.
“Of course it’s not contagious,” Bean said. “Gas is caused by swallowing air while eating, or eating foods that are hard to digest. What did you have for dinner last night, Monkey?”
“Taco salad and burritos.” I rubbed my tummy and licked my lips. I love Mexican food.
“That’ll do it,” Bean said.
“That does it for me,” Art yelled, abandoning his seat next to mine.
Bean followed him up to Mrs. Red’s desk. “Can we sit somewhere else today?”
Boy did I feel lucky to have friends like that. Not!