The 300th Chapter
“Now, class, let me have your attention!”
It was early afternoon, right after lunch. The students of Miss Juppie’s class were bouncy and energetic, and in no mood whatsoever to give their attention to anybody. Miss Juppie, a stern but kind yellow Aisha, clapped her hands loudly to achieve their notice, but no one looked up. Several pets in the corner began to throw paper airplanes at the Usuki-playing girls in the front, while the school track star was running laps around her desk, carefully avoiding where the science brainiacs were concocting potions.
Miss Juppie, red with fury, shouted angrily, “CLASS! SETTLE DOWN!”
It took ten minutes to get everyone totally quiet, and by then, Miss Juppie’s temper was at its boil point.
“For your outrageous behavior,” she snapped, “you will have an extra writing assignment... due tomorrow! I want you all to write your favorite books on slips of paper and bring them to me now. When I have them all, I’ll explain the assignment.”
As the students pulled out their paper, they all glared each other, thinking that the extra project was the fault of anybody but themselves. One by one, they made their way up to the front of the room and handed the paper to Miss Juppie, who read what they wrote. Soon, everyone was done and waiting for the explanation.
“Tonight,” said Miss Juppie, “you will be writing a two-page paper on what makes this your favorite book. I have read over your responses. Since every person’s answer was also the answer of another student, you will work in groups. Each additional group member adds a page. Let’s see... Jimmy, Clarence also put down The Magic Paw, so you will be together.”
Well that was no surprise! Jimmy and Clarence, who were the best of friends, grinned at each other.
Miss Juppie continued, “Now, here we have a foursome. Arabella, Julian, Frieda, and Hector... you all wrote down The Neopian Times.”
This raised several eyebrows. While some contemplated whether The Neopian Times was really a book or not, others tried to figure out how it was possible that these certain four pets put the same thing.
Arabella was the Usuki-loving pink Usul who was owned by the wealthiest of Neopians. Julian was the blue Bori who loved to cause mischief and never missed a chance to skip out on homework. Frieda was the speedy red Ixi who won every track meet and seemed to speak to nobody. Hector was the brainy starry Scorchio who, in his free time, won science fairs and baked award-winning pies.
“The Neopian Times?” someone called out. “That is not a book!”
Hector responded, “I, personally, beg to differ on that matter.”
Arabella, sitting a few seats away from the Scorchio, gasped and began muttering to herself, “Oh no. Oh man. I’m agreeing with... with Hector!”
In the very back row, Julian was nervously making excuses to his equally slacking friends. “No, I don’t really read the ‘Times! Of course, I don’t! I just... wrote something down, that’s all. I don’t read any dumb newspaper, that is for sure!”
Miss Juppie quieted the chattering, excited class. “Any more babble and it will be ten pages!”
Ten minutes after school had ended, the four pets sat in Hector’s bedroom (“I believe my house on Wishing Well Drive will prove to be a most excellent location for the writing of the essay,” he had stated promptly) and none of them spoke. It wasn’t until Hector’s owner brought them a tray of steaming pasties that anyone took any action.
“So,” Arabella said to Julian, “why did you put The Neopian Times down? I heard you telling your disgusting friends that you don’t really read it.”
Julian shrugged. “I don’t read it. I don’t even read at all! I put it down because I look at the comics every week.”
Hector looked at Frieda and asked, “What about you?”
“There’s a lot of things you can learn from the articles,” Frieda said, speaking for this first time all day. “There are game guides and tutorials, and all sorts of things people have learned from a little investigation.”
“Well, I love the short stories,” Arabella stated, “because I can’t stand waiting for new parts of series. With short stories, you can get a whole adventure finished without having to wait a single day!”
Hector raised his eyebrows at her. “I enjoy reading the different series,” he said, “because I am patient and don’t have the attention span of a Puppyblew. Each week, I can read the new part of a few stories, and then start a few more!”
Frieda looked around at her three partners. “Wow,” she said softly, “it’s like there’s something for each one of us.”
“How is it that something as simple as a newspaper can be appealing to four very different pets?” Arabella asked.
“The Neopian Times is so all-embracing,” Hector said matter-of-factly. “It’s varied and wide-ranging.”
“And that’s because so many different people are the contributors,” said Julian with a smile.
“What we like to read is most likely written by people and pets just like us!” Frieda exclaimed.
Hector grinned. “The Neopian Times is like a never-ending novel! Each issue is a chapter that introduces new things. Things that captivate us.”
“I almost forgot!” Arabella cried out. “The 300th issue makes its appearance this week!”
“You know what?” Julian said with a smirk. “I am looking forward to writing this report.”
Miss Juppie was in a better mood the next day. “Time to share your papers, class,” she said after lunch. “Arabella, your group can go first. Tell us about your favorite book.”
Arabella, Hector, Frieda, and Julian all stood up and made their way to the front of the room. Hector pulled out their report (which was neatly placed in a clear folder) and cleared his throat.
“Our report,” he said loudly, “is titled ‘The Ultimate Book.’ It’s about The Neopian Times.”
He then handed the report to Arabella, who, with a smile, began to read.
“When Miss Juppie placed the four of us in a group, we were angry and stunned. We were angry because none of us liked or even ever talked to each other, and we were stunned because we didn’t know how it was possible for four such different personalities to have a common interest. After we shared our opinions, though, we realized that there was something we all loved, but we each liked a different part of it.”
At this point, Frieda took over.
“The Neopian Times offers several options of things to read. My personal favorite is the articles section. Because so many diverse Neopians have written about their experiences, discoveries, and opinions, you can learn lots of unique things. For athletes, like myself, a game guide might be preferable. For a future journalist, an exposé on Kreludor’s absence from the Altador Cup might be the way to go. For a comedian, maybe a silly countdown of reasons why Jhudora and Illusen are enemies sounds entertaining.”
With that, she handed the papers over to Hector.
“For those of us who have patience and a love for lengthy epics, the greatest section is series. Just like articles, there are many different types. Some are nice and short and easy to understand, while others take two or three months to finish and take much concentration to fully comprehend. Whichever one, reading a series gives you something important to look forward to at the end of the week. It’s impossible to stop an amazing series once you’ve started, and you can find yourself waiting at the sidewalk for the next issue.”
Now Arabella began to read.
“Some people love a good story, but don’t have the patience to wait a week for the ending. That is why the short stories section is perfect! You can read an entire adventure in just a few minutes, instead of taking a couple weeks. It’s also fun to read one or two short stories a day after each issue comes out, because then you’ll have something new to read every single day of the week!”
Julian took the report and started to speak.
“As most of you probably know, reading does not come naturally to me. So why am I excited every time The Neopian Times is delivered? One word: comics. With The Neopian Times comics section, you can see all sorts of drawing styles, read some funny and original jokes, and get some good laughs! There is always a bunch of different comic strips.... There are so many options, it’ll take you hours to read them all! So, for those of us who aren’t ‘wordy’ people, The Neopian Times offers the greatest entertainment.”
Frieda, beaming from ear to ear, took the report.
“The Neopian Times is a book. But it’s not your average ‘beginning, middle, and end’ book. Instead, it offers countless stories and articles and comics, so that you can NEVER get bored! We like to look at each issue as a chapter, and each of those chapters bring you new and amazing things.”
Finally, Julian began to read the last portion of the assignment.
“We would like to thank The Neopian Times, not only for supplying us with 299 weeks of brilliant enjoyment, but for bringing people together. Because of the diversity of the newspaper’s writers and illustrators, The Neopian Times can interest absolutely anybody. If it had not been for The Neopian Times, we four incredibly different pets would never have spoken to each other, and we would have never been friends. So, right now, we would like to celebrate this amazing book’s newest part, which is coming at the end of the week. To The Neopian Times, and to its 300th chapter!”
Author’s Note: It’s hard to believe that my very first story came out 100 weeks ago. I want to thank The Neopets Team for creating this newspaper and allowing all of us to write and draw for it! Thanks to the two-hundred-and-ninety-nine amazing issues of the past, and here’s to a hopeful million more of the future!