Is he a girl, p.1
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       Is He a Girl?, p.1
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         Part #3 of Marvin Redpost series by Louis Sachar
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Is He a Girl?


  Marvin waved the bat back and forth.

  He was afraid of Clarence but tried not to show it.

  Suddenly Clarence laughed.

  Then everyone else laughed too.

  The umpire spoke to Marvin. “I’m sorry, young man,” he said. “But you can’t play. You’re out of uniform.”

  “Huh?” asked Marvin.

  He looked down at his clothes. He was wearing a dress.

  The Marvin Redpost series by Louis Sachar

  Marvin Redpost #1 Kidnapped at Birth?

  Marvin Redpost #2 Why Pick on Me?

  Marvin Redpost #3 Is He a Girl?

  Marvin Redpost #4 Alone in His Teacher’s House

  Marvin Redpost #5 Class President

  Marvin Redpost #6 A Flying Birthday Cake?

  Marvin Redpost #7 Super Fast, Out of Control!

  Marvin Redpost #8 A Magic Crystal?

  More books by Louis Sachar!

  The Boy Who Lost His Face

  Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes

  Holes

  Stanley Yelnats’ Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake

  There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom

  Text copyright © 1993 by Louis Sachar.

  Illustrations copyright © 1993 by Barbara Sullivan.

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.

  Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

  www.randomhouse.com/kids

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Sachar, Louis. Marvin Redpost : is he a girl? / by Louis Sachar;

  illustrated by Barbara Sullivan.

  p. cm. A stepping stone book.

  SUMMARY: After Casey Happleton tells him that if he kisses his elbow he will turn into a girl, nine-year-old Marvin experiments and finds himself very confused about his identity.

  eISBN: 978-0-307-79716-2

  [1. Sex role—Fiction. 2. Identity—Fiction. 3. Schools—Fiction.]

  I. Sullivan, Barbara, ill. II. Title.

  PZ7.S1185Map 1993 [Fic]—dc20 92-40784

  Random House, Inc. New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland

  RANDOM HOUSE and colophon are registered trademarks and A STEPPING STONE BOOK and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

  v3.1

  To Jonathan and Erin

  Contents

  Cover

  Other Books by This Author

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  1. A Weird Girl

  2. Bugged

  3. Marvin Wears a Dress

  4. Don’t Go to Sleep!

  5. The Ugliest Face in the World

  6. Off to School

  7. It’s Fun to Be a Girl

  8. … A Little Different

  9. He Wouldn’t Hit a Girl

  10. High Atop the Spiderweb

  11. Caught in the Web

  12. Normal

  About the Author

  1

  A Weird Girl

  Casey Happleton said, “If you kiss yourself on the elbow, you’ll turn into a girl.”

  Marvin Redpost looked at her.

  They sat next to each other in Mrs. North’s class.

  Casey had a ponytail that stuck out of the side of her head, instead of the back.

  “It’s true,” said Casey. “If a boy kisses his elbow, he’ll turn into a girl. And if a girl kisses her elbow, she’ll turn into a boy.”

  “Can you change back?” asked Marvin.

  “Sure,” said Casey. “You just have to kiss your elbow again.”

  Marvin thought about it. But he wasn’t about to try.

  At least not in front of Casey.

  “Does it matter which elbow you kiss?” he asked.

  “Either one,” said Casey. “But it has to be on the outside, where it’s hard. Not the soft part on the inside.”

  “Have you ever kissed your elbow?” Marvin asked her.

  “No!” she exclaimed. “What do you think I am—some kind of weirdo?”

  Marvin shrugged. He did think Casey Happleton was weird.

  “Who’s jabbering?” asked Mrs. North. “Marvin and Casey?”

  Marvin turned red. Everyone was looking at him and Casey. He hoped no one thought he liked her.

  He folded his arms on his desk, and lay his head on top of them.

  He looked at his elbow.

  First of all, he didn’t believe he’d really turn into a girl.

  Second of all, he didn’t know if his mouth could even reach his elbow.

  He slowly moved his mouth toward his elbow. He wasn’t going to kiss it. He just wanted to see if his mouth would reach.

  It didn’t.

  He tried a different way. He sat up straight. Then he reached behind himself, as if to scratch his back.

  He stretched out his lips.

  “Oh my gosh!” said Casey. She bit her finger.

  “What?” Marvin demanded.

  “I saw you!” said Casey. “You were trying to kiss your elbow.”

  “I was not,” said Marvin. “I was scratching my back.”

  “You want to be a girl!” said Casey.

  “I had an itch,” said Marvin.

  “You’re so weird,” said Casey.

  “You’re the one who’s weird,” said Marvin. “You think everyone who scratches his back is really trying to kiss his elbow.”

  “Not everyone,” said Casey. “Just you.”

  “Marvin! Casey!” said Mrs. North. “Do I have to separate you two?”

  “Oooh, Marvin and Casey!” said Judy.

  The other kids laughed.

  Marvin buried his head under his arms.

  She’s the one who’s weird, he thought. I would never try to turn into a girl right in the middle of class! I wouldn’t change into a girl anyway. But if I did, I wouldn’t do it in school!

  “Casey,” Melanie said, loud enough for Marvin to hear. “I think Marvin likes you.”

  Casey looked at Marvin. “Oh my gosh,” she said. She bit her finger.

  That was another reason Marvin thought Casey was weird. She always said “Oh my gosh” and bit her finger. And her sideways ponytail was weird, too!

  The bell rang. He went outside to recess.

  “What were you and Casey talking about?” asked Stuart. Stuart Albright was Marvin’s best friend.

  “Nothing,” said Marvin. “She’s so weird.”

  “You don’t like her, do you?” asked Nick. Nick Tuffle was also Marvin’s best friend.

  “No way!” said Marvin. “You want to hear what she said?”

  “What?” asked his two best friends.

  “It’s so weird,” said Marvin. “She said—” He stopped. “She said she talks to dogs and cats!”

  Nick and Stuart laughed.

  “How weird!” said Stuart.

  “She’s so weird,” said Nick.

  They got in line to play wall-ball.

  Marvin didn’t know why he had lied to his two best friends.

  2

  Bugged

  Marvin Redpost lived in a two-story gray house. There was a fence around the house. The fence was all white except for one red post next to the gate.

  Marvin tapped the red post as he walked through the gate.

  He stopped outside the front door. He tried kissing his elbow again.

  “What are you doing, Mar?” asked Jacob, coming home behind him.

  Jacob was Marvin’s older brother.

  Marvin froze. “Uh …” he said. He looked at his bent arm. “I’m practicing karate.”

  “Cool,” said Jacob.

&nbs
p; They walked inside together. Marvin admired his older brother. Jacob was cool.

  There was no way Jacob would ever try to kiss his elbow.

  Marvin also had a little sister named Linzy. Linzy was four.

  “I got a sticker,” Linzy said.

  “Good,” said Marvin. He set down his books on the kitchen counter.

  “You can’t have it,” said Linzy.

  “I don’t want it,” Marvin assured her.

  “I’m telling!” Linzy snapped.

  “What?” asked Marvin.

  “Mommy!” Linzy shouted.

  Their mother came into the kitchen.

  “Marvin said he didn’t like my sticker!” said Linzy. “He said it was a stupid sticker!”

  “I never said that,” said Marvin.

  “Linzy earned that sticker in gymnastics,” Mrs. Redpost said proudly.

  “That’s good, Linzy,” said Marvin.

  “Watch,” said Linzy.

  Marvin watched his sister do a somersault in the hall.

  “That’s great, Linzy!” he told her.

  He meant it, too.

  Marvin couldn’t do a somersault. He just thought girls were better at somersaults than boys.

  Just before going to bed, Marvin tried to kiss his elbow one more time.

  He’d been trying all evening. Between homework problems. Before and after he brushed his teeth. While feeding General Jackson.

  General Jackson was his pet lizard. The General lived in a glass cage next to Marvin’s desk.

  “This is stupid,” Marvin told General Jackson. “Even if I could kiss my elbow, nothing would happen.”

  General Jackson stuck out his tongue.

  Marvin was wearing Ninja Turtle pajamas.

  He liked being a boy. He was glad he was a boy! Girls were stupid and weird. One thing for sure. He did not want to turn into a girl!

  At least not forever. Maybe it would be okay for a few minutes. Just to see what it was like.

  But you can’t turn into a girl just by kissing your elbow, he thought. That was stupid. Casey Happleton was stupid. Why would anyone want to turn into a girl if girls were always saying stupid things like that?

  He tried kissing his elbow again.

  It just bugged him that he couldn’t do it.

  It was twelve o’clock. Midnight.

  Marvin lay asleep, all twisted and tangled in his sheets. He was hugging his pillow.

  A full moon shone through the window.

  He rolled over. Then he flopped back the other way.

  As he rolled and flopped around in his bed, he got more and more tangled in his sheets.

  Then, still hugging his pillow, he rolled right off the edge of the bed.

  But he never hit the floor. He was so tangled that the sheets held him up.

  “Huh-wha?” he said.

  He found himself hanging upside down. All wrapped up like a mummy.

  He tried to get back onto the bed. He pulled a sheet.

  Suddenly his elbow was jerked almost to his mouth. Then it bounced back.

  He tugged the sheet again.

  Again his elbow jerked to his mouth.

  He pulled, then kept on pulling, harder and harder.

  His elbow moved closer and closer.

  It felt like his arm was breaking.

  He stretched out his lips.

  It felt like his shoulder was about to pop out.

  He gave it one hard yank!

  The sheet pulled out from under the mattress. He fell to the floor.

  But as his head hit the carpet, he kissed himself on the elbow.

  3

  Marvin Wears a Dress

  Marvin got up. He checked himself over. He was still a boy.

  Of course he was still a boy!

  He couldn’t wait to tell Casey. That would prove once and for all she was weird.

  He climbed back into bed.

  No, he couldn’t tell Casey, he realized. Then she’d think he was weird for kissing his elbow.

  But he had done it. That was the main thing.

  There’s nothing Marvin Redpost can’t do! he thought.

  He went right to sleep.

  He dreamed he was playing baseball.

  The bases were loaded. Two outs. Last inning. His team was losing by three runs.

  A home run would win the game.

  “Good. Marvin’s up,” said Nick. “Marvin will hit a home run.”

  “There’s nothing Marvin Redpost can’t do,” said Stuart.

  “It’s his elbows,” said Nick. “He has the strongest elbows on the team.”

  Marvin stepped up to the plate.

  The crowd was cheering, “Mar-vin! Mar-vin! Mar-vin!”

  Clarence was the pitcher. Clarence was the toughest kid in Marvin’s class. Maybe in the whole school.

  Marvin tapped the plate with his bat. He raised it above his shoulder.

  Clarence spat on the dirt. He glared at Marvin.

  Marvin waved the bat back and forth. He was afraid of Clarence but tried not to show it.

  Suddenly Clarence laughed.

  Then everyone else laughed too.

  The umpire spoke to Marvin. “I’m sorry, young man,” he said. “But you can’t play. You’re out of uniform.”

  “Huh?” said Marvin.

  He looked down at his clothes. He was wearing a dress.

  4

  Don’t Go to Sleep!

  Marvin woke up screaming.

  His mother came running up the stairs. “Linzy?” she called. “Linzy, are you all right?”

  “It wasn’t Linzy,” Marvin called to her. “It was me, Marvin.”

  “Marvin?” asked his mother. She opened the door to his room.

  “I had a nightmare,” Marvin explained.

  “Do you want to talk about it?”

  “No!” Marvin said right away. He couldn’t tell his mother that he wore a dress!

  “I’m okay,” he said.

  His mother kissed his forehead. “Good night,” she said, and started out the door.

  “Why’d you think I was Linzy?” Marvin asked.

  “I don’t know,” said his mother. “You sounded like Linzy. Go back to sleep.”

  But he didn’t go back to sleep.

  He was afraid of turning into a girl.

  “It’s already started,” he said aloud. “I already sound like a girl.”

  That’s what his mother had said.

  “I sound like Linzy.”

  He listened to the sound of his voice as he spoke. To see if it was true.

  Maybe. It was hard to tell.

  He spoke some more. “Mary had a little lamb. Her fleece was white as snow.”

  His voice did sound a little bit funny.

  “Wait! Why am I talking about Mary and her dumb lamb?”

  That’s a girl poem!

  But his voice did sound different. He was sure of it!

  In school his class had been learning about butterflies and moths. A caterpillar goes to sleep. And when it wakes up, it’s a butterfly.

  He remembered Mrs. North had said, “No one knows exactly how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.”

  Now Marvin had an answer.

  Maybe it kisses its elbow.

  He got out of bed.

  He felt safe, as long as he was awake. He just couldn’t go to sleep. Not until he kissed his elbow again.

  Two hours later he was still trying to kiss his elbow.

  He held his elbow in front of his face and jumped up and down. He thought that maybe if he could jump high enough and fast enough, his mouth would bump into it.

  He stopped jumping. He looked at his bed.

  “I have to go to sleep sometime,” he said, listening to the strange sound of his own voice. “I can’t stay awake forever!”

  He yawned.

  “Boys don’t turn into girls,” Marvin told General Jackson. “I’m just having strange thoughts because it’s so late at night.”

  He l
ooked at his clock. It was almost three thirty! He had school in five hours.

  His eyes closed. He forced them back open.

  “Casey Happleton is just a weird girl,” he told the General.

  General Jackson stuck out his tongue.

  “My mother heard a scream in the night,” Marvin explained to his lizard. “So of course she thought it was Linzy. Because Linzy is her little darling! That doesn’t mean I sound like a girl!”

  That made sense. Except his voice did sound different.

  “I’m probably just getting a cold. From no sleep!”

  He got on his knees. He bent his elbow around one of the legs of his desk chair. Then he tried to meet it from the other side with his mouth.

  He tried another way.

  He tried the other elbow.

  “Casey Happleton is so weird!” he said.

  He looked at his bed.

  When he kissed his elbow the first time, he had been all tangled up in his sheets. Like a mummy.

  So all he had to do was get tangled up in his sheets again!

  He climbed back into bed. He tried to wrap the sheets around himself exactly the way they were before.

  But the bed felt so good. The sheets so cozy.

  He hugged his soft pillow. His eyes closed. He went to sleep.

  Just like a caterpillar in a cocoon.

  5

  The Ugliest Face in the World

  Judy and Melanie were hanging upside down from the monkey bars.

  “Hi, Marvin,” said Judy. “Do you want to come to my slumber party?”

  “Okay,” said Marvin.

  “Oh, goody,” said Melanie. “We can stay up late and paint each other’s toenails.”

  Marvin woke up.

  “No!” he said, almost shouting.

  He wanted to call Judy Jasper on the telephone and tell her he didn’t want to go to her slumber party. And he didn’t want to paint his toenails!

  It was just a dream, he reminded himself.

  A dream?

  He wasn’t supposed to go to sleep!

  He jumped out of bed.

  He checked himself over. He was still a boy.

  He looked at his clock. 3:45. He had been asleep less than five minutes.

 
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