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       Knights of the Kitchen Table, p.1

           Jon Scieszka
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Knights of the Kitchen Table

  Table of Contents

  Title Page


  Copyright Page












  “Your Majesty! Your Majesty! Bleob the Giant stands at the very castle door. He demands three fair damsels to eat instantly.”

  King Arthur looked worried. The fair damsels in the crowd looked worse than that.

  Another messenger dashed into the hall, nearly running over the first. “Smaug the Dragon has been seen flying from the West. He will be at the castle walls in minutes.”

  “Aha,” said Merlin with that evil-teacher voice and smile again. “Here is a perfect test for our enchanters.”

  “Go ahead and hit him with your stick, Fred,” said Sam. “At least we’ll be safe from giants and dragons down in the dungeon.”

  Fred lifted his stick.

  “No, no. We can’t do that, I said.

  “What do you suggest we do, Mr. Magnificent?” said Sam.

  I looked at Merlin, then at Queen Guenevere.

  “I think we should go find out if dragons and giants are for real.”


  #1: Knights of the Kitchen Table

  #2: The Not-So-jolly Roger

  #3: The Good, the Bad, and the Goofy

  #4: Your Mother Was a Neanderthal

  #5: 2095

  #6: Tut, Tut

  #7: Summer Reading Is Killing Me!

  #8: It’s All Greek to Me

  #9: See You Later, Gladiator

  #10: Sam Samurai

  #11: Hey Kid, Want to Buy a Bridge?

  #12: Viking It and Liking It

  #13: Me Oh Maya

  #14: Da Wild, Da Crazy, Da Vinci

  Special thanks to the Brooklyn Public Library


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell,

  Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

  Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre,

  Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310,

  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,

  Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

  First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin,

  a division of Penguin Books USA Inc., 1991

  Published by Puffin Books, 1993

  This edition published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006


  Text copyright © Jon Scieszka, 1991 Illustrations copyright © Lane Smith, 1991

  All rights reserved


  Scieszka, Jon.

  Knights of the kitchen table / by Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Lane Smith.

  p. cm.—(The Time warp trio)

  Summary: When Joe, Fred, and Sam are sent back in time by a magic book,

  they find themselves face-to-face with giants, dragons, wizards,

  and the Knights of the Round Table.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-07702-3

  [1. Time travel—Fiction. 2. Knights and knighthood-Fiction. 3. Humorous stories.]

  I. Smith, Lane, ill. II. Title. III. Series. IV. Series: Scieszka, Jon. Time warp trio.

  PZ7.S41267Kn 1993 [Fic]—dc20 92-44475 CIP AC

  The Time Warp Trio ® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  For Casey


  Halt, vile knaves. Prepare to die.”

  “Is he talking to us?” asked Fred.

  I looked around the small clearing. A dirt path went from one end to the other. Fred, Sam, and I stood at one end. A large guy on a black horse stood at the other. He was dressed from head to toe in black armor like you see in those books about knights and castles.

  “I don’t see any other vile knaves around,” I said.

  Sam cleaned his glasses on his T-shirt and took another look at the end of the path. “Yes, there is a Black Knight down there.”

  The sun glinted off a very real, and very sharp-looking sword hanging from the Black Knight’s side.

  “And, yes, he looks like he’s planning to hurt us,” added Sam.

  “Hey, it’s not my fault,” I said. “I told Fred not to open it.”

  “You did not,” said Fred.

  “Did, too.”

  “Did not.”

  “Did, too.”

  “Excuse me, guys,” said Sam. “Can we discuss this later? I think that large angry man in the black can is getting ready to kill us now.”

  The Black Knight lowered his lance and set his shield in front of him.

  “Um ... Hello there, Mr. Knight, sir,” I called across the clearing. “My name is Joe. My friends and I seem to have lost our way from my birthday party. If you could just take us to the nearest phone—”

  “None shall pass,” boomed the Black Knight.

  “If you could just point the way toward New York we’ll be on our way and—”

  “None shall pass!”

  “I think I heard that somewhere before,” said Sam.

  “Thy tongue and garb art passing strange. Methinks thy band hails not from this shore.”

  “What did he say?” asked Fred.

  “He said we look funny, and we’re probably not from around here,” I said. “And right you are, Sir Knight,” I called across the clearing (I threw in that “Sir” part because they always talk like that in knight books). “We are not from around here. And we would just as soon get out of here. So if you would just point that long sharp stick of yours—”

  “Silence, infidels, or mayhap enchanters, in thy weird robes and boots.”

  We looked at each other. We were all wearing jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers.

  We looked at the Black Knight. He had on pointed metal shoes, armored pants, an armored coat with hinges at the elbows and shoulders, and a huge metal helmet that looked like a black bell, all topped off with a fluffy black feather. His horse was likewise done up in a black skirt, a black saddle big as an armchair, and a matching helmet thing with a fluffy black feather.

  “Weird robes and boots?” said Sam. “Look who’s talking—the Tin Man with feathers. He even dresses his horse funny.”

  “Enough of thy evil spells and chants, magicians. Prepare to die.”

  “I think I liked ‘None shall pass’ better than that ‘Prepare to die’ stuff,” said Sam.

  The Black Knight flipped down the visor on his helmet.

  “Do something,” said Fred.

  “Like what?” I said.

  “Like ... like ... li
ke, say some magic words!”

  The Black Knight spurred his horse into a trot.

  “Please? Thank you?”

  “Not those magic words, you idiot. Real magic words. Like the ones your Uncle Joe uses.”


  The horse picked up speed.

  “Hocus-pocus!” I shouted. “Eenie, meenie, mynie, mo!”

  The Black Knight thundered toward us, his lance pointed directly at us.

  We were about to be killed more than a thousand years before we were even born.


  But before the Black Knight arrives, maybe I should explain how three regular guys happened to find themselves facing death by shish-kebab.

  It all started with my birthday party. My two best friends, Fred and Sam, were over at my house. We were just sitting around the kitchen table doing birthday kinds of things. You know—eating junk, drinking soda, looking at the baseball my sister gave me.

  My mom started scooping up wrapping paper to throw away. That’s when Sam found the other present.

  “Hey, Joe, here’s one you missed.” Sam held up a small rectangular present. It was wrapped in black and gold paper.

  “Who’s it from?”

  My mom read the card and made a sour face. “Your uncle Joe.”


  Uncle Joe was the best uncle anybody could have. He was a magician for a traveling circus. And his presents were always the best. Uncle Joe’s stage name was “Joe the Magnificent.” I was named after him. “Before he went off the deep end,” my mother always added.

  “The card says ‘Happy Birthday, Magician-in-training. Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.’ ”

  “This is weird paper,” said Sam, wiggling the present back and forth in the light.

  “I’ll bet it’s one of those disappearing coin trick boxes,” said Fred.

  I took the present. “Maybe it’s a magic cape that can make things disappear.”

  “That would have come in handy last year. You could have used it to make all of those rabbits disappear.” Mom still had her sour face on.

  “Well, that wasn’t really Uncle Joe’s fault,” I said. “I gave the hat the wrong command.”

  “Come on, already. Open it,” said Fred.

  I pulled back the black and gold paper and lifted it up.

  “It’s a ... It’s a ...”

  “Aw, it’s just a book,” said Fred, rolling my baseball around the table.

  And it was a book. But it wasn’t like any book I had ever seen before. It was such a dark, dark blue that it looked almost black, like the sky at night. It had gold stars and moons along the back edge, and twisting silver designs on the front and back that looked like writing from a long time ago.

  I looked closer and read the title. “The Book.”

  “Great name for a book,” said Sam.

  Mom looked relieved.

  “Hey, let me see.” Fred dropped the baseball on the kitchen table and grabbed The Book out of my hand.

  “Wait a minute, Fred. Be careful.”

  Fred opened The Book.

  There was a picture of a guy on a black horse standing on a path at the edge of a small clearing. He was dressed from head to toe in black armor like you see in those books about knights and castles. He didn’t look very happy.

  “Oh, man,” said Fred. “Wouldn’t it be great to see knights and all that stuff for real?”

  Wisps of pale green mist began to swirl around the kitchen chairs.

  “Joseph Arthur! Close that book and stop that smoking this instant.”

  I grabbed The Book and slammed it shut.

  The mist rose over the table, the stove, the refrigerator.

  Mom and the kitchen disappeared.

  And for just a second, I got that feeling you get when you dream you’re falling. Then the mist and the feeling were gone. And Fred, Sam, and I were standing at the edge of the clearing. We stood at one end of a small path. At the other end stood the Black Knight.


  The Black Knight thundered toward us, his lance pointed directly at us.

  “Wait. I’ve got it,” said Fred. And he grabbed our arms and pulled us together. “You guys stay close. On the count of three, Joe, you and Sam jump to the left. I’ll jump to the right. One ...”

  The Black Knight was so close I could see the straps on his armor.


  I could see the buckles on the straps.


  We jumped. The Black Knight clanked by like a runaway train.

  “Strike one,” said Sam.

  Fred jumped back on the path. He stuck his thumbs in his ears and waggled his fingers, shouting, “Nyah, nyah, you missed us. Nyah nyah, na nyah nyah.”

  “Fred, are you nuts? What are you doing?” I yelled. “Let’s get out of here before he gets that horse turned around.”

  “That’s just what we want,” said Fred. “He’s too heavy and slow to hit us. We’ll wear him out.” And then he yelled to the Black Knight, “Come on, you big tin can. Give it another shot.”

  Sam and I stood back on the path.

  “Oh, great idea, Fred,” said Sam. “He didn’t kill us the first time, so let’s give him another chance. I wonder if his mother ever told him it’s not polite to point sharp things at other people?”

  “Stand as men, you cursed knaves,” roared the Black Knight. He seemed even more unhappy than he was before.

  “Yeah, yeah,” yelled Fred. “Come and get us, Tin Man.”

  The Black Knight yelled back, “Prepare to die, foul-mouthed enchanters.”

  “I know you are, but what am I?” said Sam.

  “Same thing on three,” said Fred. “One ...”

  The Black Knight trotted toward us.


  We could hear his saddle squeaking, and his horse huffing and snorting.

  “Three ...”

  We jumped. The lance whistled through nothing but air.

  “Stee-rike two,” called Sam.

  “One more ought to just about do it,” said Fred, picking up a hefty stick. And then he yelled, “Your mother was a sardine can.”

  The Black Knight turned and raised his visor. He didn’t look mad anymore. He looked positively crazy.

  “Demon sorcerers. Foul wizards. Vanish not into the mists. Stand and die.”

  “I really wish he would stop using that ‘D’ word,” said Sam.

  The Black Knight kicked his horse into a trot.

  “One ...”

  He aimed his lance at us once more.

  “Two ...”

  His horse stumbled and wheezed.


  We jumped. The horse clomped slowly past us. The Black Knight waved his lance weakly over our heads. Fred jumped up, swung his stick with all his might, and whacked the back of the Black Knight’s helmet.


  The helmet rang like a thousand church bells.

  The Black Knight sat up straight, wobbled, and then fell to the ground with an armored crash. His horse stopped and lowered its head, sweating mightily and still gasping for air, but looking pretty relieved about dropping its heavyweight passenger.

  “Going, going, gone! That one’s outta here,” said Sam. “Now let’s do likewise before Mr. Fun wakes up and starts with that ‘Prepare to die’ stuff again.”

  “No hurry now,” I said. “With all that armor on, he won’t be able to get up by himself when he does come to.”

  Fred gave the fallen Black Knight another whack with his stick, and planted a sneaker on his chest.

  “All hail, Sir Fred,” I said.

  “All hail, Sir-eek,” said Sam.

  “Sir Eek?”

  Sam pointed to the edge of the clearing.

  Three more knights on horses, with swords drawn, were galloping down the path toward us.


  The three knights charged. Ten feet away, they stopped. The lead knight, car
rying a white shield with a red cross, raised a huge sword over his head and ... and ... and said, “Hail, Sir Fred.”

  “Hail, Sir Fred,” said the two knights behind him.

  “Whew,” said Sam.

  “Whew?” asked the tall knight with the red-cross shield.

  “He means Whew and Greetings, Sir Knights. Are we glad to see you,” I said.

  “Praise Jesu, but you sirs speak fair strange as thy dress. You must be of very strong magic to vanquish yon Black Knight with a mere oaken staff.”

  The pile of armor wiggled a leg and moaned.

  “For he hast slew many of our good knights of the Round Table.”

  “For real? The Round Table?” I said.

  “Aye. Know you of our Fellowship?”

  “What did he say?” asked Fred.

  “Have we ever heard of them,” I whispered. And then I answered, “Are you kidding? King Arthur and all that stuff? Of course we’ve heard of you guys.”

  “Kidding? Stuff? What sayeth he?” asked the red-cross knight’s friend.

  “Methinks they know of us,” whispered the tall one.

  “Sure,” I said. “I’ve read all about you guys—the sword in the stone, Lancelot and Guenevere, Merlin the Magician.”

  “Read? Thou reads the written word as Merlin does?”

  “Well mostly Daredevil, Superman, and X-Men,” said Sam.

  “X-Men?” asked the white knight’s pal.

  “Books of spells or fellow wizards, no doubt,” said the white knight. “Faith, it must be a sign. You enchanters three have been sent to deliver us of our troubles. I am Sir Lancelot. These are my companions, Sir Percival and Sir Gawain.”

  “Sir Lancelot?” I gasped. This guy was supposed to be the greatest knight who ever lived, except for maybe his son, Sir Galahad. And here he was, asking us to help him.

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