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The Pastel Planet

The Pastel Planet

A Manitoulin Island Adventure
edition:Paperback
tagged : siblings
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Downside Up
Excerpt

It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been looking down. I think about that sometimes, what it means. Down. I was looking down, all right.
I walked out of school bouncing Casey’s old tennis ball, like usual. Until Lance Levy kicked it out of my hand and I ran after it.
“Yesss!” Lance called. “See that? See the way I kicked Berdit’s stupid tennis ball right out of his hand? Yesssssss!”
His voice chased me across the playground, then passed me, fading into the distance as Lance raced away down the street. He was the fastest kid in sixth grade. Yesss he was.
I was holding onto the ball when I came up to Velma Dudding, who was on the sidewalk in front of the school. I thought about saying hi to her. Or bye. Or see you tomorrow. But I didn’t. Her mom drove up and Velma slipped into the front seat of the SUV. I walked on.
Izzy was waiting for me at the top of Sorauren Park. 
“Hey, Fred,” she said.
“Hey.”
Now that I was closer to home I was bouncing the ball and catching it again.
“I changed my screen saver. Wanna see it?” said Izzy.
“Nah.”
My eyes were on the ground. Cracked pavement. Weeds. Ants. Dirt. The tennis ball made a flat, hollow sound when it bounced.
“Come on, take a look. Harry has a new hat.”
“Nah.”
She’s my big sister. Isabel. We both go to Sir John A. Macdonald Public School. She’s in eighth grade, two years ahead of me. We cut across the bottom of Sorauren Park, crossed Wabash Avenue and headed down toward Wright Avenue. I bounced my ball off the paved path and caught it. Off the grass. Caught it again.
Izzy walked ahead of me. Her runners were broken at the back. The red heels flapped up and down. They looked like little mouths, opening and closing.
“Race you home, Fred!” she said.
“Huh?”
“Race you! Come on. From here to the back door. Ready . . . set . . . go.”
I gave up after a few steps. She stopped, turned back for me.

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Shout Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts
Excerpt

We had had a swim and we had eaten ginker cake and we were sitting on the rocks beside the Fitzgerald-Trout siblings’ favorite fishing stream when they began to tell me their story. Kim, the oldest, spoke first. “Kimo and I think what happened to us should be called ‘The Family Calamity,’” she said.
Family because it had happened to the five of us,” Kimo chimed in. “And calamity because that’s a word for when things go really wrong.”
“Did things really go that wrong?” I asked.
The childrens’ five sets of eyes in their five brown faces looked at me like my question was absurd.
“Um, yes,” said Kim in a voice that exposed just how hard she and her siblings found it trying to make a grown-up understand anything important. “We’re only telling you this because we want to make sure that what happened to us doesn’t happen to any other family, ever.”
“Write that part down,” said Toby, the youngest boy, pointing to my notebook. He was holding his baby sister, Penny, in his lap and she seemed to be nodding in agreement.
I was about to put pen to paper when Pippa added, “You should put the word monster in the name too, because a monster was definitely part of the problem.”
“Yeah. Plus, it sounds way cooler.” Toby grinned at his sister.
“Okay,” I said. “‘The Family Monster Calamity.’” I wrote it in big letters at the top of the first page of my notebook. “Tell me how it started.”
That’s when they all began to talk at once. Kimo said something about their boat being taken and Kim said, “It was all the secrets.” I couldn’t make out what Toby or Pippa were saying, but it didn’t matter because as soon as the baby spoke, they all stopped talking.
“What did Penny say?” I asked them.
The baby herself answered, saying, “Wimo.”
“She’s talking about the limousine,” Toby explained. He looked more than a little sheepish.
Kim stared at me gravely. “Penny’s right. The limo was the first secret between us.”
Pippa wiped her glasses on her T-shirt and said matter-of-factly, “The limo, yes, the limo. That’s where you should start our story.”

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