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 June 5, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
Text copyright © 2018 by Adriana Brad Schanen
Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Charles Santoso
Cover illustration © 2018 by Charles Santoso
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.
Designed by Tyler Nevins
For the passionate educators and young
readers at Charles H. Bullock School—
a great place to be a kid.
And for my extraordinary niece,
Lauren Beloff, a fourth-grade teacher who
changes lives every day.
I can’t believe Daddy’s arguing with a baby. And that baby—my sister, Cleo—is winning.
“Drop it,” he orders. “Sweetie, you’re a big girl, spit it out.”
Cleo’s strong eyes stare up at Daddy and her strong mouth does NOT let that Binky go. “Mrrrrrfff,” she growls.
“Where did she even find that thing?” says Mom. “I thought you hid them all.”
“I thought I did, too,” says Daddy.
Mom makes a stressed-out smile, and Piper, my monkey sister, sits in her underpants (her usual breakfast outfit) eating a banana plus saltines (her usual breakfast food) and I’m slurping my cereal and trying to think of some helpful advice, because Daddy can’t handle this interesting Monday morning we’re having. He can’t convince Piper to put clothes on even though it’s November, or finish her homework sheets (homework in kindergarten—who invented that?). He can’t make Cleo give up her Binky. And it’s all driving him slightly coconuts.
“Put some plain yogurt on the Binky,” I suggest. There’s nothing Cleo hates more than the tart-sour taste of Mom’s favorite breakfast.
“Promise her a tree house,” says Piper, who really wants a tree house.
“Dip it in cayenne pepper,” says Mom.
“Didn’t we try that last week?” says Daddy.
“No, that was garlic powder,” says Mom.
My parents are trying to make Cleo give up her Binky because our pediatrician told them to, or her teeth might not grow in right. Plus, Mom doesn’t think a person who is almost two years old should need to suck on a plastic blob to feel okay about life. (At least not during the day. At night, my parents are still afraid of Cleo, who is the world’s worst sleeper, so they give her that Binky and put LOTS of extras in her crib. My baby sister sleeps in a forest of Binkies.)
While Daddy and Cleo play tug-of-war with her Binky, I walk to our dining nook—it’s not big enough to be called a room—to feed my guinea pig and fill his water tube. That’s my only animal-care job these days, since my neighbor Mrs. Porridge’s chicken coop is down to just one hen, named Cha-Cha, who mostly eats cat food with Mrs. Porridge’s cat, named Walter. We’ve been begging Mrs. Porridge to get more chickens, but she said not to hold our breath.
“Good morning, Crescent!” I call out, on my way to his cage.
Usually he answers me with some happy squeaking, but today there’s just silence.
I named my soft, warm, roly-poly guinea pig after my favorite soft, warm, roly-poly bread rolls. His cage used to be in my room, but he got too noisy at night, so we moved him down to our dining nook, where we never eat since the table is usually covered in laundry that Daddy hasn’t folded, homework we haven’t done, and messy paper-piles of I don’t even know what.
“Crescent? Good morning, cutie, where are you?”
I look all around his cage, in his little playhouse, and by the cozy corner under his food dish. Then I notice the door to his cage is unlatched, and a tiny bit open.
“Oh no, Mom—Crescent is gone!!!” I zoom back to the kitchen. “Piper, what did you do!!! Where’s Crescent!”
Nearly naked Piper runs away and leaps up the stairs, two at a time—which means she’s guilty of something.
“Get back here! Mom, help! Daddy, Piper opened the cage and Crescent’s gone!”
“Honey, calm down.” Mom is by my side now, but I can barely breathe.
“Where is he? We have to find him or Walter will eat him up!”
Walter hangs out in our yard sometimes and likes to kill birds. (But not all birds—his best friend and sidekick is Cha-Cha the chicken, who rides around on his back.)
Mom and I look for Crescent everywhere—in the cupboards, closet, oven, and trash can. In all the backpacks. In the giant, grubby pile of shoes by our kitchen door.
“Mom! Wait—I saw something move! Over there!”
“There, between the muddy Croc and that old sneaker!”
Mom grabs one of Piper’s dusty sneakers from the pile of shoes and flips it upside down. A greenish baby carrot and a dust ball fall out, but no Crescent.
“Nice,” says Mom, giving Daddy a look. “Do these even still fit her anymore?”
Mom and Daddy start arguing now about the mountain of shoes. She drives to her job, but he works in an office right in our upstairs hall closet, so Mom says he’s the one who should keep everything “organized and under control” at home. But then Daddy blames all the messy shoes on me, and says I should help clean more, since I’m the oldest kid. But hey, I never asked to be the oldest kid! (I did ask to be the only kid, but nobody listened.)
My parents are so busy arguing that they’re not even helping me look for Crescent.
Piper comes back downstairs and we look in every shoe. Even the really smelly ones.
“There he is!” cries Piper. “Get him!”
Crescent’s beady little eye peeks out from behind a tall rubber rain boot, and his mouth nibbles on an old crust of bread. I leap toward that rubber boot, but he disappears.
I am excellent at catching chickens, but not so great at catching guinea pigs, I guess.
And then I hear a familiar roar coming from down the street. Uh-oh. That’s the bus headed to Whisper Valley Elementary School. Mom says hurry-we-can-still-make-it-if-we-run.
“But Mom, I can’t go to school when my precious Crescent is missing.”
“You have no choice, Quinny—I’ve got an early meeting. Daddy will keep looking—”
But then, as Mom opens the back door to drag us outside, Crescent jumps down from a potted plant on the windowsill and scurries out, too, right in between Piper’s ankles.
“Crescent, stop!!! Piper, watch out!!” I run after that sneaky guinea pig and lunge for him, but I just get kicked in the nose by Piper’s confused feet.
Piper falls on me and starts crying. Then Cleo comes and sits on me and starts crying, too, through her Binky, because she doesn’t like being left out of anything, not even tears. And Mom doesn’t even punish Piper for kicking me in the face! She yells at me, and makes me keep running to the bus, even though my nose just got smashed and my guinea pig is definitely being eaten by Mrs. Porridge’s awful cat right this very instant.
I’ve had some bad luck in my life, but this has got to be my bad-luckiest day ever.
Really, truly, absolutely.
The first bell rings and everyone’s walking into class when I spot Quinny, rushing down the hall. Her nose is red, her watermelon barrette dangles from a knot in her hair, and she’s dropping her stuff everywhere. I go and help her pick it up.
“Quinny, you weren’t on the bus.”
“Oh, Hopper, I already know that! We missed it by just a few tiny seconds.”
“Are you okay?”
“Fantastic. Except Crescent ran away and Daddy was fighting with Cleo’s Binky and I got blamed for the mountain of shoes and Piper didn’t even get a consequence for kicking me in the nose. By the way, have you seen Crescent? I think Walter ate him up for breakfast.”
The second bell rings. That means we’re supposed to be sitting at our desks already.
“Hopper, oh no! Mrs. Flavio is going to breathe fire at me if I’m late again, come on.”
I follow Quinny, but she stops just before the classroom door. I almost crash into her.
“Wait, Hopper, tell the truth—do you think Crescent is still alive?” Her eyes look so worried. Her Cheerios breath comes out fast. “Or did Walter really eat him up in one big gulp?”
I want to tell Quinny that Crescent will be okay. But the truth is, I just don’t know.
It takes me a moment to figure out what to say. I’m not very good at being hopeful.
“Don’t worry, he’s going to be fine,” I finally tell her.
Quinny looks relieved. I just hope that being hopeful isn’t a lie.
At recess, Quinny’s usually one of the first people to burst out onto the field, but today I don’t see her. Then I realize my left shoelaces are loose, so I stop to tie them, on a bench.
“What are you doing?”
I look up to see Kaitlin, one of Victoria’s friends. Her hand is on her hip. Her glittery nail polish matches her glittery socks. Her sneakers are covered in cats.
“Um, tying my shoe?” I don’t like it when my laces get all dirty.
“No, I mean…” Kaitlin gestures to some words that are drawn on the bench behind me:
Whisper Valley Elementary School
Give some & get some, right here!
Oh. I didn’t realize that’s where I was sitting. I was absent for my tonsillectomy operation when they put this new bench on the playground last month. No one really uses it.
I’m about to get up. But Kaitlin sits down next to me and lets out a groan.
“Victoria thinks this is so dumb…the whole Friendship Bench thing,” she says.
Kaitlin didn’t ask a question, but it seems like she’s waiting for an answer.
“Victoria is just one person,” I say.
“I know, but I can’t believe you’re actually sitting here. No one sits here.”
“I told you, I was just tying my shoe.” I’m not looking for friends. I just want to go find Quinny. I see her across the playground, zooming down the slide with her mouth open so wide that a bird could fly into it. I hear her laugh. The sound of it makes my shoulders relax.
I start to get up, but Kaitlin says, “Wait….” Her mouth twitches. She looks upset. “She thinks she’s so smart. Victoria…but if people only knew…”
Knew what? She glares over at Victoria, who is Hula-Hooping with some girls. Victoria’s not my favorite person. But she is smart. What’s wrong with thinking you’re smart if it’s true?
“This fell out of Victoria’s backpack.” Kaitlin unfolds a tiny piece of paper in her fist.
1) Victoria Porridge
2) Hopper Grey
3) Avery Bedoya
4) Caleb Demefack
5) Nidhi Gupta
6) Jayson Washington
7) Izzy Friedlich
8) Connor Rivington
9) Maeve Bradley
10) Alex Delgado
11) Xander Cross
12) Cassie Emmert
13) Jake Wu
14) Sawyer Lukowski
15) Kaitlin Kuperschmidt
16) McKayla Derring
17) Kailee Hollins
18) Cecily Kaufman
19) Buck Cressidy
20) TJ Shipley
21) Johnnie Hong
22) Juniper Dunne
23) Lydia Foster-Madsen
24) Quinny Bumble
The first thing I notice is the first name on the list: Victoria’s. The next thing I notice is the last name: Quinny’s. In between are the names of everyone else in our class.
“Can you believe she would do that to Quinny?” says Kaitlin.
Actually, I can.
“Don’t worry, nobody’s going to believe Victoria’s smarter than you,” she says.
I don’t care about that. This whole list is bad, no matter what number Victoria gave me.
“I’m pretty dumb, but hey, at least I’m not as dumb as Quinny.” Kaitlin laughs.
“Stop it. You should rip that thing up,” I tell her. “Quinny’s not dumb. Neither are you.”
Kaitlin snorts. “How would you know?”
I don’t know why I’m still sitting here. I guess I feel bad for Kaitlin. She looks so glum.
“Why don’t you ever play with Alex and Caleb and Xander?” she asks me.
I shrug. I do run around with them, sometimes.
“I mean, why do you always just sit here with a book?”
I sit on the stairs when I read at recess, not on this bench. But I don’t correct Kaitlin.
“It’s really good.” I show her my book. “You can borrow it when I’m done.”
Kaitlin’s face puckers. “If you had Quinny all to yourself, you wouldn’t have to sit here with your dumb book.” Her breath falls out, rough and thick. Her words are mean, but sound sad.
I wish I could explain it, and make Kaitlin understand. Reading isn’t something I do because I have no one to play with. I read because I want to know what it’s like to jump out of an airplane. Because I want to play basketball at the Olympics, be a bear in the woods. Reading isn’t something I do, it’s somewhere I go. Books don’t have covers, they have doors. My second-grade teacher, Ms. Rivers, said that last year. But Kaitlin wasn’t in my class last year. Maybe her teacher never said that. And if I tell her now, she’ll probably laugh and call me a dork.
But, fine—it’s true. I’m a dork who likes sitting with a book. Playing loud games at recess isn’t always fun for me. Quinny gets that. She and I are friends, even though we don’t play together every single recess. I wish she were the one here with me now, not Kaitlin.
And then, I see that my wish is about to come true. Quinny’s on her way over here.
She’s running and smiling and waving at me. Her windy hair looks alive.
Right away I hide the Smart List behind my back.
I can’t let her see it. I try to keep my face calm.
Maybe she won’t even notice I’m holding anything.
School is the place where I have to sit still forever.
And sitting still is not easy, especially since Mrs. Flavio always glares at my wiggly hands and tappy feet. She’s our long-term sub while Ms. Yoon, our real teacher, is busy taking care of her brand-new baby. Sometimes I miss Ms. Yoon so much that I wish she’d come back and keep her baby in a Pack ’n Play by her desk, like Daddy used to do with Cleo.
But for now, we are stuck with Mrs. Flavio. There is a look Mrs. Flavio makes when she’s happy with a kid, but she never makes that look at me.
I try to sit still during morning meeting, but she blows out a big breath at me.
I try to sit still through language arts, but someone I love is missing, so I don’t care too much about improving my vocabulary.
I try to sit still through science, but my guinea pig is probably dead, so I can’t really focus on what rocks are made of.
At lunch, it’s hard to eat my sandwich knowing that Crescent got eaten up this morning.
And then it’s time for recess. On my way out to the field, I bump into Principal Ramsey.
“Quinny Bumble, you’re just the kid I’m looking for. Your father called with a message.”
Oh no oh no oh no. Where is Hopper when I need a hand to squeeze?
“Relax—your guinea pig is alive and well. Your dad found it in the mailbox.”
I jump for joy so high that I almost fall down. Crescent is alive!
I rush back to the cafeteria. “Hopper Hopper Hopper, he’s alive—Walter didn’t eat him!”
The lunch ladies look over at me, confused. Nobody else is in here.
So I run outside to recess and look around for Hopper on the field.
Sometimes he sits on the stairs and reads, sometimes he runs around with the boys—but sometimes Hopper likes to play with me at recess, by the slide and monkey bars.
I run over to the slide and climb up to look for him in the twisty tube part, where we sometimes hang out together. I look by the monkey bars.
And then I spot Hopper, all the way across the playground.
He’s sitting on the Friendship Bench.
What? Hopper never sits on that thing. It’s supposed to be for finding new friends, but mostly no one sits on it. I don’t, either, because I think the best way of finding new friends is to just go up to a person and talk to them, not sit on some lonely bench by a tree.
Even weirder: Hopper is sitting on the Friendship Bench with Kaitlin, and they’re looking at some piece of paper together. Huh? He never talks to Kaitlin. She’s one of Victoria’s friends, and Victoria’s friends don’t talk to the other kids much. They’re usually too busy fussing over Victoria, who’s in charge of them for sure.
I can’t believe Hopper is doing two new things he never does, all in one day.
“Quinny, we’re having a Hula-Hoop contest,” says Victoria, who is next to me all of a sudden. “You should enter.”
Victoria loves starting contests at recess.
“Victoria, guess what, Crescent is alive! And I can’t do your contest because I have to go tell Hopper the good news right this very instant.”
I look back over to Hopper. He’s got a book out now, and he’s showing it to Kaitlin. I don’t even know what the name of that book is, but I’m kind of shocked, because Kaitlin is not really into books. All she ever talks about are cats and nail polish and her hip-hop dance class.
“The winner of the Hula-Hoop contest gets a free trip with me to the dine-in movie theater,” says Victoria.
My head snaps back to her. “What?”
The dine-in movie theater is in Nutley, which is a big town nearby, and I’ve never even been to that theater because it’s so expensive. I heard they have cushy seats that lean really far back and a menu full of treats, and they bring food right to your seat while you watch the movie.
Still, I’m not so great at Hula-Hooping, and I came in last for Victoria’s two other contests (jumping rope and staring-without-blinking). I say no thanks and run over to tell Hopper the good news about Crescent. Plus, I want to hear what he and Kaitlin are talking about.
“Hi, Hopper, guess what, Crescent is alive!”
Hopper looks up at me from the bench, all queasy. He’s hiding that paper he was looking at behind his back.
“Daddy found him in our mailbox, can you believe it? Also, what’s that paper you’re hiding behind your back? Also, hi, Kaitlin, what are you talking to Hopper about, since I’ve never seen you do that before?”
“Hi,” Hopper mumbles.
Kaitlin makes a little smile, but it isn’t the nice kind of smile. She looks at Hopper, like it’s his job to answer my questions.
“Hopper?” I look at him and wait. But he doesn’t show me the piece of paper. He doesn’t say what they were talking about or ask me to sit down with them. He won’t even look at me now.
“Sorry, it’s kind of private,” says Kaitlin.
Then Hopper scrunches his eyes shut. I can feel how much he wants me to go away.
And I don’t even know what to do next.
Hopper and Kaitlin have a secret, and it’s more important than me, I guess.
Then a soccer ball hits my leg, and there’s my answer for what to do next. I turn away from Hopper and run that ball over toward the goal, and Alex is on my tail, and he shouts out something rude, but that just makes me run faster, and I’m in the mix with Caleb and Xander and everybody out on the field now, and I’m kicking that ball and knocking into boys everywhere. Alex steals the ball back from me, but I speed up after him and force all my hurt from Hopper down down down into my ferocious feet, and the harder my heart pumps the calmer my head feels, and I try to swipe that ball back from Alex, and he laughs, but he laughs too soon, because—THWACK! SLAM! SPLAT!—he goes down and that ball is mine and I kick it into the net.
AccoladesYAYBOOKS! June 2018 Roundup (selection)
- On Sale
- Jun 5, 2018
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers