- After being challenged to a book reading contest, Timmy accepts in an attempt to show up the smartest kid in school.
- Checking out every book from the town library, Timmy throws himself into the challenge for all the wrong reasons, with a passion that is unhealthy… literally… because with each book that he reads his head grows one size larger!
- Perhaps his brother’s tiny head holds the key to restore things to normal.
It was Friday afternoon. The last class of the day.
On the last day of school. On the last day of May.
And in that last class sat Timmy O'Mung,
Planning just what he'd do when that last school bell rung.
He would walk out the door and onto his bus,
And then go straight home without any fuss.
But as he was walking down one of the halls,
He noticed a sign hung on one of the walls.
The sign read, "Book Reading Contest This Summer!"
Then Timmy thought to himself, "Geez, what a bummer."
"No way will I read during summer vacation.
Why that's even worse than an operation.
Reading is dumb. And that contest is too!"
But a voice from behind him said, "That's just not true."
And as he turned around to see who was there,
It was that Arnie Smith kid who said, "I have a dare."
"Or you can call it a bet or whatever you like.
And if you win this small contest I'll give you my bike.
You must read one thousand books by the time summer's done.
And if you can do that then you will have won."
Arnie Smith was real smart. Timmy knew that and yet,
He couldn't resist Arnie Smith’s little bet.
It wasn't because he could win Arnie's bike.
There was just something about Arnie that he didn't quite like.
In school it didn't matter how much Timmy would study.
'Cause when he took a test he would always do cruddy.
But Arnie was different. When he took a test,
He was the first one to finish and he always did best.
"And just this one time I think I want to win."
Timmy thought to himself as he grinned a small grin.
"All right," Timmy said. "I'll take you up on your deal.
Because I want to show you how losing can feel.
I know I can win. There's no way I can lose.
Because this is the summer that I will make news.
Once and for all Arnie Smith I will beat.
And people will say, 'My gosh, what a great feat!'
'Timmy once used to lose. But not anymore.
Why, this time young Timmy has evened the score!'"
And then he just left and walked straight out the door.
He walked past the church. Past the old cemetery.
Past the post office and into the library.
He took one step in, grabbed his library card,
Took a deep breath and then thought really hard.
"What should I read first?" Timmy thought to himself
As he stared at the books all lined up on the shelf.
And then he just grabbed one. And then grabbed another.
And then he grabbed one that was next to the other.
And when he had taken every book in the place,
He hurried straight home like in some sort of race.
And when he got home, he opened his door
And dropped all the books onto his bedroom floor.
He picked up a book and he started to read,
"1,000 Extremely Fascinating Things About Tweed."
He read where tweed comes from and about the Herringbone Stitch.
How to make tweed potholders and why tweed will itch.
A short while later when his reading was done,
He put down the book and said, "Gee, that was fun."
"I know much more now than I did before.
Why, this book reading stuff isn't quite such a bore."
And so then he reached down and picked up a large book,
Called, "How To Make Money By Being A Crook."
And when he had read it he put down the book.
His eyes dropped to the heap and he started to look.
He picked another book and read cover to cover.
Then he put down that book and he picked up another.
And this was the way he kept going and going.
But what Timmy didn't know was that his head was growing!
With every book that he read and each page that he turned,
His head grew one size larger from the things that he learned.
With each book his head grew just a small little bit,
Until soon his old little league cap wouldn't fit!
But he didn't notice. He just kept right on reading.
He read one book called, "Basic Small Garden Weeding."
He read one about water and one about boats.
One about Billy's and one about goats.
He read one about ants. One about Moby Dick.
One about string and one, "Why Glue Will Stick."
He kept reading and reading. He read for days straight.
But he didn't care. He thought reading was great!
At the end of one month he'd read four hundred books,
Except now his whole family gave Timmy strange looks.
Timmy never went out. He just stayed in and read.
And now something had very much changed with his head.
It was much, much, much larger. My how large it had got!
It hadn't exploded but it had grown a lot.
The next month was worse. He was close to his goal.
He'd read eight hundred books. But it had taken its toll.
Timmy never went out so he looked very pale.
Instead of eating, he read, so he looked very frail.
But he didn't care. He was almost all done.
There was a month left to go. Why, this contest was won.
By the first week of August he had ten more to go!
But he just wanted to stop so his head wouldn't grow.
But he had to continue. He had to go on.
So he picked up a book and he read until dawn.
There were just eight days left to go until the first day of school.
With just eight days to go! But he felt like a fool.
His head was enormous! It was really quite big.
And his body was so small that it looked like a twig.
But he wouldn't give up. He'd show Arnie who's best.
Even though he was tired and needed some rest.
He just had to keep reading. Just one book a day.
So when the week was all over, then Arnie would pay.
So he snatched up a book and he read and he read,
Until all of the words were inside of his head.
Then he grabbed the next book and he read it straight through.
And he picked up another and read that whole book too!
Next he read five more books. And he read them real fast.
And the next thing he knew he was down to his last.
He picked up the last book that was left on his floor.
And when he was done he let out a small roar!
He finished the morning of September the first.
But by this time young Timmy was feeling the worst.
His head was gigantic. His eyes were humongous.
His legs were real thin. His small feet had grown fungus.
His body was small so he looked very sick.
Why, his arm was the size of a popsicle stick.
But at least he had won. And now he could stop.
He had beat Arnie Smith and had come out on top.
He had finished the contest with three days left to go,
So he'd go to the phone just to let Arnie know.
When he tried leaving his room he fell back on the floor.
His head wouldn't fit when he walked through the door!
He could not leave his room. And now he was scared.
He had beat Arnie Smith, but who really cared?
In a panic he ran and with Timmy's bad luck,
When he went through the door his big head had got stuck!
Now this was just great. He'd be stuck here forever.
Timmy thought to himself, "Maybe I'm not quite so clever."
Timmy called for his brother because he could not walk.
But when his brother arrived Timmy went into shock.
Timmy's head was real big, but his brothers' was small.
He could almost not see his small head there at all.
"What happened to you?" he asked his brother Stevie.
Who then said, "My head shrunk 'cause I watched lots of TV."
Timmy wanted to laugh. But he didn't, instead,
A real good idea popped inside of his head.
"Let me watch your TV. Put it next to the wall
So I can get my large head unstuck from the hall."
And then something happened when he started to watch.
He could feel his head move just a small little notch.
Two whole days later Timmy's head shrunk back down.
And he didn't look like some strange sort of clown.
He walked into school and told Arnie he'd won.
So Arnie gave him his bike and he told him, "Have fun."
And since that first day of school Timmy felt sort of new.
'Cause with every test that he took every answer he knew.
And every week since that day he did something he liked.
He went down to the library on his brand new red bike.