What do a superstar hockey player, an animal rights activist, an aspiring screenwriter, and a young scientist have in common? Absolutely nothing. Until a baby chick named Henrietta, the subject of Milo Neal's science fair experiment — the complete life cycle of a link in the food chain — enters their lives and changes everything.
Much to the South Middle School Rangers' surprise and embarrassment, Henrietta becomes the only chance for a winning hockey season. She's also a class pet, an important specimen, a shot at Hollywood fame! But when the kids find out Milo's plans for her and just what completing the link in the food chain really means, they have less than three weeks to save the team, the science fair, and the chicken!
Told from alternating first-person perspectives, this wonderfully original and outrageously funny novel showcases Gordon Korman's trademark humour at its all-time finest.
A science fair more important than hockey?
Give me a break! In this part of Minnesota, nothing is bigger than hockey. If the Moose People from Neptune invaded St. Martin during a big game, they'd encounter zero resistance. Everybody would be at the rink. Only the losers would be left to fight them off — a loser being anyone around here who doesn't skate.
Of course, I'm kind of biased since I'm pretty good at hockey. So good that I'm captain of the South Middle School Rangers, even though I'm only a seventh-grader. To be totally honest, I'm officially in sixth grade, but that's only because I flunked science last year. So I had to take it again in summer school and I kind of flunked that, too. In the summer, Rollerblade hockey is very big. The bottom line is, I'm in all seventh-grade classes except science, where I'm stuck with the little sixth-grade losers — a loser being anyone who can spend five seconds in that lab without going insane from boredom.
So my ears were receiving Mrs. Baggio raving about this year's science fair, but my mind was on the ice, stickhandling, stopping on a dime in a shower of snow, streaking down on a breakaway, he shoots, he —
"Does everybody have to enter the science fair?"
That was Zachary Gustafson. Definite loser. King of losers. Know why he was worried about doing a project? Because all that work might interfere with his writing schedule. Rumor has it the kid churns out dozens of screenplays and mails them off to these big-time film studios, who reject them because they stink. Not that I've read any, of course. I don't even want to think about such a boring thing in such a boring class. It's like boring squared!
"Naturally, everyone will be doing a project, Zachary," said the Bag. "But only one per grade will be entered in the fair."
Instantly, all eyes turned to Milo Neal. Milo is the reason why this dumb science fair is front page news in St. Martin. Check out the name: Milo Neal. His dad is Victor Neal, the famous astronomer. His TV show The Universe and You is the top-rated program on the Science Channel.
Victor Neal is sort of St. Martin's claim to fame. He grew up right here. He and Milo's mom were high school sweethearts. The whole town followed his career. Man, when he won the Nobel prize for charting all those galaxies, this place went apewire! We even threw him a parade. You'd have thought he'd won the Stanley Cup!
That parade had been Milo's first look at his parents' hometown. He must have been about nine. It was January — eighteen below — I've never seen anybody so cold in my life! I guess that's when it hit me. Professor and Mrs. Neal were native Minnesotans, but Milo had lived in Los Angeles all his life. To him, cold meant you had to wear socks. It must have been hard for him when, two years later, his folks got divorced and he and his mom left California and came back to St. Martin to live.
So that's why the son of the most famous scientist in the country was the center of attention in the lab that day. Not only was Milo expected to go to the science fair — he was expected to ace it.
"There are no restrictions," Mrs. Baggio went on, "except it has to be science — " she looked me straight in the eye — "which means it isn't going to be about hockey."
"What about ice?" I challenged. "That's pretty scientific."