Roxie and the Hooligans are back and this time, Smoky Jo is swiped by a kidnapper who is as blunder-prone as Roxie, Uncle Dangerfoot, and Lord Thistlebottom are clever.
Roxie is back! And that means the Hooligans are not far behind. The last time we saw the lot of them, they were being honored as town heroes for thwarting a bank robbery. Now these friends find more trouble afoot…that is, Uncle Dangerfoot to be exact. Roxie’s most beloved uncle is taking her on vacation to a beach house, and of course the Hooligans sneak along.
But their little beach vacation is not what it seems when the Hooligans unveil the secret invention Uncle Dangerfoot has been hiding from his nemesis, who would do anything to get his hands on it. So when one of those rowdy, messy, trouble-making Hooligans goes missing, the suspect is obvious. But, when it comes to those LOUD, mess-making, rambunctious, always-hungry, ill-mannered Hooligans, what’s worse: Missing a Hooligan? Or staying sane while keeping her hostage?!
Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard’s Roost ● ON THE ROAD ●
After Roxie became friends with the hooligans, they were still a troublesome lot.
Helvetia Hagus, the sturdy girl with knee socks rolled down to her ankles, would often bump another child out of line, just so she could stand next to Roxie at lunchtime.
Simon Surly would punch the nose of any boy in Public School Number Thirty-Seven who dared make fun of Roxie’s big ears.
Freddy Filch would swipe a toffee candy from a classmate just to slip it into Roxie’s pocket at recess.
And wiry little Smoky Jo would follow Roxie around like a shadow, telling everyone, in her squeaky voice, that she and Roxie Warbler were a team.
Because everyone along this little stretch of New England shoreline, from the town of Hasty Pudding to Hamburger-on-Bun, and even those in the village of Swiss-on-Rye, knew the story by heart: how Roxie and the hooligans had outsmarted the bank robbers, making their small village of Chin-in-Hand proud!
None of that would have happened, however, if the hooligans hadn’t been perfectly dreadful to Roxie because of her large ears, and to Norman, her best friend, just because he wore glasses. They had teased and tormented and tripped and trapped them so often that Roxie had gone to Public School Number Thirty-Seven each morning with an ache in the pit of her stomach.
And then . . . the awful day that the hooligans had chased her into a dumpster, all piling in after her, and a truck had arrived to cart it off to a barge, which was emptied far out at sea. Somehow the children had managed to swim to an island where two bank robbers were hiding . . . .
If it hadn’t been for Norman back on the playground, who, even though the hooligans had knocked his glasses off, had figured out what was happening with the dumpster, there might never have been the dramatic rescue by helicopter that was talked about for many weeks.
Roxie, however, was a bit tired of all the attention, and was delighted when school was out for the summer, because Uncle Dangerfoot was taking her on vacation to a place called Buzzard’s Roost to celebrate her daring adventure.
“I wish you and Daddy were coming too,” Roxie said as her mother brushed her hair. Roxie’s ears stuck straight out from her head like the handles on a sugar bowl, so her hair was often a tangle.
“I do too, Love, but Papa and I have to tend the shop,” her mother said. “You’ll come back and tell us all about it. And don’t forget to take your bathing suit and sandals.”
Right that very minute, Uncle Dangerfoot drove up to the cottage in a car that pulled a small trailer. A beach umbrella stuck out one window of the trailer, and a kite bobbed from the other. Across the street, the hooligans watched, their mouths turned down at the corners.
Mrs. Warbler had tea and crumpets ready for him when Uncle Dangerfoot came up the walk. The man who had wrestled alligators and jumped from planes was not to be kept waiting, and he never began a trip without a good, bracing cup of hot tea.
He wore a jungle helmet and a tan safari jacket with brass buttons. And, as always, he carried a long slender cane, which could, in an instant, become a harpoon, a gun, an umbrella, or a walking stick, depending on the circumstances and the weather.
Nine-year-old Roxie always looked forward to his visits, for he had traveled all over the world with Lord Thistlebottom from London. And Lord Thistlebottom was the famous author of the book Lord Thistlebottom’s Book of Pitfalls and How to Survive Them.
“Come in! Come in!” said Roxie’s father, shaking the uncle’s hand and ushering him to the big easy chair with a footstool at the ready.
This time, however, instead of telling the family about his latest adventure, Uncle Dangerfoot asked, “How are you getting along with that hooligan bunch now, Roxie?”
“Well,” she replied, “Helvetia doesn’t try to tape my ears back anymore.”
Mrs. Warbler folded her hands in her lap and smiled. “Because Roxie was the only one who could hear those robbers creeping through the forest, so what would they have done without her?”
“And Simon doesn’t throw things at me anymore,” said Roxie.
Her father was smiling proudly too. “Because Roxie showed them how to dig a trench and hide in it at night when those robbers came looking for them,” he told Uncle Dangerfoot.
“Freddy Filch doesn’t hit me anymore,” said Roxie.
Mrs. Warbler made a clicking sound with her tongue. “And shameful that he ever did!” she declared. “But he’ll not be hitting you again, after you were the one to slip into those robbers’ tent and get food and water for the others.”
“And Smoky Jo follows me wherever I go, just in case I need her,” said Roxie.
“Thinks the world of our Roxie, ever since she saw her eat a bug,” said Mr. Warbler with a chuckle. “Mean and sassy as those kids can be, not a one was brave enough to eat an insect if they had to.”
“It was a grub,” Roxie explained. “Wrapped in a dandelion leaf.”
“Aha! Survival food! Page 243 of Lord Thistlebottom’s book!” cried her uncle. “Jolly good!”
“So we get along,” Roxie explained. “Sometimes I wish they wouldn’t hang around so much, but it’s better being friends than enemies.”
“Absolutely,” said her uncle. “And speaking of friends, I promised that you could invite a friend. Have you decided who that will be?”
“Norman!” Roxie told him. “He’s been my best friend forever, and he’s packed and waiting.”
“Then we shall drink our tea and be off before it gets much later,” said her uncle. When he had finished his crumpet, he turned to Roxie’s mother: “I’ve hired a housekeeper for the week to watch over the children, dear sister; she’ll look after Roxie’s every need.”
“You are so kind,” Mrs. Warbler told him.
So Roxie said good-bye to her parents and carried her small suitcase to the car. The hooligans were gone now, but three blocks away, Uncle Dangerfoot stopped at the little house where Norman was waiting with his backpack. He was a chubby boy with thick glasses, who the hooligans used to tease and torment just as they had bullied Roxie.
Norman said good afternoon to Uncle Dangerfoot, tossed his backpack into the car, and climbed in beside Roxie. And soon they were on their way.
* * *
It was almost five hours later, and evening, when they reached a large old house that sat back a bit from the ocean, surrounded by scraggly trees and sea grass.
Roxie’s big ears caught the sound of waves breaking onshore. She rolled down the window to smell the sea air. Though her little village of Chin-in-Hand was also not far from the ocean, it had no beach, no sand, no place for children to wade or swim; the water was cold, and there were certainly no beach houses like this one.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written more than 135 books, including the Newbery Award–winning Shiloh and its sequels, the Alice series, Roxie and the Hooligans, and Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard’s Roost. She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. To hear from Phyllis and find out more about Alice, visit AliceMcKinley.com.
Alexandra Boiger is the illustrator of numerous children’s books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins. Ms. Boiger lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. Visit her at AlexandraBoiger.com.