Addie Bell's Shortcut to Growing Up

Addie Bell's Shortcut to Growing Up

by Jessica Brody


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399555107
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 02/14/2017
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 1,260,171
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Jessica Brody is the author of many books for teens and tweens, including The Karma Club, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and the Unremembered trilogy. She also writes books for the Descendants: School of Secrets series, based on the hit Disney Channel original movie, Descendants. Her next book for tweens, Better You Than Me, will hit shelves November 13, 2018. She splits her time between California and Colorado, living with her husband and three dogs. When she was twelve, she was convinced her life would be perfect if she were sixteen. Visit Jessica at and on Instagram and Twitter at @JessicaBrody.

Read an Excerpt

Power-Smoothie Blender Brain

You know how every street has at least one crazy person living on it? Well, on our street, it’s Mrs. Toodles.

Of course, that’s not her real name. Mrs. Toodles is a nickname. Her real name, according to the dusty piles of old catalogs stacked in her living room, is Theodora Philippa Beaumont-Montgomery. But who has time to say all that? I’m not sure where the nickname came from. It’s just what everyone on Sherwood Drive has always called her. But it’s very fitting. She looks and talks exactly how you would imagine someone named Mrs. Toodles to look and talk.

She’s got long silvery hair that she wears pinned up inside a hat so tiny, sometimes I wonder if she stole it off a doll. And there are always these little wispies flying out of it, as though even her hair is trying to escape her crazy mind. She has pale blue eyes framed by layers of wrinkly skin, and she wears all her jewelry at once. She says it’s because someone is bound to steal anything she doesn’t have on her.

My parents told me she has something called dementia--a disease that mixes up your mind so you can’t tell what’s real and what’s not. That’s how Mom explained it to me once. Now every time I overhear someone on the block talking about Mrs. Toodles’s “condition,” I can’t help but imagine all her thoughts getting jumbled around in a blender like the ingredients of one of Mom’s disgusting green power smoothies. (Mom is still trying to get me to drink those, by the way, but I don’t trust anything the color of pond scum.)

I feel sorry for Mrs. Toodles. She never had any children of her own, and her family is all dead. I don’t think she has a lot of friends either. I never see anyone come to visit her. As far as I can tell, I’m the only friend she’s got. I go to Mrs. Toodles’s house at least once a week because she tells the best stories of anyone around and she always serves me lemonade and cookies. The lemonade is from a package and the cookies are from a tube, but they’re still pretty yummy.

I’m supposed to go over there tonight because it’s Thursday and I always visit Mrs. Toodles on Thursdays, but I’m running late. I told her I’d be there at five o’clock. It’s now 6:02 and I’m knee-deep in a pile of sweaters, leggings, and dresses that are all completely unwearable. I’m searching for the perfect birthday outfit for school tomorrow and it’s not going well. It doesn’t help that I’m turning twelve in exactly five hours and fifty-eight minutes and I still have to shop in the kids’ department. Mom swears that any day now I’ll get my growth spurt, but my body apparently never got that email, because I’m still short and scrawny and embarrassingly flat.

To be honest, it’s kind of hard to get excited about a birthday when absolutely nothing has changed. I mean, sure, it’s great to be another year older (I thought I’d be eleven for the rest of my life!), but where’s the evidence? Where’s the proof ? Not in my chest, that’s for sure.

It also doesn’t help that I’m the youngest person in my class. The cut-off birthday for starting kindergarten was September 15 and I just barely made it with a birthday on the fourteenth, so everyone is older than me. A fact that’s painfully obvious whenever we have to line up by height and I’m always at the end.

When I catch sight of the clock on my nightstand and realize how late I am, I abandon my search for the perfect outfit--it was hopeless anyway--grab the plastic bin that I keep on the bottom shelf of my closet, and make my way downstairs. But as I pass Rory’s room at the end of the hallway, I notice the door is half ajar, which is strange because my sister never leaves her door open even the slightest bit. She’s sixteen and in her supersecret spy phase, where no one is allowed to know anything about her business, least of all me.

I swear, with the amount of effort that goes into keeping everyone out of her room, you would think she was deciphering enemy launch codes in there or something.

Rory even takes baths with her bathing suit on, something I only know because I once accidentally walked in on her while she was in the bathtub. She yelled and yelled until I left with my arms covering my head, like I was running from a grenade explosion. I actually believed she might throw a shampoo bottle at me.

Later, after she’d calmed down, I asked her why she wore her bathing suit in the bathtub. She said it was because of pervy Peeping Toms like me who come barging into the bathroom when people are trying to take baths. I tried to argue that I wasn’t a pervy Peeping Tom, that it was just an accident, but her mind seemed to be made up on that.

I slow down and try to get a glimpse through the cracked door of Rory’s bedroom. This is a very rare occurrence: being able to steal a peek into my older sister’s bedroom when she’s not home. I’m careful not to actually touch the door, though, in case she decides to dust it for fingerprints later.

The room is a mess. You can barely see the top of her dresser because it’s covered with expensive makeup and her clothes are strewn everywhere.

I let out a sigh. If I had cool clothes like Rory, I would take better care of them. I wouldn’t just leave them in heaps on the floor. And what I wouldn’t give for just one of her eye shadow palettes. I’d even settle for a stupid tube of lip gloss. But no. My parents have a strict no-makeup-until-high-school rule. The last time I tried to go to school with just a smidgen of mascara on--praying that my mom wouldn’t notice--I got grounded for three days.

That’s the difference between being (almost) twelve and being sixteen. Sixteen is infinitely better.

My sister is popular and gorgeous and shops in the juniors department and has a car and a cute Boyfriend of the Week who takes her on dates to exciting places like the Human Bean (the coffee shop in town where all the teens go). And then there’s me. A freckle-faced, frizzy-haired, flat-chested loser who hangs out at home and plays board games with my parents while my dad, the King of the World’s Most Random Facts, drones on about the secret unknown history of Monopoly.

I bound down the stairs two at a time and take the shortcut through the living room to the front door. Mom hates it when I pass through the living room with shoes on because it’s supposed to be kept extra clean for when we have extra-special guests (which we never have).

“I’m going to Mrs. Toodles’s house!” I call out as I shift the plastic bin I’m holding under one arm so I can prop open the door.

“Did you just walk through the living room with your shoes on?” Mom calls back.

“No!” I lie, and slip through the door before she comes out of the kitchen to check.

Despite her power-smoothie blender brain, Mrs. Toodles is still my favorite person on Sherwood Drive, and I always look forward to visiting her. She reminds me of an old queen forced out of her kingdom who now roams the countryside looking for people to worship her. She’s quirky and funny and eats the strangest combinations of foods. Last week during my visit, she chowed down on a cucumber and peanut butter sandwich. It smelled disgusting, and I spent the whole visit breathing through my mouth. But it’s totally worth it because every time I come over, I get to hear one of her amazing stories. My favorite is the one about the little girl who stole the witch’s bread from her oven and the witch turned her into a goat. Or the one about the boy who had special blocks and built a tower that went all the way to the sky, only to find it was too cold up there, so he knocked them all down.

I love the way her eyes light up when she gets to the magic parts. And how her voice rises and falls, like she’s singing the story instead of telling it. I used to think they were real stories about real people. But now that I’m twelve--or will be in five hours and fifty-three minutes--obviously I know better.

Mrs. Toodles lives three houses down, between the Lester family and the Tucker family. The Tuckers have a son my age--Jacob--who is in my class but who I try to avoid at all costs because he’s super-immature and likes to make fart noises using various parts of his body. Plus, he kind of smells. Although I suppose he doesn’t smell any worse than the other boys in my class. What is that about, anyway? Do seventh-grade boys just not bathe?

When I get to Mrs. Toodles’s house, she’s standing on her front lawn, explaining to Mr. Tucker, Jacob’s dad, that one of the other neighbors killed her cat by drowning it in her pool.

Mrs. Toodles doesn’t have a cat.

She doesn’t have a pool either. Her backyard is pretty much just dead grass and one lonely pear tree that, according to her, hasn’t borne fruit since 1982.

“And the police refuse to investigate,” Mrs. Toodles is lamenting to poor Mr. Tucker, who looks really eager to return to his house. He probably just came out to get the mail or something and then got roped into one of Mrs. Toodles’s long-winded stories. “Because they said Whiskers had only been missing for twelve hours.”

Chances are, Mrs. Toodles saw this storyline on an episode of some crime drama. She sometimes confuses her real life with what she sees on TV.

I decide to save Mr. Tucker from his misery. I set the plastic bin on the grass and announce myself. “Hi, Mrs. Toodles!”

Mrs. Toodles turns around and instantly brightens when she sees me. “Mademoiselle Adeline!” she trills. Mrs. Toodles is probably the only person who calls me by my full name--one of the many reasons I like her.

She straightens her tiny hat, walks over to me, and pulls me into a hug. Over her bony shoulder I see Mr. Tucker give me a grateful wave and hurry into his house.

As I hug her back, I inhale her familiar scent--lemons and baby powder. “Happy birthday!” she sings, and then releases me.

“Thanks, but it’s not until tomorrow.”

She taps my nose with her index finger. “I know.” Then she tilts her head and stares at me like she’s just noticing me for the first time. “My, my, you’re growing like a bamboo shoot. Turning into a proper young lady.”

I frown. “No, I’m not.”

She says this every week. But I think it’s actually because she’s shrinking, not because I’m growing. In fact, I have proof. I measure myself against the doorframe of my bedroom daily and I haven’t grown an inch in months. Still a meager four foot six inches, which, by the way, is the average height of a ten-year-old. I looked it up.

She squints at me, like she’s examining a questionable piece of brisket the butcher is trying to sell her. “Are you sure?”

Desperate to change the subject, I grab the plastic bin from the grass by my feet. “Here you go, Mrs. Toodles. Fifty. Just like you asked for.”

She flips off the lid and gasps in delight when she sees what I’ve placed inside.

The bin is filled to the rim with empty toilet paper rolls.

“Adeline!” she squeals, pinching my cheek. Then she grabs the bin from me and cradles it affectionately in her arms like she’s rocking a baby. “You are such a sweetheart! I will treasure these dearly.”

Now, before you go thinking that she is like really crazy--getting all excited about a bunch of toilet paper rolls--I should explain that Mrs. Toodles likes to make Christmas ornaments out of them. You’d be amazed at how many things you can craft from a tube of cardboard. So I go around the house and collect the empty rolls for her. Not the most glamorous job in the world, I know, but it makes her happy.

“Come on inside, dear. I made doodersnickles!”

I try not to laugh as I follow Mrs. Toodles into the house. She obviously means snickerdoodles, but she often mixes up letters in words just like she mixes up fact and fiction.

She places the bin on the dining room table and disappears into the kitchen to get the cookies and lemonade. I glance around the cluttered house. It looks the same as always. Like she’s never thrown away anything in her entire eighty-nine years of life. She swears she needs every single thing in this place, but I can’t imagine what use she has for ten brass candlesticks, three lampshades without lamps, seven giant cat figurines, five old-fashioned telephones that aren’t even plugged in, or a needlepoint sign that says home, sweet gnome with a picture of a tiny red gnome in front of a mushroom-shaped house.

In the five years that I’ve been coming over here, nothing has ever changed. Which is why the mysterious object sitting on the dining room table next to my bin of toilet paper rolls immediately grabs my attention. In fact, for some strange reason, I’m unable to tear my eyes away from it.

That definitely wasn’t there last week. Is it new? Or was it just hiding somewhere else?

I step over a knee-high stack of old catalogs and approach the table. Upon closer inspection, I see that the mysterious object is actually a jewelry box. A very old jewelry box. The gold legs are sculpted in the shape of elegant dragons. The lid is encrusted with hundreds of tiny gems. The dark blue sides are painted with hundreds of pale white stars. And finally, set inside the lock in the front is a brass key with a single starburst on the top.

It’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in this house. Most of the stuff in here is just junk. But this. This is special. I can tell just by looking at it.

I reach out curiously to lift the lid, and that’s when I hear something. A breathy, far-off sound. Almost like a woman singing. I hastily shut the lid and the noise stops.

Mrs. Toodles emerges from the kitchen carrying a tray of cookies and lemonade. She moves at about the pace of a snail on crutches, and I can never tell if it’s because she’s really old or she’s just so weighed down by all the jewelry she wears. Her armful of bracelets jangles as she places the tray on the table.


Excerpted from "Addie Bell's Shortcut to Growing Up"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jessica Brody.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Addie Bell's Shortcut to Growing Up 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book you need to buy it on Nook or buy it in store I love it SO Much