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Finding Elmo

De
128 pages
Fifteen-year-old Tim loves his job at his dad's pet store, partly because he gets to spend time with his best friend, a black cockatoo named Elmo. But things at work have been tense since the store moved to a larger, more expensive location. To make extra money his father rents out the store's exotic birds for parties and Tim is furious at this exploitation of his friend. When Elmo is stolen from one of the parties, the police are unconcerned about the theft. Tim and his new human friend, Sapna, set out to find Elmo and discover that Elmo is more valuable than they'd ever imagined.
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Copyright © Monique Polak 2007
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Polak, Monique Finding Elmo / written by Monique Polak. (Orca currents) ISBN 978-1-55143-688-3 (bound) ISBN 978-1-55143-686-9 (pbk.) I. Title. II. Series.
PS8631.O43F55 2007 jC813’.6 C2007-900247-1
Summary:Tim loves his job at the family pet store but he questions his father’s leadership when a bird is stolen at a public event.
First published in the United States, 2007 Library of Congress Control Number:2007920326
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design: Doug McCaffry Cover photography: Getty Images
Orca Book Publishers P O Box 5626, Station B Victoria, B C Canada V8R 6S4
Orca Book Publishers P O Box 468 Custer, WA U S A 98240-0468
www.orcabook.com Printed and bound in Canada. Printed on 100% PCW recycled paper.  010 09 08 07 • 5 4 3 2 1
For Julia Lighter, who’s smart as can be.
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A c k n o w l e d g m e n t s
Thanks to Rina and Angad Singh, Deena Sacks, Evadne Anderson and Claire Holden Rothman, all of whom read an early version of the story that eventually becameFinding Elmo. Thanks to my dad Maximilien Polak for his careful reading of a later draft. Thanks also to my friends in Australia, Vanessa Barratt and David Bock of the Australian Museum, and Trish Mooney of the Glossy Black-Cockatoo Recovery Program.
Thanks, as usual, to Viva Singer, who knows about everything, especially animals, and who always listened when I needed to talk about my story. Special thanks to my husband Michael Shenker, for his love and support, and to my daughter, Alicia, who listens—and occasionally makes remarks—when I read my work out loud. Finally, a big thank-you to the terrific team at Orca Book Publishers: publisher Bob Tyrrell who responded to an early version of this book; Andrew Wooldridge, who encouraged me to get back to it; Melanie Jeffs, whose careful, insightful editing helped me tell a better story; and Maureen Colgan, who gets me invited to all the good parties.
c h a p t e r o n e
I hadn’t even unlocked the front door, and already I could hear them screeching. Would those two ever learn to get along? “Get off the couch!” Winifred cried, her high-pitched voice carrying through the plate glass windows. “Birdbrain!” Hubert screeched back. “Quit your squawking!” I called, on my way to the aviary, where the birdcages are. “Breakfast is on!”
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M o n i q u e P o l a k
“Birdbrain!” Hubert screeched again. This time I laughed. I love Saturday mornings. Most fifteen-year-olds would probably rather be sleeping in, but not me. On Saturday mornings—at least till Dad shows up—I run Four Feet and Feathers. Now that we’ve moved to our new location in Lasalle, it’s Montreal’s biggest pet center. If I sound proud, that’s because I am. Dad basically started Four Feet and Feathers from nothing. As I pressed my palm on the aviary door, I inhaled the store’s familiar scent: hay, birdseed and ammonia, with a little fresh paint on the side. Winifred crossed back and forth on her wooden perch, keeping a close eye on my fingers as I unlatched her cage door and reached for her food dish. “Get off the couch!” she shrieked. “Winifred,” I said, shaking my head and trying not to laugh. Winifred gets insulted if you laugh at her. “We don’t evenhavea couch in here!” Her black eyes shone. You could tell she didn’t believe me.
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F i n d i n g E l m o
We’d inherited Winifred. That happens in the pet business since big birds like parrots, cockatoos and macaws—Winifred is a macaw—often outlive their owners. Winifred’s last owner was an old lady with many pets, including a dog that shed a lot. Which explains how Winifred picked up the expression, “Get off the couch!” Hubert, a gray parrot, was climbing the bars of his cage, watching as I filled Winifred’s food dish. He knew his turn was next, and he wanted to make sure he was getting exactly what I’d given Winifred. “Saturday morning special,” I told him as I opened the fridge and took out a plastic tub of pineapple chunks. I added one to his food dish and another to Winifred’s. Hubert stretched out his gray wings and for a second it looked like he was wearing a gray cape. “Good mor n i ng ,” I wh ispered a s I removed the old sheet draped over the next cage. Elmo likes sleeping in the dark. He’d picked up the habit when he was living
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