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by Catherine Cassidy

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What would it be like to walk into your living room and see acomplete stranger who says she's your mother? Dizzy hasn't seen Storm since she walked out on her and her dad eight years ago, but here she is, a hippie-crunchy earth mother, come to celebrate Dizzy's twelfth birthday and to convince Dizzy's dad to let her come away for the summer. A dream is coming true…  See more details below


What would it be like to walk into your living room and see acomplete stranger who says she's your mother? Dizzy hasn't seen Storm since she walked out on her and her dad eight years ago, but here she is, a hippie-crunchy earth mother, come to celebrate Dizzy's twelfth birthday and to convince Dizzy's dad to let her come away for the summer. A dream is coming true right before Dizzy's eyes and as the memories start flooding back, Dizzy knows she wants to spend as much time with her mum as she can. So the two steal off before dawn into the wild world of communes, hippies, out-door festivals, dirty fingernails and fun!

As the weeks pass, Dizzy starts to feel things she's never felt before. She meets Finn, who gives her her first kiss-and Mouse, who's like the little brother she never had. This life is so different from the one back at home. Which life is the right one for Dizzy? Not since Sharon Creech has such a warm, fresh, wonderful voice emerged for this age group. Viking is proud to welcome the talented voice of Cathy Cassidy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First-time author Cassidy introduces Dizzy on her 12th birthday, when her mother, a New Age gypsy who calls herself Storm, reappears after an eight-year absence. Convinced that her father has given his permission, Dizzy takes off with Storm to tour some outdoor festivals and get to know her mom better. But while Dizzy gets glimpses of what makes her mother special, Storm mostly ignores her. And although the girl makes some friends, bonding with Finn and troubled Mouse, she hates the way the townspeople judge them for being "crusty kids." Mostly, she misses her dad and starts thinking he's having fun without her (Storm had told her they were going to meet up with him at a festival, so Dizzy is confused when he doesn't show up). Readers will get a clear picture of Dizzy's life on the road; she sleeps in a tepee and dances at an all-night party next to a giant bonfire (to make money, Storm reads tarot cards and her boyfriend does crystal healings). Some of the narration seems too mature for a 12-year-old ("For the first time since I came here, I begin to understand. He's like me, Mouse. He never had a family, not a proper one"), but it's easy to empathize with the heroine's complicated emotions (and with those of Mouse, who's more alone than she). Overall, readers will appreciate this unique world that Dizzy has discovered, even as they hope she finds her way back. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Dizzy lives alone with her father, Pete, and has not seen her hippie mother since she left home when Dizzy was four years old. She misses her mother, Storm, deeply, and is thrilled when she pays a surprise visit on Dizzy's twelfth birthday, announcing that she wants to take Dizzy out of school for a vacation of camping and festival hopping. When Pete refuses to grant his permission, Storm hustles a sleepy, hesitant Dizzy out of the house at dawn, telling the girl that her father has changed his mind. For the next seven weeks, Dizzy is immersed in her mother's world of New Age "travelers," who live on the edge of the law, scavenging for necessities and assuming few responsibilities. Dizzy, confused and homesick, soon realizes that Storm is not the storybook mother she has fantasized about for eight years. Although she builds several close relationships, including a romantic one, she misses her father and their safe, predictable life at home. When a frantic Pete finally finds Dizzy and informs her of Storm's deception, the girl is devastated. She has matured enough, however, to let go of her unrealistic image of her mother and to love Storm despite her flaws. Cassidy creates a magical, poignant, and intriguing view of life outside the mainstream. Her colorful characters, tightly woven plot, and delightful imagery make an exceptionally enjoyable adventure story for girls. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, Viking, 256p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Dotsy Harland
Children's Literature
Once-a-year birthday surprises are all the communication that Dizzy has had from her mother, Storm, since the age of four. For eight years she has only known her mother through a series of exotic postcards or cherished gifts. This year, as Dizzy turns twelve, things are different. There is not another postcard in her mailbox on her birthday. No, there is a mother in her house! Storm has arrived, and she has brought a bit of chaos as well as a chance for Dizzy to finally get to know her mysterious, wandering, hippie mother. When Storm suggests that her daughter come along to the festivals for a few weeks, it sounds like a good idea to Dizzy. Soon the pair are bumping over rural roads in a rusty, painted van and hooking up with an assortment of characters at out-of-the-way campsites. Dizzy is reconnecting with folks who remember her from her early childhood, like the caregiver Tess and teen boy Finn. She is also meeting some new folks, including her mother's volatile boyfriend Zak and his young son, Mouse. Through it all, she is learning a bit about family, some about love, much about her mother, and, most of all, a lot about herself. Cathy Cassidy's first teen novel is a compelling look at family dynamics and one girl's struggle to figure out where she fits into the scheme of things. Cassidy has a keen sense of teen feelings, and Dizzy's narrative voice rings true. 2004, Viking, Ages 10 to 14.
—Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-When 12-year-old Dizzy is kidnapped by her hippie mother, whom she hasn't seen or heard from in eight years, she thinks that flighty Storm has her father's approval to take her to a solstice festival in Scotland where he will join them. As the weeks go by, Dizzy increasingly dislikes sleeping in a teepee, eating moldy bread, going without hot water, singing for handouts in town, and narrowly escaping arrest. Storm shoves her off on her friend Tess, and Dizzy realizes that Storm isn't the mother she had been wishing for. Dizzy and Tess's son bond and look after the neglected son of Storm's boyfriend. Readers will empathize with the protagonist as she fears that her father has abandoned her, and it takes a serious accident to right things. The eclectic characters and their lifestyle are presented as captivating yet questionable in the girl's first-person narrative, and the well-developed plot fosters concern for Dizzy from the beginning. A unique, satisfying story.-Jean Gaffney, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, Miamisburg, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Dizzy hears from her mother only once a year-on her birthday. On her 12th birthday, Storm suddenly appears and whisks Dizzy away to live the life of a New Age hippie. Several aspects of this new life are disturbing, but teenaged Finn becomes her friend, mentor, and partner as they care for Mouse, the troubled young son of Storm's boyfriend. Assured that her father has given permission for the summer experience, Dizzy nonetheless is concerned when he does not answer the postcards she has entrusted to her mother to mail. Then Storm takes off for India, leaving Dizzy and Mouse in the care of Finn's mother. Dizzy longs for a loving relationship with her mother, but she slowly realizes that Storm is a manipulator who can only be a shadowy figure in her life. Although Cassidy's melodramatic plot twists are over-the-top, she succeeds in making her characters believable and sympathetic. Not the stuff of which classics are made, but a good read nonetheless. (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.22(w) x 7.64(h) x 0.94(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2

'Hey, Dizzy! Wake up, birthday girl!"

Dad brings me breakfast in bed on my birthday, every year. And every year, I hide under the covers and pretend I haven't been lying awake, thinking about Mum. I yawn and stretch and wipe imaginary sleep from my eyes.

The room floods with light and Dad lowers a tray laden with birthday breakfast onto the quilt. Each year, it's the same -- my favorite, cheese on toast, but with a special birthday twist. Dad layers yellow cheese over the bread, then shapes a number out of orange cheese and puts it on top to melt under the grill. This year, there are two slices of toast, spelling out the fact that I'm twelve. It smells fantastic.

Dad sits down on the edge of the bed. He's skinny and mop-haired, wearing striped pajamas and an ancient T-shirt.

"Happy birthday, Dizzy." He grins, giving me a hug.

"Thanks, Dad."

No more birthday blues. I bite into the toast, happy.

There's a flower in a jam jar on the tray, and a banana milkshake, and a small, familiar package wrapped in blue paper. These days, I'd rather have apple juice or Coke than banana milkshake, but it was my favorite once. I tear off the blue paper and there's another old favorite, a tube of Smarties candy.

Everything is just the way it was the first time Dad made me a birthday breakfast, when I was five, the first birthday after Mum left. I like it like that. It's a tradition.

We scarf down the Smarties and Dad brings in my presents, a couple of small packages and something huge and guitar-shaped tied up with newspaper and sticky tape. I rip off the paper to uncover the glossy curves, wood the color of honey and chocolate.

"Dad, it's gorgeous!" I squeal. I strum out 'Happy Birthday,' slightly out of tune. My other presents are the plum suede sneakers I admired in town last week and a cool makeup bag stuffed with bottles of glittery nail polish. Perfect!

I'm all showered and dressed by the time the mail plops onto the mat in the hallway. I flick through the fat, pastel birthday card envelopes, looking for a postcard, a package, anything addressed in rainbow-colored pen in her childish, loopy writing.

There's nothing from Mum.

After school, we pile into the window seat at Dimitri's, Jade and Sara and Sasha and me. We're all schoolbags, stripy ties, and smiles, and Dimitri rolls his eyes as he wanders over to take the order.

"Four Cokes, please," Sasha says, wafting a fiver.

Dimitri pretends to be shocked. Normally, we order two Cokes and four straws between us, and make them last an hour at least. "Four Cokes?" he asks. "What's the special occasion?"

"Dizzy's birthday," Sara tells him. "Twelve today!"

Dimitri mutters something about hopeless kids, and when the Cokes arrive I laugh, because he's loaded mine up with cocktail umbrellas, ice, lemon slices, even a huge strawberry, all floating in a sea of brown fizz.

We sip and chat and roll up our white shirtsleeves to compare tans, because it's June eighteenth and summer is trying hard to burn through the gray city clouds. Sara and I are milk-bottle white, Sasha's freckly, and Jade is a gorgeous golden brown, but then that doesn't count, because she always is. We decide to ditch our school trousers in favor of little skirts and ankle socks.

"How is anyone meant to look cool in school uniform?" Jade demands, dragging off her tie. "Green tie with puke-yellow stripes? Attractive. Very."

"Although," Sasha says, grabbing the stripy tie from Jade, "from time to time, they do come in handy...."

I don't see it coming.

There's a quick scuffle, and Sasha has the tie over my eyes. Everything goes black, and there's a hand muffling my squeals and more dragging me upright. My so-called friends twirl me round three times, then there's a firm shove in the small of my back and I'm sitting again, tearing at the blindfold as they start singing "Happy Birthday."

The tie slides down my face and I look up, pink-cheeked. Dimitri is there, carrying four slices of hot chocolate-fudge cake with ice cream scoops. The largest slice is stiff with pink birthday candles, flickering dangerously. There are even a few stuck in the vanilla ice cream.

I laugh and blush and blow out the candles and the cafe breaks into a sudden round of applause. I love my friends.

"You've got chocolate on your nose," Sasha tells me later, as we mooch along the street. We've linked arms and the four of us fill the pavement, high on fudge cake and the luxury of having a whole Coke each.

"I love my bracelet," I tell her with feeling, jangling my wrist while she dabs at my nose with a tissue. "And the CD, and the posters." I beam at Sara and Jade.

At the traffic lights, Sara and I wave good-bye to the others and cross over, taking a short cut through the park.

"Any postcards?" she asks quietly as we pick our way across the grass. "Anything from . . ."

"Mum? No, not yet."

"Well, that one from Morocco that time, you said that was late."

"Three weeks," I told her. "I was only eight. I watched for the postman every morning."

"I know," Sara sighs.

I also cried myself to sleep every night, stopped eating, stopped talking. Then the postcard came and everything was okay again. Dad said the postal service in North Africa was probably a bit iffy. It definitely wasn't Mum's fault. Not like she'd forgotten or anything.

"Anyway," I say brightly, "Dad's ordering in a pizza. Three cheese and mushroom. And I can have MTV on all night if I like."

We leave the park, cross the street. Sara lives in a red brick house halfway along. The garden's stuffed with violently colored flowers and the grass is so short it looks like it's been ironed.

"Coming in for a bit?" she asks.

"Nah. Pizza's calling. Thanks for the posters, Sara, I love them. See you tomorrow."

"See ya."

I turn away. My chirpy mood has disappeared along with Sara. There's a heavy feeling inside my chest, like I just swallowed a small iceberg and not a huge slice of hot chocolate-fudge cake. Suddenly, I feel a whole lot older than twelve.

Our flat is right down at the end of the road, a tall townhouse divided into three apartments. We're in the ground floor one, so we get to use the workshop (which was once a garage) for Dad's studio. I turn into the drive and see a big, grubby van skewed across the driveway, one front wheel squashing a straggly patch of flowers. Mr. Desai from upstairs will have a fit.

It could be someone delivering sacks of clay for Dad, although there's no courier logo on the side. The van is mostly red, with one blue fender and one gray one. One of the back doors is purple, and someone's scrawled "wash me" in the thick grime of its window. Lovely.

I let myself into the flat. Dad's left a pile of cards from the second post on the hall table for me, and I take a deep breath before scanning it quickly.

Nothing with her handwriting.

I open the cards, trying not to feel bad. Twenty quid from Auntie Mel, a card with kittens on it from Mr. Desai, a book token from Mrs. Coulter, my old babysitter. If they can remember, why can't she?

I can hear Dad talking to someone in the living room. I hope it's not Lucy, his girlfriend. She's okay, and I'm getting used to her, but I don't really want to share my birthday with her. Birthdays are for me and Dad.

"Home, Dad," I shout, scooping up my mail and pushing open the bedroom door. My new guitar sits proudly on the quilt. Next to it is a little blue camera from Lucy. She let me open it last night, showed me how to load the film, how to work the flash and the little zoom lens. Cool.

I dump my backpack and pull a T-shirt and jeans from the drawer.

"Dizzy?" Dad shouts back. "Can you come through here a minute?"

I drag off my tie and wander through. It's not Lucy. Lucy's young and smiley with fair, wavy hair. She wears wafty, trendy tops with fluted sleeves, and hipsters with embroidery on them. She wears toffee-colored lipstick and smudgy eye shadow, and she smells of lime-flavored shower gel.

This woman is older, small and tanned with smiley wrinkles and hennaed hair so short it's practically shaven. She has about a million earrings, all in the same ear, as well as a stud through her right eyebrow. She's wearing weird stripy trousers that are baggy at the top and tight around the ankles, and a faded tank top with no bra underneath. Yeuchhh.

I can tell without asking that she's the owner of the patchwork van, but I can't work out why she's staring so hard at me.

"Dizzy, hi," she grins.

"Hi," I mutter, looking at Dad for clues.

He just stares back, looking shocked and scared and flustered. He's still in his studio clothes, his jeans all streaked with clay, his hands and arms still stained reddish-brown.

"Happy birthday," she says.

I still don't get it.

"I can't believe how much you've grown," she says. "How beautiful you are. I can't believe this is really happening...."

My mouth feels suddenly dry, and the floor seems to shift under my feet. I look at the tanned, smiley face with the shiny blue eyes and the glint of gold studs. I take a deep breath in, frowning.

"Hello, Mum," I say.

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Meet the Author

Cathy Cassidy is one of the UK's top-selling children's authors. She was an art teacher, a magazine editor and an agony aunt before becoming a full-time writer. She has worked at Shout magazine and previously at Jackie. Cathy tours extensively around the UK - meeting over 10,000 young readers in 2012. She has twice won the prestigious 'Queen of Teen' award. Cathy lives in Merseyside with her husband, two dogs and a cat. For all the latest on this best-selling author go to www.cathycassidy.com

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