Author: Lis Anna-Langston
Young Adult/Middle Grade
Ever since Dexter and Dougal’s mom passed away, life has been different—but things take a whole new turn when a shooting star turns out to be a creature from outer space! Gobbledy is a fun-filled holiday story that adds up to two brothers, three friends, unlimited jars of peanut butter, a ketchup factory, and one little alien far, far from home.
“Hugely entertaining as well as emotionally moving.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“This charming alien-in-the-attic story boasts engaging characters, witty storytelling, and a furry little beast that will eat anything, all wrapped up in a warm holiday package.” ―Booklife
Lotta Dollar is a madhouse. After circling the lot like a shark, we finally find a parking space. Dad groans and shoves open the car door. It is not the sound of triumph. Holiday shoppers parade up and down the sidewalks, lugging bags.
Dougal walks straight into the center of chaos like a boss. “Let’s go.”
Mismatched stockings and broken candy canes dangle from strings. It’s pretty obvious that the best of Christmas has been strip-mined from this store.
We pass towers of mops, sponges, coat hangers, tape, and bathroom cleaner, to stop in front of a small display of tree skirts and ornaments in dented boxes.
Not a tree in sight.
We look left, then right.
Dougal turns in a complete circle. “Does anyone see a fake tree?”
I shake my head. The rock is warm in my pocket. I want to tell him, but he still seems pretty bothered by the first rock. It’s hard to gauge his moods these days.
While I am contemplating whether to let my little brother in on the new development, Dad flags down a passing saleswoman. “Excuse me, do you have any more Christmas trees?”
She purses her lips together in a way that does not instill hope. “Let’s see. If we’ve got any, they’ll be over here with the dust mops. You’re cutting it a little close aren’t you, mister?”
Dad nods sheepishly, afraid of being reprimanded by a saleswoman with a name tag that reads: Gertie.
“Hmm,” she bends over, pushing boxes out of the way. Grunting under her breath, she finally rises up with a triumphant, “Got one!”
Crammed in between a display of dust mops and Green Clean is the most dented box I’ve ever seen. Gertie drags the box into the middle of the aisle and rips the tape off the cardboard flap with her teeth. “Hey, it looks like you’re in for a deal.” Spinning the box around, she points to the fifty percent off sticker.
Judging by the looks of the box, it should have a “Free” sticker.
She lowers her voice. “Oh, goodness.”
Dougal crinkles his noise in disbelief. “What is it?”
Gertie sighs. “It looks like this is one of our designer models.”
Dad raises an eyebrow. “That's a good thing, right?”
Gertie thrusts her hand into the box and pulls out a gnarled, faux tree branch.
Dad shivers. “It's pink.”
“Yep.” She jams the pink branch back into the box. “This year they came in ice blue, purple and pink. This is the last one. Lucky you.” With a hearty nudge to the ribs, Gertie laughs. “Want me to have it gift-wrapped for you?”
Reaching for the box, Dad pulls a tight frown across his face. “We'll take it as-is.”
The station wagon croaks. Christmas carols crackle from the plastic speakers. I’m inhaling a box of grape Nerds when Dougal smacks me hard in the chest, and I spew candy all over the back of the seat.
“What?” I growl under my breath.
Fi runs across her front yard, frantically waving her arms. When I finally make eye contact, she jerks her thumb up to our house.
I lean over, craning my neck to look out the window. She makes all these weird hand gestures and pinches her forehead tight, like she does when she’s worried.
A Nerd goes down the wrong way and I choke.
Dad looks at me in the rearview mirror. “Dexter, what now?”
I swallow and manage to croak, “Red-breasted Robin in the birch tree.”
“Oh,” Dad says. “Kinda late in the season for Robins.”
As soon as he lowers his eyes from the mirror, I mouth the words This can't be good, to Dougal.
Dad turns into the driveway, and I press the button to release my seat belt.
As soon as the station wagon comes to a complete stop, Fi jerks my door open, yells, “Afternoon, Mr. D,” and pulls me out of the car. I abandon my bag of candy and run, ignoring Dad’s calls to come help him with the pink tree monstrosity.
“What is going on?”
Fi grabs my hand and we run over to her front yard, and stand behind the mulberry bush. “Somehow Gobbledy got out on the roof,” Fi says, breathlessly.
My eyes shoot to the roof, but I don't see anything, “Okay. So, we'll lure him back in.” Before she says another word, I know what happened. The broken latch on the attic window made it flap in the breeze, and he crawled out.
Dougal joins us behind the bushes, turning in all directions. “What is that noise?”
I stop talking, and listen. “Traffic?”
“Yeah. So, what's with all of the tires squealing and honking?”
I love a good disaster as much as anyone. But the truth is I have my own disaster. Gobbledy on the roof means no sunny shores. No pirate’s gold. The future is one long dirty look from my dad and Code Red forever.
Honk. Honk. Honk. Honk.
“I think Gobbledy went back to the forest,” Fi says.
“What? I thought you said he was on the roof?”
“That's how he got out. I saw him on the cameras, but he's not up there anymore. I checked.”
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Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gobbledy-lis-anna-langston/1136387036