Operation Diamond Dance
Waiting for his Dad to come home from work, Win Partridge sat on his bed listening to the radio while reading a book about birds.
“Birds have no teeth,” Win read. “So they grind their food with the help of stones in their stomach.”
Win stopped reading to consider this fact. But because the music on the radio had a funky beat...
*Thumpa, Thumpa, Thumpa-Womp!*
...he found himself hopping out of bed and wiggling his hips. He started chanting, “Birds, yeah, have no teeth! Birds, birds have no teeth!”
A few minutes of this went by before Win heard the voice of an older woman trying to get his attention.
“Win Partridge! Report for a special mission immediately! The Order of the Oak needs you!”
Win gasped. The tree in the garden was speaking to him again! He hadn’t heard from her in a week. Win dashed outside.
“Sorry to interrupt your ‘important’ business,” said the tree, not sounding sorry at all. Win stammered.
“Oh, uh, I was just—"
“Never mind that now,” interrupted the three-hundred-year-old oak. “The tiny country of Lower Panonnia is sponsoring an event in the city. Their national diamonds will be there on display. We have word that the Company of Really Awful Baddies, also known as—”
“Yes. They’re planning on stealing the diamonds. With these jewels, they can build a super-laser.”
“Ouch!” An acorn bounced off Win’s head.
“That’s your power,” said the tree. “Remember, it won’t last long.”
Win picked up the glowing nut and put it in the locket he wore around his neck. He squeezed inside the trunk of the tree.
“And what is my power today?” asked Win.
The tree said, “It has something to do with your name...”
Before Win could ask anything else, he felt a familiar whooshing feeling. Then he stepped out from a different tree trunk in an unfamiliar part of the city.
In front of him, a large banner hung over the doors of a building. The banner read, “Lower Panonnian Festival of Dance!” Two guards in fancy uniforms stood at the entrance. Win heard the pulse of lively music coming from inside.
In a thick Panonnian accent, one of the guards said, “The dance contest is almost over.”
Win poked his head through the doorway. He saw a sparkling disco ball hanging from the ceiling. A large crowd was gathered around a contestant on the dance floor. Over by the judges was a crown glittering with jewels. A sign next to it said, “Grand Prize.”
“The jewels on that crown!” Win thought to himself. “Those must be the diamonds that C.R.A.B. wants to steal!”
Win remembered that the tree said his power had something to do with his name.
“Hmm,” he puzzled to himself. “Win Partridge. Win. Win.”
Win snapped his fingers.
“Of course! I’m supposed to win the dance contest! I bet my special power is being an amazing dancer!”
Win looked down at his tapping toes.
“Oh, yeah. I can feel it already!”
A new song started playing. Win strutted towards the crowd. Then he leapt into the middle of the dance floor and did a split.
“Ouch!” Win said under his breath. “Guess I should have done some leg stretches first.”
Win jumped to his feet again. He then began shimmying while waving his arms in the air.
“Woo! Normally, I’m too shy to dance in front of anyone,” thought Win to himself. “But with my special powers, I can boogie in front of a thousand people!”
And boogie he did. Win called out the names of his different dance moves as he slid, shuffled and waggled around the room.
“This one’s ‘The Funky Chicken’! And this one’s ‘The Loosey Goosey’! And I call this one ‘The Jerky Turkey!’”
Win concentrated so hard on his amazing dancing, he didn’t notice that the contest had ended. He also didn’t notice that maybe his dancing wasn’t so amazing. The judges were presenting the crown to one of the other contestants! Win was confused.
“I lost?! But if dancing isn’t my special power, then what is it?!”
Win looked closer at the crown. He now noticed that the jewels were made of plastic.
“But then,” wondered Win, “where are the diamonds?” He looked up and realised the answer was above him. The disco ball was sparkling with dozens of enormous diamonds!
But just as Win realised this - *CLICK!* - all the lights went out in the room. Seconds later, the lights came on again. But the disco ball...was gone!
Win caught a glimpse of someone fleeing out the back door. Win ran after the thief and nearly bumped into a chicken, a goose and a turkey. The three birds looked at Win eagerly. Win was confused.
“What do you want from me?” Win asked the birds.
The birds didn’t answer, of course. Win realised he was wasting valuable time. Just up ahead, the thief jumped on a moped. He wore goggles and cradled the disco ball. As the man sped off, Win could see the design on the back of his jacket. It was a crab!
Win ran after the moped. The turkey, goose and chicken waddled alongside him.
“Why are you here?” Win asked the birds. “Waddling isn’t helping me at all! You’ll have to fly to catch the thief! Like those crows over there!”
Win didn’t expect the three birds to do as he said. But the turkey, goose and chicken began flapping their wings to try and follow the man on the moped.
Win then noticed that the crows he pointed to were also flying towards the man. They hovered near his head and made it difficult to steer the moped.
“Wait a minute,” Win said to himself. “Just minutes after I called out ‘funky chicken,’ ‘loosey goosey’ and ‘jerky turkey,’ a chicken, goose and turkey appeared!” Win gasped. “Win Partridge! A partridge is a bird! That’s what the tree meant. This acorn is giving me the power to control birds!”
The man on the moped was now driving into a park, trying to get away from the crows.
“Block his path!” Win shouted. Four peacocks stepped in front of the moped and opened up their tail feathers. Startled by the wall of dizzying colour suddenly in front of him, the man on the moped veered into a flock of pigeons. The flock flapped in his face until he dropped the disco ball. The ball rolled down some steps until - *Splash!* - it landed in the middle of a pond.
“Get it!” Win yelled. Obeying Win, six swans swam towards the floating disco ball and nudged it to the opposite bank. Win ran over there with the turkey, goose and chicken.
But before Win could reach the ball, a drone hovering over the pond suddenly plucked it out of the water. Win could see the goggled man manoeuvring the drone with a remote control. It took the disco ball higher and higher into the sky. Win spied a hawk making lazy circles nearby and called up to it.
“Hey, hawk! Make that drone let go of the ball!”
The hawk swooped onto the drone. The bird shook the machine in its talons until the disco ball dropped. Win could hear the ball crash to the ground a few streets away.
“Yikes!” said Win. “I wish I could run over there as fast as possible!”
Suddenly, he felt himself scooped up from behind. He was now on the back of an ostrich from the London Zoo, running at top speed! Four more ostriches ran right behind him. They reached the shattered disco ball before the man on the moped and the ostriches immediately began swallowing the diamonds.
“Of course!” thought Win. “Birds swallow stones because they help grind the food in their stomachs. And the bigger the bird, the bigger the stones!”
But just as the ostriches gulped down the last diamonds, Win heard the moped. The goggled man was speeding towards them with anger in his eyes.
“Run!” said Win.
The ostriches sprinted down the streets of London. Win clutched the back of the biggest ostrich and a chicken clutched Win’s head.
“Hey, watch it! Your claws are sharp!” said Win to the chicken. They all ran into Harrod’s Department Store with the man on the moped in hot pursuit.
Shoppers dropped their bags in alarm as ostriches, a moped, a chicken and a boy darted past. When they emerged out the other side of the store, Win noticed a line of squirrels urgently pointing the way to a large tree. Win directed the ostriches towards the opening in the tree and...
Win found himself in his back garden again.
“Well done, Win,” said the oak tree. “The ostriches have been diverted to a safe spot where they can cough up the diamonds far from any agents of C.R.A.B.”
Win nodded, relieved.
“So,” said the tree. “Tell me. How did you guess what your power was?”
Dazed and exhausted, all Win could say was, “A little bird told me.”