Russ Thompson: No Place to Hide

This is from an easy-to-read series of novels for teens who are reluctant readers. It has short sentences, short chapters, and simple vocabulary.

Chapter One

Now They Know

ENGLISH. Period six. I know I'm not a good reader. But I know how to cover it up.

I smile at the teachers, keep my hand down, print neatly, and nod when they explain things.

I'm in the tenth grade now, so I've been doing it for a long time.

The teacher comes to the front of the classroom. We have a sub again.

She's old, kind of hunched over, with a tired look on her face.

"My name is Ms. Gulliver," she says. "You will pay attention, do your work, and raise your hand to speak. If there's a problem, you will get detention. I will also call your parents."

I know how to act in class, so this doesn't bother me.

"Another thing I want you to know, is that I do not call on volunteers," she says. "I will call on you at random from the roll book. You will have to be ready at all times."

Now, I'm worried.

She hands out some papers.

"This is a news article from the Conroy Courier," she says. "Please begin reading. When you finish, write one paragraph to explain what it's about."

A picture in the article shows an old man standing next to a cop car. I can only read some of the words.

I pick out some sentences and begin copying. I don't understand what the article is about. But at least my printing is neat.

Ten minutes pass.

"Time's up," Ms. Gulliver says. "Please read your paragraph when I call on you."

She looks in the roll book. I feel nervous.

"Jessie Soto," she says. "Please begin."

I'm glad she didn't call on me. He reads his paragraph smoothly.

Ms. Gulliver looks in the roll book again. I hunch down in my seat. I don't want her to call on me.

"Owen Daniels," she says. "Your turn."

I pretend not to hear. Maybe she'll call on somebody else.

"Owen Daniels," Ms. Gulliver says. "Please begin."

Everybody looks at me. I'm probably turning red.

I don't know all the words. But I have to read.

"Conroy Police are looking for three ar... armed sus... suspects in connect... connection... with a home inva... invasion... robbery on Sunday. The vic... victim, a 62-year-old man, was stuck... struck... in the head with a handgun and received mul... multiply... lacer... lacerations. Cash and jewels were taken from the resi... residence."

Now they know. There's no place to hide. I just showed everyone how dumb I am.

Russ Thompson: No Place to Hide
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