About the Book






Excerpt from The Stonking Steps


Justin awoke at half-past eight. His companions had not slept at all, because stuffed animals and gingerbread men don’t need any sleep.

Fortunately, the iron door to the tower room had no lock. So they walked through the castle corridors, looking for a possible way out. But the outside doors were locked and the windows had iron gratings that were so close to each other that even Benny couldn’t possibly squeeze through them. Besides, they were so high up that Justin would probably kill himself if he jumped out of them.

They spotted Nono in a small room and they watched him through a window. The room resembled an office. Unlike the rest of the castle, which was lit by torches, the office had fluorescent lighting. The devil man sat at an office desk before a computer with a large screen above it. Justin, Loretta, and Nutmeg wanted to go back so that Nono wouldn’t see them. Benny, on the other hand, was aching to find out what Nono was doing.

Nono typed on the computer keyboard. As soon as he finished typing, the screen showed a girl of about eight or nine in a playroom with three smaller children. She grabbed a doll from a younger girl. The younger girl tried to grab the doll back. The bigger girl whacked the smaller girl on the head with the doll and the smaller girl cried. “That’s eleven bad deeds I’ve compelled her to perform!” he said aloud with his evil laugh.

Justin and his friends watched Nono type again. Benny and Nutmeg saw which letters were being typed:

C, O, L, E, H, U, M, P, H, R, E, Y, S, O, F, P, I, T, T, S, B, U, R, G, H, P, E, N, N, S, Y, L, V, A, N, I, A, W, H, E, N, D, A, D, D, Y, T, E, L, L, S, Y, O, U, T, O, P, I, C, K, U, P, Y, O, U, R, T, O, Y, S, T, H, R, O, W, T, H, E, T, O, Y, S, A, T, H, I, M.

The image on the computer screen now showed a boy of about five, sitting on a living room floor with his toys strewn all over the place. The boy’s father came and told him to pick up his toys. The boy screamed, “No!” and hurled the toys right at his father!

“I know what Nono’s doing!” gasped Nutmeg. “He’s telling children to do bad things so Santa won’t leave them any presents! Don’t you see? What he’s typing on the computer are things he’s telling those children to do!”

“You’re absolutely right,” said Benny.

“We’ve got to stop those kids!” Justin cried.

“But what can we do against Nono?” asked Nutmeg, doubtfully.

Justin shrugged. “We gotta try!” he said.

Then Benny said, “If Nono goes out of the room, let’s go in and see how his computer works. I’ve always wanted to try one out ever since I first heard about them.”

Loretta opened her mouth and gasped. “Are you crazy, Benny Raccoon? If we go inside that office and trifle with Nono’s computer, we will be in real serious trouble.”

Benny’s curious thought, however, gave Justin an idea. “If Nono goes out of the room, I’ll take over,” he said. “I’ll type different things on the computer.”

“It’s probably too late for that, my boy,” said Nutmeg.

“Today’s the twenty-first of December. Christmas is only four days away. Santa’s probably putting those children on the ‘bad’ list right now.”

“Besides, you’re the last person I would want to get into trouble, dear,” said Loretta.

“And we’re sure to get caught,” said Nutmeg.

Nono typed the letters:

B, E, N, A, N, D, W, A, D, E, G, A, L, L, A, G, H, E, R, O, F, B, U, N, B, U, R, Y, A, U, S, T, R, A, L, I, A, P, L, A, Y, B, A, L, L, I, N, T, H, E, L, I, V, I, N, G, R, O, O, M, A, N, D, U, P, S, E, T, T, H, E, C, H, R, I, S, T, M, A, S, T, R, E, and E.

Next, the computer screen showed an image of two boys playing tag in a living room. The boys got a basketball and threw it around and around the room until it smacked the Christmas tree. The tree toppled over with a crash.

Afterwards, Nono typed the letters:

R, Y, A, N, K, R, A, W, C, H, U, K, O, F, N, O, T, T, I, N, G, H, A, M, E, N, G, L, A, N, D, S, T, O, M, P, O, N, O, W, E, N, S, M, O, D, E, L, T, O, W, N, A, N, D, W, R, E, C, K, I, and T.

The screen now showed a young boy constructing a nifty model town of plastic bricks. It looked so real. Justin himself loved to build models out of those kinds of bricks. Meanwhile, on the computer screen, another boy came into the scene. Justin and the others watched in horror as the boy stomped his feet on the model town for fun. He kicked it around until the town was in ruins. The victim cried and screamed at the wrecker.

“What a success I am!” Nono said to himself with glee.

He shut down the computer and got up from his seat. “I could do with a cup of coffee,” he said. He walked towards the office door. Justin and his friends rushed around a corner so that Nono wouldn’t see them. They made it just as he opened the door.

Nono looked about. “Is there anybody down here?” he demanded, angrily. They could hear his footsteps on the stone floor.

“I think we’re dead,” whispered Justin.

“Shhhhh,” said Loretta, putting her paw on her mouth.

“Little boy? Fuzzbankers? Cookie?” Nono called uncertainly. “Are you down here?”

He gazed about. At last he shrugged his shoulders and walked down the corridor.

As soon as Nono vanished around a corner, Justin and Benny entered the office. Nutmeg begged for them to stop and Loretta said, “Benny! How could you put such ideas into Justin’s head!” And then, patiently, to Justin, “Come on out, dear. We don’t want to get into any more trouble with Nono than we already are.” But the boy and the raccoon were so set on preventing children from doing bad deeds that they were beyond listening. They went to the computer and Justin turned on the switch.

Hmmmmmmmmmm . . .

Bzzz . . . bzzzzzz . . . bzz . . . bzzzz . . .

Why couldn’t this stupid computer boot up faster?

Bzzzzzz . . . bzzz

Loretta and Nutmeg peered down the hallway.

Bzzzzz . . . bz . . . bzzzzzz

“C’mon c’mon,” said Justin, gritting his teeth.

Bzz . . . bzzzz . . .


“Hmmm,” said Benny to himself. “Get ‘File’!” Benny pulled down the “File” icon.

The raccoon noticed two documents marked “Baddeeddoer” and “Gooddeeddoer”. He double-clicked on “Gooddeeddoer”.

The “Gooddeeddoer” document had two choices: Ing-Ong- Ung and Otherland. Benny pulled down “Otherland”.

Next, the computer screen showed a long list of first and last names and the locations of these children. He scanned the list for Cole Humphreys, Ben and Wade Gallagher, and Ryan Krawchuk.

“Hurry up, Benny!” said Justin. “Nono’ll be back any minute and we’ll be in trouble!”

“I’m trying my best,” said Benny. “Now don’t rush me or we’ll never get this done.”

Loretta and Nutmeg peered down the hall.

Benny found several Cole Humphreyses, but it took him several minutes to find the one who lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Was Pittsburgh the pits or was it just a silly name like Minneapolis, which wasn’t “mini”, or Yellowknife, where there were no yellow knives?

He clicked on “Cole Humphreys . . . Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”

“Hmmm,” mumbled Benny. “Hit ‘Command’.” Then, “Over to you, Justin.”

Justin typed the letters:

C, O, L, T, E, L, D, A, D, D, Y, Y, R, S, O, R, E, A, N, P, I, K, U, P, Y, R, T, O, Y, and S.

Since he had trouble spelling, he was only guessing the letters. Under Benny’s command, Justin hit, “OK”.

“INVALID COMMAND,” the computer read.

“What?” shrieked Justin.

“Darn!” yelled Benny.

“Justin,” said Nutmeg, “the computer isn’t doing anything because the words are mispelled. Computers can’t understand mistakes.”

“Then how can I help those kids?” asked Justin.

“I’ll help you with the words,” said Benny. “I was voted the best speller in my class when I was a young raccoon.”

Benny highlighted


and pressed, “Delete”.

As Justin’s friends said aloud which letters to type, Justin typed,


Nutmeg and Loretta watched down the hall for Nono, trembling. Justin hit “OK” once more.

“INVALID COMMAND,” the computer read again. Justin and Benny growled.

“Let’s forget this whole thing!” said Nutmeg.

“We can’t!” said Justin.

Benny pressed the key marked, “Help.” “About Commands.” Nope. “Adding Ingian Communities.” Newpe. “Adding Otherlandic Communities.” Grrrrr. “Adding Ingian Citizens.” Arrrggh! “Adding Otherlandic Citizens.” Darn!

“Try adding Cole’s last name and the city where he lives,” said Nutmeg. “That’s how Nono did it.”

“Hey, yeah!” said Justin. Benny highlighted


and pressed “Delete”. Then, with Benny’s help, Justin typed,


and pressed, “OK” a third time.

Instantly, the boy Cole appeared on the screen. “Hey, I got it working!” shouted Justin.

“Shhhhh!” said Nutmeg. “Nono will hear us!”

Cole was now sitting in a chair facing the corner. But then he got up, picked up his toys, put them away neatly, and then told his father he was sorry, with touching sincerity. Cole’s father sensed his grief and accepted his apology. “This is great!” exclaimed Justin. “I’m gonna try that again.”

The list of names and locations reappeared on the computer screen. Benny scanned the list for a “Ben & Wade Gallagher of Bunbury, Australia.” When he got to the correct names and location, he clicked, then hit “Command”.

Next, under Benny’s direction, Justin typed,


and hit “OK”. The children Ben and Wade were now on the computer screen. They picked up all the decorations and the Christmas tree and hung the decorations back on and soon the tree looked as good as new. Justin laughed at his own success.

When the names and locations showed again, Benny scanned, clicked on “Ryan Krawchuk . . . Nottingham, England” and hit “Command” once again. Justin then typed,


On the screen, Ryan went over to Owen who, in tears, was restarting on his model town. Ryan put his arm around Owen, said he was sorry, and then asked if he could help to rebuild the town.

When Justin was through, he peered out the door to see if Nono was coming. He wasn’t.

Suddenly, Benny had an idea. “Justin!” he said. “Do you see Nono’s keys?”

Justin looked about on Nono’s desk and saw a set of keys.

“Yeah!” he said, triumphantly. “We can escape now!”

Nutmeg shook his head. “I’m afraid those keys won’t work on the outside doors,” he said. “I noticed that those doors don’t have those kinds of locks, so no doubt Nono opens them some other way.”

Justin sighed and his eyes drooped.

“Actually, I was thinking of something else,” said Benny. “I was thinking that we lock the door and leave the keys inside the office so that Nono can’t get in here and type any more ‘nonoes’ on the computer.”

“Good idea!” said Justin.

Loretta looked at the stuffed raccoon sternly. “Would you kindly stop putting ideas into his head?” she said.

While glancing down the hall for Nono every moment, Justin tried several keys which didn’t work. Finally, a key fit perfectly into the keyhole. Justin turned the key and tested the doorknob to make sure the door was locked. It was. He laid the keys on Nono’s desk. As soon as he and his friends were outside the office, they shut the door. Now the keys were locked inside, so Nono couldn’t get to his computer!

They tiptoed cautiously back to their room, hoping not to run into Nono.