* Editor's note: Magic can be found in the most ordinary objects.
Spudville was a quiet town. The houses were clean, the yards were neatly mowed and people kept to themselves. Nothing strange ever happened in Spudville until ...
One Saturday a handwritten notice appeared around town: YARD SALE! it read. TODAY ONLY! MR. FLOTSAM'S PLACE, 99 CROOKED HILL ROAD. No one could remember a yard sale in Spudville before. They decided to check it out.
"Howdy," Mr. Flotsam said as people began to arrive. "I cleaned out my basement and figured I ought to have a sale."
Things were a bit rickety and worn, but the prices weren't bad and everyone left with something they really wanted.
But by the next morning things started to get a little peculiar. The Zings' new living-room rug flew out the front door, along with their son, Max.
Miss Milton's new typewriter zipped off page after page of its own writing.
When Mrs. Applebee's new telephone rang, it was her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, just calling to say hello!
Frannie Frumkin's new music box wouldn't stop playing a hopping polka that kept her family dancing all morning.
When Mr. Twitchett planted some of the seeds he had bought, he instantly found himself surrounded by a garden of monstrous proportions.
And when Mr. Rotelli tried out his pasta maker, it seemed to be missing its OFF button.
The whole town was in a tizzy. By noon a crowd of people had gathered at Mr. Flotsam's to demand their money back, but he was nowhere to be found. Taped to his door was a note that read GONE TILL NEXT SATURDAY.
"He's a crook," Mr. Rotelli said to no one in particular.
"What did he sell you?" Mr. Twitchett asked.
"Come and see." And Mr. Rotelli led everyone back to his house.
By then the noodles were waist deep. "Appalling!" said Miss Milton.
"Delicious!" said Nellie Crumb, who had helped herself to some strands. Everyone tried a bite, and they all agreed that it was the best-tasting spaghetti they had ever eaten.
"You call this a problem?" Mr. Twitchett said. "You should see what I got stuck with." And so the group followed Mr. Twitchett down the road to his house.
"Look at what's happened to my nice orderly garden," Mr. Twitchett said with a sigh.
"What a jungle," the crowd murmured.
"Not a jungle -- a jungle gym!" squealed the children, and they started climbing and swinging and dangling from the large vines. Everyone complimented Mr. Twitchett on his green thumb, and he beamed with pride.
"To Miss Milton's!" Mr. Twitchett shouted.
Inside, the typewriter was still clattering away and the stack of papers was growing. "It kept me up all night," complained Miss Milton.
"How annoying," sympathized Mrs. Frumkin.
"How interesting!" said Ned Quigley, who had begun to read some of the pages. They passed the sheets around, and they all agreed that the typewriter had real talent.
It was then that the crowd saw the Zings, hurrying down the street. Everyone went outside.
"It's our son, Max!" cried Mrs. Zing.
"He's been stolen away by our living-room rug," explained Mr. Zing.
"Oh, my!" the crowd exclaimed.
"We should form a search party," Miss Milton suggested. But then they noticed a figure up in the sky, moving closer and closer. It was Max!
"That was great!" he shouted as he glided to the ground. His parents ran over and hugged him. Soon all of the children were lining up to take Max's rug out for a spin.
After that day, things were never the same in Spudville. The Zings' rug was always in great demand.
"The Secrets of Spudville" by Miss Milton (and her typewriter) was on the best-seller list for a record 33 months.
Mr. Twitchett opened up his garden to the public and let the children have full run of the place. He passed along his produce to Mr. Rotelli, who used it at his Ristorante Rotelli, which got a four-star review in the Spudville Standard.
And as for Mr. Flotsam, the next time spring rolled around, he decided to hold another yard sale.
From YARD SALE. Text and illustrations copyright c 2000 by Mitra Modarressi. Reprinted with the permission of DK Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.