Book 3: Athletics antics

Chapter 1

Ava Reid was the kind of girl who couldn’t ignore a crying baby.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

She glancedtothe right thentothe left. Good, no-one was watching. Teachers definitely did not approve of students walking in the school gardens.

She squeezed between two grevilleas with big red flower spikes. The sweet smell of nectar filled her nose. Wood chips crunched under her shoes.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

The sound was getting louder. Ava walked along the fence behind the grevilleas. A honey bee buzzed past her face and she jerked her head backwards.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

The sound was getting even louder. Ava put her hands over her ears. She shuffled forwards and scanned the ground.

Suddenly, she saw a small ball of grey feathers on the wood chips.

 “A baby Noisy Miner!” she exclaimed.

She crept closer and squatted down in front of it. It stayed still.

Maybe it can’t fly yet, she thought. Maybe it fell out of its nest.

Then she noticed something strange: the baby bird’s head was facing backwards and pressed up against its wing.

What’s wrong with it? she wondered.

She leaned over and picked it up.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

A Noisy Miner landed on the fence.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Another Noisy Miner landed beside the first one.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Two more Noisy Miners landed in the grevilleas near Ava.

“Is this your baby?” Ava asked them. “I won’t hurt it.”

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Suddenly, one of the adult birds flew at Ava. She ducked. The baby bird flopped around on her hands then dropped onto the ground.

“Oh, no!” Ava picked it up again. “I’m so sorry, baby. Are you all right?” She cupped her hands around it.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Another adult bird flew at Ava. She ducked again.

“I’m tryingtohelp,” she muttered.

She sat on the ground and opened her hands a little bit. The baby bird struggled to get free.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

The adult birds hopped from branch to branch.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Ava ignored them. She moved her hands around so she could examine every side of the baby bird. Before long, she had worked out what was wrong with it.

Sticky strands of spider web had joined the baby bird’s beak to its wing. It couldn’t move its head at all.

“You poor little thing,” said Ava. “Don’t worry, I’ll help you.”

Ava peeled a strand of spider web off the baby bird’s beak.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

The baby bird burst out of her hands. It crashed intoa grevillea and landed on its back with its feet in the air.

Ava sighed. She walked over to the grevillea and picked the baby bird up for the third time.

Shriek! Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

An adult bird flew at Ava. She hunched over the baby bird.

“Stay still,” she told it.

She loosened the other strands of spider web with her fingernail. She held the wing feathers down with her thumb so she didn’t pull any of them out. Then one by one, she peeled the strands of spider web off.

Suddenly, the baby bird flung its head forwards.

“There you go!” said Ava. “Now you can see where you’re going.”

She put the baby bird on the ground and backed away from it.

The adult birds crowded around it. One fed it a small grasshopper.

As it ate, Ava saw rainbow colours dance along on its wings. She blinked and they were gone.

Ava smiled a secret smile.

Ava scrambled out of the garden.

“Ewwww! Look what just came out of the garden.”

Ava spun around. Her smile melted away. The two most popular girls in her class, Fallon Connolly and Kiana Kamaka, were walkingtowards her. Fallon wore volleys with silver shoe laces. Kiana wore silver glitter nail polish.

Always out of uniform, thought Ava.

Fallon and Kiana looked Ava up and down.

“It looks like a slug,” said Fallon, sneering.

“Yeah, slugs live in gardens,” said Kiana.

Ava shifted from one foottothe other. If only she could think of a clever reply. But she always thought of onetoo late, when they were gone.

Fallon laughed nastily. “Awesome hair!”

Ava’s hands shot uptoher head. She rubbed her curly red hair. Leaves and grevillea flowers rained on her shoulders. She flicked them off.

 “No wonder you joined Mr Fernleigh’s Year 5 Gardening Group,” said Fallon. She pulled her braid forwards over her right shoulder and tilted her chintothe left. Her blonde hair gleamed in the sunshine.

“Yeah, no wonder,” echoed Kiana.

Fallon give Ava a superior look. “The gardening group is for losers.”

Kiana nodded. “Yeah, we wouldn’t join it.”

“They’re not losers,” said Ava. “They’re my friends.”

“You don’t have any friends.”

Ava scowled. “Yes, I do.”

Fallon opened her mouth then closed it again. The sports teacher, Miss Meagher, was stridingtowards them.

“Hello girls,” she said with a dazzling smile. “I’m putting the program for the School Athletics Carnival on the sports noticeboard. Would you liketotake a look?”

Fallon and Kiana smiled sweetly at the teacher.

“Yes, Miss Meagher,” they chorused.

Suck ups, thought Ava.

Miss Meagher strode off. Kiana followed her. Fallon looked at Ava.

“I’m goingtoenter every event,” she said. “I’m goingtobe the Junior Girls Athletics Champion this year.”

Shetossed her head and followed Kiana and Miss Meagher.

Ava knew that Fallon was good at athletics. She saw her training every Saturday morning when she and her mother went past the sports oval on their waytothe shopping centre.

Fallon probably will win the trophy, she thought glumly.

Ava was not a fast runner. She was not a good jumper either. But she was quite a good thrower.

I’ll enter the throwing events, she decided. I’ll show her that I’m good at athletics too.

Athletics antics

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