“THIS IS WHERE we’re going to live now?” said Doodlebug Pinkley.
“Weird,” said Dandelion.
They stared out at the house from inside the Burpmobile. The Burpmobile was the long, bright green school bus the Pinkleys drove around in. Every time they started the engine, big belching booms burst from the tailpipe. It was as if the bus were having a burping fit.
“Our new home!” said Mr. Pinkley, honking into his handkerchief. He had a bit of a nose-blowing problem.
“Woo-hoo!” said Mrs. Pinkley. “Home, sweet new home.”
“Looks like a crazy, all-over-the-place house to me,” said Dandelion.
“That’s why it’s called Casa Bizarro!” said Mr. Pinkley.
“That pretty much means ‘strange house,’” explained Mrs. Pinkley. “ ‘Casa’ is Spanish for ‘house.’ ”
“We know that!” Doodlebug and Dandelion both said instantly. They giggled because it was clearly a perfect name for the place.
The new house looked like it had started out as a small, fancy cottage. It looked as if, little by little, more parts had been built on. Now it jutted out sideways and upward and straight behind, like it had never been able to stop growing. It had windows of all shapes and sizes, like an animal with a zillion misplaced eyes. Dandelion and Doodlebug grinned at each other. Casa Bizarro looked like a fantastic place to live!
“Let’s go, Pinkleys!” said Mr. Pinkley.
Doodlebug scooped up Choo-Choo, their red Abyssinian kitten. He popped her into his backpack so only her head was sticking out. Kazoo, their pygmy owl, perched on Dandelion’s shoulder. One by one the Pinkleys climbed down from the bus. Don’t, the family dog, bounded down with them.
The Pinkleys talked excitedly all the way up to the humongous front door. But when they got there, nobody seemed to have the door key.
“I thought you had it,” Mrs. Pinkley said to Mr. Pinkley.
“But I thought you had it,” he replied.
Before the move, every Pinkley had carried the key around for a while. It was one of those old, skinny keys known as a skeleton key. They thought of it as a good luck charm. But now it was lost!
“First one to find it gets to pick what’s for first night’s dinner at Casa Bizarro!” Dandelion hollered. Of course, everyone agreed.
The mad hunt was on. Mr. Pinkley went back to the Burpmobile to snoop around under the seats. Mrs. Pinkley sat on the lawn and dumped out her giant purse full of odds and ends. Dandelion began checking all thirteen pockets of her long, crazy-quilt coat, one by one. Doodlebug inspected his backpack, but the key wasn’t there.
Not good! He really had to find that key so he could have his favorite dish that night: beetle-nut squash stew. If Dandelion found it, for sure she’d order green pea pie with cod-liver-cream crust. Doodlebug was just not in the mood for that again!
He scratched his head as he looked around at the others. The way they were all wildly pawing through things, they looked like a bunch of mad gerbils on the loose.
“Oh no!” Mr. Pinkley suddenly exclaimed. He was now standing looking down into the gutter. Everyone moaned as they gathered round. There, at the bottom of a grated drain, lay the house key--completely out of reach.
There was quite a bit of moaning and groaning and head scratching.
“Why haven’t we got that monkey yet?” Dandelion complained, “A monkey could reach it.”
Everyone nodded sadly. Then Doodlebug had a brainstorm. He whipped into his backpack. He pulled out a long piece of string and his trusty horseshoe magnet. He tied the string to the middle of the magnet. Then he lowered the magnet down between two of the grate’s metal bars. After a little dipping and bobbing, the magnet finally snapped up the key.
Doodlebug carefully pulled the magnet up, with the key stuck fast to it. Everyone cheered. Mr. Pinkley honked into his handkerchief, long and hard. They all happily agreed to eat beetle-nut squash stew for dinner that night.
Dandelion got to unlock the front door. She gently pushed the door open. It shuddered and creaked as it swung wide. The Pinkleys peeked in, holding their breath. There before them was their new life. It looked like it would be a very good time.