Alan’s Talking Pet

“A fine chance I have to win,” Alan mumbled to Jerry as they each read the poster in the library that announced the pet contest.

“The sign says that the boy or girl who brings the most unusual pet will win swimming tickets for the summer,” Jerry reminded him. “It doesn’t say that the pet has to do any tricks or anything.”

“I know,” Alan grumbled. “But Karen has a talking parakeet, Jimmy has a talking parrot, you’re bringing your talking myna bird, and Susan is sure to bring her singing canary.”

“Why don’t you enter Pokey in the contest?” Jerry asked.

“Pokey?” Alan questioned, surprised that Jerry would even mention such a thing. “Who ever heard of a talking turtle?”

“How about that owl your father found in the woods?” Jerry suggested. “His broken leg is healed now.”

“Who-Who can’t talk or sing,” Alan complained. “That bird can’t do anything!”

“Well, you’d better think of something quick,” Jerry advised as he turned the corner and headed toward his house. “The contest is tomorrow.”

Alan didn’t answer. He just kicked at a rock and walked on home.

All evening Alan tried to think of a pet to enter in the contest. He didn’t have much money for swimming this year, and winning the contest would be a big help.

When Alan went to bed, he still had not thought of a pet for the contest.

Early the next morning Alan had an idea. He quickly jumped out of bed, and before long he was on his way to the pet show carrying a cage that was covered with a cloth. He didn’t want the other children to see his surprise pet until the right time.

Soon Alan arrived at the library where the contest was being held. He sat on the front row and placed the covered cage on the floor beside him.

“May I show my pet first?” he asked Mr. Simpson, the man in charge.

“Everyone wants to be first,” Mr. Simpson laughed. “There are twenty-three entries. We’ll draw numbers from this box. The person getting number one will be first. Number two will be second, and so on.”

Alan drew number twenty-three. He would have to be last!

Susan was first, and she carried her singing canary to the front of the room.

“Tweet-tweet,” sang the canary. “Tweet-tweet-tweet.” The boys and girls all clapped.

Karen took her talking parakeet to the platform.

“Pretty boy,” said the parakeet. “Pretty boy,” he repeated again and again. The children laughed. They liked the parakeet.

Next Jimmy carried his parrot to the front of the room.

“Help! Help!” squawked the parrot, hopping about his cage. “Help, I’m hungry!” The children cheered. “The parrot will be the winner,” someone said.

Jerry was fourth. His myna bird glanced about the room.

“Stop the traffic!” the myna bird shouted like a policeman. “Stop! Stop!” he repeated. Everybody cheered and laughed. They had never seen a police bird.

At last it was Alan’s turn. He carried the cloth-covered cage to the front of the room.

“I wonder what it is,” someone whispered.

Quickly Alan pulled back the cloth. Some boys in the back of the room stood so that they could see better.

“But Who-Who can’t talk,” Jerry whispered out loud. Everyone giggled.

“I know who you are,” Alan said to the owl.

“Who,” said the owl, and a roar of clapping filled the room. Jerry’s eyes grew large and round—almost as big and round as the owl’s eyes.

Alan turned to the owl, “Tell the boys and girls who you are.”

“Who-Who,” said the owl, and everyone cheered and laughed louder than before.

“Alan’s the winner!” shouted the boys.

“Alan and Who-Who!” shouted the girls.

The judges agreed, and a big smile spread across Alan’s face as he accepted the swimming tickets.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Nina Grover