It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Zonderkidz (May 1, 2009)
Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the FaithGirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween issues. She and husband Jim have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $7.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (May 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
School is out for the summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lucy would have made more exclamation points, but Lollipop, her pot-bellied kitty, was watching from the windowsill above the bed, her black head bobbing with each stroke and dot. She’d be pouncing in a second.
Lucy protected the Book of Lists with her other arm and wrote…
2. Aunt Karen is taking her vacation to some island so she won’t be coming HERE for a while. YES!!
3. We have a soccer game in two weeks, thanks to Coach Auggy. A for-REAL game, with a whole other team, not just our team split up, which is always lame since we only have 8 players to begin with. I cannot WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lollipop twitched an ear.
“Forget about it,” Lucy said to her. She’d only just discovered the joy of making exclamation points from Veronica. Veronica was a girly-girl, but she did have her good points. Lucy snickered. “Good points, Lolli. Get it?”
Lollipop apparently did not, or else she didn’t care. She tucked her paws under her on the tile sill and blinked her eyes into a nap. Lucy slipped a few more exclamation marks in before she continued.
I get to hang out with J.J. and Dusty and Veronica and Mora any time I want, not just at lunch or soccer practice or church. Okay, so I already got to hang out with them a lot before summer, but now it’s like ANY time, and that’s perfect. Except we’re still stuck with Januarie. If she weren’t J.J.’s little sister we could just ditch her, but she needs a good influence. We’re a good influence. Well, maybe not Mora so much.
Lucy glanced at her bedroom door to make sure it was all the way shut. The Book of Lists was private and everybody else in the house—Dad and Inez the housekeeper nanny and her granddaughter Mora—knew to keep their noses out of it. Still, she always had to decide whether it was worth risking discovery to write down what she really, really thought.
“What do you say about it, Lolli?” she said.
There was an answering purr, though Lucy was pretty sure that was more about Lollipop dreaming of getting the other three cats’ food before they did than it was about agreeing with her. She went for it anyway.
Januarie still thinks Mora is the next best thing to Hannah Montana. Even though Mora got her in way a lot of trouble not that long ago she would probably give a whole bag of gummy bears just to have Mora paint her toenails. And that’s saying a lot. Januarie loves gummy bears. And Snickers bars. And those chocolate soccer balls Claudia sells down at the candy and flower shop. Which reminds me—
5. We can go buy candy in the middle of the day, or have breakfast at Pasco’s café or take picnics to OUR soccer field, because, guess what? It’s SUMMER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Something black whipped across the page, and Lucy’s pen flew into space, landing with a smack against the blue-and-yellow toy chest. Knocking down the ruler Lucy always kept there to hold it open, in case Lollipop needed to jump in and hide, the lid slapped shut, and Lolli sprang into an upside down-U before she leaped after it and skidded across the top with her claws bared. She glared indignantly at Lucy.
“You did it, Simplehead,” Lucy said. “Wait! I’ll open it for you.” But before she could even scramble off the bed, Lolli dove under it. A squalling fight ensued with Artemis Hamm, who had obviously been sleeping beneath the mattress.
“Break it up, you two!” Lucy said. But she didn’t dare stick her hand under there. One of them would eventually come out with a mouth full of the other one’s fur and it would be over.
“What’s going on in there?” said a voice on the other side of the door.
Lucy stuck the Book of Lists under her pillow. It was Dad, who couldn’t see anyway, but she always felt better having her secrets well hidden when other people were in the room.
“Come on in—if you dare,” Lucy said.
She heard Dad’s sandpapery chuckle before he stuck his face in. She cocked her head at him, her ponytail sliding over her ear. “What happened to your hair?”
He ran a hand over salt-and-pepper fuzz as he edged into the room. “I just got my summer ‘doo down at the Casa Bonita. Is it that bad?”
“No. It’s actually kinda cool.”
“What do I look like?”
“Like—did you ever see one of those movies about the Navy SEAL team? You know…before?”
“You look like one of those guys.”
“Is that good?”
“That’s way good.”
Dad smiled the smile that made a room fill up with sunlight. She could have told him he looked like a rock star and he wouldn’t have known whether she was telling the truth or not. But she liked for the smiles to be real, and she did think her dad was handsome. Even with eyes that sometimes darted around like they didn’t know where to land.
He made his way to the rocking chair and eased into it. It would be hard for anybody who didn’t know to tell he was blind when he moved around in their house, as long as Lucy kept things exactly where they were supposed to be. She leaned over and picked up her soccer ball, just escaping a black-and-brown paw that shot from the hem of the bedspread.
“Keep your fight to yourselves,” Lucy said.
“What’s that about?”
“Exclamation points! It’s a long story.”
“Do I want to hear it?”
“No,” Lucy said. Not only because she didn’t want to tell it, but because she could see in the sharp way Dad’s chin looked that he hadn’t come in just to chat about cat fights. She hugged her soccer ball.
“Okay, what?” she said. “Is something wrong? Something’s wrong, huh?”
“Did I say that?”
“Aunt Karen’s coming, isn’t she? Man! I thought she was going out in the ocean someplace and we were going to have a peaceful summer.” She dumped the ball on the floor on the other side of the bed.
Dad’s smile flickered back in. “What makes you think I was going to talk about Aunt Karen?”
“Because she’s, like, almost always the reason you look all serious and heavy.”
“You get to be more like your mother every day, Champ. You read me like a book.”
“Then I’m right.” There went her perfect summer. She was going to have to redo that list.
“But you’re in the wrong chapter this time,” Dad said. “I’m serious, but it isn’t about Aunt Karen. Last I heard, she was headed for St. Thomas.”
“He’s going to need to be a saint to put up with her.”
Dad chuckled. “St. Thomas is an island, Luc’.”
“Oh.” She was doing better in school now that Coach Auggy was her teacher, but they hadn’t done that much geography this year.
“I just want to put this out there before Inez gets here.”
His voice was somber again, but Lucy relaxed against her pillows. If this wasn’t about Aunt Karen coming here wanting to take Lucy home with her for the summer, how bad could it be?
“So, you know Inez will be coming for all day, five days a week.”
“Right and that’s cool. We get along good now.” Lucy felt generous. “I don’t even mind Mora that much any more.”
“Good, because I’ve asked her if she’d be okay with Mr. Auggy also coming in to do a little home-schooling with you.”
Lucy shot up like one of her own freaked-out kitties.
“School?” she said. “In the summer?”
Dad winced like her voice was hurting his ears. “Just for a few hours a day, and not on Fridays.”
“Dad, hello! This is summer time. I have a TON of work to do to get ready for the soccer games if I want anybody from the Olympic Development Program to even look at me. School work?” She hit her forehead with the heel of her hand. “Why?”
“You’ve improved a hundred per cent since Mr. Auggy started teaching your class—”
“Yeah, so why are you punishing me by making me do more work? I don’t get it.”
She wished she could make exclamation points with her voice.
“You’ll get it if you let me finish.”
Dad’s voice had no punctuation marks at all, except a period, which meant, ‘Hush up before you get yourself in trouble.’ Lucy gnawed at her lower lip. She was glad for once that he couldn’t see the look on her face.
“You ended the school year in good shape, but Champ, you were behind before that. That means you’re still going to start middle school a few steps back.”
“I’ll catch up, Dad, I promise! I’ll study, like, ten hours a day when school starts again and I’ll do all my homework.”
Dad closed his eyes and got still. That meant he was waiting for her to be done so he could go on with what he was going to say as if she hadn’t said a word. She was in pointless territory. It made her want to crawl under the bed and start up the cat fight again. It seemed to work for them when they were frustrated.
“Your middle school teachers are going to expect your skills to be seventh-grade level,” Dad said. “Right now, Mr. Auggy says they’re about mid-sixth, which is great considering what they were in January.”
If she had been Mora, she would have been rolling her eyes by now. What was the point in telling her how wonderful she was when she was going to have to do what she didn’t want to do anyway?
“So here’s the deal,” Dad said.
Lucy sighed. “It’s only a deal if both people agree to it, Dad.”
“You haven’t even heard it yet.”
She stifled a “whatever,” which was sure to get her grounded for a least a week of her already dwindling summer.
“You’ll work with Mr. Auggy until you get your reading up to seventh-grade level. That could take all summer, or it could take a couple of weeks. That’s up to you.”
Lucy looked at him sharply. “What if I get it there in three days?”
“Then you’re done. We’ll check it periodically, of course, to make sure it stays there.”
“It will,” Lucy said. But she hoped her outside voice sounded more sure than the one that was screaming inside her brain: You can’t do this! What are you thinking?
There weren’t enough exclamation points in the world to end that sentence.