Dictionary Brown was finding it very difficult to concentrate. It was hard enough being the spelling bee champion of the entire fourth grade, without a gigantic cow head slipping over your eyes every two minutes. Dictionary tried to push his cow head upwards over his brow, hoping it would stay put this time.
"Razzmatazz. r-a-z-z-m-a-t-a-z-z. Razzmatazz."
Sally O'Neal, dressed as a bumble bee, gave a winning smile and sat down. Dictionary Brown was looking sorrowful indeed as he realized that his turn was coming up, right after Donald the Mouse and Leonard Alligator. As he looked out into the audience, Dictionary squinted hard against the lights and tried to find his family. They had promised to sit as close to the stage as possible but now they were nowhere to be found.
Dictionary turned his attention back towards the spelling bee and tried to remember all the "S" words he had studied. "Satellite. Studious. Saturate. Soliloquy. Syncopate." The cow head fell again. Mr. Lee's great idea this year was to dress up all the kids in animal costumes for the spelling bee. Mr. Lee had insisted that it would be a change of pace for the children. The twenty three kids of Idaville Middle School, Room B, had loved the idea. However, Dictionary was beginning to think maybe this wasn't the brightest idea Mr. Lee had ever had.
Dictionary originally wanted to be a horse, with pointy ears and a fine long snout. But, Idaville Middle School's mascot was a Bronco, so none of the kids could dress up as a horse of any color. Mr. Lee said that would be "favoritism," which Dictionary later found out was defined as "A display of partiality toward a favored person or group." Whatever that meant. So Dictionary was not a proud bucking bronco like he had wanted to be. Dictionary was now a sagging cow, a costume collected together at the last minute, a cow suit complete with a drooping udder and a head three sizes too large. Dictionary looked very tiny and small up on stage but he held his head up extra super high, in order to make himself more imposing.
"Albert Brown. Your word is Neutralize."
"Neutralize. n-e-u-t-r-a-l-i-z-e. Neutralize."
It wasn't hard for Dictionary to spell. He had always been good at it. In fact, that's how he got his nickname. Dictionary's big brother was the famous boy detective, Encyclopedia Brown. Little Alby Brown used to tag along with Encyclopedia on all his adventures and everybody at school called him "Brownie Junior." That all changed the day Alby won the fourth grade spelling bee. Now his newspaper picture hung proudly on the refrigerator door, right next to Encyclopedia's pictures and awards. The teachers at school started calling Alby "Dictionary" and laughed and gave him a gentle pat on the head whenever he corrected Billy or Josephine's spelling.
Now that Dictionary had been the spelling king of his entire class for a whole year, there was a whole lot of pressure on him. If Dictionary didn't win the fifth grade spelling bee, would they stop calling him "Dictionary?" Dictionary didn't want to just be "Albert Brown" again. He liked to sign his name across the bottom of his papers "Dictionary Brown," with an exclamation mark and a big swirly "D." He didn't know how to make fancy swirly "As" and didn't want to learn either.
"Ellipse. e-l-i-p-s-e. Ellipse."
Donald the Mouse was out. As he meekly scuttled off the stage, a chorus of "squeaks" greeted him. That was Mr. Lee's idea too. Whenever someone missed a word, twenty two little voices would make the appropriate animal sound. "In support and congratulations," Mr. Lee had said. So far there had been lots of "meows" "barks" and "chirp chirps." But no "moos" yet, for which Dictionary was grateful. There would be no "moo-ing" today, not if Dictionary could help it. Just as Dictionary wondered what type of sound an alligator might make, Leonard misspelled "juncture" and the crowd erupted in "aarghs." So that was what an alligator sounded like!
Dictionary's word was "amateur " and he quickly skipped over the two "As" and got to the last "R." Now it was Sally O'Neal's turn. Sally stood up in her black striped sweater and bright yellow leg stockings. Her headband antenna twitched in anticipation. Sally O'Neal was a bit of a know it all. Dictionary had never corrected her spelling. Ever. Sally looked over at Dictionary and made an "oooo" mouth at him, Dictionary thought he heard the "m" before her "ooooo." Dictionary did his very best to stare Sally down from underneath his cow head.
Sally was lost! She didn't know how to spell "heifer!"
"NO. Heifer. h-e-a-f-e-r. Heifer."
*buuuuuuzzzzzzzzzzz * buuuuuuuzzzzzzzzz*