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Partners in Slime
Illustrated by Charles Santoso
Cover design or artwork by Charles Santoso
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 5, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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But Hopper has doubts that anyone — even Quinny — can save him from his impending doom: a surgery removing tonsils he is really, really not ready to part ways with.
To help Hopper overcome his tonsillectomy fears, Quinny decides to reveals his birthday surprise early: a trip to a museum where they’ll get to see a real brain up close and personal. Hopper needs something to live for.
But Quinny is torn when her sometimes-friend, sometimes-enemy, Victoria Porridge, invites her to the most amazing party ever on the exact same day.
Quinny and Hopper are back in this hilarious and heartfelt sequel about friendship, changes, and staying true to yourself.
Text copyright © 2016 by Adriana Brad Schanen
Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Charles Santoso
Cover illustration © 2016 by Charles Santoso
Cover design by Tyler Nevins
Designed by Tyler Nevins
All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney • Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.
For Raymond Peter and Zoe Elizabeth
Much gratitude and love to Julia,
Madeline, Glen and Bubu.
And special thanks to my partners in slimy research—Liliana Kovacevic, Sarah Geiger, Jason Kirschner and Jen Savitch.
Today I have to miss school and go see a man who scares me. His name is Dr. Merkle.
“Hopper, are you awake?”
It’s Mom at my bedroom door. “I’m up,” I mumble.
But I take a long time getting dressed.
I take a really long time chewing my breakfast, which has no taste.
Mom looks at me with a soft face. “Oh, Hopper. It’s going to be okay.”
Dad looks at me with a harder face. “Ready to go, buddy?”
No, but I don’t have much of a choice.
On the way to Dr. Merkle’s office, our minivan passes the bus headed to Whisper Valley Elementary School. That bus is full of kids who get to have a normal day. I see my next-door neighbor Quinny riding in her usual seat. My usual seat is right next to hers, but today it’s empty. Quinny’s bouncing around and talking to all the kids behind her and in front of her and across the aisle. She’s talented at talking in every direction. I wave up at her, but she’s too busy to notice me.
Then the school bus turns right, and our minivan turns left.
The sign on Dr. Merkle’s door says: ISAIAH MERKLE, MD–ENT ASSOCIATES OF GREATER WHISPER VALLEY. MD stands for “Medical Doctor” and ENT stands for “Ear, Nose, Throat.” When you become a doctor, you get to pick which body parts you want to study a little extra and become an expert on. (I like feet, brains, and teeth the most, but Grandpa Gooley says I have a few more years to decide.)
Dad pushes open the door and we walk in.
“Hi there, Hopper,” says Trudy at the desk, who has kind brown eyes with bright blue eyelids. We know each other because I’ve been here before, lots of times.
We wait in the waiting room. Then we wait some more in the exam room. I shiver a little. It’s always chilly in here. Then Dr. Merkle finally comes in. If you replaced the Dr. with a Mr., he wouldn’t even be that scary. But in his cold office, in his bright white coat, he’s slightly terrifying.
“Good morning, Hopper.” He smiles straight at me, with teeth as white as his coat. “How’s it going today?”
Not so great, or I wouldn’t be here.
“Open up and let’s have a look.”
I open up, and Dr. Merkle looks down my throat. Keeping my mouth open this wide feels like I’m choking, but I’m used to it.
“Well, Hopper, you’ve got the biggest tonsils I’ve ever seen in an eight-year-old kid.”
Actually, I’m about to turn nine soon, but I don’t bother correcting him.
What Dr. Merkle said sounds impressive, but it just means I breathe funny when I sleep and I get sore throats sometimes (like last week).
“Folks, I really think it’s time.” Dr. Merkle looks from me to my parents.
He says if I want my sleep to improve and my throat to finally get better, I’ll have to go to the hospital and have an operation called a tonsillectomy.
I hear the words hospital and operation. My ears suddenly feel clogged. Dr. Merkle’s voice sounds like someone threw a blanket over his head. The whole world sounds muffled.
“Okay,” says Dad. “Let’s do it. Let’s get this taken care of, once and for all.”
“Okay,” says Mom, sounding less sure.
“No thank you,” I say.
But Dr. Merkle keeps talking. He says a tonsillectomy is when a doctor removes your tonsils. Everybody is born with two tonsils in the back of their throat. Tonsils are supposed to help keep you healthy by catching germs. But sometimes the tonsils themselves get sick and swell up. Dr. Merkle goes on and on, even though I know this stuff already. I read about tonsillectomies with Mom last year. I wish he would stop talking. I just want to go home.
“Hopper, listen. A tonsillectomy is a simple procedure. Thousands of kids get one every year.”
Simple? Maybe a tonsillectomy is simple for the person doing the tonsillectomy.
But the person having his very own tonsils chopped out of his throat might disagree.
“Did you ever have one?” I asked Dr. Merkle.
He smiles again, which is not an answer.
My parents are talking now, too, in between Dr. Merkle’s talking.
Mom’s words say: “It’ll be okay, sweetie. We’ll get through this.”
But her face says: There’s a chance it won’t be okay, and I’m as scared as you are.
Dad’s words say: “No worries, Hopper. You’ve got this.”
But his face says: Calm down; don’t panic; don’t be such a wimp.
What people say with their faces is as important as what they say with their words.
Then Dr. Merkle asks if I have any other questions about the tonsillectomy.
“When you say ‘remove’…you mean with a knife?” I picture a knife in my throat.
“It’s not a knife, Hopper. I’ll be using a small, precise surgical tool called a Coblator.”
“Will it hurt?”
“You’ll be asleep the whole time. Then your throat will be sore for a few days. It’ll hurt to swallow at first, but you’ll get to have lots of Popsicles and ice cream as you heal.”
That last part sounds okay. I try to trust Dr. Merkle. The diploma on his wall says he’s been an ENT doctor for eighteen years. That’s twice as long as I’ve been alive. That’s a lot of tonsils.
“So how does Friday morning sound?” he says.
“This Friday?” I try to keep my voice normal. “You mean the day after tomorrow?”
“No reason to wait, Hopper,” he says. “The less time for you to worry, the better.”
Mom and Dad both chuckle at this, but I don’t see what’s so funny.
When we get home, I ask Mom, “Can I go on the computer?”
She looks at me carefully. “Hopper, if you have more tonsillectomy questions, we can call Dr. Merkle or figure out the answers together. Sound good?”
I don’t want to make Mom feel worse by letting her know how scared I really am. “That’s okay. I’m fine. I’m going upstairs for a while.”
I go up and sit on my bed and open Atlas of Human Anatomy by Frank H. Netter.
It’s the heaviest book I own, and my favorite, full of drawings of the insides of human bodies—technical, detailed pictures that real doctors use. I turn to a page with tonsils on it. I look at the drawings. There’s so much going on inside our bodies that we can’t see. I used to think it was incredible. But now I wish my insides were made of steel.
I pull out my chess set. Chess is a great way to turn off your feelings. I usually play both sides of the game, since no one else in my family is interested in chess, and since both of me are free at the same time. I wait for this game of chess to fill up my whole mind and push out all my feelings. But it doesn’t.
I wish Dad didn’t think I was such a wimp.
I wish I could tell Mom how scared I really am.
I wish it were already Saturday and the tonsil operation were over.
Then some banging on my door interrupts all my wishing.
“Hopper, Hopper, Hopper!” cries Quinny’s voice. “Can I come in?”
Before I answer, she bursts in and plops on my bed. “Hopper, guess what! Today I colored a math sheet that turned into a puppy, and for cursive I got to write ‘cookie’ twenty-five times, and then I saw a blue jay on the playground, which is Piper’s favorite bird.”
“Plus I have your homework from Ms. Yoon. Plus tomorrow is the thrilling, amazing trip to the animal shelter. I’m so glad you’ll be back for that. Plus also, congratulations!”
“I just heard you have the biggest tonsils ever!”
“So what? It’s not like I get a prize or anything.”
“You never know.”
“What’s the homework?”
Instead of telling me, she looks at my chess set. “Hey, can I play, too?”
“Sure, why not.”
I’ve tried to teach Quinny how to play chess a bunch of times. But I guess there are two kinds of people in the world: chess people and checkers people. Sometimes I let her win, just to see more of her smile, but usually she wanders away before we get too far.
“Hey, are you hungry?” She pops up from the game. “I’m starving. Let’s get a snack.”
I follow her downstairs. Mom fixes us cheese and crackers and apple slices. I pour us water.
“Open wide,” Quinny says as we start to eat. “I want to see your tonsils.”
“No thank you.”
“Please? Pretty please? Pretty please with tonsil slime on top?”
“Come on, let me see.”
There’s no use arguing when Quinny gets this excited. I open wide.
“Hopper, look! There they are!” she cries.
“Aaaahh caaan’t luuuk,” I remind her, because I don’t have eyeballs inside my throat.
“Oh, they’re so cute—they look like little turkey meatballs.”
Suddenly I’m not hungry anymore. My food sits there as Quinny gobbles hers down.
“Hey, if you’re not going to eat that, can I have it?” she asks.
I push my plate in her direction. Quinny eats all my crackers and says, “You know, Hopper, you’re so lucky you get to go to the hospital. I haven’t been there in ages.”
“Are you kidding? The hospital is where people get sick and die.”
“It’s also where people get better and babies get born,” she says. “Plus afterward, your mom said you’ll get to eat all the pistachio ice cream and Popsicles you want—in bed!”
I’ll believe it when I see the pistachio ice cream.
“Quinny, I hear you’re excited about the class trip to the animal shelter,” says Mom, changing the subject away from tonsils.
“Oh yes, Mrs. Grey, it’s going to be incredible. My teacher, Ms. Yoon, said there will be dozens of wonderful, beautiful, homeless cats and dogs, and I want to sign up to volunteer and take care of them, and then my parents will realize how mature and responsible I am and finally let me get a dog even though Piper is allergic—”
“That’s great, Quinny,” says Mom. “Good luck with all that.”
Then my big brothers, Ty and Trevor, walk in. They’re dirty and sweaty from soccer practice. Mom makes them leave their giant, muddy cleats by the back door. But there’s nothing she can do about their giant, stinky feet.
Ty grabs my shoulder hello. Trevor yanks my ear hello.
Quinny moves away when they try to bother her hair hello. She makes a growly face, but they laugh. My brothers’ thick, sporty bodies fill the kitchen, and they both start telling Mom how a teammate wrenched his knee at soccer practice.
If Quinny and I sneak out right now, maybe they’ll leave us alone. I gesture to her. She nods. We slip out of the kitchen.
“Ooh, I have a great idea,” says Quinny. “Let’s go play with Disco and Cha-Cha.”
“I’m kind of tired.”
“Okay, well, don’t worry. I fed them this morning and explained why you weren’t around today, and they totally understood.”
I doubt they understood. Because Disco and Cha-Cha are chickens.
We help take care of them at our neighbor Mrs. Porridge’s house. They’re just a few weeks old and not fully feathered yet, so they’re living inside her screened-in porch. Mrs. Porridge actually pays us to take care of them. But she pays us in eggs. And since Disco and Cha-Cha won’t lay any eggs until they’re older, we haven’t gotten our first paycheck yet.
“Hey, Quinny,” I say. “Don’t tell people.”
“I don’t want the kids in school to know about my tonsils and the operation.”
“What’s the big deal?”
“Just promise me you won’t tell everybody in school, okay?”
But the next morning, by the lockers, guess what people are talking about.
Alex Delgado says, “I went to the hospital when I fell out of a tree. They have electric beds that go up and down and fold in half. Be careful you don’t get crushed inside one.”
Caleb says, “We went to visit my aunt at the hospital and got lost. The place is huge!”
Victoria says, “Aren’t you kind of old to be having your tonsils out? I had mine out when I was five. I heard the older you are, the more painful it is.” She says this with a smile. The tips of her hair are pink. Her nails are striped black and white. Victoria is the kind of person who never usually talks to me, which I don’t mind one bit.
After morning meeting, Ms. Yoon announces that we need to get ready and line up for the trip to the animal shelter. Lots of kids make excited noises. Quinny’s are the loudest.
I get in line behind her. “Thanks a lot,” I whisper into her ear.
“You’re welcome,” Quinny says, and then she turns around. “Wait, Hopper, what for?”
“You told everybody in school about my operation!” I whisper-shout.
“I did not.”
“Did not, I just told one person, not everybody. And it wasn’t even in school. I was outside of school while we were walking from the bus, and it was only Caleb, who’s your friend, too, so I don’t see what the big deal is—”
“The big deal is Caleb told Alex Delgado, who told Victoria, who told everyone.”
“Then you should be mad at them, not me,” says Quinny. “And why do you always say Alex-Delgado, like it’s all one word? He’s the only Alex in third grade.”
“Stop changing the subject,” I tell her.
“Stop trying to keep everything a secret.”
“You do! You tried to keep me a secret from your brothers all summer. You keep your personality a secret in school. I’m sorry, but you can’t keep your giant tonsils a secret—they’re just too exciting!”
Quinny’s words shoot deep into my ears and swirl around my head. They make my eyes blur. They make my face burn. Quinny doesn’t like it that I’m quiet. Well, I don’t like it that she’s loud. We shouldn’t even be friends in the first place, but it happened when she moved in next door to me over the summer. It happened before I knew any better. And walking away from a friend like her is harder than it looks.
“I don’t see what the big deal is.” Quinny keeps talking. “Everyone’s going to find out when you’re absent anyway. Lots of kids have their tonsils out.”
“The big deal is you promised not to tell. You’re a liar.”
Quinny’s eyebrows twist. She leans over and whisper-shouts into my ear: “And you’re a wimpy scaredy-pants who whines about everything!”
“Quinny? Hopper? Is everything okay?”
Ms. Yoon is standing above us now. Her big, round belly has a baby inside it. Way above her giant belly is her tiny head, which looks concerned. “Quinny, please come with me,” she says. “Everyone else, please follow Mr. Sellars to the bus.”
Quinny looks confused, but Ms. Yoon’s tone of voice is firm. I watch them walk away.
Then Quinny turns around and sticks her tongue out at me.
Mr. Sellars, another third-grade teacher, leads the rest of us toward the bus for the field trip. I follow my class outside. I get on the bus with everybody.
Everybody except Quinny.
I look back at the school building. Where is she?
The bus driver starts the engine. Mr. Sellars reminds everybody to buckle up.
Maybe Quinny is in trouble. Good, she deserves it. But I wonder if I’m the one who got her into trouble. What if I just made her miss the best field trip of her life?
The bus driver revs the engine. The whole bus rumbles and vibrates.
“Mr. Sellars?” I call out. “Mr. Sellars?”
But he’s looking at a clipboard and talking to some kids at the front of the bus. I unbuckle my seat belt and rush up to him. “Mr. Sellars, Quinny Bumble is not on the bus.”
“I’m aware of that, Hopper,” he says without looking up from his clipboard. “Now please go back to your seat.”
I don’t know why Ms. Yoon is dragging me away from the bus for that amazing field trip to the animal shelter, which is a trip I’ve been looking forward to every minute of every day since she told us about it a few weeks ago.
“Ms. Yoon, I’m supposed to be getting on the bus for that amazing field trip!”
“Hold your horses, Quinny. There’s something we have to do first.”
“Can’t we do it later? For example, after the field trip? Because this might be my only chance to play with a puppy, or it can even be a grown-up dog. I’m not picky, because I’ve wanted a dog for so long, but my parents keep bringing home little sisters instead—”
“Yes, Quinny, you’ve mentioned this once or twice before.”
“Plus I want to sign up to volunteer with the animals, too, because all those poor homeless animals have nobody and nothing, and I just know I could cheer them up.”
- "Characters are well-rounded and their problems are fully believable. A few useful life lessons on friendship and the value of being true to oneself while being flexible enough to accept others' foibles are seamlessly incorporated. An excellent, emotionally rich choice for readers ready for a sizable chapter book."—Kirkus Reviews
- "With its balanced mix of humor, emotions, and well-crafted characters living in imperfect but loving families, the Quinny and Hopper series has the qualities of an enduring favorite."—Booklist
PRAISE FOR QUINNY & HOPPER
"Judy Moody fans will have a ball with Quinny and Hopper, and elementary teachers or librarians looking for a spirited readaloud selection will want to pick up a copy as well."—BCCB
PRAISE FOR QUINNY & HOPPER
"This is a delightful, amusing chapter book with lively, relatable characters... Fans of Sara Pennypacker's Clementine and Judy Blume's SuperFudge will flock to this entertaining chapter book."—School Library Journal
PRAISE FOR QUINNY & HOPPER
"Quinny and Hopper narrate alternating chapters, each with a strong voice and spot-on language and emotions. Funny, honest, and fast paced, this book about friendship should have wide appeal."—Booklist
- On Sale
- Sep 5, 2017
- Page Count
- 272 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers