Title: Graveyard School #4 – Little Pet Werewolf
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Barry Jackson
Summary: It’s pet day at Graveyard School and everyone is excited. Everyone except Skip Wolfson, that is. Every year it’s the same thing — Skip brings in his dog just to be ridiculed. While everyone else’s pets are exotic and brilliant, Skip’s dog is just a lazy mutt that can’t do any tricks. Skip wishes he could bring in some kind of really cool pet — like a werewolf. He’s in for the shock of his life when he doesn’t have to search too far for one! You’ll be dying to go to class at Graveyard School.
We finally get to the werewolf edition, so I bet Wing is tripping BALLS. [Wing: Legit shrieks of joy when I saw it.]
What’s truly interesting about “Little Pet Werewolf” is how this is the first to really establish a type of socially conscious trend in the series. I covered in the introduction post how there was a somewhat consistent theme of discussing environmentalism and conservation of resources without going totally overblown and flying over the heads of the target demographic. In this one Stone/Thacker/Athkins briefly discusses animal abuse through the main character’s parents, who run a pet supply store and arrange for abandoned pets to be adopted into loving homes. [Wing: Seriously? That AND werewolves? This is going to be so great!]
This is also the first book where the main character can be genuinely grating on the reader, but admittedly he has enough redeeming qualities to avoid Scrappy territory. Also, the supporting character, Tyson Walker, is said to look like soccer player Cobi Jones with his short dreadlocks, so, way to say he’s Black without saying he’s Black. [Wing: In case you, dear reader, like me, do not follow soccer, here is Cobi Jones. He’s a hottie.]
[Wing: Do you know how much money I would spend on a series called My Little Werewolf: Friendship is Magic? With all sorts of little werewolves to collect? SO MUCH MONEY. ALL MY MONEY.]
Skip Wolfson, average guy of the universe, is once again trying to teach his pet dog Lupe tricks. And failing. [Wing: One of my favourite things about werewolf books is the ridiculous names. This lives up to that.] Tyson Walker is all roses and applause before Skip reminds him SOMEbody doesn’t have a dog like he does, which Tyson feels is a low blow. It’s almost Pet Week at Graveyard School and Skip is hoping to win one of the many fabulous prizes in store for the 1st through 6th graders. Lupe, however, is not the kind of dog who does tricks. No she’s more than happy to go places with Skip, dig, eat, sleep, and bark, but tricks? You’re… barking up the wrong tree. 😀 [Wing: NOPE. Also, no school I’ve attended has ever had Pet Week. I am angry at the many, many great pets I missed out on cuddling.]
Despite Skip’s frustrations in failure, he can’t help but smile back when Lupe smiles at him. And that’s when… IT arrived. Skip’s supremely weird little brother Mark “Freakface” Wolfson, once again mining his nose for gold to share with the townspeople. Lupe immediately leaps up the stairs to Mark’s side, further annoying Skip more than Mark’s nose picking. Mark doesn’t even realize he’s doing it until Skip tells him to stop, because there are children present. Tyson. Tyson is the children. Mark takes out a dog biscuit, but doesn’t immediately give it to Lupe. Skip orders Mark to either give the dog the biscuit or to stop teasing her with it because that’s cruel, and while Mark insists he’s not teasing Lupe, he takes a bite of the biscuit and runs back in the house with Lupe right behind him. Reeling in disgust, Tyson asks Skip if Mark’s truly his brother, which makes Skip reflect on when Mark was born.
Marcus Remulus Wolfson had had the biggest ears Skip had ever seen on a human being. And who ever heard of a baby born with a bunch of mouse-colored hair on his head? Not to mention his odd, enormous hands and feet.
“Your new baby brother,” his mother had said, cradling Mark in her arms. “Isn’t he adorable?”
“Uh, real cute, Mom,” Skip had answered, “But, uh, doesn’t he look kind of… you know, strange?”
His mother looked hurt for a moment. Then her eyes had met his father’s eyes. His father had cleared his throat and said, “He’s a fine baby, Skip. You’ve got a big responsibility, young man. Being a big brother isn’t all fun and games, you know.”
[Wing: MARCUS REMULUS WOLFSON OH MY GOD, STONE HAS DOUBLED DOWN ON THIS NAME THING. I LOVE YOU, STONE.] As the older brother let me just say this is indeed correct and how my sibling can still be a total fucking nightmare. [Wing: Also an older sibling, and yes, younger siblings can be annoying as hell, but also the greatest people in the world. Plus, I am a fucking nightmare. Siblings, yo. We’re complicated.] Also, MARCUS. REMULUS. I’M SURE THAT’S NOT FORESHADOWING. [Wing: RIGHT?]
For years Skip has wondered how he could’ve possibly turned out so normal while Mark… didn’t. Besides his off kilter appearance, as Mark got older he did things like gnawing on the bars of his crib, among other things, when he was a baby. He graduated to uncontrollable drooling, whining, nose picking, and kleptomaniacally hoarding things by burying them in the backyard. Mr. and Mrs. Wolfson saw nothing odd in this, so Skip answers Tyson that no, he’s not sure if Mark’s his brother. Or if he’s even human for that matter… [Wing: Um, minus the hoarding things by burying them in the backyard, I’m pretty sure a lot of this is normal kid behaviour. Maybe even the burying thing is.]
Mark cuddles up with Lupe as he takes in the gore and violence of one of the monster movies he’s seen many, many times. When Mrs. Wolfson asks if Mark and Skip have finished their homework, Mark proudly declares at least HE has before asking his mom to watch as the monster on the screen kills everybody and gets away.
“Well, it’s a better deal than the dinosaurs got in Jurassic Park,” Mrs. Wolfson joked as she glanced at the television.
“Yeah!” Mark agreed enthusiastically. He’d liked the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, but that was about it.
Skip didn’t want to admit it, but he agreed with his brother. It was sort of boring, watching the monsters always get it in the end.
[Wing: OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS FAMILY AND THIS BOOK. WEREWOLVES! JURASSIC PARK REFERENCES! ROOTING FOR THE MONSTERS! Want to adopt me, Wolfsons? Wing Wolfson has an amazing ring to it.] Mrs. Wolfson tells Skip to finish his homework before watching any more movies. As Skip gets up he tells Lupe to come with him, but she doesn’t. As Mark boasts Lupe likes HIM better, Skip snidely tells Mark for as much as monsters can get away in movies, they always get it in the real world.
“Get it, monster?”
Mark starts calling for his mom, but before Skip leaves Mark asks if he can bring Lupe to Pet Day. Skip refuses, because he’s not letting Mark win all the best prizes.
Vice Principal Lucre announces the rules and regulations for upcoming Pet Week at Graveyard School the next day, reminding the kids to clean up after their pets so Mr. Bartholomew doesn’t have extra work. That was a joke. No one is laughing. Lucre states there’s a big surprise for Pet Week, and Stacey Carter comments Lucre’s bringing himself as a pet. Everyone but the teacher laughs. Lucre grandly reveals the person whose pet is voted Most Special and Unusual at the end of Pet Week will win a gift certificate to any store in Grove Hill, but that’s burying the lede of how every student has to do a report counting towards their science and language arts grades.
Skip and Tyson practice soccer after school and discuss the travesties of Pet Week. Tyson is upset because he still has to do a report for Pet Week even though he doesn’t have a pet to bring in, though he wishes he did. Skip says the students don’t HAVE to bring in pets, and Tyson asks if his parents are in on Pet Week since they run a pet store. Skip clarifies from the umpteenth time his parents run a pet SUPPLY store, and even then they don’t sell pets. The animals in the front windows of the store are all rescues, strays and abandoned pets whom Skip’s parents are trying to place in good homes. [Wing: No, seriously, Wolfsons. Adopt me. I’m awesome. You’re awesome. It’ll be great.] The boys are joined by Maria Medina, Kirstin Bjork (Yay) and Jason Dunnbar (Boooo). Maria reveals she’s bringing her new parrot in for Pet Week and is trying to teach it a school cheer so she can use the certificate to buy some new soccer cleats like the World Cup players wear. [Wing: I am dying over this plan.] Jason declares he’ll beat them, but since this takes place immediately after the last book, Jason’s defeat in the class elections meant his bullying lost a lot of hot air so no one’s really interested. Jason won’t reveal what pet he’s bringing, but ribs Skip on how Lucre’s decree on cleaning up after the pets is because of whatever the hell happened with Lupe at the last Pet Week. Maria’s like “Guys, please, why are you even arguing?” because she knows her parrot’s gonna win. Skip sputters he may bring something different than Lupe, even as Tyson reminds him the Wolfsons repeatedly have said Lupe’s the only pet they can have. After practice, Tyson heads back to Skip’s place for a sleepover and they discuss what videos to rent (Because it was the 90s, you see!). Skip asks not to mention that to Mark so they don’t have to rent the same ones Mark always watches, so with the promise of no homework, pizza, and movies things seem to finally look up for old Skipman.
Tyson and Skip are watching “Dead Werewolves,” a film about werewolves killed by a hunter and then revived by a scientist. [Wing: WAIT WHAT? ZOMBIE!WEREWOLVES?! This book has fucking everything. I want to live inside it.]
On the television screen, the werewolf’s mate found the body and began to howl mournfully. Then the werewolf’s body began to turn back into its human form. The howls of the werewolf’s mate turned to snarls of fear and disgust. She made a hideous face and turned and ran.
Mark comes into the room, but almost immediately starts acting and looking sick. He drops his pizza on the floor and the boys wonder if he’s about to start vomiting when Mark begins screaming at the sight of the full moon on the TV. Mr. Wolfson comes into the room and tells Skip to shut the TV off as he inspects Mark. Skip half wonders if Mark’s going to puke on their dad when he’s told to get Mrs. Wolfson. When Skip and his mom come back inside, Mark’s tucked inside his bed with a cold washcloth on his head and his little dinosaur nightlight on. Tyson says it doesn’t look like it’s food poisoning, but Skip wouldn’t be surprised mentioning Mark wanted the meat lovers pizza. Later, while Skip and Tyson finish the movie, Mr. Wolfson asks for a recap of Mark’s behavior and doesn’t seem enamored with Skip’s taste in horror flicks. Skip recalls Mark’s moaning but that was it. Mr. Wolfson mentions if Mark is still feeling unwell tomorrow they’ll bring him to the doctor. At that moment, recognizing the mousy hair on his dad’s head, Skip is hit with an unknown feeling and fears maybe he’s the odd one out in the family, not Mark. Tyson asks if Mr. Wolfson will join them for a repeat of “Dead Werewolves,” but he passes and tells the kids not to stay up too late. Tyson remarks the Wolfsons are cool for not harping on Skip about bedtime, but Skip’s put off by how much they dote on Mark. As they watch their movies, a full moon rises outside…
Somewhere, a wolf is hungry. A wolf is hunting. It’s been too long since the last full moon. It sees a human nearby, but no, it’s not that hungry. Maybe if it was an emergency, though. It didn’t understand what it was about humans that made them so scared of the silliest, stupidest things. It didn’t make sense. The nearby human hears the wolf howling and runs, pleasing the wolf. If it absolutely has to eat a human, it’ll want to work up the appropriate appetite. [Wing: My heaaaaaaaaaaart. It grows. Werewooooooooooolves.]
Skip suddenly wakes up, barely remembering his dream when he realizes Lupe senses something. On the far end of the family room is someone standing in the doorway. Tyson’s still in his sleeping bag, but Skip gets up and sees it’s Mark. Mark’s eyes are wide open, but he doesn’t even realize Skip is there. Skip figures Mark is sleepwalking, and gently tries to guide him back to bed without waking him. Tucking Mark in, Skip then closes the curtains letting the moonlight into the bedroom, and tells Mark to close his eyes. Skip feels this is a new level of weirdness in Mark’s behavior, wondering if it was indigestion from the pizza or something else. In the morning Mark says he doesn’t remember sleepwalking, and asks if maybe Skip was the one doing it.
Tyson asks Mrs. Wolfson if she’s going to the family’s store and asks to tag along. He’s decided to do his Pet Week report on pet stores like the one owned by the Wolfsons. Mrs. Wolfson corrects him again that it’s a pet SUPPLY store, cuing a slight but admirable rant.
“We’re a pet supply store, Tyson. We don’t sell live animals,” explained Mrs. Wolfson. “We don’t approve of that business. Do you know that over fifteen million dogs and cats are put to death every year? No one wants them. No one will take care of them. There are enough pets that need good homes at your local humane shelter or the ASPCA. We can’t support careless breeders who keep letting their animals have litters of cats and dogs that are doomed to death. Why-“
“Mom!” Skip cried. His mother was clearly on a roll. Skip knew everything she was going to say – he even agreed with her. But Tyson looked sort of stunned.
[Wing: I love her. Adopt me. I’ll bring my delightful shelter dog with me. It’ll be the best.]
Skip explains he and Tyson want to stop by the store to ask questions for Pet Week, although Skip secretly hopes he might convince them to let him borrow one of the abandoned dogs to bring to the school in place of Lupe.
Skip and Tyson ride their bikes to The Animals’ House in Grove Hill. Tyson sees the dogs in the window of the store and assumes Skip’s parents really do sell pets, leading to Skip’s angry repeat that they DON’T and those dogs are from the Grove Hill Humane Society because his parents are looking for good homes for them. Behind his desk in the store, Mr. Wolfson is seeping coffee and seems a little out of it.
“Hey, Dad,” said Skip.
“Don’t shout,” answered Mr. Wolfson.
“I’m not!” exclaimed Skip indignantly.
Oooh, someone might be a bit hung over. Skip briefly worries his dad’s contracted whatever Mark had and mentions his younger brother’s sleepwalking, surprising Mr. Wolfson. Skip’s attempt to ask to borrow another dog is cut by Tyson marveling at a German Shepard in the store, although Skip’s not very impressed by said dog. Mr. Wolfson asks if Tyson would like to take the German Shepard for a walk, mentioning with a trace of melancholy the dog is well behaved on a leash, because at some point he had a caring owner… [Wing: UMM, this is making my heart sad. Moving on.]
Skip and Tyson’s dog walking catches the unexpected attention of Dr. Morthouse. Cooing at what a nice dog they have, Doctor D-Diggity-M smiles her silver-fanged smile and assumes the boys are doing a dog walking service, and somewhere Stacey Carter feels a chill run through her soul. The Doc asks if the boys are bringing pets for Pet Week, and Skip stammers he’s bringing in a super dog, that is a dog who is super.
“Ah,” said Dr. Morthouse, her smile disappearing in a nastily unsettling way. “How nice.”
Doc M and the boys’ attention turns to the store they’re in front of, a taxidermy shop.
“Dogs – the domestic descendants of the noble wolf,” Dr. Morthouse went on. “Wolves, you know, have been called the children of the night.”
What music they must make. [Wing: A+]
Morthouse points to a stuffed wolf on display in the store’s dusty interior, and both the good doctor and Skip agree the taxidermist did a terrible job on the animal. Dusty and moth-eaten, the wolf’s fur is falling off, and beneath it reads a sign declaring it’s the last timber wolf from the area. Morthouse expresses her disgust.
“Such a stupid, stupid thing to do, to shoot an animal and then stuff it,” observed Dr. Morthouse. “Particularly a rare and beautiful animal such as the wolf.”
“Yeah, er, yes,” muttered Skip, “I guess.”
“I’m glad to see you have such intelligent opinions,” remarked Dr. Morthouse. She smiled again and Skip flinched. Beside him, the dog pulled on the leash that Tyson was holding.
[Wing: Word, Dr M. WORD.]
Dr. Morthouse departs, leaving the boys wondering about what just happened before returning to the Animals’ House. Discussing their papers, Skip decides he’ll write about wolves when his attention is turned back to the taxidermy shop, and for a moment the stuffed wolf moves its head to look at Skip. Skip gasps, catching Tyson’s attention, but when Skip looks in the window the wolf’s head is back in its original position. Skip suddenly remembers his wolf dream the previous night, and is glad he never told anyone about it. Skip resolves to cut back on the werewolf movies.
[Wing: Don’t do it, Skip! Your life is better with them. Also, October is coming. WEREWOLF MOVIE MARATHON, ANYONE?]
The following Monday after school, Skip and Tyson meet up with Kirstin, Maria, and Jason for some soccer in the park. Jason snarks Skip should be training Lupe so she doesn’t eat anyone’s goldfish like she did to that poor first grader. [Wing: Oh, is that what happened? Poor kid.] Skip implies he may not bring Lupe after all, and Kirstin is bemused asking Maria how the boys think they’ll beat her parrot. Skip, unfortunately, puts his foot in his mouth and declares he’s bringing a pet no one’s ever seen before, a very special kind of dog. Jason lists off different dog breeds, basenji, keeshond, borzoi, and Skip, whose parents run a pet supply store, isn’t sure if Jason’s making up words. Hell, even I know a borzoi’s a breed of dog. [Wing: The only one I had to check was keeshond, and it is a ball of fluff. I love it.] Tyson tries to stop Skip, but fails to intercede before Skip declares he’s bringing in a WEREWOLF! *DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUN*
Jason and the girls laugh their asses off, while Tyson can only stare at Skip and marvel at how Skip’s gone so far over the line it’s not even on the radar.
Calming down, Skip immediately regrets opening his big mouth, and figures his only course is to find a wolf and pass it off as a werewolf. [Wing: … yes, I’m sure that will work.] Returning home, Skip’s desire for peace is stillborn when he realizes Mark is hiding underneath the front deck. Mark growls and refuses to leave, only Lupe comes staggering out with her tail behind her legs. Skip informs their mom of Mark hiding under the stairs and she asks if his brother’s been digging holes again. As Skip puts his bike in the garage, Algie Green drops off the Wolfsons’ newspaper. Skip’s heart stops when the front headline reads “WOLF ATTACK.” The article talks about a farmer who reported a wild animal breaking into his chicken coop, and found tracks big enough for a wolf nearby. The last known wolf in Grove Hill was shot and killed forty years ago, though. Skip realizes he’s surrounded by wolves. [Wing: WOLVES. WEREWOLVES. Fuck people who shoot wolves. I’m so overwhelmed by my joy right now I’m not even making much sense. WEREWOLVES.]
That night Skip awakes from a dream about yellow eyes to see Lupe’s not at the foot of his bed like she usually is. Figuring Mark enticed her into his room, Skip is ready to give the rugrat a piece of his mind when he hears a noise coming from the kitchen. Skip’s unable to call the cops because the only phones in the house are in his parents room and the kitchen. Inside the kitchen, Skip realizes the noise is really coming from the trash cans outside and dreads cleaning up the mess the animal is probably making of the garbage. He’s in for a rude surprise when he sees what’s outside.
Huge, gold eyes looked up at him. A gray furry snout and sharply pointed ears swung in his direction.
The wolf licked its lips with its long, red tongue. It cocked its head.
Skip falls into one of the open trash cans. As Skip flounders in trash water like some out of control synchronized swimmer, [Wing: VOMIT.] Mr. Wolfson comes outside and demands to know why Skip’s playing with the garbage. Skip exclaims a wolf was in the garbage, but his dad doesn’t believe him, assuming some irresponsible douchebag let their dog wander outside at night, but Skip knows it was the Wolf of Grove Hill.
“A wolf in the garbage cans…” He chuckled. “I could’ve sworn it was just my son.”
Skip feels silly showering in the middle of the night, but it looks like Lady Luck’s on his side when he hears the wolf returns for a second round with the garbage. And this time Skip’s got his dad by his side, and he can already see the headlines, “LOCAL SOCCER PLAYER AND HIS FATHER CAPTURE WOLF OF GROVE HILL,” but because life likes to dump on Skip, it turns it was Mark the whole time in another sleepwalking fit. Lupe’s with Mark, and Skip is sure Lupe scared the wolf away. Skip returns to his room with Lupe alongside him, but when he wakes up in the morning she’s not there. Barging into Mark’s room, Skip finds Lupe asleep underneath Mark’s bed, like she used to do when she was a puppy. It was a natural thing dogs did, his parents said. Sure enough Lupe’s there… right next to Mark. Skip tells his dad he should get Mark a dog of his own, but his dad feels if Mark really wants his own dog he should be the one asking. Skip wants Mark to stop stealing his dog, but Mr. Wolfson looks at it as Lupe protecting Mark while he’s sleepwalking. Mr. Wolfson’s surprised to hear Mark’s sleeping underneath his bed, but assures Skip this is a stage Mark will grow out of it. Skip’s not sure, and is less enthused that his dad still doesn’t believe he saw a wolf last night. But when Skip captures the Wolf of Grove Hill, they’ll see. They’ll ALL see.
Skip discusses with Tyson what happened last night and Tyson makes Skip swear he’s not… crying wolf. ( 😀 ) [Wing: NOPE.] But then Skip says he’s got a great idea, and Tyson immediately wants nothing to do with it. Skip is unrelenting and says he wants Tyson to join him on a wolf hunt for Pet Week so he can win the grand prize and show those fuckers who the real top dog is. Skip finally gets Tyson’s undivided attention while running laps.
Maria Medina passed them going what seemed to be about ninety miles an hour.
“Hey!” shouted Tyson, glad for the distraction. “You’re making us look bad.”
“I don’t have to do anything to do that,” Maria’s voiced trailed back to them.
[Wing: I LOVE YOU MARIA.]
Maria asks the boys if they need a ride home, but they’ve got their bikes so they thank her for the offer. The three of them decide to do some drills so the coach won’t ask them to help put away the equipment. By the time coach finishes, Maria notices how dark it’s gotten and the moon is beginning to rise. [Wing: DRAMATIC TENSION. And my favourite scene in pretty much every werewolf movie ever.] Skip and Tyson are the last to leave, and Skip’s attempt at following up on the wolf hunt is cut by a sound that freezes their blood. Tyson orders Skip to keep moving, before the boys start to run as the howling continues. Tyson and Skip bike all the way to the Animals’ House without stopping. Tyson, for the sake of argument, asks what Skip’s plan is for catching the hypothetical but totally not hypothetical wolf.
“Bait,” said Skip. “We dig a big hole and cover it up so it doesn’t look like a hole and we put some bait in the middle and the wolf walks out and-bam. He’s caught.”
[Wing: Well, pit traps do work. Sometimes.]
Mr. Wolfson finds his son and Tyson, and the boys energetically describe their close encounter of the lycanthropic kind. Skip’s dad he’ll listen to the boys tell the story in a calm manner on the car ride home. Mr. Wolfson analytically deconstructs the story, asking if the boys really saw the wolf, and how they know it was a wolf howling if they’ve never actually seen one before. The boys claim they’ve heard wolf howls enough times in movies. Mr. Wolfson muses the “wolf” may be an abandoned dog gone feral, or even a wolf-dog hybrid. [Wing: I so desperately want a wolf-dog hybrid, even though I don’t really believe in keeping a wolf as a pet. BUT I WANT ONE. So torn. (Also a moot point; Monster Dog will not allow other dogs to come near me. Bringing one home would be a Bad Idea.)] Skip’s mind is distracted when the car drives past the taxidermy shop, and gets an odd feeling of dread. Skip senses the stuffed timber wolf on display has more to do with this than it seems.
Skip sneaks out of the house during the night to return to the taxidermy shop and get a better look at the wolf in the display. He tried his best to make his parents think he believed their rationalization of his encounter so they wouldn’t get suspicious. Not content to just look at the wolf, Skip is shocked to discover the store’s entrance isn’t locked despite how late it is and walks inside. Bemoaning his lack of flashlight, Skip fumbles around in the dark for a bit as his eyes adjust to the darkness. Skip is able to find a cord for a light bulb, but the flickering light doesn’t make the store any less creepy and empty looking. Skip sees the stuffed wolf, and upon closer inspection he realizes, yes, the wolf is indeed dead with a capital D. Skip turns around to inspect a back room when the light finally burns out, and another window shopper arrives. Skip freezes as his mind goes over the horrible possibilities of what will happen if he’s arrested for trespassing, but whoever has arrived doesn’t stay for long. But the departure is more terrifying than the arrival when Skip sees the stuffed wolf is gone.
The only thing left was a wide path dragged through the dust and next to it, the prints of enormous paws.
[Wing: THIS IS SO GREAT.]
Cut to Skip and Tyson digging a hole on Graveyard Hill. The boys alternate between turns, one digging and the other keeping watch. Tyson can’t help but feel their trap looks appropriately enough like a grave. Skip is sure the wolf will return because this area has become its territory. When the hole is deep enough they camouflage it with branches and leaves, and Skip leaves a frozen pot roast in the center as bait. [Wing: SKIP. You were doing so well, and then you chose that as your bait.] Skip’s anxiety over the next few days is magnified as the moon continues to get fuller and the roast gets more rotten. One night Skip wakes up and sees Mark sneaking into a totally dark corner of the backyard. Armed (this time) with a flashlight, Skip sneaks into the yard and hears a whimpering sound, thinking it’s Lupe. It’s not. Mark is crouched behind the bushes, but claims to have no idea why. Skip only barely hides Mark’s belief he was sleepwalking again and tells him to get back inside. After making sure Mark is in his room, Skip goes back outside to better inspect what his little brother was really up to… and finds what looks to be a small, freshly dug grave, complete with flowers. Skip commits sacrilege and digs the grave up to find learn what Mark did, and, shock of all shocks, we learn what happened to the stuffed wolf.
Moving on instinct, Skip searches his brother’s room and doesn’t find him on top of or beneath the bed. Lupe is in Skip’s room, and Skip gets the confirmation he needed.
Skip sat down heavily on the bed by her. “You know,” he began to say to her. His voice came out cracked and hoarse.
He cleared his throat. “My brother,” he said again. “It’s my brother, isn’t it?”
Lupe didn’t move.
And then Skip had his answer – the eerie, insistent howl of a wolf.
Skip’s next couple of days are filled with dread and suspicion of his brother, but he has to be careful not to let Mark know he suspects anything. He’s not worried about the moldy roast bait because they know the wolf likes trash. When Mark disappears from his room Skip decides to look for him. He bikes to Graveyard School to inspect the trap, and sees the bait’s gone and the coating of leaves and branches missing. Upon closer inspection of the hole, Skip sees a pair of golden eyes, and something pulls him into the trap!
Skip is stuck inside the hole with the wolf, but the wolf only uses Skip as a human ladder to escape. Left all alone, Skip desperately tries to claw his way out and begins screaming for help when he’s unable to make a substantial foot hole in the soft earth walls. Help finally arrives though, in the form of… BASEMENT BART! The gargantuan ex-army janitorial expert hoists Skip out of the grave, but Skip is so terrified he sprints from the graveyard, leaving the janitor with an empty jacket in his hands. [Wing: Yay, Basement Bart! Also, I hope he gets paid for all this rescuing of Graveyard School kids he does.]
Skip tells Tyson the next day he won’t rebait the trap because the wolf obviously won’t fall for it again. The following evening Skip resumes his werewolf hunt, and finds it pawing through a neighbor’s garbage.
There it was – a wolf stood on its hind legs by a large trash can and peered down at the contents, a lid on the ground nearby. It had upright ears and golden eyes and soft grayish-brown fur. Its paws were enormous.
Skip blinked. It was a wolf. But didn’t look exactly like a wolf should…
The neighbors start to emerge from their houses when they hear the “mangy dog” rifling through their garbage cans. The wolf seems to find this amusing before fleeing, Skip a safe distance behind. The wolf jumps through several yards, getting a rise out of the meanest dogs Grove Hill as to offer. Skip is able to keep up with the wolf even after it leaves the town and makes its way to one of the nearby fields.
At the far edge of the field the wolf stopped and stood up on its hind legs. The lone wolf surveyed the landscape on its hind legs like a person – it was a creepy sight.
The wolf makes some trouble at a farm before heading back to Grove Hill, and is howling and growling at the moon in such a self-satisfied way, Skip thinks the wolf WANTS to be caught. Back near Skip’s house the wolf returns to inspect one of the trashcans it was investigating earlier. Skip hears a large clacking noise and the man in the house bursts out the door. The wolf scampers away in pain, and Skip looks inside to see the man left a mouse trap inside the overturned trashcan. It’s still attached to the wolf’s noise as it runs away, trying to get it off. As if Skip needed more proof, the next morning Mark comes down to breakfast with a swollen, bruised nose. Mark claims he “walked into a door” but Skip dares him to tell their parents the truth. Mrs. Wolfson doesn’t approve of Skip “picking” on Mark, and Mr. Wolfson says he used to crash into stuff when he was Mark’s age too. Yeah, if Skip wasn’t adopted, you can hardly blame him for thinking otherwise.
Before Skip can finally tell Tyson what he knows, Tyson says his parents are finally letting him have a dog. Not just any dog, but the German Shepard (now named Patrick) from the Animals’ House. Tyson says the report he did on pet stores and abandoned animals convinced his parents they could trust him to care for a pet. Skip is happy for Tyson, and discusses his newest plan to catch the wolf…
This time, Skip’s got Tyson alongside him as they follow Mark, but Tyson’s not entirely aware that it’s Mark they’re after. Skip and Tyson follow the wolf down the sidewalk, towards the woods and a different farm than the previous night. Yet the wolf doesn’t hang around for very long as the farmer and an angry dog emerge. Skip and Tyson split up and Skip follows Mark towards the woods, the dog behind Skip. Yet as suddenly as Skip gets to the woods the dog heads back to the house. Skip goes into the woods, but being all alone he fears for the worst. As much as he tells himself Mark wouldn’t hurt him, he fears as a werewolf Mark will have no self control. Mark will kill. Boy, seems like you shouldn’t have been so meant to the little snot rag, huh Skip?
Hearing the howling Skip runs through the woods and finds himself back at Graveyard Hill. He tries to backtrack through the woods, but then finds Mark… AND TWO OTHER WEREWOLVES. Skip tries to bullshit that he’s got a silver bullet loaded gun, but his resolve melts instantly and he runs away. Back in town, Skip thinks the wolves have followed him but is relieved to see it’s only Tyson. Skip immediately fears what will happen to Tyson if the werewolves find out he knows about them too, so for the sake of protecting his friend Skip lies that the wolf really was a feral dog all along. Skip cites his paper on wolves as his means of identifying the “wild dog’s” actions. Tyson’s disappointed, and asks if they’ll call animal control. Skip says he’ll do it tomorrow. Leaving Tyson, Skip racks his brain figuring out what to do about Mark and his werewolf friends. Skip decides he has no choice but to tell their parents, but doesn’t get the chance because the werewolves ARE IN THE FUCKING HOUSE.
And are asking him to calm down so they can talk about it.
A ha ha.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HIS WHOLE FAMILY ARE WEREWOLVES EXCEPT FOR SKIP. HE’S THE FUCKING PETUNIA TO MARK’S LILY AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA
Skip asks if Mark bit Mr. and Mrs. Wolfson, but his parents say no, and it doesn’t work that way. Mrs. Wolfson apologizes because the werewolf trait skipped, it SKIPPED, him, so Mark’s transformation surprised the parents. They do report Skip had some traits of a werewolf baby at an early age, like his rapport with dogs, but it didn’t manifest into anything beyond. Skip’s not amused by his parents brushing off Mark’s “terrorizing” the town, and his parents are sympathetic to the timber wolf’s burial. Mr. Wolfson assures that Mark will learn to use his werewolf privileges like a responsible young pup.
“Being a werewolf isn’t easy. The privilege of being able to turn into a wolf and be faster and smarter and superior to the human species carries with it a big responsibility.”
“Privilege? Responsibility? You’re werewolves,” said Skip.
Skip’s mother looked annoyed. “Would you please quit saying ‘werewolves’ in that tone of voice? You’re a member of this family, too, even if you didn’t develop the appropriate werewolf characteristics.”
Yeah Skip, stop being a self hating stereotype!
[Wing: NO SERIOUSLY WOLFSONS PLEASE ADOPT ME I LOVE YOU.]
Skip’s parents promise they’ll make it up to Skip, and of course he still needs to learn the Werewolf Code of Honor. And, of course, if he meets the right girl he can still have a family of pups all his own. [Wing: … wait. Could he? I mean, maybe he’s carrying the gene, but if it skipped him, it might also skip his children — I NEED SOME WEREWOLF GENETICS UP IN HERE, STONE.] The Wolfsons sans Skip turn back to human form. Skip asks his parents if they’ve ever killed people.
Mr. Wolfson frowned intently. “People kill people,” he said. “Animals mostly avoid them.”
The Wolfsons explain a lot seen in the movies may have some grain of truth, but most of it’s an exaggeration caused by misconceptions, superstitions and prejudice. Skip’s still not sure what to think of his family, but wonders if there might be an advantage to having a werewolf for a little brother which is why…
Skip grinned at his wereparents. “May I take Mark to Pet Day?”
Boy that was a HOWLING good time, wasn’t it? [Wing: NOPE — damn it, I can’t even pretend to hate this one. YES.]
Still, Skip’s got balls of steel to ask his parents if he can shill his little brother for Pet Day. It’s the least they can do to make up for him not being able to grow fur and fangs of his own.
It’s just too bad Ms. Stoker couldn’t be here for Pet Week. She could’ve served a special celebratory buffet at the end of the week.
[Wing: This book is the greatest Graveyard School book yet, and I bet of all to come. I love it so, so much, and want the Wolfsons to adopt me, and am delighted by everything about it. I AM FILLED WITH SO MUCH JOY, Y’ALL. SO. MUCH. JOY.]
It’s just a word game that reveals a weird creature at the end, and said creature is a “Crocodog.”
[Wing: Movie coming soon from SyFy.]