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Girl Underground - Morris Gleitzman

Paperback

Published: 7th June 2004
For Ages: 10 - 12 years old
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Published: 7th June 2004
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A story of friendship, courage and a bit of crime.

Bridget wants a quiet life. Including, if possible, keeping her parents out of prison.

Then a boy called Menzies makes her an offer she can't refuse, and they set off on a job of their own.

It's a desperate, daring plan – to rescue two kids, Jamal and Bibi, from a desert detention centre.

Can Bridget and Menzies pull off their very first jail break, or will they end up behind bars too?

Sometimes, to help a friend, you have to dig deep.

About the Author

Morris Gleitzman has been a fashion-industry trainee, frozen-chicken defroster, department-store Santa, sugar-mill employee, and screenwriter, among other things. Now he's one of Australia's best-loved children's book authors. His books have been published all over the world.

This school,' says Mum, 'is going to give you everything me and Dad didn't have.' I nod sadly.

I can't do it to them. They spent months choosing this place. Mum cancelled the plastic surgery on her tattoos so they could afford the fees. How can I tell them I'd rather be going into Mrs Posnick's class at my old school?

'You've got to admit,' says Mum, giving me another squeeze, 'this place is better than your old school.'

I nod again.

But I don't mean it.

My old school's only ten minutes from home by foot. The uniform's a comfortable t-shirt instead of this scratchy blazer. And the teachers and kids are fantastic. Nobody tries to push you into being their friend. If you want to keep to yourself so nobody finds out your family are criminals, you can.

This school is crawling with the kids of lawyers and judges and commissioners of police. If they find out what Mum and Dad do, we're sunk.

I open my mouth to tell Mum and Dad that sending me here is putting our whole family at risk and that they're making a terrible mistake.

But I don't.

Their faces are so hopeful.

I remember how miserable they were when Gavin got put away for shoplifting. I'm their only other kid. I can't hurt them too. I have to try and get through the next seven years.

Somehow.

For them.

As I'm thinking this, Dad steers me over to a complete stranger.

'S'cuse me,' says Dad, blocking the stranger's path. 'I'm Len White. You a teacher?'

The stranger, a tall skinny bloke with a beaky face and a bundle of folders under his arm, looks at me and Mum and Dad about twice each.

'Creely,' he says. 'Science and Personal Development.'

Dad pumps Mr Creely's hand. Mr Creely gives him a thin smile.

'This is my daughter Bridget,' says Dad. 'She's just starting in year six. Bridget's a very sensitive and top-notch young person. If you could see your way clear to helping her settle in, I would be personally very grateful.'

Mr Creely gives me the thin smile.

'We regard every student as sensitive and er, top-notch,' he says. 'Every one of them will receive the very best care and support. As young Bridget will discover at her first assembly tomorrow morning.'

Dad reaches into his inside pocket.

With a jolt of panic I realise what he's going to do.

No, Dad, I plead silently. Not here.



It's too late.

Dad pulls a plastic object out of his pocket and presses it into Mr Creely's hand.

'Bulgarian gameboy,' says Dad. 'Seriously top-notch quality. With my compliments.'

Mr Creely stares at the gameboy, horrified.

'Thank you,' he says. 'But I couldn't possibly . . .'

'Don't fret,' says Dad. 'I've got a warehouse full of 'em. Keep a friendly eye on Bridget for me and I'll sling you an Iraqi blender next visit.'

I pray Mr Creely doesn't ask to see the import documents for the gameboy. I'm not sure if the Bulgarian businessmen Dad deals with can even write.

'Um, thank you,' mutters Mr Creely and hurries away.

'Nice bloke,' says Dad, ruffling my hair.

Mum is frowning at Dad's jacket pocket. I can see she's wondering what else he's brought along from the warehouse.

'We should probably be thinking about going, love,' says Mum to me. 'Would you like us to take you back to your room and say goodbye there?'

'No thanks,' I say. 'The carpark's fine.'

I just want to get them out of here before Dad tries to give a set of Algerian hair-curlers to a passing high court judge.

We go over to the car. Mum spends a long time hugging me and saying loving things. Normally I'd be glowing with happiness, but I just can't concentrate, not while we're standing next to the only Mercedes in the carpark with dents and a spoiler and flared mudguards. It's not Dad's fault. Uncle Grub gave it to him. In our family we believe it's rude to criticise presents or get them panel-beaten.

Dad says lots of loving things too, and gives me a Turkish personal organiser.

Uncle Grub waves at me through the car window.

Then they drive away.

I wave back, trying to hold the tears in so I won't draw attention to myself.

I'm sad because they're going, but I'm even sadder because I know the real reason Mum and Dad are paying a fortune to send me to a boarding school that's only an hour by car or school bus from our place.

They think if they keep me out of the house I won't end up like them.

Crims.

Which is hard for me because they're kind and generous and good and I love them and I do want to end up like them.

They've gone.

I'd better get inside before other parents start talking to me.

Hang on, what's that cloud of dust coming through the school gates? It's a car going really fast. Spraying gravel onto the flowerbeds. Is it them rushing back so Dad can give me an Israeli calculator?

Oh no.

It's something even worse and it's heading straight for me.

A police car.

ISBN: 9780143300465
ISBN-10: 0143300466
Audience: Children
For Ages: 10 - 12 years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 7th June 2004
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.0  x 2.4
Weight (kg): 19.8

Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman grew up in England and came to Australia when he was sixteen. He was a frozen-chicken thawer, sugar-mill rolling-stock unhooker, fashion-industry trainee, student, department-store Santa, TV producer, newspaper columnist and screenwriter. Then he had a wonderful experience. He wrote a novel for young people. Now he's one of Australia's most popular children's authors.

Visit Morris Gleitzman's Booktopia Author Page