Award-winning book shared

Susan Manzke
Now Media Group

To celebrate my novel, 'Chicken Charlie's Year,' winning two awards in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, I'm sharing a portion today.

This is part of the first chapter. It is set in 1933. Hope you enjoy it.

Charlie and Wally go Sledding

Besides finding a wringer washer tub with a nice round bottom in the alley, the boys also found Joey and Ziggy. The brothers had tied a piece of rope to a curved sheet of metal that had once been the hood of a car. Together they were dragging it toward the sledding hill.

The washer tub went on top of the makeshift toboggan and all four boys pulled on the rope Joey had rigged up. It was a job getting all that to the top of the hill, but they didn't care. The ride down would be worth it.

Some other guys were already sliding when they got there. Al and another kid rode flattened cardboard boxes. Shorty had his old man's coal shovel, which left black marks in the snow as he skidded down the hill.

'Let me ride first,' said Wally. 'I've done this before.'

Charlie agreed and helped his friend into the tub. 'Ready?'

Wally had to wiggle to get his body folded just right, but soon he said, 'Ready. Give her all you got.'

Charlie planted his feet and gave the tub a shove. At first, the tub didn't want to move. Charlie had to get down on all fours and push with his shoulder. In no time, the tub slid away and down the hill. All Charlie could see of his friend was the top of his wool cap as Wally peeked over the edge.

The tub spun around, sending Wally down the hill backwards. Thump! The tub hit a bump and flipped on its side. This sent Wally rolling down the hill, and with each turn he picked up speed.

'HELP!' cried Wally.

'Hop on, Charlie,' yelled Joey from his makeshift sled. 'We'll catch up to him.'

Charlie climbed onto the car hood behind Joey, who was behind Ziggy. Sitting way at the back end made the hood seem a whole lot smaller.

All the other guys pulled on the rope or pushed on Charlie's back to get the trio moving. After a few heaves, the car hood took off down the hill. As it picked up speed, Charlie decided it was a good thing there were no trees on this hill. This kind of sled had absolutely no steering.

Suddenly, they hit the same bump that had tipped Wally's tub. As they flew into the air, Joey and Ziggy pushed back, sending Charlie off the back of the sled. He would have tumbled free, but a bolt on the hood caught hold of Charlie's pants.

The thin material let loose with a rip, but Charlie's underwear didn't. The new wool was too strong. Instead of tearing, it pulled away from Charlie's bottom, and that's the way he went down the hill – on his bare behind, attached to the sled by the seat of the long johns.

'Whoa!' Charlie howled. Snow slid under his jacket and shirt, but that didn't bother him as much as the hot snow his butt skimmed over. He knew it was frozen, but it sure felt HOT.

'Joey, stop!' Charlie yelled. He cursed in Lithuanian, which everyone understood, but Joey and Ziggy could no more stop the hood than they could stop a bullet.

Finally, they ran out of hill near Wally's tub.

'Help me out,' called a muffled voice from inside the tub. When Joey pulled Wally free, the boy staggered to the left, then to the right. Finally Joey grabbed hold of him and Wally stood still. 'I'm okay, a little dizzy, but okay.'

Charlie's pants and bottom hadn't done as well. His pants' had given way and split down the back. Joey came over. 'Need some help?'

Charlie shrugged away from him, pulling closed the long underwear's back door as fast as he could, and tugging at his pants. 'I'm fine,' said Charlie as he turned to face his friends. 'Just caught my pants.' Cold tickled him through the rip, yet his behind felt really warm.

'You goin' home?' asked Wally, who looked a little green.

'Not yet,' said Charlie. 'But next time, someone else can sit on the back of Joey and Ziggy's sled.'

I sell copies of this book for $10. It is also on Amazon and Kindle. If all else fails, check your library.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;