“I can’t believe we’re sleeping in a museum tonight,” Josh said. “I saw a movie once where some kids stayed overnight in a museum, and no one ever saw them again!”
Dink grinned at Josh. “What happened to them?” he asked.
“A dinosaur ate them!”
“If no one ever saw the kids again,” Dink asked, “how do you know a dinosaur got them?”
“The police found bloody dinosaur tracks in the museum!” Josh said.
Ruth Rose laughed. “This museum has dinosaurs,” she said, “but they’ve been dead for a long time. Nothing to worry about!”
Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose were in Boston, Massachusetts, with Dink’s father. He had a business meeting there and had brought the kids with him. They were in the Boston Public Garden, where they planned to visit the New England Children’s Museum. During the year, the museum invited kids for special sleepovers. Dink’s dad had signed them up a week ago.
The kids wore backpacks and carried their rolled-up sleeping bags. As they hiked past a pond in the Public Garden, Dink watched people riding in boats that had giant carved swans at the back.
“That looks like fun!” Ruth Rose said. “I’d like to try it.”
“Do those boats ever tip over?” Josh asked.
Mr. Duncan laughed. “I don’t think so,” he said. “But you’d be in shallow water, and you could walk right out onto the lawn.”
“I see the museum!” Ruth Rose said, pointing straight ahead.
In the shade of a giant pine tree stood a stone building with lots of windows. The museum was set in a lawn with shrubbery and hundreds of yellow daffodils moving in the breeze. A sign over the wide front door said NEW ENGLAND CHILDREN’S MUSEUM — A LEARNING PLACE.
A crowd of kids and parents were standing near the museum entrance. Some of the kids were wearing costumes. One boy was all in black, with four extra arms sewn onto his black sweatshirt. “Look,” Dink said to Josh and Ruth Rose. “A giant spider!”
Josh shuddered. “I’m glad he’s not real,” he said.
“But there are real ones inside,” Ruth Rose teased. “There’s a spider exhibit, and I’m dying to see it!”
Two younger kids were wearing green dinosaur costumes. They looked like twins. The boy’s T-shirt said I’M FRED. His sister’s said I’M RUBY. They each held a teddy bear under one arm. They carried sleeping bags, like everyone else.
A small banner next to the door read COME INSIDE AND MEET OUR COLOSSAL FOSSIL!
Just then a woman stepped out through the door. She wore a blue shirt with the museum’s initials, NECM, printed on the front; a baseball cap; and cargo pants.
She knelt near a man who was sitting on the ground, leaning against the trunk of the pine tree.
The man had on raggedy pants and a ripped winter jacket. A ski cap was pulled over his tangled gray hair. Next to him lay a brown dog. The dog’s tail wagged when the woman patted him on the head.
She handed the man a small lunch bag. He looked inside the bag and pulled out a sandwich, then tore off the wrapping and took a big bite. The woman went back to the museum steps and smiled at the people waiting.
“I’m Sylvia Slate,” she said. “I’m one of your chaperones for tonight. Come on in!”
They all trooped through the doorway. A long table had been set up inside the lobby, where museum workers were checking off names. Then Sylvia and more chaperones in blue shirts led everyone into a small auditorium. “Please find a seat, folks!” Sylvia called out. She was standing on a stage. The kids and their parents filled in a few rows of seats.
She introduced the other chaperones: “Say hi to Tyler, Sandy, Trish, and Otto!” The four chaperones waved, and the kids and parents clapped.
Just then a man ran through the auditorium and leaped onto the stage. He had curly black hair and a black beard. He was wearing what looked like an animal skin covered with long black hair. He was carrying a club, and leather sandals were tied onto his feet. “What about me?” he said.
Sylvia laughed. “Oh yes, I forgot our caveman,” she said. “Say hi to Nog!”
“Hi, Nog!” everyone called out.
Nog bowed. “Hi right back at you!” he yelled in a deep voice.
“Do you really live in a cave?” a kid yelled, and everyone laughed.
Nog grinned. “Nope. I live in a nice apartment here in Boston, right across the street from Paul Revere’s house.”
“Who’s Paul Revere?” the same kid asked.
His father smiled and said, “I’ll tell you later, Brian.”
“Nog is going to show you some of the museum exhibits,” Sylvia told the group. “Then we’ll split up into smaller groups, and you’ll get to choose one of us as your personal chaperone for the evening!”
Nog waved his club in the air. “Make a long line and follow me!” he said.
“Leave your sleeping bags and backpacks here,” Sylvia called out. “You’ll pick them up again later.”
For the next half hour, Nog led the group around parts of the museum. They saw a Triceratops that Nog told them was twenty-three feet long. “This guy’s skeleton was found in South Dakota,” he said.
The kids and adults stared up at the huge skeleton.
“No touching!” Nog called out when little Fred put a finger on the skeleton’s leg. “He’s ticklish!”
Nog took them past a room where small animals lived. Another room on the tour was filled with birds in cages. A few of the birds were sleeping, but most were cheeping and chirping.
“Look, butterflies!” one kid yelled when Nog showed them a huge room filled with flowers and trees. Thousands of colorful butterflies flew about.
They saw a room where you could study germs under microscopes. A sign on the window said WHAT MAKES YOU SICK? COME IN AND LEARN!
“And here’s our spider room,” Nog said. He grinned through his thick beard. “I hope you don’t all have nightmares tonight!”
Copyright © 2018 by Ron Roy; illustrated by John Steven Gurney. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.