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The Good Egg, Page 2

Mariko Tamaki

  Ripley nodded, her face still glittery, especially on the bridge of her nose.

  “Oooooooh. A big announcement.” April whistled, abandoning her mysterious pile for a new adventure. “SOUNDS BIG!”

  “Big relative to what?” Jo asked, striding with her big strides to the mess hall.

  “BIG!” Ripley danced past them in a fog of leftover iridescence. “Let’s go!”


  With a general buzz of excitement crackling in the air, the Lumberjanes gathered in the dining hall for a very big announcement.

  Sitting with her cabin, Ripley wondered if the big announcement would mean getting another visitor, like how Castor the space mouse had showed up the last time they had the big Galaxy Wars announcement.

  Ripley wondered if making big announcements made other things happen at camp. Like pulling a magic lever.

  Ripley was not wrong. One big thing did seem to lead to another at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types.

  April wondered if the big announcement was that there was going to be another prize that they could win. “Maybe it’s a CUP.” She gasped, clapping her hands together. “Or a TROPHY!”

  “I don’t know,” Jo said. “We just cleaned out our cabin. Do we really want a prize? Prizes take up a lot of space.”

  April drummed her fingers together. “There’s ALWAYS room for prizes.”

  “Like pancakes,” Ripley said, knowingly.

  The buzz in the mess hall was growing. Every second was buzzier and buzzier, like when you’re walking and you get close to an actual nest of bees.

  Which is what you have to do if you’re looking to get your BEE-HAVE badge. But it’s not otherwise recommended.

  “LISTEN UP!” Vanessa—Zodiac counselor, her hair currently slicked into two prominent purple spikes, which some people (including Vanessa) thought made her look tough—stood at the front of the hall. She waved for quiet; the buzz continued.

  “I SAID, LISTEN UP!” Vanessa barked, her spikes stiff and unmoving as she spoke.

  A relative silence rippled over the crowd.

  “My fellow camp counselors and I have decreed that, post Galaxy Wars, which was a very successful and educational but exhausting cabin versus cabin spectacular, we need to do a camp-wide activity that brings us back to the true meaning of being a Lumberjane, which is . . .”

  “FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!” Ripley boomed with great feeling, because it was really important.

  “Exactly!” Vanessa pointed at Ripley. “Also, we thought maybe we’d do something that involved less . . . planning.”

  Vanessa looked at Jen. Jen looked back at Vanessa with the look of someone who thinks giving up sleeping and eating to get something done, and done well, is no big deal.

  Jen had also spent the first three days after Galaxy Wars in bed sleeping, which was fascinating to Ripley, who had never seen someone sleep that long.

  Also, Jen sang in her sleep.

  Mostly eighties power ballads and a little of what sounded like nineties rap hits.

  “What the TLC?” April had exclaimed on the second day (and fortieth hour) of sleep. “Is she still singing?”

  It was after this extensive slumber that Jen and the rest of the counselors had a long meeting about the general state of camp. It was here Vanessa brought up the idea that it would be nice for the campers to do something a little less competitive and more cooperative.

  Friendship to the Max, after all, doesn’t mean “except for other cabins.”

  Also, Vanessa had pointed out, maybe they could do something a little more chill.

  “I’m into this,” Molly said. “We could use a little more co-cabin cooperation.”

  “We already play music with Wren,” Mal noted. “And I’m on a whiffle ball team with half of Dighton.”

  “The very competitive half,” Jo noted. “I’m surprised they’re even here and not practicing.”

  “I tap dance with Barney,” Ripley added. “And Bubbles.”

  “Barney can tap dance now too?” Jo looked impressed. “That’s cool.”

  “Okay.” Jen waved her hands. “Settle down, scouts! So. In that spirit, this next activity will not be a competition. It will involve you working in groups of mixed cabins. This project was specifically designed to teach you new skills AND promote your efforts to improve teamwork and productivity.

  “Yes. And so . . .” Jen paused. “Uh, without further ado. To, uh, announce your next activity. I’m pleased to introduce . . . uh HAHAHAHAHAA.”

  Jen put a finger against her lips. “Sorry about that. Just a little. Giggle. Um. Vanessa, would you tee-hee take over?”

  Vanessa stepped forward. And leaned into Jen. “What is wrong with you?”

  Jen shook her head.

  Vanessa squinted. “Are you okay?”

  “Just announce AnnaHAHAHA. AnnaHAHAHAHA.” Jen clamped her hand over her mouth.

  “Our guest,” she mumbled through her fingers.

  “Uh, okay.” Vanessa looked around. “Speaking of which, where is she? She said she wanted to make an entrance . . .”

  “What’s wrong with Jen?” Molly whispered, craning to see over the heads of the other scouts.

  “Maybe she just thought of a really good joke?” Mal wondered.

  Up at the front of the mess hall, Vanessa threw her hands into the air. “Well, she can’t make an entrance if she’s not here,” she hissed.

  Jen nodded, fingers still firmly clamped over her mouth.

  Vanessa raised an eyebrow. “Seriously, what is going on with you?”

  “Th-heehhee-ater,” Jen managed. “It makes me—”

  Suddenly, the hall . . . went . . . black.

  “Who turned out the lights?!”

  Music ripped through the hall.


  Jen reached for her flashlight. Mal gripped Molly’s hand and Molly gripped Mal’s.

  Bubbles jumped off of Molly’s head and grabbed onto Ripley’s face like it was a life raft. Ripley wrapped her arms around Bubbles and turned her head to the side so she could breathe.

  April jumped up on the bench and assumed a wide defensive position. Which is standing in a way that you could karate kick someone in the face no matter which way they come at you.

  It takes some balance to stand this way.

  Jo waited for the lights to come back on.



  A spotlight appeared at the front of the hall, forming a circle of potent white light into which stepped, or rather, glided, the one and only resident drama instructor, Miss Annabella Panache.

  Miss Annabella Panache was the most like a movie star of anyone Ripley had ever seen sort of up close.

  Standing in the spotlight, her hands up, fingers stiff in gesture, Miss Annabella Panache tilted her chin up into the light. Batted her long lashes. Took a deep breath. Held her pose a moment longer.

  The rest of the room . . . stopped . . . breathing.

  Just for a second.

  “I told you I wanted to make a DRAMATIC entrance,” she said, her voice resonant and bold. “YES! And so I HAVE.”

  “HOLY SPLIT BRITCHES,” April gasped, her hands on both cheeks, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “WE’RE MAKING A PLAY!”

  “JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND.” Jo grinned. “I think you’re right.”


  April WAS right.

  Generally, Annabella Panache preferred a stage, but as a professional, she could make do with any space she was given, and tonight it was the mess hall.

  Annabella looked out into her audience of attentive scouts and stretched out her arms, palms up, like an opera singer getting ready for a big note.

  Everyone was spellbound. Even Bubbles stopped chirping and clung to Ripley’s neck, waiting to see what Panache would do next.

  “THEATER,” she boomed, using three syllables instead of two. “WHAT IS THE-AH-TAH?”
/>   April shot her hand into the air and then lowered it quietly when she realized this was a speech, not a question.

  The spotlight followed Miss Panache as she waltzed from table to table.

  “Theater is IMAGINATION. Theater is STORYTELLING. Theater is COMMUNITY. Theater is ART. Yes.”

  When she said YES, Panache pulled her hands toward her and tightened them into fists.

  Then, BOOM, in a flash, she tossed her hands over her head, her golden nails shimmering in the light.

  “Theater is LIFE!! YES!”

  Ripley managed to peel Bubbles away from her face so she could look up at the towering figure that was Miss Panache.

  Panache’s big gold hair reminded Ripley of her eggs.

  Miss Panache’s hair was about as big as Eggie. Which is big, for hair. Also, her hair smelled like chemicals and roses. When Miss Panache moved, her hair stayed stiff and still, like Vanessa’s spikes.

  “On this day, we set a course for SELF-EXPRESSION!” she cried. “As you and your fellow scouts, you and your fellow THESPIANS, will combine forces to create works. VISIONS. MANIFESTATIONS. MANIFESTOS?”

  “A thespian,” April whispered into Ripley’s ear, “is an actor.”

  “Oh.” Ripley nodded.

  “So how do we begin this journey to creative, to NEW, to UNBOUNDED WORLDS? Yes. To begin. Each group has been assigned a classic tale.” Miss Panache moved to the front of the room, where Jen and Vanessa had set up a series of cards tacked to the wall.

  “These tales you and your fellow theater creators will INTERPRET for the modern day and PRESENT for your peers using a particular focus on either movement or . . .”

  Miss Panache twirled her fingers as she thought. “. . . musicality, or dramatic effect. What have you.”

  “Is it a competition?” April asked under her breath.

  “This will be AN EVENT!” Miss Panache roared. “It is a chance to share your passions and your gifts with your fellow scouts. It is a chance to MOVE and BE MOVED.”

  “I don’t think it’s a competition,” Jo whispered.

  Ripley noticed that Miss Panache’s eyebrows were so high, they disappeared when she said big things.

  Like, EVENT!

  Also, when Miss Panache said things, it looked like a shock of energy was running through her whole body. Like a little piece of lightning.

  “Now.” Miss Panache glided to the front of the room, like she was riding a tiny cloud. “What stories will you be telling? Yes. That is the question, and the answer is . . .”

  The spotlight hit the cards, illuminating the tales that each group would perform.

  “First! Sleeping SCOUT,” she began, “a retelling of the story of a woman betrayed by society and family who finds support in a new community, only to have her fortune affected by outside forces!”

  “Is that Sleeping Beauty?” Mal whispered.

  “It’s a RETELLING of Sleeping Beauty,” Molly said, tilting her head to the side. “I think.”

  “Yes,” Mal said.

  “Scouts in this troupe will employ the art of Butoh, a challenging but majestic form of movement that emphasizes the element of TIME.”

  “Cool,” Jo said.

  “Scout-erella! A glass slipper. A fairy godmother fixated on societal norms of success. Cruelty. Justice. A story told in tap, step, and modern dance! YES!”

  In the back of the room, Barney, sitting with Zodiac cabin, crossed their fingers.

  “The Scout who cried WOLF! An opera! A vocalization, possibly a rumination on the role of modern media!”

  “This feels a little complicated,” Vanessa murmured.

  Jen was afraid to open her mouth and so just silently agreed that this was somewhat over-the-top.

  Which, actually, is pretty Lumberjane, so, okay.

  “The SCOUT and the BEAST! A musical for the instrumentalists. A love story? YES.”

  Mal beamed and poked Molly’s side.

  “And finally, a dramatic take on the classic family epic GOLDI-SCOUT AND THE THREE BEARS! Forces colliding, interacting, interpreting each other? YES!”

  Vanessa stepped into the spotlight.

  “Your very thoughtful counselors have taken the time to put you into groups,” she said. “We’ve mixed up cabins so you’ll have a chance to collaborate with different scouts.”

  The scouts hummed with excitement, poised to dash to the front of the room.

  “Okay,” Vanessa said, stepping forward. “Go ahead and take a look.”

  The room was suddenly awash in thundering scouts clamoring to the front to see which play they were doing.

  Mal and Molly were placed in the musical group, much to Mal and Molly’s delight.

  April, Jo, and Ripley were teamed up with Wren and Hes from Zodiac to tell the story of Goldi-Scout and the Three Bears.

  “Consider these STORIES as opportunities,” Miss Panache called into the crowd. “To TELL. To REtell these stories.”

  Emphasis on RE.


  Humming with excitement, the scouts assembled into their groups and headed to the picnic tables in front of the mess hall to get to work.

  Several minutes later, Ripley sat at a table next to the flagpole with her group and watched April light up with ideas, as Hes and Wren, from Zodiac cabin, observed, seemingly cautiously optimistic, or just cautious.

  “You guys!” April cheered the way a person who is used to pumping up the energy in the room like a balloon cheers. “This is going to be AWESOME!”

  “Okay,” Hes said, guardedly.

  “Sure.” Wren shrugged.

  Ripley nodded. Although really, Ripley, who liked PLAYING more than plays, was wondering how Eggie was doing.

  Egg Egg

  How are you?

  If you were a Robin’s Egg

  You’d be blue

  I wish I was there with you

  Egg Egg

  How are you?


  Later that evening, at dinner, Rosie sat at her usual table in the mess hall and took a moment of respite from the day’s very vigorous activities.

  A respite is a mini-vacation for people who are very bad at taking vacations, which Lumberjanes generally are.

  Because Lumberjanes, generally, would rather go discover something than get a tan by the pool.

  Generally, for Rosie, a respite was just long enough for a cup of very refreshing nettle tea.

  Around her, Lumberjanes chowed down on Kzyzzy’s infamous Vegan No Clam, No Ma’am Chowder, making the usual amount of noise for Lumberjanes at dinner.

  Which is a lot of noise.

  Rosie stretched out in her chair, accidentally dislodging a clump of mud from her caked hiking boots.

  “Hello, Rosie.” Jen appeared next to her table, a smile on her face, which, if you knew Jen, was a nervous smile, partly because Rosie, while being amazing, was also intimidating.

  As many amazing people are.

  And partly because Jen was afraid of what was going to happen when she opened her mouth.

  “Joyce!” Rosie trumpeted, raising a glass of nettle tea. “How did it go today?”

  “Well, it’s Jen,” Jen said, her back stiffening. “And I think it went very well. Miss AnnaHHAHAAHA. Ahem. Miss AnnaHAHAHA.”

  “Miss Annabella Panache,” Rosie offered, with an eyebrow raise.

  Jen nodded. “Was great.”

  “Are you all right?” Rosie raised an eyebrow. “You seem very . . . giggly.”

  “Fine.” Jen coughed. “Ahem. Apologies. She seems very t-talented. And . . . inventive?”

  “She is a star of stage and screen, Josephine,” Rosie said, taking a sip of soothing tea. “We are lucky to have her. So, the scouts will all be performing plays?”

  “Yes.” Jen nodded. “We divided them up with a mix of different scouts from each cabin, as I, Jen, suggested. We also have workshops set up for various other—”

  Jen paused. Composed herself. “Thee-hee-hee-atrical skills.”
r />   “Theatrical skills,” Rosie repeated, careful to enunciate. “Yes, indeed. Are you a fan of the theatrical arts yourself, Jin?”

  Jen sighed. “It’s complicated.”

  “It’s complicated” is something people say sometimes when it seems even more complicated to say the actual reason for something. Something, like, say, crippling stage fright that triggers an intense giggling reaction in response to the very mention of . . .


  Also: stage, acting, drama.

  Also: Annabella Panache.

  “Well, then.” Rosie stood up, downed the last bit of nettley goodness, and stepped toward the door. “Should be quite an exciting week!”

  Jen, and it was JEN, hugged her clipboard to her chest and sighed.

  Meanwhile, at Roanoke cabin’s table, April was trying to figure out who Miss Annabella Panache looked like. April thought she looked like the Mermaid Professor from the Mermaid Lemonade Stand mystery Sea Average: A Mermaid Educational Adventure.

  Most of the rest of Roanoke, indeed most of the rest of the population, had never heard of that book. Although it is a pretty good book.

  Mal held her hands out next to her face. “I love her hair and how it wings away from her face and then just keeps winging.”

  “And it smells like roses,” Ripley said.

  “Pretty sure that’s a bucket of hair spray,” Mal added, reverently. “Maximum hold.”

  “I like when she goes like this,” April said, making her eyes wide and leaning back, looking like a cat that just saw a dancing photocopier. “I think that would be good to put in our play, that move.”

  “I’m sure we’ll be doing lots of moves,” Jo said, although, honestly, making a play was less interesting to Jo than making a THING.

  “It’s not MOVES, it’s MOVEMENT,” April said, a knowing finger raised. “Or something. Anyway, our play is going to be the best play EVER. Right, Rip?”

  Ripley nodded, her mouth full of a very large spoonful of chowder.

  “Oh.” April grinned, turning to Mal and Molly. “Except for yours. Maybe it will only be a little better than yours.”

  Mal smiled. “Art is subjective,” she noted. “But ours is going to rock. Malka already figured out the instrumentation. We’re going to do a series of love songs that deconstruct standards of beauty, replacing references to beauty with references to intelligence.”