Charles McCheese and The Childhood News Network by @EmmaJeanAuthor is a Pot O Gold event pick #mglit



Title: Charles McCheese and The Childhood News Network


Author: Emma Jean


Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction


Book Blurb:


Have you ever watched the grown up news?


Then you know it’s the worst!


That’s why Charles McCheese and his reporters had to start the Childhood News Network, where they could report on topics that kids love, like puppy videos, fighter jets, the zoo, and ninjas.


Everything was going fine, until the team stumbled upon the Taco Tuesday conspiracy. Now the kid reporters are lost all over the world, and Charles is forced to consider shutting down the station.


Charles McCheese and The Childhood News Network

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Keeping It Local



The camera zoomed in on Charles McCheese. He was probably the best looking eleven-year-old in Southwest Florida. He was definitely the only eleven-year-old who could boast of having his own news station: The Childhood News Network. Now, it was time for his show.


“Good morning sunny Southwest Florida! I’m Charles McCheese, and I want to thank you for tuning into The Childhood News Network. The only network that keeps grown-ups out of the news!”


Charles picked up his note card and read, “Our first story today comes to us from our very own Thea Washington.”


The television screen split in two. Half the screen showed Charles sitting at his desk. The other half showed a small, smart-looking, brown haired girl.


She was standing in front of a gray warehouse. The warehouse had a giant cheeseburger statue on the roof.


“Thea,” Charles continued, “I hear you’re at the Cheeseburger Factory, just down the road from our studio.”


“That’s right Charles,” Thea said. “And as we all know, all the cheeseburgers served in Florida come from this very building.”


“So what’s the problem?” Charles asked.


“The problem is in the skies,” Thea said, pointing a finger upwards.


The camera followed Thea’s finger towards the sky. A cheeseburger crash landed right on the lens. Ketchup smeared across the screen but the viewers could just make out a crow flying in the distance. The crow had dropped the cheeseburger. He was carrying three additional cheeseburgers in his beak. No wonder he’d dropped one!


The ketchup-y camera turned back to Thea who pointed to the chimney of the burger factory. A swarm of black birds disappeared down the brick chimney. Then moments later, they flew out with their beaks full of burgers.


“What on earth?” Charles asked.


“As you can see, Charles, the crows are robbing the Cheeseburger Factory as we speak!” Thea said.


“What are the adults doing about this?” Charles asked.


“As of now, nothing. The Childhood News Network is the only station covering this crime spree. I’ve seen police cars drive by and not even stop to help!” Thea said. She sounded worried.


“What does this mean for Florida’s cheeseburger supply?” Charles asked.


“I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but we may not be eating cheeseburgers for a long, long time.”


Just then another crow dropped a burger right on top of Thea’s head.


“These crows are messy eaters Thea. You better get out of there,” Charles suggested.


Thea nodded, then said, “This is Thea Washington signing off.”


The camera turned back to show only Charles. “That was scary stuff,” he concluded. “I hope Thea makes it out of that crow robbery safely.”


Up next we have Lilly Bottoms right out back at Marino Park. Marino Park, my favorite park and yours too. A big thank you to our sponsor Marino Park. And now here’s Lilly Bottoms with the Park Pulse.”


The screen split again to show both Charles and Lilly. Lilly was a very muscular ten-year-old, who always wore bows in her blonde pigtails. She wore pink rubber glasses and had a reddish nose.


“Lilly what have you got for us today?” Charles asked.


Lilly stared into the camera through her thick glasses.


“Lilly, are you there?” Charles asked.


“Yes,” Lilly said, her eyes still on the camera.


“Okay—so Lilly what have you got for us today?” Charles asked again.


“Nothing,” she said.


“Okay. Thank you, Lilly,” Charles said, his image filling the whole screen once more.


“Next, we’ll be checking in with my buddy, Nicholas,” he continued cheerfully. “Nicholas, where are you today?”


The camera screen split again, this time showing a bright eyed, eager boy with longish hair, that the wind kept blowing into his eyes.


“I’m at the zoo!”


“Wow, Nicholas, the zoo is all the way downtown. What are you doing there, buddy?” Charles asked.


“I’m here because I’ve uncovered a conspiracy!”


“Not a conspiracy!” The microphone had picked up the voice of Lilly Bottoms who was back in the studio, but off camera.


Charles McCheese shot her a look that said: Be Quiet!


Next the audience heard a faint giggle from Lilly then the shuffle of her feet as she left the studio in answer to Charles’s second angry look in her direction.


“Viewers, I’d like to apologize for that interruption,” Charles said, “Now Nicholas, what exactly is going on at the zoo?”


“Remember Cupcake the lion cub?” Nicholas asked.


“Who could forget? Here at The Childhood News Network, we love that little lion!”


“Well, he’s missing!” Nicholas blurt out.


“WHAT?!?!” Lilly Bottoms shouted from the other room.


Charles McCheese’s normally calm face turned bright red. “We’ll be right back with this shocking story after a quick word from our sponsors,” he said, pausing the broadcast.


He jumped up from his seat and ran into the break room where he found Lilly Bottoms.


“Lilly what are you doing? This is a professional broadcast. We’re the only children’s news channel on cable television. Do you know how hard it is to compete with the adult news for viewers?” Charles questioned her, in a very adult-like way.


“Not hard at all,” Lilly said. “Grown-up news is the worst!”


“The worst,” Charles had to agree. “But still, Lilly, I need you to be quiet in the