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Chapter 1


Here's a little bit of The Halloween Spectacle!


Jake Hornsby stared into the window of Emmet's Costume and Party Supply Shop. "Wow!" he said to his best friend Sam. "That's the greatest Halloween costume I've ever seen!" Jake pointed to the astronaut suit Mr. Emmet had just hung in the front window. It came complete with silver gloves, moon boots and a helmet that had NASA printed in large letters across the top.


    "It looks just like the ones astronauts wear on their space missions," agreed Sam. The boys watched Mr. Emmet tape a price tag to the helmet, which Jake noticed even had a mouthpiece so that you didn't have to take it off to be heard yelling "trick or treat!" The price tag said  $114.00

Jake groaned.


    "My mom and dad will never let me buy a costume that expensive," he said. "They'll just say the same thing they say every Halloween. 'Jake, you don't need to spend a lot of money on a costume. The best ones are homemade.'" Sam nodded. "Yeah, your parents do say that every Halloween." He got back on his bike. "Come on, let's go." "You go ahead," said Jake. "I'm going to stay here a little while longer." He couldn't take his eyes off the costume. "Maybe Mr.Emmet made a mistake and that's the wrong price. Maybe he'll come out again to change the tag and it will turn out that it doesn't cost nearly that much." "Yeah, maybe," said Sam. "Bye, Jake. I'll see you tomorrow."


    But although Jake waited outside the store for quite a long time, Mr. Emmet didn't come back to switch the price tag on the astronaut suit. Jake finally let out a big sigh and got on his bike to go home. Just once he wished he could buy a cool Halloween costume and not have to wear one his mother made from things found around their house. When Jake was five, Mrs. Hornsby designed a cow outfit for him. She used cardboard toilet paper tubes for the horns and painted big white patches on his father's brown bathrobe that she had cut up to fit Jake.


    "There," said Mrs. Hornsby. "It looks just like cowhide!" She sewed one of her pink rubber dish gloves to the bottom of the bathrobe and held it up. "And doesn't that look like a real udder?" she asked.


    "Uh, kind of," said Jake. Unfortunately, Jake kept tripping over the glove-udder while he was trick-or-treating. After his last stumble, when Jake ended up falling down and spilling all of his candy right into a big puddle, he finally gave up and went home.


    The next October, Mrs. Hornsby made Jake a scarecrow costume. She stuck an old hat on his head and stuffed the sleeves of his shirt with straw. "AAACHOO!"  Jake sneezed as soon as the straw tickled his nose. He sneezed so many more times that Mrs. Hornsby thought he was coming down with a cold and made Jake come inside early from trick or treating.


    Another year Mrs. Hornsby tried to turn Jake into a human spider web. She wrapped gray yarn around Jake's body and glued big plastic spiders all over it. But as soon as Jake took a few steps, the yarn started to bunch up around his legs and soon it looked like Jake had dressed up as big wad of tangled string for Halloween.


    "There's no way I'm wearing one of her costumes again this year," Jake vowed.

Jake knew his father wouldn't think it was a good idea to buy the astronaut suit either. Mr. Hornsby always had the same thing to say about costumes.


    "A ghost is the best one of all," he told Jake every October. "I was a ghost every single Halloween when I was a boy."


    "I know, Dad," Jake answered. "I've seen the pictures at Grandma's house." His father looked the same in every photo, except for being a taller ghost each year.


    "It's the easiest costume in the world," he said to Jake. "I always used the same sheet. Just rolled it up and kept it under my bed until I took it out again to wear the next Halloween."


    Jake himself had dressed up as a ghost the past two years. But now he wanted a costume that would really impress his classmates when he wore it to the fourth grade Halloween party held at his school every fall.


    "I want everyone to think I'm cool," Jake told himself. "So cool that it will make them forget about some of the times when I kind of messed things up." Jake pedaled faster, thinking about some of those embarrassing moments.


    Like last month when he got mixed up on the field and scored a goal for the wrong team in the big fourth grade soccer game. Or back in third grade when everyone laughed at him when he brought his gym shoe in to show and tell. Jake really had thought everyone would think it was cool that he'd stepped into some bubble gum that stuck to his shoe in the exact shape of a roaring dinosaur. Or that time in science class when Jake's volcano project leaked down his pants instead of erupting into an explosion with a big bang like it was supposed to.


    Jake shook his head to clear his mind of those memories. Instead, he imagined himself in the astronaut suit, marching proudly into his classroom on Halloween day. His classmates would rush to crowd around him so they could get a better look.


    "Wow, Jake, how did you get an astronaut to lend you his spacesuit?" he could hear them saying. "Can I try on the gloves?" "Jake, can I please wear the helmet? It's awesome!" "Hey, I want to walk around in those boots!"


    Jake rode his bike over the gravel driveway of the hardware store. He stopped and pretended he was a space explorer just landed on the moon.


    "Look at these rare stones," he said, bending down to pick up some of the pebbles. "I'll bring them back to Earth so that scientists can study them to unlock the secrets of the universe!"


    "Amazing work, Commander Hornsby," he could hear Mission Control back at NASA applauding him. "No astronaut has ever discovered such unusual specimens. Or remembered to take his bike up to the moon either!"


    A car horn beeped, startling Jake out of his space adventure. A man leaned out of the window of his red station wagon.


    "You'd better move out of the driveway before you get hit by a car, young man," he said sternly. Jake dropped the gravel and got back on his bike. I've got to figure out how I can make Mom and Dad buy me that spacesuit, he thought. The only thing I want to be for Halloween this year is an astronaut.



Chapter 2


Jake was almost home when he heard someone calling his name. "Jake, can you come here for a minute?" It was Mrs. Pincherry, who lived in the gray house at the end of his block. Mrs.Pincherry was very small, shorter than Jake in fact. She had bright green eyes and silver hair that she wore in a long braid down her back.


    Mrs. Pincherry often asked Jake to carry a heavy grocery bag for her or to shovel the snow off her sidewalk in the winter. Jake didn't mind helping Mrs. Pincherry, except that she always gave him some of her homemade cookies to thank him. The cookies were lumpy and tasted like wet sand.


    "Will you please bring some wood inside for me?" asked Mrs. Pincherry. "It's getting chilly and I'd like to build a fire tonight."


    "Sure," said Jake. He went around to the backyard and grabbed an armful of logs from the woodpile.


    "Thanks, Jake," said Mrs. Pincherry when he came into the living room. "You're always such a big help to me."


    She sat down in the armchair next to the fireplace. Her white cat, Sugarpie, jumped into her lap. "Well, Halloween will be here in just a few weeks. What kind of costume are you planning to wear this year?"


    "I really want to be an astronaut," said Jake.


    "Isn't that a coincidence," said Mrs. Pincherry. "I just saw a wonderful astronaut suit in the window of Emmet's on my way home from the post office!"


    "Yeah, that's the one I want," nodded Jake. "But it costs a lot of money and I don't think my parents will let me buy it. So I'll probably just have to be a ghost again this year." Jake finished piling the logs. "Well, I'd better get going."


    "Wait just a minute, Jake," said Mrs. Pincherry. "I have something I want to give you."


    "Oh, no, that's okay," said Jake quickly. "You don't have to do that."


    "This is something special," said Mrs. Pincherry. "You deserve it for helping me as much as you do." She got up out of her chair and went into the kitchen. Jake heard her open a squeaky cupboard door.


    "She probably came up with some new weird kind of cookie," Jake whispered to Sugarpie. Sugarpie blinked her eyes at him and licked her right paw. Mrs. Pincherry came back into the living room and handed him a crumpled paper bag.


    "These are some seeds for you to plant in your backyard," she said. "I think they just might help you come up with a way to buy that costume."


    "How will some seeds help me buy the astronaut suit?" asked Jake.


    "Oh, you'll see," Mrs. Pincherry said mysteriously. "Just be sure to plant them as soon as you can."


    "Uh, okay, thanks, Mrs. Pincherry," said Jake. He had no idea what she meant, but he stuffed the bag into his pocket anyway.


    When Jake got home, he tossed his jacket on the kitchen chair and the bag fell out. Jake picked it up and noticed there was some faint handwriting in the corner of the bag:


    Halloween Spectacle Seeds

    Begin Planting Precisely One Minute After Midnight.

    Not Before.


     "Huh?" said Jake. He opened the bag and found six small envelopes inside. Each one had a label with writing so tiny that Jake couldn't read it. He ran up to his room and found the magnifying glass his parents had given him for his last birthday. Holding it over the first packet he read:


    After Planting Soak With Vinegar.

    Do This Every Midnight Until The 3rd Evening Before Halloween.


The directions on the next envelope said:


    Scatter One Big Handful Of Dead Flies Over Seeds After They Are In The Ground.

    If You Have Small Hands, Go Ahead And Do 2 Handfuls.

    Scatter More Flies Every Midnight Except Wednesdays.


The next packet's instructions were:


    Pour Almost Seven And One Half Teaspoons Of Sour Milk Over Seeds. Don't Do It Again. You

    Must Use A Spoon With A Twisted Handle. Throw The Spoon Away When You Are Finished.


The fourth instructed:


    Drop Half The Seeds Into The Hole. Put In Some Fish Heads. Then Put More Seeds On Top Of

    The Fish Heads.


  "Where would I get fish heads?" asked Jake. He saw some more writing on the bottom of the envelope and moved the magnifying glass down to read:


    If Fish Heads Cannot Easily Be Found, A Can Of Tuna May Be Used Instead.


He looked at the fifth packet:


    Tuck Pieces Of A Bed Sheet In The Bottom Of The Hole Before You Put The Seeds In. Try To Use A           Sheet That A Spider Has Crawled On. It's Best If The Spider Has Crawled On It From The Left Side           Over To The Right Side.


Jake read the writing on the last envelope:


     Toss In Some Broken Candles At Time Of Planting. Use Big Candles, Not Little Birthday Cake Ones.        They Can Be Any Color Except Pink. Check Often To Make Sure Everything Is Okay.


"Make sure what is okay?" Jake asked as he opened one of the envelopes and shook a few seeds out into his hand. They looked just like the ones Jake and his father scraped out of pumpkins before they carved them into jack-o-lanterns.


    "Jake!" called his mother from downstairs. "Please take Pirate outside. And then I want you to look at this green material I found on sale today. I'm going to make a great pickle costume for you this Halloween!"


    Jake groaned as he tossed the bag of seeds into his desk drawer. He went to find the leash to walk his dog.


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