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Anita M Shaw

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Member Since: Aug, 2003

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Publisher:  DreamWynd Publishing Company ISBN-10:  0971094152 Type: 


Copyright:  2004 ISBN-13:  9780971094154

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Ralph Henry Dalton, the new classmate assigned to the fifth grade class of ten year old Jerrianna and Jeoffrey Kingsley is a nonstop loud, proud, arrogant bragger! The whole class would love to send him into deep space by the swiftest means possible! Anything to shut him up!

Then, Jerrianna dreams up a unique solution—have their whole class challenge Ralph to an air hockey tournament, and set him up for Ultimate Humiliation! Defeat at the paws of her new seven-toed wonder pet, Snowshoe Mal! That is, if Ralph Henry actually makes it that far.

Jeoffrey doubts this plan will work if Ralph Henry does happen to beat everyone else. Okay, the wacky feline plays a mean game of air hockey—but only when she wants to, and only with whom she wants to! Even so, Jerri won't abandon her plan that's fated to ultimately humiliate the Kingsley family, so Jeoffrey plots a counter solution—

—Malley’s temporary disappearance.

No cat, no humiliation. At least, not one that would force them to have to leave with their tails between their legs, their friends laughing them all the way out of town! Or, too angry to ever speak to them again.

Couple of things neither twin anticipated:

1) Ralph Henry Dalton is actually deadly at the game—look out world!

2) Their moms had been rivals as kids—and it's evident that it’s not just Ralph Henry who needs an attitude adjustment!

Holy hockey pucks! Could Malley be the answer to this situation, after all?

Oh, wait a sec . . . Where is Malley?

Possibly, permanently!


A Pest and A Pet



“Jeoffrey, go pick out two boxes of cereal. Jerrianna, you grab eggs and ice cream, and I’ll get the bread and milk.”

“And soda!” Jerrianna and I chorused.

“That’s near the cereal aisle. Jeoffrey, can you manage that? Might as well get more popcorn, too.”

I shot Mom a thumbs up. “Sure, no prob! I’ll get a cart.”

We split up and I went off to get myself a cart, and then hurried toward the middle of Northfield Super Food Market. They had great food and stuff, but my parents didn’t always feel the prices were so super. They had a great cereal selection, though, and I knew just what Jerrianna and I wanted. Martian Mars Balls were the best tasting multigrain cereal ever! Northfield Super’s own brand. Usually that sort of thing wasn’t as good as any original. But MMB’s were terrific even if the name was dumb.

I whipped along the aisle in a hurry to get what we’d come for. We had a family night planned tonight. Even Dad would be home for it. He worked for a computer company and was gone quite a few nights hooking up people’s computers and networks. Sometimes he’d have to be gone a few days. Mom missed him a lot then, and so did my twin sister and I. We’d probably play some air hockey because that’s Mom’s favorite thing. Well, we all enjoy playing, but she really really loves it. We’ve got a decent table—not a professional sized one or anything like that, but a pretty good one, anyway. We liked to play card games, too. Golf, right now, was everyone’s favorite.

I found the MMB’s right off and turned to toss ‘em into the cart. Bumped right into Ralph Henry Dalton! Man, my night shot down for sure!

“You eat those things?” he asked, poking the boxes in my arms. “Nothing’s better than my Mom’s French toast! She makes French toast better than the President’s chef!”

Well, I didn’t know anything about the President’s chef, but I did know about my mom’s cooking. Probably she was better than his mom, but I didn’t say it. Didn’t want to sound anything like him! The guy was a complete pest! No one wanted anything to do with him. When he first moved to Northfield in September, everyone was excited. It’s a small town and we like it when new people move in.

Not this time.

“Know what else she can make better than anybody in the world? Chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate!” Ralph Henry started turning circles beside me. He had a problem standing still. At school, he drove Mrs. Jonesbury, our teacher, crazy. This was her last year teaching at our school for she was heading south to be with her daughter. She told Ralph Henry that in all her thirty-eight years as a teacher she’d never met anyone like him before. He seemed to think it was a compliment.

I waited for a woman with six kids to pass by and then I tossed the MMB’s into the cart I’d parked across from the cereal. “Yeah, well my mom bakes stuff good, too! Look, I gotta go. We’re having family night tonight. I don’t want to waste all my time here.”

As usual, he didn’t take the hint.

 Walking in circles right beside me, he followed me to the soda aisle. Grabbing up a jar of the best popcorn as I passed by the shelf it was on, I tried to pretend I was alone in the store.

But it was impossible. He had to tell me all about what his family did. “We have family night, too, when my parents are home. Sometimes they’re away a lot, so my brother and I get to do what we want when they’re gone. He’s nineteen. He’s the best!”

Now he started poking at the bottles of soda on the shelves. Rearranging them when they didn’t need to be.

“Well, it can’t be the best while your folks’re gone. Who’s making the French toast then?”

Ralph Henry climbed up the shelves to check out the top one. Hung there by one hand and looked down at me. “Ronny does. He’s almost as good a cook as Mom! We do a lot of stuff together. You should come over sometime. You’d have the best time!”

Then he started telling me all about his games, his toys, and his TV set. All the best there is in the world. His video collection included every video known to mankind. In fact, Ralph Henry Dalton thought he was The Best Kid who could do Anything the Best of Anyone and who lived in The Best House on The Best Street in The Best Town of The Best State in the Best Country in the world! His Best Family drove The Best Cars, wore The Best Clothes and on and on and on.

By the time I dropped bottles of Dr Pepper, Lime Coke and peach flavored Fresca into the cart, I was ready to stuff a grapefruit into Ralph Henry’s big mouth. Maybe I wouldn’t mind so much if he shut up and let someone else say something. Never does, though.

“. . . and my Dad got us the best computer ever! It’s got a 4 gig processor, massive memory and a 200 gig hard drive. I got all the best games on it . . .”

I grit my teeth. Even though I figured he was exaggerating Big Time, I wished I could say Dad had set us up with the best computer ever. But our computer needed upgrades and who knew when that would be! Dad never seemed to get around to working on our machine like he did everyone else’s.

Mom came out of the paper plates and napkins aisle and Jerrianna hurried toward us with her stuff and a bag of Granny Smith apples. Our favorites. The BEST! And I thought that thought savagely like someone might take it away from me or try to convince me some other apple beat them out.

“Found a buddy, Jeoffrey?” Mom asked as we met by the macaroni display.

We pulled over to let the mom with all the kids go by. They were bugging her and the baby girl was bawling. I felt sorry for her, but I thought I’d rather be her with all those kids and all that noise than to be me with Ralph Henry’s bragging face following me everywhere. I couldn’t wait to check out and leave him behind. His hyperness was getting to me, too.

Before I could pipe up and say he wasn’t even remotely a friend never mind my buddy, Ralph Henry started right in. “Hi! You Jeoffrey’s mom? Hey! hey, I’ve seen you at the bowling alley! You’re the one that beats everyone playing air hockey, aren’t you?”

Mom never bragged about that much. She always said if she started parading any of her talents before the world like that, it’d be a sure bet someone would show up to put her in her place in no time flat. And that could happen any time.

Guess it could. But still, she was good enough to play in official air hockey tournaments if she wanted to.

We’d gone to watch a couple, and she got to play informally with some of the people in them. They’d been pretty amazed at her abilities and had tried to encourage her to start playing in matches and tournaments. She just said she wanted to keep it fun.

Now she said to Ralph, “They just need practice, Ralph Henry. You play pretty good yourself, I noticed—when you’re not showing off.”

Ralph Henry beamed, did this dumb little dance. I stared and groaned. My mother had noticed him? And he was good at something . . . which she just now recognized, acknowledged and approved?

Oh, great! Probably he’d be tossing up the fact my mom thought he was the best forever now! I let my head drop suddenly forward. My night was ruined.

“Don’t let him get to you,” Jerrianna murmured in my ear. “We’re going to have a great time tonight. He won’t be there. Stop looking like that, Doom Dork!”

I twisted my neck enough to be able to give her a black look. She shook her head at me and went to put her stuff into Mom’s cart.

“Got Jell-O for neck muscles, Jeoffrey?” Mom asked. “Let’s head for the checkout. Nice meeting you, Ralph Henry. Maybe we can play a game together sometime.”

“Ho! That’d be the best! I’ll beat you in five minutes! Less!”

Mom smiled. In her look, I could see she’d formed the same impression of him we had. My head rose back up like a weed stealing a big sip of water from petunias as she said in her most casual manner, “You can try.”

“Ha! I won’t have to try!” He followed us to the checkout, pretended to be stalking man eating lions on the way. “Jeoffrey says you’re having family night, tonight. When my mom and dad get back we’ll have one, too. We do all sorts of neat stuff. We have the best time!” As if no one else ever did.

“That’s the idea of it,” Mom replied in her mild way. “We have family nights every night the kids’ father isn’t working on someone’s computer system. He’s been pretty busy lately.”

Ralph Henry shot at an invisible charging lion just as it was leaping over the candy display. “My parents are gone a lot, too. They decorate people’s houses. Rich people’s houses. They make tons of money. When they get back, we’ll go shopping. That’ll be the best time ever!”

I hung my head again. Saw Jerrianna roll her eyes before I did it. If this line didn’t move faster, I might just disappear out the door.

Mom could handle the bags. That’s what carts were for.

Finally, it was our turn. The checkout lady listened to Ralph Henry’s lips flap with a funny look on her face. She looked from Mom to Ralph Henry and said, “You must have fun with that one!”

“Oh, not so much,” Mom replied. “He isn’t mine!”

“Lucky you then! Pity his parents! That’ll be twenty-one fifty-seven.”

Mom chuckled and dug around in her denim purse. “Who knows? Maybe they deserve him!”

The checkout lady chuckled at that. “You could be right,” she said, taking the money Mom held out to her.

Ralph didn’t seem to care they were talking about him. He just kept bouncing around, checking for lions and rhinos and poachers. Thought we’d get rid of him when we walked out the door, but no, he followed. Out by the spot where you get rid of your bottles waited a tall guy with light brown curly hair. Soon’s he saw Ralph Henry, he nailed him.

“Hey, buddy! I’ve been looking all over for you!”

“Look, Ronny!” Ralph hopped on one foot than the other in front of his brother. “These are my friends, Jeoff and Jerri Kingsley. This is their mom—the one who beats everyone playing air hockey! Can I go over their house for a while?”

Jerrianna sucked in a dismayed breath, and I did my flop head thing. Mom didn’t say anything. Without looking, I knew the expression she probably was wearing.


I don’t know how she can do that so good. If she doesn’t want you to know what she’s thinking, you don’t. I bet she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings now, so that’s why she was doing it.

Who cares, for crying out loud?

It was just Ralph Henry!

Ronny faked a punch at Ralph Henry’s belly, and then quick whacked him behind the head. “I don’t think so, buddy. Mom and Dad’re calling us tonight. You don’t want to miss that, do you? Maybe another time, huh? Glad you’re finally making friends!” He looked at Mom. “Saw you play last week, Mrs. Kingsley. Think you could teach me some things sometime?”

“I can try,” Mom replied. She might have said more, but Ralph Henry broke in with one of his conversation stoppers.

“I don’t need anybody teaching me! Play me Saturday, Mrs. K. I’ll show you a few things!”

“You can try,” said Mom with the smile that meant he’d be sobbing his losses in less than three minutes. Dad says that’s her subtle way of bragging. Just seems like the truth to me.

Ronny grabbed Ralph Henry’s shoulder and kept him from bouncing in circles. “Well, it was nice meeting you. We gotta go, bud. Mom and Dad’ll be calling and we won’t be there if we don’t hurry up. Already got our stuff in the car. Let’s go!”

“Hey, see you guys in school tomorrow!” Just as if we’d be thrilled to remember that.

I flopped my head forward. Mom put a hand out and lifted it up. “You’re going to have your head rolling on the floor one day. Instead of wimping about people like him, Jeoffrey, learn to constructively deal with them. Makes your life a lot easier!”

“Yeah? How do you constructively deal with a guy like Ralph Henry Dalton?” Jerrianna demanded. “Why couldn’t he be like his brother? He seems really nice!”

I had a solution. “Let’s stuff the weasel in a box . . .”

“Jeoffrey, don’t start,” advised Mom, motioning for me to take charge of the cart.

“Wrap it all up good and tight,” I continued, heading out the automatic doors with the cart, “and put that box in another box, and wrap it up, and put that box in another box. And put that box in a bigger box! Tape it up and send it to the most outer regions of space! Only the ship gets pulled into a black hole and lands near a star going super nova—” Setting one foot on the lower rack of the cart, I rode it out onto the parking lot like it was a scooter.


“Well, it’s not my fault the star’s going super . . .”

Jeoffrey Kurtis!”

“Okay! Okay! But I can’t think of anything that’ll help me like him. Or anyone else who acts like that!”

“I’ll think of something,” Jerrianna declared positively. “I’ll think of something that’ll help us deal with him—and shut him up!”

Mom halted suddenly. She shook her head, threw her arms wide, and wondered in complete bewilderment, “Who came up with the theory that kids learn by example? I mean the “they’ll learn the Good Things as well as the Bad” part!”

“What? At least I don’t want to send him into space where he gets blown to little itty bits in a super nova!” Jerrianna grabbed the cart as she spoke, pulling it around to the back of the car. I stayed on and took the ride.

“Not today, at any rate,” Mom remarked dryly, digging around for her keys and then opening the trunk of our car.

We stowed our groceries in, first grabbing out an apple a piece. We were just about done when somewhere close by, we heard, “Meow!” So close it sounded, it seemed like some cat could just jump right into my arms if it wanted to.

Meow! Meow!

We all looked around us. Jerri and I checked under the car.

Meow! Meow!”

 “Sounds like it’s coming from—” Mom slammed the trunk door. “—inside the car!”

We all stared straight into the dark green eyes of a fluffy yellow and white cat  laying up there in the back window.

“Guess we shouldn’t have left the windows open!” said Mom. “Here, Jeoffrey, run the cart over to the cart corral.”

I did it in double quick time. Almost tripped myself up racing back to the car because I’d forgotten to call Shotgun! No Blitz! for the front seat privilege on the way home.

But I didn’t have to worry about Jerri beating me to it. By the time I ran back, Jerrianna had curled up in the backseat with the cat and made it her lifelong buddy. It snuggled up in her arms and butted her chin with its head. Licked her cheek with a sandpapery tongue.

Mom stood with a crumpled note in one hand and a can of Happy Kat Savory Stew in the other. She read out loud, “This is KittyKat. Our baby is allergic to cats and the doctors say having one will seriously hurt him.

 My parents think we should just ditch KittyKat at a farm, and my wife’s parents say put it to sleep. I don’t want to do either of those things. KittyKat isn’t a farm cat. But we don’t have time to wait for someone to answer newspaper ads.

 Please forgive me for doing this. I saw you going into the store and just feel you’d be right for caring for KittyKat. Here’s some toys and food so you won’t be totally burdened.

 Thanks. A desperate dad.”

Our dad is gonna be desperate when he sees it! He’s not a cat lover, you know!” I said.

“He doesn’t really hate them.” Mom shoved the note into her jeans pocket and moved the bag of cat food and toys onto the floor so she could get in. “Just feels they’re not as much fun as a dog. Get in, Jeoffrey. Don’t either of you get your hopes up. There’s no guarantee we’re keeping her. But we won’t dump her in someone’s car.”

I went around the other side and jumped in the front. “How come you’re calling it a her? How do you know what it is?”

“Just a guess. Buckle up.”

“Hey, Jeoffrey, look!” Jerrianna poked me in the back. “Look at the size of these paws! It’s got built in air hockey mallets!”

Now that I was buckled, I craned my neck around to check it out. Those front paws were humongous! “Whoooaaa! Sweet!”

Mom said, “Be cool if she actually played. I’d have a partner any time I needed one. One that wouldn’t be afraid to play me because they don’t ever win . . .”

“Well, jeekers, Mom. Winning is motivational!”

Jerrianna smothered a snicker.

“Expanding your vocabulary this week, Jeoff?” Mom teased. She ignored Jerri’s snicker same as I did. “If you’d just try a little harder and didn’t come to the table with the “Who cares? What’s the difference? Why bother—I’m only going to lose” attitude, you might come closer to it!”

“I don’t wanna come close. I wanna do it!”

“Then lose the attitude. Jerri plays me without crying. Must be a guy thing!”

Jerrianna laughed. “Dad doesn’t cry as hard as Jeoffrey does, though. You’re a pretty sad wimp, Jeoff!”

I tossed my apple core over the seat hoping to hit her with it. Her giggle told me it missed. “You’re a bad shot all the way around!” Then, changing subjects, she said, “Wonder if it is a girl. Hard to tell by the name KittyKat.”

“Stupid name!” I huffed, folding my arms and staring out the window. “Probably is a girl!”



“This whole thing is stupid, crazy, dumb and useless!” I ranted at my sister during lunch. “Malley hates me! The plan is going to fail because in reality, she hates all boys! She's gonna see Ralph Henry coming and she's gonna run away and go live next door with the Greenes! I am not gonna get caught passing any dumb note for you! If I thought this would work for sure, well, then, maybe! But have I mentioned she hates guys . . . and this plan is dumb?”

Jerrianna ignored my objections as if I hadn't made any. “You won't get caught! I'll make sure she's always looking at the board! I'll illustrate my outline! Whatever it takes!”

“I wish she let you do that stupid outline first thing this morning! We wouldn't be having this conversation now! What about Ralph Henry? How do we get the note past him?”

“Well, we have to trust Lyn Marie, that's all. And yes, we would be having this conversation! I'd've thought of some way to pass it without her knowing!”

There was a comforting thought! My belly tied itself into a maze of knots. “Why can't you pass it now?”

Jerrianna swallowed the last mouthful of her sloppy joe and hard roll. “And risk Ducky seeing it? She'd drag us into Mr. Frye's office and we'd get detention till we graduate-from college! I suppose we could call everyone up tonight . . .”

“That'll take all night and besides, I don't get along very well with telephones.”

“All right, I'll do it.”

I should've felt relief at being let off the hook so easy. But I didn't. Sort of felt bad about dumping all the work onto her. But if I passed the note or made phone calls, I risked losing Micky's friendship. Who'd want to lose an almost brother?

“I've got to find a way of getting this note to Brendon, Jean and Mia, though. And Dylan-their phones are unlisted, and their parents won't let them give anyone their numbers.”

“Yeah,” I said, sensing doom just around the corner. “And Jean sits in the first row first seat, Dylan's in the third row behind Jonny Wingate. Mia's in front of Benny, and Brendon is in the last seat of the last row! How you planning to do that? Might as well just plain pass the note!”

Jerrianna beamed at me. “I knew you'd see it my way!” She tucked the note into my hand. “Thanks! You're the best brother anyone ever had!” She gave me her dessert and got up to return her tray.

I held the note with two fingers, looking at it like it might rip my face off or something.

Ms. Duckworth, the cafeteria monitor, snuck up beside me. “Is that a note, young man?”

“Ah, no . . . it's-it's my science homework. I was . . . I was just going over it!”

“Really?” She peered at me, her expression, the way she stood, just everything about her round chubby person told me she didn't believe a syllable of it.

“Yeah. It's an experiment. Someone did a study on the intelligence of cats.”

“And most of 'em were found to be pretty stupid! The whole project was a complete waste of time!” Micky turned around in his seat behind me.

Ms. Duckworth fastened her piercing gaze on Micky. “And whose class are you boys in? Mrs. Jonesbury's? Maybe I ought to find out why your new teacher lets you pass in homework all folded up like a-”

A clashing of trays and flatware interrupted her. Somebody hollered, “Food fight!”

Off she waddled to squash it.

“You guys are planning to use that cat still, aren't you? When did you get a cat, anyway? How come you didn't tell me about it yesterday?”

“I don't know. Just . . . didn't come up.”

“Yeah, right! You knew what I'd think about such a dorko plan! You gonna tell me she beat your mom?”

“Mom beat her-11-10.”

“11-10! Really? Nah, you're kidding me!”

“No, I'm not. And if you'd stayed, you'd've seen it. She beat Dad two games in a row! Beat Jerri once.” I decided it would be best if I didn't tell him how Malley wouldn't play against me period.

“Yeah, and how bad did she beat you?”

Oh, of course, he would ask! But I was ready for him. “Ah, she was tired after that and I let her go take a nap. Kind of cool watching her play, though. She sure gives Mom a workout!”

It worked. But it didn't help Micky like the idea better. “With our luck she'll want to take a nap instead of humiliating Dumb Dalton. We'll be the ones humiliated! And if that happens . . .” He let it hang, got up and took his tray back.

He passed Jerrianna on the way, knocked into her accidentally on purpose. “Ditch the cat thing, Jer.”

“Not gonna!” she replied, using less than perfect grammar. Usually that meant her mind was unchangeably made up. She didn't come back to sit with me.

Passed me by and caught up to Rachel and Lyn Marie who were heading out to the playground until the lunch over bell rang.

Nice. Neither my best friend nor my sister wanted to hang around with me. Definitely pack my bags and head for South America time . . .
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Professional Reviews

Amazon Book Review
I bought Dalton's Last Stand, by Anita M Shaw for my daughter to do a book report for school. I read aloud to her, and I ended up liking the book as much as my daughter did.

What I liked about this book, as a parent, is that it is true to life. While the children have to come up with their own solutions to problems, they have a real relationship with their parents. The parents are neither too perfect, nor too cruel. Nor are they clueless idiots just there to make the kids look smarter.

The story is geared to 8 - 10 year olds, though any age might enjoy the story. Fifth graders, Jerrianna and Jeoffrey Kingsley and most of their classmates are tired of listening to Ralph Henry Dalton's arrogant bragging. He lives on the best street in the best town, has the best of everything and no one else could possibly out do him in anything.

Jerrianna comes up with an ingenious plan to put Ralph Henry in his place. Hold an air hockey tournament at their house and whoever is the winner plays against her Mystery Guest player . . . which is their new pet, a seven toed cat named Snowshoe Mal who loves to play air hockey---when she's in the mood.

Jeoffrey, always the pessimist, is certain this plan is doomed to failure, and that his family will be chased out of town for allowing Ralph Henry such an easy win. He'd like to just hide the cat away on that fateful day, so his mom would be forced to take Malley's place as Mystery Guest.

And when that day comes, some guests show up the twins weren't expecting. Puts a totally different spin on their event!

My daughter liked finding out that some of the children's weakness had also been their parents' problems when they were young. She enjoyed finding out how helpful an animal can be in helping kids cope with stressful situations.

The story is told first person by Jeoffrey. It's an easy read and the dialogue is pretty much what normal kids say. I am looking forward to trying more books in this series when they come out.

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