In this third middle-grade adventure from the author of Finding Serendipity, Tuesday McGillycuddy must grapple with a new villain in the Land of Story.
After an unthinkable loss, time seems to freeze for Tuesday and her mother, the famous author Serendipity Smith. In the land of story, Vivienne Small's world is frozen tooa perpetual winter has fallen. When a terrible villain takes Vivienne hostage, it's up to Tuesday to save her friendand herself. On her quest, she'll discover what lies at the bottom of her heart, and at the heart of her writing.
Beautifully told with warmth and joy, this great adventure is a celebration of lifeand love. Don't miss this heartwarming conclusion to the Finding Serendipity series!
"Writing duo Banks (adult authors Heather Rose and Danielle Wood) weaves these narratives together with admirable skill and compassion, bringing a sophistication to this story of the writinglife. . . . While the themes of depression and emotional healing may pass oversome readers, others will doubtless feel seen and validated. . . . Richlycomplex and nourishing.” Kirkus Reviews,starred review
Praise for the Finding Serendipity series:
"All the worlds are fully rendered and themes of imagination, courage, family, sacrifice, and friendship are beautifully explored. Fans of Edith Nesbit, Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (1979), and Roderick Townley’s The Great Good Thing (2001) have a new home with Angelica Banks." Booklist, starred review on A Week without Tuesday
"Banks’s wondrously whimsical language helps transport readers into this imaginative world. . . . Creative young authors as well as fantasy lovers will enjoy this inventive book." School Library Journal on A Week without Tuesday
“A sparkling children's book debut in a novel that bridges and blurs reality and fantasy . . . With cinematic imagery and keen wit, the authors construct an inventive novel that raises intriguing questions about the relationship between authors and their characters, and reaches 'The End' all too soon.” Publishers Weekly, starred review on Finding Serendipity
Read all of the books in the Tuesday McGillycuddy series!
A Week without Tuesday
Blueberry Pancakes Forever
About the Author
Angelica Banks, the author of Finding Serendipity and A Week without Tuesday, is not one writer but two. Heather Rose and Danielle Wood are both award-winning authors of adult literary fiction and have been friends for years. While writing Blueberry Pancakes Forever, they drank tea and ate biscuits and cried their way through boxes of tissues.
Read an Excerpt
Blueberry Pancakes Forever
By Angelica Banks, Stevie Lewis
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2016 Heather Rose and Danielle Wood
All rights reserved.
This is how it is when winter falls. The sun rises, but a little later than it did yesterday and a little earlier than it will tomorrow. Each night is longer, darker, and colder than the one before.
Back at the beginning of winter, Vivienne Small had lined her hammock with fur and covered herself at night with an extra blanket. She had collected wood to burn in the potbelly stove on her veranda and spent the long evenings sitting close beside it, whispering to her black rat, Ermengarde, about the things they would do when springtime came. But although weeks passed, and months too, the winter did not turn. Instead it grew steadily deeper.
The snow on the Mountains of Margolov crept lower and lower, and the upper reaches of the River of Rythwyck turned to ice. The Golden Valley was no longer golden but white, and the five Cities of Luminosity were buried beneath snowdrifts. Plants no longer grew but instead lay dormant beneath the frosty earth. Hibernating animals slept on and on. The birds of the air laid no eggs; chrysalises never broke open. The creatures of the world were starving, and Vivienne could do nothing but watch as the world inched closer to complete and absolute darkness.
On a particularly bitter morning, Vivienne woke beneath a pile of blankets, a woolen hat pulled down over her ears. Despite her coverings, she was cold, and the tip of her nose was numb. The only pool of warmth was at the back of her neck, where Ermengarde was asleep beneath Vivienne's dark, tangled hair.
Vivienne sat up and opened her wide blue wings, releasing a shower of ice crystals. Ermengarde emerged briefly, squinted disapprovingly at the morning, and retreated once again. Vivienne shook the ice off her long leather boots and pulled them stiffly onto her feet. She wrapped her arms about herself tightly as she stood at the railing of her veranda and stared out over the angry charcoal waves of the Restless Sea. The sky above was no friendlier.
The long and terrible winter had begun with an earthquake that had shaken every tree in the Peppermint Forest from the depths of its roots to the tips of its leaves. It had caused giant waves to crash against the shores, eating away at cliffs and scouring the sand from beaches. It had ruptured hills and valleys and reduced parts of the City of Clocks to rubble. Then winter had come and had not departed. There was speculation in every wild and tame place, among strangers and friends, that the world had been shaken so violently it had come loose from the turning of its seasons. Many said spring would never come again and that the winter would deepen, day by day, until it had frozen the entire world and everything in it.
For a long while, Vivienne had scoffed at such an idea. But as the weeks unraveled, growing ever darker and colder, a tiredness had stolen over her. She had begun to wonder if winter was here forever and this truly was the end of the world as she had known it. She leaned wearily on the railing, and her stomach growled. But there was no point even looking in her pantry. She and Ermengarde had shared the last of her final store of nuts and a remnant of dry cheese two days ago. She had long since visited her other homes and stores, bringing any remaining supplies back to the Peppermint Forest, and now her tree house was completely empty of anything edible. She shivered.
"It's about time we had some sunshine!" she called to the invisible sun, trapped behind layers of stormy clouds. "This can't go on forever!"
"Forever is a long time," came an eerie, otherworldly voice from behind her. "A long, long time."
Vivienne caught the scent of dank earth, but before she could turn to see who had spoken, she felt in her shoulder the sharp stab of a dart. She saw a flash of vibrant green, then her knees buckled and everything faded to black.CHAPTER 2
Along a rocky stretch of coastline, where cliffs soared to the sky and seabirds soared even higher, there stood a lighthouse. Perched on a grim knuckle of stone, it was the loneliest of places, lucky to be visited by two or three ships each year. And yet, on this particular day, it was surrounded by a flotilla of fishing boats. On their decks were photographers and reporters with their camera lenses trained on the red door of the lighthouse. Right at midday, it opened.
Out of the lighthouse stepped a woman dressed in a vivid blue coat and carrying a bucket. The buffeting wind made her long red hair fly about as if in a blender. The long skirts of her coat flew up, revealing a pair of spectacular red boots. After waving to the assembly of fishing boats, the woman made her way along a rough, sloping path that led to the water's edge, where she crouched to carefully fill her bucket. That done, she caught up a thick cable of rope and began to haul on it, hand over hand.
The fishing boats attempted to edge closer, but the crashing waves and maze of half-submerged rocks deterred even the most valiant skippers. Several of the journalists put megaphones to their mouths and began calling questions over the wind:
"Serendipity, can you tell us what you're writing?"
"Serendipity, is Vivienne Small going to feature in the new series?"
"Serendipity, when are you coming back to the city?"
"Serendipity, do you know that Vivienne Small and the Final Battle is now the bestselling children's novel of all time?"
"The Mirage Hotel is keen to have you back. They're asking, do you need crème brûlée shipped in?"
"Serendipity, do you have a message for your young readers?"
But Serendipity simply waved, and when at last the lobster pot she had been hauling in emerged at the end of the rope, she inspected its contents. Rolling back her sleeve, she plunged in her hand and brought out a marvelous orange-speckled lobster, its arms and legs waving like those of a space monster. She held it aloft for a moment and imagined the flurry and whirr of equipment as the media captured this image and sent it around the world.
Then she lowered the lobster into her water-filled bucket and clipped on the lid. Walking more slowly this time, and leaning slightly from the weight of the bucket, she made her way back to the lighthouse. At seventeen minutes past midday, she gave a final wave to the assembled fleet, then disappeared inside.
* * *
Several of the journalists shook their heads.
"We must be able to get onto the island," one said to the ship's captain.
"Not likely," the captain replied, shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head. "It's simply impossible to visit until we can send a rowboat across, and that is only possible on the lowest of tides."
"Well, when will that happen?"
"They come once a year. The next one's only six weeks away."
"Six weeks! We can't wait six weeks."
"Take it up with the moon," the captain said.
The journalist thought for a moment, stared up at the dull gray sky that showed neither sun nor moon, and sighed.
"She's been out here alone for months and months," he mused, trying a different tack. "It must be hard for her, not having anyone to talk to."
"She speaks to Constanza, by radio," said the captain with a wry smile.
Constanza was the proprietor of the only shop in the tiny village that clung to the mainland's cliffs and overlooked the lighthouse. It was Constanza who took Serendipity's weekly grocery order and organized the helicopter to make the delivery.
"Constanza is hardly a conversationalist," the reporter said. He had used every tactic imaginable to convince the taciturn Constanza to let him travel on the helicopter, or at the very least use the shop radio to contact Serendipity at the lighthouse. But with no success.
"Have you considered that maybe Ms. Smith doesn't want to talk to you?" said the captain.
"But surely she misses her fans?" the reporter said.
"My own mother was a writer," said the captain, somewhat wistfully. "She used to say that you could never be lonely with your characters beside you."
"So that's it? She won't come out again until ... until when?"
The captain shrugged.
"There's got to be something we can do," the journalist said. "The whole world is desperate for news!"
"Well," said the skipper with a sigh, "if you want to, you can pay me, and we'll sit here all day, every day, watching and waiting. It's your money. But I assure you, she's gone for today."
And so, one by one, the fishing boats turned away from the lighthouse and made their way back to the village in the distance.
* * *
On the rocky outcrop, the wind continued to blow, whistling through a narrow crack under the lighthouse door and between the windowpanes. Inside, a red wig lay in a tangle on a table and the electric blue coat had been hung on a peg. The red boots had been unlaced and discarded.
At the sink stood Miss Digby in a pair of sheepskin boots, her usually tidy hair ever so slightly disheveled from being tucked up under the wig. Through the thick glass of the narrow window, she watched the retreating fishing boats. Each day, they were edging closer, becoming bolder. She knew they'd eventually find a way onto the island. That simply wouldn't do. She could lock the door, but sooner or later, she'd have to come out and face their probing lenses and endless questions.
Miss Digby shuddered at the thought, then turned her attention to the bucket in the sink. She removed the lid and was greeted by a host of coral-colored claws and legs, all waving.
"I am sorry, Gerald," she said as she gingerly lifted the lobster out of the bucket and lowered him into a large aquarium tank full of seawater. "I know it's inconvenient, but you needn't fear. We both know the drill."
Gerald landed on the pebbles on the tank floor and scuttled behind a large frond of seaweed. There he would hunker down, in a mild sulk, until darkness fell and Miss Digby would pop him back into his bucket, walk down to the shore, and release him into the sea. They had been through this catch-and-release routine every few days since the media had discovered her whereabouts. Miss Digby thought Gerald would have learned to avoid the lobster pot, but it seemed that he found her oyster and tuna baits irresistible. Truth be told, she was grateful for his company, even if he was given to sulking.
Miss Digby fixed herself a cup of tea and a cheese-and-pickled-onion sandwich. She ate, all the while feeling troubled. When she was done, she walked a circle around the tiny room, then slumped into a chair beside the aquarium and peered into its watery gloom.
"Why isn't she answering my calls, Gerald?" Miss Digby said. "Gerald? Gerald?"
But there was no reply.
Miss Digby sighed and reached for the radio. Not that she expected to get much more of a response from the radio than she did from the moping crustacean. She cleared her throat and, in her best Serendipity Smith voice, said, "Good afternoon. Constanza, are you there?"
"Sí," came a flat voice.
"Constanza, I wonder, could you try the Brown Street number again?"
"Sí, Señora Smith," said Constanza, pronouncing it Smeet.
Miss Digby could hear the phone ringing. The ringing went on and on and on. But no one answered. She sighed again.
"I'll try again tomorrow, Constanza," said Miss Digby, trying to not sound too despondent. "Gracias."
"Adiós, Señora Smeet," said Constanza.
It had been more than three months since Miss Digby had spoken to the woman she was impersonating, the world's most famous author, Serendipity Smith, and longer still since she had seen her in person. For a year now, Serendipity had been out of contact with the world. Although requests continued to pour in from schools and libraries, bookstores and television shows, for visits and interviews, everyone who sought Serendipity's attention received the same response:
Thank you for contacting Serendipity Smith! At present, Serendipity is busy creating a new series of books. She is unable to give any interviews or attend any public events during this time. She thanks her readers for their patience and hopes they are continuing to discover many wonderful stories, both in their own lives and in the books they read.
As well as impersonating Serendipity, Miss Digby was managing the famous writer's affairs by correspondence. Each week by helicopter, along with groceries, there came a huge pile of redirected mail carefully packed in cardboard boxes. From the bank statements, Miss Digby could tell that Serendipity was hardly leaving the house. There were sporadic home deliveries of pizzas, noodles, and curries. But there were no shopping trips or books or movie tickets. Surely Tuesday had needed shoes when school resumed? Had there really been no trips to the museum, no afternoons of ice-skating, or new winter coats?
Miss Digby thought again of the phone ringing on and on in the hallway at Brown Street. Once, that hallway had always smelled of something freshly baked. With a troubled sigh, she wondered what it smelled of now.CHAPTER 3
It was winter, and the branches of the trees that lined Brown Street were entirely bare. Although the sun had been up and about for a few hours, little patches of the night's frost lingered in the shadows on the ground. In the middle of Brown Street, the McGillycuddy place was as tall and narrow as ever. And yet the house appeared altered. As if it had lost confidence and no longer wanted to be seen.
It had the same number of steps leading up to the front door, the same number of stories, and the same number of windows, including the single large window on the very top floor. As you know, that large top-floor window looked into the writing room of the most famous writer in the world. Very few people knew this fact, however, because Serendipity Smith preferred to spend most of her life as an ordinary woman called Sarah McGillycuddy.
One long year had passed since the last of her Vivienne Small books had been published, and it was longer still since Serendipity Smith had announced that she was starting work on a new adventure series. The days and weeks and months had slipped by, but no new book had appeared, and readers were growing impatient.
Had you been able to peer in through the window of Serendipity's writing room, you would have seen very little to reassure you that the first book in Serendipity Smith's new series was on its way to your local bookshop. On one side of Serendipity's desk, there was a huge stack of blank paper. And although there was a page threaded through Serendipity's big antique typewriter, if you were to look closely, you would see that it had been there long enough to gather dust, and that not a single word was written upon it. There was also a fine layer of dust on the typewriter keys, on the stack of blank paper, and on the lid of a little silver box that Serendipity kept on her desk.
The air in the writing room had a stale smell. This had to do with the dust and also with a cup of long-ago tea that had been left — back in the days when it was half full, and not half empty — to slowly molder on Serendipity's desk. But the smell had more to do with the fact that no one had been in the room for a very long time. For months, nobody had sat down in the big red velvet chair to read, and nobody had selected a volume from the shelves that were stacked, floor to ceiling, with books of every imaginable kind. Nobody had sat down at the desk to stare out the window, no one had thrown the window wide, and no story had trailed its silver thread in or out. In that room there had been no writing: not of the dreaming kind, nor of the hammering-on-the-keyboard kind, and not even of the pen-on-paper kind.
And nor would Serendipity Smith do any writing on this particular Saturday. Though it was after ten o'clock, she was still in bed. She was quite awake, but lying very still with the covers pulled right up under her chin. The phone had been ringing, but she had let it go. She was watching the numbers on her bedside clock as they slowly ticked over. She should get up and start the day, she thought, but somehow she lacked the strength. Five more minutes, she decided. Yes, just five.
Excerpted from Blueberry Pancakes Forever by Angelica Banks, Stevie Lewis. Copyright © 2016 Heather Rose and Danielle Wood. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
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