My Near-death Adventures: I Almost Died. Again. by Alison DecampMy Near-death Adventures: I Almost Died. Again. by Alison Decamp

My Near-death Adventures: I Almost Died. Again.

byAlison Decamp

Hardcover | July 5, 2016

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Fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and humorous historical fiction will embrace this follow-up to My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!), which Publishers Weekly called an “exuberant first novel.”
It is 1895 Michigan. But now, instead of helping out rough-and-tumble lumberjacks, Stanley Slater (aka Stan the Man) must go to school. And on top of that, he has to look after Cuddy, a younger boy, before and after school.
When his ne’er-do-well father shows up in town, Stan finally has a chance to meet the man he’s dreamed about for so long. Plus, it will give Stan a chance to impress the infamous Captain Slater. (Stan is a whiz at impressing people, he doesn’t mind saying.) But Captain Slater isn’t quite what Stan expected. In fact, Stan isn’t so sure he wants to be like his dad— Captain Slater—at all.
Praise for My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!)
“A knee-slapper of a debut. . . . 100 percent engaging.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Hilarious and heartbreaking. . . . 99–100% fantastic.” —Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production, School Library Journal

An “exuberant first novel.” —Publishers Weekly

“Stan’s story is full of his hilarious misunderstandings and overactive imagination. Interspersed throughout are pictures and news clippings embellished with wisecrack remarks, speech bubbles, and the occasional mustache.” —Booklist

“The humor and accessible format may make this a diverting quick pick for historical fiction fans.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Like Stan, Alison DeCamp grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Her family history consists of stories of life in lumber camps and old scrapbooks. A graduate of Michigan State University, Alison is a former middle and high school language arts teacher. She now works at Between the Covers, a bookstore in Harbor Springs, Michigan, a...
Title:My Near-death Adventures: I Almost Died. Again.Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 8.5 × 5.9 × 1 inPublished:July 5, 2016Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385390483

ISBN - 13:9780385390484


Read from the Book

Chapter 1  What now, Stan? Huh? What do you want to do now?” Cuddy Carlisle’s questions come at me like two hundred hungry mosquitoes buzzing around my head--they’re hard to ignore and for some reason make me itchy. “Do you have a rash?” Cuddy’s eyebrows scrunch together as he peers up at me. “’Cause Mother says I am sensitive to rashes, Stan. I need to be careful.” I shake my head to reassure him. “No, no rash, Cuddy.” Although just the mention of rashes and my skin starts tingling. “Whew! That was a close one, wasn’t it, Stan?” Cuddy chuckles before thankfully switching the topic. “Can we go to your house? Can I see that scrapbook of yours? Remember? You promised!” It’s true. I did. He was with me when I got the mail the other day. In it was a package from my good friend Stinky Pete. He’s a lumberjack, not a pirate. Anyway, Stinky Pete sent me what is now my Most Prized Possession. My very own Mark Twain Self-Pasting Scrapbook. It’s so fancy, it doesn’t even need paste! Unfortunately, I told Cuddy he could see my scrapbook someday, and now I haven’t heard the end of it. In fact, I haven’t heard the end of a lot of things, like all three verses of “After the Ball,” plus the verse that goes: After the ball was over, Bonnie took out her glass eye, Put her false teeth in the water, hung up her wig to dry, Placed her false arm on the table, laid her false leg on the chair, After the party was over, Bonnie was only half there! Which was hilarious the first time I heard it, four years ago, and not the fifty-six times I’ve heard Cuddy bellow it in the last two days. Why did I ever think it was a good idea to teach Cuddy that song in the first place? And why, oh, why did I have to run into Cuddy’s mother while escaping from Mad Madge and her hooligan cousin Nincompoop? Yes, Mad Madge is a girl. But she’s unlike any other eleven-year-old girl I’ve ever seen. The only other person who comes close to her is my cousin Geri, and believe you me, that’s not a good thing. Madge is mean and surly and uses words I’ve never heard before. Let’s just say I’m highly suspicious of (a) her real age, and (2) her parents. I’m pretty sure one of them is a grizzly bear. She is also fast. But not as fast as me. My heart was pumping as I zigzagged through the streets like a champ, making my getaway. I was as light-footed as a bare-knuckle boxer in the ring, and I was pretty sure Mad Madge couldn’t catch me if she had wanted to. Until, that is, I bumped into Mrs. Carlisle, a woman whose bones are so weak my slight nudge left her with a broken leg. That little accident also left me with the task of watching her son, Cuddy Carlisle, while she is on the mend and left my mama with the task of doing the Carlisles’ laundry. For free. “Also, Stan,” Cuddy says, tugging on my sleeve, “if you didn’t help watch me, Mother was going to have your mother pay for part of her medical bills, remember? Remember that part?” There is no way Mama would be able to help pay anyone else’s bills--we can barely pay our own. And when will I learn to keep my thoughts to myself instead of letting them flow through my lips like water from a well? “I don’t know when you’ll learn that lesson, Stan,” Cuddy says. His hands are red and sticky from the penny candy clenched in his pudgy fingers. “C’mon, Cuddy,” I sigh. “Let’s go run those errands.” I try to flatten the list Mrs. Carlisle gave me. It’s long and will require at least four stops, which means Cuddy will talk to every single shop owner and customer and I won’t get back to the boardinghouse to help Mama until all the boarders have eaten and all that’s left for my growling stomach is a dry crust of bread and a pinch of salt. “Here, Stan! You can have my candy!” Cuddy’s hand juts into my face. The candy is covered with gullyfluff from his pocket and is glued to his hand like a sixth finger. I’m no stranger to dirt or lint, but even I have my limits. “Um, no thanks, Cuddy,” I say. Kids. “What did you say, Stan?” Cuddy runs to keep up with me. I think quickly. I can’t insult him. After all, I did make his mother an invalid. And even though he’s only seven, calling him a kid can send him into a minor tantrum. “Squids, Cuddy. I said ‘squids.’ ” “Why, Stan? Why were you talking about squids? Have you ever seen a squid? I know all about the giant squid! Do you want to hear about it?” I shake my head no, but it doesn’t matter. Cuddy is going to tell me about the giant squid anyway. “Mother says my uncle Cuthbert--that’s who I was named after--traveled all over the world and that’s why I can’t ever sit still. I’m just like him. So my uncle Cuthbert found a giant squid once in Newfoundland. Do you know where that is, Stan?” He never waits for me to answer. “It’s in Canada, Stan. Do you know where Canada is, Stan? Huh? Do you?” I nod and turn down the street toward the mercantile, gazing out over the milky, half-frozen bay, trains and ships steaming up the gray sky. I’m trying to keep both of Cuddy’s feet on the boardwalk and out of the dirty, muddy road; Cuddy’s grandmother doesn’t appreciate a dirty Cuddy. Mama says my accident with Mrs. Carlisle could have been worse--keeping an eye on Cuddy is a small price to pay. If we had had to help with Mrs. Carlisle’s medical bills, we would have ended up in the poorhouse. Or if the weather were warmer, I’d be required to cart Cuddy’s mom around on a Carrycycle like Jim McMaster does with his grandmother, Old Mrs. McMaster. Although everyone knows he only does that so she’ll keep him in her will. I look over Mrs. Carlisle’s list:  1. Toilet soap 2. One tooth polisher 3. Cocoa 4. Baking powder 5. Shaving stick 6. Pick up order from Steinberg’s  We’re directly in front of Steinberg’s so we dodge a couple of horses and slide in to pick up Mrs. Carlisle’s order. We pass shelves of cotton fabric stacked to the ceiling, some ready-made trousers and dresses, and thread displayed like candy behind glass counters. Cuddy picks up a vase full of buttons. “Look, Stan! Look! I can balance this on my head!” I rush over just in time to catch the vase before it crashes to the floor. “Nice catch, Stan!” He tries to clap but somehow his hands get stuck. I set the vase carefully down on the counter, hoping no one notices how sticky it is, and I realize his candy is gone. “Cuddy,” I say, grabbing both his shoulders, “where is your candy?” “I thtuck it in my mouth.” He grins and juice runs down his chin. I quickly wipe it up with my coat sleeve. “Hi, Stan! Hey there, Cuddy!” Mr. Steinberg says. I push Cuddy and his sticky self behind me, praying he doesn’t touch anything. “You picking up Mrs. Carlisle’s order?” I nod. “I’ll have that ready for you straightaway.” “Do you know anything about giant squids, Mr. Steinberg?” Cuddy asks, peeking around my back. “Did you know they eat children and dogs?” he continues without waiting for a reply. Mr. Steinberg hands me a brown paper package and laughs. “No, Cuddy. Can’t say as I was aware of that fact,” he says before turning to answer the telephone. “C’mon, Cuddy.” I tuck the package under my arm and head for the door. “Oh! Wait just a moment, boys!” Mr. Steinberg yells. “That was Mrs. Carlisle. She has one more item for you.” “The squid my uncle Cuthbert found was bigger than this store and had eyes the size of dinner plates,” Cuddy says. “She said not to bother wrapping it,” Mr. Steinberg says as he takes a corset--a corset--off a nearby mannequin and hands it to me. “I’m afraid it’s the last one and we want to make sure not to bend it, now, don’t we?” I am appalled. These people expect me to walk down State Street carrying a woman’s undergarment like it’s an everyday occurrence? Where is their sense of decency? What is this world coming to? What if someone sees me? “Here, Cuddy,” I say, thrusting the corset into his hands. I had forgotten how dirty they were until he reached out. I think he has three flies and a dog stuck to them. I jerk the corset away. If he ruins it, I will probably have to replace it, and with all our money going to fix up the boardinghouse, Mama would certainly not understand if I had to buy some lady a new undergarment. “C’mon, Cuddy,” I say for the eleventh time since school got out. I snake my arm through the corset in an attempt to make it look like it’s part of my coat, as if I have one very round, long sleeve. I try to convince myself no one will notice. “That looks silly, Stan!” Cuddy yells from behind me. Three men turn around, and I feel my cheeks burn a path up to my ears. “You look like you have one giant arm. Like someone in the circus. Like a sideshow person. Have you ever gone to the circus, Stan? I have. I went to one in Chicago. There was a knife thrower and a tightrope walker and some trick monkeys. Mother wouldn’t let me see the sideshows, but I saw a poster for a guy who could bend in half, and a teeny, tiny guy, and a lady with a beard. You look like you could be one of those people, Stan, don’t you think? With that thing on your arm?” For a minute I think about bendy men and hairy ladies. I actually do want to know more, but it is not a good idea to encourage Cuddy’s talking--one minute it’s the circus, the next it’s his grandmother’s gout. I learned that lesson the hard way. “Should we go into Kreuger’s, Stan?” I just want to get this entire day over with. I want to drop off Cuddy and this dadgum corset. . . . “Watch your mouth, Stan. You said ‘dadgum,’ and Mother always says that’s a swear. I won’t tell her you said a swear, but you might want to be careful, because Reverend Elliot says swearing’s a sin. You shouldn’t swear, Stan.” All I want to do is swear, but apparently even thinking of swearing can land me in a heap of trouble. And then I see something up ahead that makes me stop in my tracks and want to utter every swearword I know. “What in the blazes?” I mutter. I don’t even care if Cuddy hears me. “What was that? What did you say, Stan?” Cuddy stops next to me and catches the package from under my arm. Carts fill the street, clopping down the semi-frozen ground, carrying goods and people through town. None of that is out of the ordinary. “Did you see a giant squid, Stan?” Cuddy snorts and slaps his knee like he’s told a great joke. One wagon in particular has captured my attention like I’m looking through a camera and it’s the only thing in focus. It seems to speed toward us but takes a lifetime to get here. My ears feel full and my head swims. I recognize the driver, Uncle Carl, but he’s not who I’m worried about. My breath catches as the wagon gets nearer. Is that who I think it is? A ramrod-straight spine. A nose so sharp it could cut glass. An old lady so mean I’m pretty sure even Vlad the Impaler would quake in his boots. Fortunately, I’m wise to that woman’s tricks. I square my shoulders and prepare myself for battle. But then I see the most frightening sight of all. Peeking out of the wagon, under a heap of blankets, is a mess of unruly curls. “Stan! I’m hungry!” Cuddy says. For once, I’m not. The old lady might be scary, but the person attached to that messy head of hair is downright dangerous. She’s been trying to kill me for years. Chapter 2 H ello! Hello! Anybody in there?” Cuddy waves his mother’s package in my face. I take it with my one free hand and steer Cuddy toward his house. My mind is still reeling, spinning through all the possible dangers that await me now that my evil granny and devious cousin are in town. Who will try to do me in first? Granny with her disapproving stare and unrealistic expectations? Or Geri and her deadly medical diagnoses? This year alone she’s almost killed me with effluvia, spontaneous combustion, and tedium. Fortunately, I made it out alive--a less manly soul might not have been so lucky. “Let’s get you back home, Cuddy. I think it’s time for your tea, isn’t it?” I sigh, adjusting the corset higher on my shoulder. “I sure hope so! I sure hope Grandmother has the tea and cookies ready, Stan. I’m about starved!” He rubs his belly. The rest of our errands will have to wait, because I need to drop this child off and get back home before my worst nightmare throws all my belongings out the window onto the street, where wild dogs will carry them away. “Wild dogs?” Cuddy says, his voice quavering. “Are there wild dogs around here, Stan?” I know he already worries about dying from rabies and childbirth and lockjaw and Jumping Frenchmen of Maine syndrome. And while I realize I should immediately reassure him of the lack of wild dogs or his mother will kill me, probably by beating me with her crutch, I also realize Cuddy might be the perfect solution for what awaits me at home. Geri. Geri can diagnose Cuddy. They might be a match made in heaven. “Where are the wild dogs, Stan? Eek!” Cuddy lunges toward me as Chuck Luebner’s mutt, Teeny, waddles up to us. “Stan! Is that one? Is that blood dripping from its jaws?” I lift the corset over my head. “No, Cuddy. That’s Teeny. You know Teeny. You let Teeny lick your hand about half an hour ago, remember?” But Cuddy is long gone, scooting around the corner faster than I’ve ever seen his chubby legs move. This wild dog story might actually be useful. Especially when I’m trying to get Cuddy to move faster than a turtle with a cane. Which is always. “Whatcha got there, Stan the Bedpan?” I don’t even have to turn around to know it’s Mad Madge. She’s the only one brave enough to call me a name. I should probably recommend a better one, like Stan the Wise Man or Stan the Sporting Man or even just Stan the Man, but I’m afraid to encourage her. Or talk to her at all. Also, I’m pretty sure she’s with her cousin Nincompoop.