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Code Name: Serendipity

Code Name: Serendipity

by Amber Smith

Hardcover

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Overview

Fans of Katherine Applegate, Holly Goldberg Sloan, and Lynda Mullaly Hunt will love New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith’s heartwarming middle grade debut about family, friendship, and the magic connection between a girl and her dog.

Eleven-year-old Sadie’s school year is off to an awful start. Her best (and only) friend has moved away, her older brother is a jerk (as always), and her beloved Gramps is having more and more trouble keeping his memories straight. But when she comes across a stray dog, she discovers something wonderful and magical—she and the dog, Dewey, are able to communicate telepathically. Sadie knows that Dewey is destined to be her friend.

Dewey is quickly captured and sent to a shelter. And Sadie’s moms say Dewey is dangerous, a bite risk, and that Sadie, whose mind is always wandering with a larger than life imagination, needs to prove she’s more responsible before she can adopt any pets. But Sadie is running out of time—Dewey lets Sadie know that her days at the shelter are numbered.

The only solution: break Dewey out of doggie jail.

In this reaffirming, magical, and uplifting story of friendship, family, and believing in yourself, New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith assures readers: it’s okay to think big and act with your whole heart.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593204917
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 01/04/2022
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 291,989
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Amber Smith is the author of the young adult novels Something Like Gravity, The Last to Let Go, and The Way I Used to Be, which was a New York Times bestseller. This is her first novel for middle grade readers. She grew up in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her wife and their ever-growing family of rescued dogs and cats.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

THINGS THAT DON’T SUCK, LIKE FRENCH TOAST AND WEEKENDS

I’m always the first one to wake up on Sundays because it is my favorite day, and I never want to lose any time on the weekend by spending it asleep. Weekends mean no school. No math. No waiting, friendless, at the bus stop morning after morning. Weekends mean I get to video chat with my best friend, Jude, who just moved to Utah, and I get to help my moms make a big Sunday-morning breakfast. Weekends mean I can pretend things are still easy, the way they were before I turned eleven a few months ago.

Today is no different.

I hop out of bed and stick my feet into my frog slippers—which ribbit if I step hard enough on the little buttons inside the stuffing-filled frog heads—and make my way downstairs to the kitchen. My slippers echo ribbitribbit, ribbitribbit with each step.

I start getting out all the pans and mixing bowls and ingredients we will need, lining them up on the kitchen counter: bread from the old wooden bread box; eggs, milk, and real butter—not the healthy fake butter that Mom hates but Mama always tries to get us to use instead—from the fridge; vanilla extract and cinnamon and powdered sugar from the cupboard where we keep the spices; and Mama’s vegetarian sausage patties from the freezer, because that is one food she won’t negotiate on.

Sunday-morning breakfast is a family tradition. The best part is dipping the bread into the egg batter and then slapping it onto the hot skillet and listening to it sizzle. French toast is my favorite food of all time. I would eat it for every meal of every day if my moms would let me. But they won’t. I’ve asked.

This is when Catniss Everdeen—my older brother Noah’s cat—comes wandering into the kitchen sniffing around to see if she can steal anything. He named her after his favorite book character. I thought we should name her Purrmione Granger, but Moms said it was Noah’sdecision. Catniss is very good at creeping in and sneaking food when you’re not looking. Once she walked off with a whole package of “faken,” which is what Noahcalls Mama’s veggie bacon, and no one even noticed.

My moms usually come downstairs and start making their morning coffee by the time Catniss makes her way to the kitchen. So I sit on one of the stools at the counter and wait.

And I wait.

Catniss loses interest when she sees that no cooking is happening, and she curls up into a tiny cat-ball inside of the square of sunlight that shines through the window onto the kitchen floor.

Still no Moms.

My slippers ribbitribbit as I make my way back up the stairs, with Catniss leaping alongside me, swatting at my feet every few steps. I open my moms’ bedroom door, expecting to find them sleeping in, only to discover the bed already made and my moms nowhere in sight.

“Moms?” I call out.

No answer.

I look everywhere—in the bathroom, behind the shower curtain, even in the closet—but the whole house is quiet.

Too quiet.

My heart starts to race as my mind scrolls through all of the terrible things that could have happened to my family: Abducted by aliens. Swallowed by a sinkhole. Trapped inan alternate universe that sucked in everyone in the world except for Catniss and me. Or maybe I’m the one who’s stuck in an alternate universe!

“Moms!” I scream this time, struggling to breathe normally.

I hear Noah’s bedroom door creak open in the hallway.

“Sadie, stop yelling,” he says, with his eyes sleep-squinty and his big curly hair mushed up on one side of his head, flattened on the other. Catniss darts from Moms’ bed and pounces on my left frog slipper, making it croak out a smal lribbit, before she leaps inside Noah’s room.

I let out the breath I’ve been holding, relieved to see him, because at least that rules out the whole alternate-universe thing. But I don’t tell him that.

Instead, I ask, “Where are Moms?”

“Grandpa Ed’s,” he mumbles, and starts to go back to his room. “That means I’m in charge, and I say stop yelling and let me go back to sleep.”

“But it’s Sunday,” I say. “And why didn’t they ask if I wanted to come?”

I love when we visit Gramps. We always go to the park that’s across the street from his apartment building and feed the pigeons and play checkers on this special table that’s made out of two different colors of stone. Gramps likes to talk to everyone we see because he says they all have stories inside them. He even sees stories in me, and he always listens as I tell him all about the graphic novel I’ve been working on: The Interstellar Adventures of S.Hawkins, Special Agent. And he never forgets to ask about the progress of the fairy fortress—not fairy garden—that Jude and I created in the backyard way back when we were in second grade.

“Am I Mom?” Noah snaps at me, in that grumpy way he’s been snapping at everyone lately. “How would I know?”

Noah just turned fourteen, which means he’s in ninth grade this year. Now that he goes to a different school and takes a different bus than me, and has a girlfriend (even though he always says, “She’s a girl who’s my friend—not my girlfriend”), it’s like he’s decided to start acting like he’s too cool to hang out with me. Or even be nice to me anymore. Which basically means he’s turned into a total butthead.

“But what about breakfast?” I say, crossing my arms. “I already started getting everything set up.”

“So?” he says with a shrug, pretending he doesn’t know full well that Sunday-morning breakfast is a family tradition. “Just have cereal.”

“Cereal?” I groan. “Cereal is for school days!”

“This is me caring.” He rolls his eyes and closes his door in my face.

As if everything else wasn’t already sucky enough, I’m really beginning to despise being the younger sibling. I used to love being the youngest. It made me feel special.But now that we’re older it just feels like an excuse for everyone in my family to not take me seriously. I generally don’t believe people should go around having archenemies and things like that, but if I had one, it would definitely be Noah.

So I knock as loud and hard as I can, pounding both of my fists against the door, and I don’t stop until he opens it again.

“Leave me alone,” he grumbles.

This time I walk away from him, saying loud enough to catch his attention, “I’m calling Moms!”

“Don’t call them, Sadie,” he says as he follows me down the stairs. “I’m serious; they’re busy, and they don’t need you annoying them right now!” I reach for the phone in the kitchen and start dialing, when Noah takes it away from me.

“Hey, butthead!” I yell at him. “Give that back to me. I’m telling Moms you’re being mean.”

“Don’t be such a toddler!” That’s his favorite thing to call me lately. “Moms didn’t want me to tell you this because you’re such a baby, but Grandpa Ed is—” He stops in the middle of his sentence.

“Gramps is what?” I ask.

“Gramps is . . . old, okay? Get a clue, buttmunch, they’re not going for fun. They’re going because he can’t live alone anymore.”

“Why not?” I ask, even though I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

Noah sighs and looks down. “The people at his apartment building called Mom because something happened in the middle of the night with Gramps being confused. He was wandering around the halls, or something weird like that.” Noah pauses, and now even he looks a little worried, and he never seems worried about anything. “So Moms went there today to bring him back here.”

“Maybe he was just sleepwalking?” I offer.

“He wasn’t sleepwalking. He couldn’t remember which apartment was his. Mom says he can’t live alone anymore.” He pulls down the boxes of cereal from the pantry, and I sit at the table. “I think he might have to go to a—” But he stops talking.

“To a what?” I ask when he doesn’t finish. “Where does he have to go?”

“Never mind. Just don’t tell Moms I told you about Gramps, okay?” he says, a little bit nicer—more like the way he used to talk to me—even if there is something he’s not telling me. “They want to explain it all to you later.”

Noah takes his bowl of cereal into the living room and turns on the TV.

Suddenly, the air in the kitchen feels strange and sticky and weird. Not at all like what a Sunday is supposed to feel like. I spoon my lumpy, soggy cereal to my mouth, but I’m not hungry anymore.

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