Finding Serendipity: Chapters 1-5

Finding Serendipity: Chapters 1-5

by Angelica Banks

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466885240
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date: 12/02/2014
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 160,700
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Angelica Banks is not one writer but two. Heather Rose and Danielle Wood are both award-winning authors of literary fiction. They have been friends for years, and when they decided to write a book together, they chose a pen name to make things easy.
Angelica Banks 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. They had much more fun than you can imagine writing Finding Serendipity and A Week Without Tuesday and spent a lot of time eating chocolate custard and strawberries.

Read an Excerpt

Finding Serendipity

By Angelica Banks

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2013 Heather Rose and Danielle Wood
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8524-0


"Good-bye, school shoes," said Tuesday McGillycuddy, dropping her battered black lace-ups into a bin full of lunch wraps and orange peel. It was the end of school, for the day, for the week, for the year. By the time school started again in eight whole weeks, even if those old shoes could be mended, she'd have grown right out of them.

From her bag, Tuesday took her beloved emerald green roller skates, slipped her feet into them, and firmly tied the laces. Then she hoicked her bag onto her back and coasted gleefully out the school gate, her gingery-blond braids drifting behind her. Tuesday was reasonably tall for her age, and fast on her roller skates. She zipped to the end of the street, turned left, carefully crossed a road, and glided into the leafy shade of City Park. Waiting for her by the fountain, as usual, was her dog, Baxterr, with a double r.

Baxterr was a smallish dog with a whiskery face and shaggy hair in every conceivable shade of brown. He trotted toward Tuesday, holding his leash in his mouth and waving the hairy curtain of his tail in greeting. Baxterr didn't need a leash, of course, but he didn't mind pretending if it helped keep Tuesday out of trouble with the City Park officials, who were fussy about dog leashes and litter and bicycles. Tuesday took Baxterr's leash, and together they turned in the direction of home.

"Hang on a minute, doggo, there's something I need to do first," Tuesday said.

Rummaging in the compartments of her school bag, she found two coins, one gold and one silver. Although the gold one was bigger, and worth more, Tuesday felt certain that it was the silver one she should use. Wishes were silvery things. Maybe because wishes rhymed with fishes.

Tuesday held the silver coin tightly in her hand, as if she could somehow squeeze her wish into it. Then she solemnly cast it into the fountain, where it plinked into the water. Baxterr put his paws up on the stony rim of the fountain to watch. And all the while, Tuesday, with eyes scrunched and fists clenched, wished. Please, please, oh please. Finally the coin settled on the smooth tiles at the bottom of the fountain, next to all the other wishes that lay there. Baxterr pricked up his coarse-furred ears and looked at Tuesday quizzically.

Tuesday looked deeply into her dog's golden-brown eyes. In the mirror of his pupils, she could see two tiny images of a girl with slightly messy braids, blue-green eyes, and eyebrows that had a tendency to scrunch together in puzzlement whenever she was thinking hard, which she often was.

"Come on, Baxterr, you know wishes don't come true if you tell," Tuesday said. Please, she had wished. Please, please, oh please, let today be the day that she finishes the book.

* * *

It was a year since Serendipity Smith's last book, Vivienne Small and the Mountains of Margolov, had been published, and on that extraordinary day, lines of excited readers had snaked out of the doors of the bookshops of the world. There were children lined up along streets, around city blocks, down the middle of shopping centers, and out into car parks. A year later, almost everyone had read Vivienne Small and the Mountains of Margolov, and many knew the story by heart. Almost all the copies of Vivienne Small and the Mountains of Margolov were tatty and torn with loving, and everyone was desperate to know what would happen to Vivienne Small next.

Tuesday McGillycuddy loved Vivienne Small and her adventures as much as the next person. She couldn't wait to have her very own copy of Serendipity Smith's new book, which was going to be calledVivienne Small and the Final Battle. She would snuggle down to read it under her bedcovers by torchlight. As much as anyone else in the world, Tuesday wanted to know where Vivienne would go and what would happen to her when she got there and in what kinds of ingenious ways she would outsmart her archrival, the monstrous Carsten Mothwood. But that wasn't the only reason—or even the main reason—that Tuesday wished Serendipity Smith would finish her book today. The reason that Tuesday hoped Serendipity Smith would finish her book was that, as well as being the most famous writer in the world, Serendipity Smith was Tuesday's mother.

Being such a famous writer meant that Serendipity Smith had a diary that was full of appointments—written in pencil, blue pen, black pen, and even red pen—all made for her by her assistant, Miss Digby. These appointments were for Serendipity to read in bookshops and appear on talk shows and visit libraries and do radio interviews and make audio recordings of her books. There were appointments for book signings, school visits, meetings with important people, festival launches, and art shows. When Serendipity Smith wasn't busy keeping all these appointments, she was busy writing the next Vivienne Small book. But when Serendipity Smith finished Vivienne Small and the Final Battle, she would for a short time—at least until she began a new book—just be Tuesday's mother. Miss Digby would defer all the appointments, and Serendipity would close the door to her writing room and take a holiday with Tuesday, and Tuesday's father, and Baxterr, and nothing would disturb them.

* * *

Having made her wish, Tuesday took hold of Baxterr's leash and walked to the edge of City Park, then lifted the toes of her roller skates and let Baxterr tow her all the way home. He galloped along with the wind ruffling his short shaggy coat, his ears pricked, his grin wide, and Tuesday laughing behind him. For a small dog, Baxterr was very strong, and he loved to pull Tuesday on her roller skates.

Now, because you are very good at spelling, you might have been wondering why Baxterr has two r's on the end of his name, not just one. Well, it's like this. Baxterr with a double r was unfailingly good-natured. He never snapped at small children. He never bounded up to strangers. He had never, ever knocked anyone over, and he never had to be told "down!" He did not bark if someone was passing by the fence. He did not chew shoes or dribble on school bags. He did not pester Tuesday to play fetch with him every time they went to the park, though he was very fond of catching a Frisbee thrown to him on a glorious blue-sky day and could leap higher than you would have imagined possible for a dog of his size. It was true that he did eat rather noisily, and often, but he never made bad smells or noises afterward.

Baxterr was a thoughtful dog. He considered it his job to collect the mail and the papers when they were posted through the slot in the front door, and he had a way of knowing which letters were for Serendipity and which were for Tuesday's father, Denis. Baxterr deposited Serendipity's mail quietly outside the door of her writing room and left Denis's on the kitchen table. On the rare occasion when Tuesday received a letter—this didn't happen nearly often enough for Tuesday—he would place it on the hall table so Tuesday could see it the moment she arrived home from school.

Baxterr was the best and most civilized of dogs. But if he encountered a person or animal who scared a child (as a large dog had done to Tuesday on her way to school one morning) or a potential thief (such as the strange lady in a blue coat who had been prowling around Tuesday's scooter one afternoon when she had left it outside a shop), then Baxterr would growl in earnest. "Rrrrrr," he would say. "Rrrrrrrrr." His serious growl was not a noise that was pleasant to hear. It made people get the sort of goose bumps they get if they see a very large spider on the wall beside them.

So that is why Baxterr had a double r at the end of his name. Because although he looked like the kindest, friendliest dog in the world, his growl could be very frightening when he wanted to it be. Baxterr had a heart full of courage, and he felt that his most important job was to protect the people that he loved.

* * *

Home, for Tuesday and Baxterr, was a tall brown house on Brown Street. It was the tallest house on the street, and also the narrowest, but this suited Tuesday and her parents. After all, as they would sometimes remind one another, the most important thing about a house was not how big it was, but how many stories it had.

As usual, Tuesday's father was in the tall brown house on Brown Street, waiting for her to arrive home from school. While his wife was incredibly famous, Denis McGillycuddy was not famous at all, and that was precisely the way he liked it. Denis McGillycuddy had kind dark eyes and large leaf-shaped ears. The top of his head was perfectly smooth, and the remaining hair that grew low on the back of his head and behind his ears was very short and bristly. His eyebrows and mustache were both dark. The mustache was neat and tidy, but his eyebrows were prone to growing wild, and Denis often said that one morning he might awake to find birds nesting in them. For reading, Denis wore large, round, dark-framed glasses, and every day, except on weekends and holidays, he wore a tie. Denis's ties were of every color and pattern, and his habit of dressing in a crisp shirt and tie was left over, he said, from years earlier when he ran a fancy restaurant. But now he ran the tall brown house on Brown Street. He was the oil in the hinges and the battery in the clock. He was the one who made everything run smoothly and the one who made everything tick. He made breakfast, lunch, dinner, and phone calls. He put the school notices on the fridge and made all the appointments for dentists, new school shoes, and trips to the theater. He made polka-dot brownies, a tray of which was just coming out of the oven as Tuesday rolled on her heels down the hallway and twirled to a stop at the kitchen table.

"Ah, my seashell, I smell the scent of a summer sojourn," said Denis with a kiss to the top of Tuesday's head.

Tuesday's father had a way with words. He could make almost any sentence sound exciting and wonderful. Even if it was an observation about homework.

"I must remark upon the mark from Miss Mistlethwaite in mathematics," he'd once said mildly, peering across the table at Tuesday, who was trying not to look embarrassed. "There's no math a McGillycuddy cannot master," Denis had said. "The trick is sometimes to go slower, not faster." And Tuesday had smiled and felt better about her poor results in long division.

Tuesday looked at him with a glint in her eyes.

"A summer sojourn? Dad, are we going to the beach for the holidays? Has she finished it?"

Then Tuesday noticed that Denis had set the kitchen table for three. Or four, if you counted the dish beneath the table that had been set down for Baxterr.

"You think she'll finish today! Don't you, Dad?"

"Completion is conceivable, but cruelly uncertain. But I can report that when I ascended the staircase at lunchtime, the stack of pages on the finished side of the desk was this thick," he said, holding two of his fingers a long way apart.

Denis cut the hot brownies into large gooey squares. He arranged them on a plate in the middle of the table and slid a turkey-mince cupcake onto the plate beneath the table. Half a heartbeat later, Baxterr had wolfed his treat in a single swallow.

"Go on, then," Denis said to Tuesday, gesturing at the brownies.

"I think I'll wait for Mom," said Tuesday.

"Good idea," said Denis.

So Tuesday and her father sat at the table and sipped their tea and played a game of cribbage, a card game that had a little board and matchsticks to count the points. Baxterr lay beneath the table and dozed, although one of his ears was pricked up in the direction of the staircase, waiting for the sound of descending footsteps.

* * *

The room in which Serendipity Smith wrote her books was on the top story of the tall brown house. It had highly polished, honey-colored floorboards and bookshelves lining all the walls. Books were crammed into the shelves upways and sideways and in no particular order—well, not one that Tuesday could work out. The only other items in Serendipity Smith's writing room were a desk, two chairs (one an upright a chair for writing in and the other a deeply comfortable red velvet chair for reading in), a lamp with red glass beads dripping around the bottom of the shade, and an old-fashioned typewriter, which made a reassuring ding! every time Serendipity reached the end of a line.

Tuesday had learned that writing was sometimes a very quiet business. There were long hours when no noise at all came from the inside of her mother's writing room, and Tuesday imagined these were the times when her mother sat very still, curled in her red velvet chair, thinking and imagining her stories into being. And there were other times when Tuesday would hear her mother's typewriter go click clack click clack click clack ding!

On those rare and fabulous days when a book was completed, Serendipity would race down the stairs and come skipping into the kitchen. She'd kiss Tuesday's father smack on the lips and catch Tuesday up in her arms and whirl her around and say, "Wheeeee! I've finiiiissshhhed!" That night, over dinner, instead of saying "hmmm?" when Denis or Tuesday said "please pass the sauce," she would sing a song, all about sauce, of course, delivered by a horse, with unnecessary force, on a long racecourse. Or she would play the spoons on the tabletop, rattling out a tinny melody, with Tuesday on the glassware and Denis on the salt and pepper grinders, the three of them making clicking noises with their tongues in their cheeks, just like a normal family.

And that was just the beginning. Because then there was the holiday. Not a very long holiday, mind, because when readers all over the world are waiting for your stories to be written, you can't let them down. But the weeks after Serendipity finished a book and took a holiday with Tuesday and Denis and Baxterr were the most wonderful weeks Tuesday could remember in her whole life.

Sitting at the kitchen table, Tuesday wondered what her mother and father had planned for this holiday. A summer sojourn, her dad had said. Perhaps that meant the beach, but it might equally mean walking in the mountains or sailing on a yacht, which Tuesday had never tried, although she dearly wanted to. Or it might mean a tropical island with palm trees and a long white sandy beach and a little house with a thatched roof. Tuesday took a deep and hopeful breath, her father looked up and smiled, and Baxterr gave a little ruff as if he approved of all this daydreaming. But still no sound came from upstairs, and the brownies grew cool on the plate.

After they had played two games of cribbage, plus a game of snap, Tuesday fetched her book and settled into the window seat in the kitchen. Denis brought her a brownie on a plate and then sat at the kitchen table with his crossword, asking Tuesday for help as he went along. While they deliberated over 11 down and 23 across, Baxterr snored. Outside the kitchen window, the day turned from afternoon to twilight. The hands on the kitchen clock made one slow, slow circle and then another. At seven o'clock, Denis made his special cheese-on-ham-on-more-cheese toast with tomato relish, and though it was one of Tuesday's favorite meals, she didn't enjoy it as much as usual. All the waiting had made the fizzing excitement inside of her go flat, just as if she were a glass of sprite left for too long on the bench. As Tuesday washed up and Denis dried and put the plates and cups away, he looked at his daughter with fond concern.

"How about a couplet or two?" he said, tweaking one of Tuesday's braids lightly. "Hmm?"

His eyes twinkled as he said in a wonderfully theatrical voice,

The butter from Dorothy's crumpet,
Dripped into the bell of her trumpet.

Ordinarily, this would have Tuesday replying with a couplet of her own.

Sweet young Edgar, eating Jell-O,
Dropped a spoonful onto his cello.

But to night her heart just wasn't in it.

"It's no good, Dad," she said. "I can't think about anything but Mom. Do you think she's ever coming down?"

"It is getting late," her father agreed. "Why don't you tootle on upstairs and have a listen outside her door."

So Tuesday kicked off her roller skates and tiptoed quietly up the stairs to the landing outside her mother's writing room, and Baxterr followed. Tuesday put her ear against the solid timber of the door. And Baxterr did the same.

There they stood, for quite some time, until they were certain that what they could hear inside was ... absolutely nothing.

Then Tuesday did hear a sound. It was a creaking kind of sound. Nothing like the click clack click clack ding of her mother's typewriter. She listened harder. Creak, creak. Perhaps her mother was pacing the floor. Perhaps she was trying to figure out the very, very last sentence of Vivienne Small and the Final Battle. Tuesday wondered if she should go in. Perhaps she could help? It couldn't be much harder than figuring out the answer to 23 across. Suddenly the creaking got louder, and Tuesday realized it was the sound of her father climbing the stairs behind her.

"Well?" Denis asked.


Excerpted from Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks. Copyright © 2013 Heather Rose and Danielle Wood. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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