SPACEPOP: Not Your Average Princesses

SPACEPOP: Not Your Average Princesses

by Erin Downing

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250102270
Publisher: Imprint
Publication date: 07/26/2016
Series: SPACEPOP , #1
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 1,309,347
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Erin Downing has written more than fifty books for young adults, tweens, and kids, including Best Friends (Until Someone Better Comes Along), The Quirks, the Puppy Pirates series (as Erin Soderberg), and the novel Moon Shadow. Before becoming an author, Erin was a book editor and cookie inventor, and also worked for Nickelodeon. She writes, watches TV, and eats out in Minneapolis with her husband, kids, and a very fluffy dog.

Jen Bartel is an illustrator and comic artist, and loves drawing strong ladies. She grew up in Seoul, South Korea, where she spent the majority of her time consuming cartoons and Asian media of the 90’s and early 2000’s. She attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC before settling down in Minneapolis, where she and her husband live in a house with a backyard that sometimes serves as a feeding ground for wandering deer.

Read an Excerpt

Spacepop: Not Your Average Princesses


By Erin Downing, Jen Bartel

Macmillan

Copyright © 2016 Genius Brands
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-10230-0


CHAPTER 1

LUNA


The planets of the Pentangle were in grave danger, but Princess Lunaria de Longoria was still in bed. "Hello?" the princess called out in a soft, expectant voice. When there was no response, she raised her voice and hollered, "Hel-lo! Is anyone going to bring me my juice? It is now one full minute after nine."

There were no sounds from the hall outside her royal bedroom. That was odd. Usually, the palace was bustling with the swish-swish and spritz-spritz sounds of cleaning, or the quick patter of servants hustling to and fro, or her mother's firm voice barking out a list of daily tasks for the palace employees. But this morning, the halls of the Palace of Lunaria were still and strangely silent.

Princess Lunaria pushed back her smooth satin sheets and flexed her buttery-yellow feet. She inspected the elegant designs painted on each of her big toenails. She wasn't due to have her weekly pedicure for two days, but she wasn't sure she could stand to wait that long. A tiny fleck of polish had chipped off when she stepped out of the shower the previous morning, and she was growing tired of the color on her toes. It felt dated — very last week. She made a mental note to have someone call down to the palace spa later.

With a heavy sigh, the princess craned her neck and waited. She blinked her eyes — one a bright yellow, the other vibrant orange — impatiently. Usually, all it took was a simple call and someone would come running. She clanged the little bell she'd had installed by her bedside, then listened intently. Nothing. Frustrated, she opened her mouth and released a loud scream that spanned eight octaves. Her pampered and loving pet, Adora, snuggled deeper into the covers beside her, trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep. The cuddly pink and red creature groaned, irritated at having been disturbed. Then, with a soft sigh, Adora tucked all four of her delicate paws under her soft body and fell back to sleep.

A moment later, Lunaria heard an unfamiliar thump-thump-thump coming from somewhere far below her bedroom in one of the palace's great rooms. Out the window, a strange buzzing sound drowned out the usual birdsong in the gardens.

The princess pressed a button on her bed's headboard, and the sweet sound of her own singing floated out of the speakers that were hidden around the room. Much better.

After another quick peek at the time — nine-oh-four! — Lunaria flopped back onto a heavenly stack of pillows and growled. Where was everyone? Like a true princess, Lunaria de Longoria did not like to be kept waiting. And she usually refused to get out of bed in the morning until she had nourished her body with a tall glass of green juice pressed from the palace's garden vegetables. She set her mouth into a firm scowl, but relaxed the muscles into a soft pout when she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror hanging over her bed. Scowling didn't suit her lovely features.

Lunaria dropped her legs over the side of her round, floating bed and landed gracefully on the plush carpet below. She wanted juice! It was highly unusual to do something for herself. She tiptoed to the door of her bedroom, cocked her head, and listened hopefully for the telltale sound of a servant's footsteps in the hallway. She smiled when she heard someone approaching her door. About time, she mused. She would have to give this servant a little talking to. A wait this long was totally unacceptable. The door of her room flew open, and Lunaria jumped back.

"Excuse me," she snapped, glaring at the intruder. "I believe it is best to knock before entering a princess's quarters?"

The unfamiliar man standing in the doorway arched an eyebrow and bowed — but only slightly. "Apologies, Your Highness."

"That's better," Lunaria said stiffly, arching one of her own perfect eyebrows back at him. "And next time, I expect you to present yourself with a proper bow. That little curtsy, or whatever it was — weak."

She narrowed her eyes and studied the servant more carefully. The princess had never seen this guy before. He was old — really old. Display-in-a-museum old. Lunaria suddenly felt a little bad for picking on such a frail creature. The man was breathing heavily, as if he'd run to her room in a hurry. As he should have — she had been waiting for her juice for six minutes already! — but the hustle had clearly winded the old guy. She hoped he wouldn't die from the effort. Juice was important, but probably not that important.

Studying the man more closely, Princess Lunaria had a sudden realization that the guy might not be able to bow. If he bent over, he might never be able to stand upright again. He'd just fold in half and stay that way for the rest of his life. Which probably wasn't much longer, to be honest.

"Or perhaps you can't bow?" Lunaria asked the servant, loudly and slowly. She wondered if he was so old he couldn't even hear anymore? It was actually quite generous of her parents to employ someone so ancient. It bothered her that she had to deal with the old geezer, but she was willing to do some charity work now and again. So she made her voice even louder and asked, "Does it hurt your old frail joints to bow?"

The man cleared his throat. "Your Highness," he said in a surprisingly commanding voice. "Your planet is in danger. Your people are in danger. You are in danger. We must get you out of here immediately."

"You, sir, are the one in danger," Lunaria scoffed. "In case you hadn't noticed: I. Haven't. Had. My. Juice."

There was an enormous crash somewhere in another wing of the palace. Adora gave a short yip of alarm. The old man stepped into Lunaria's room and closed the door quickly. "If you please," he said warmly, though there was a nervous edge to his voice. "I am Chamberlin, the senior butler in Athenia's royal court."

"You're Chamberlin," Lunaria echoed, putting one hand on her hip. She batted her golden eyes and said, "And I am waiting. For my juice."

Chamberlin heaved a sigh, then rustled around in a small spacepack that had been strapped to his stooped shoulders. With a grim smile, he pulled out a wrinkled silver drink pouch. He thrust it at the princess. "Drink up and let's go, Princess."

She stared at the container of orange liquid, horrified. "What is that?"

"Juice," the old man grumbled. "Sort of." With a subtle roll of his eyes, Chamberlin pulled a small straw off the back of the juice pack and pushed it into the pouch. He held it out in front of Lunaria's face again and said, "I always keep one of these with me in case of emergencies. Drink, Your Highness."

She reached forward, offered him a small, inauthentic smile, and took the juice. A moment later, she shrieked and shoved the pouch back into his hands. "It's cold!" she said. "I don't hold cold things. I need you to wrap it in a cozy. Or you must hold it for me. My hands are delicate."

Chamberlin closed his eyes as another crash rang out somewhere below them. He muttered, "I will not hold it for you. Unless your hands are broken, you can hold your own juice. My service to the galaxy is keeping you and four other princesses safe, not feeding you. I am your bodyguard and your guide. And you are not a baby."

Lunaria's mouth flew open. "How dare you speak to me in such a way! I'll have you fired."

"You will do no such thing," Chamberlin said curtly. "Your Highness, you and I will be spending quite a lot of time together whether you like it or not. I have been given the rather, uh ... unpleasant ... task of ushering you to safety. So-called Empress Geela is coming for you at any moment. As the senior butler in the Pentangle court, your parents have charged me with the task of getting you and the other four Princesses of the Pentangle somewhere safe."

Lunaria took a small sip of juice. Then her face dropped. For a moment, it seemed as if she felt somewhat bad for her stubborn attitude. But a second later she whispered, "I'm supposed to share a butler with four other princesses?"

Suddenly, thundering footsteps filled the hallway outside the princess's chamber. As Chamberlin peeked through the crack in the door, his face paled. He reached out and locked the door. "We must go. Now. All the servants are fleeing — if we don't go immediately, while there is a good amount of activity in the corridor, we will be noticed."

"Chambermaid ..." Lunaria said, holding up a hand. "Or whatever you said your name is? Hold on a sec. I just need to pack."

"Pack?" Chamberlin coughed. "There isn't time. You could be captured."

"Captured?" Lunaria asked. "You are so dramatic."

"Perhaps I haven't made myself clear: Your parents have already been taken prisoner. If we fail in our escape, Empress Geela will also take you — and me — prisoner." The butler looked around Princess Lunaria's room, taking in the lush decor, three walk-in closets filled with elegant fashion, and a small fortune worth of lotions, powders, and makeup. Thinking quickly, Chamberlin said, "If you are caught, you will be forced to wear a shapeless jumpsuit, fed grilled space sardines, and locked in a dry cell ... without moisturizers or lipstick."

Lunaria choked back a sob as loud voices echoed in the front hall of the palace below. Chamberlin had finally gotten through to her.

Adora hopped off the bed, scampered over, and weaved in and out of Lunaria's legs. The princess picked her up and nuzzled her face into the soft fur. She whimpered, "Geela took my parents? She is here now?"

Chamberlin looked nervously toward the door, then nodded. "Now, Your Highness. I am sorry to deliver such difficult news."

"What should we do?" she asked, panicking.

The butler looked around Lunaria's chamber, searching for some way to hide the princess. His eyes finally settled on an enormous rolling laundry hamper tucked into the far corner of the room. "In here," he said, pushing the hamper toward the door. "Hop in here and hide beneath the dirty clothes."

The princess's eyes bulged. "Never."

Chamberlin gulped as someone pounded on the door. "You must."

"I won't!" The pounding got louder. Someone rattled the latch. Then the door began to shake and vibrate — someone was slicing through the lock on Lunaria's beautiful, hand-carved mahogany door with a laser cutter. The princess looked from the door to the laundry hamper, her eyes wild. Adora hopped into the hamper without a second thought. She was a creature that didn't handle danger (or dirt) well.

"Would you like one more sip of juice before we go?" Chamberlin offered generously.

Lunaria reached out and grabbed the juice pouch. Then, just as the door was blasted open, she launched herself into the hamper full of dirty linens. Chamberlin dropped the lid closed just as two of Geela's soldiers raced into the room.

"Have you seen the princess?" Lunaria heard one of them bark out as Chamberlin rolled her toward the door and safety.

"She is in the spa," Chamberlin said, his voice shaking slightly. "Getting her nails done, I believe." Then he tipped the hamper, rolled it into the hall, and hustled toward the exit as fast as his creaky limbs would allow.

Inside the hamper, both Adora and Lunaria whined quietly as Chamberlin whisked them toward a waiting escape ship. What the precious princess and her pampered pet had yet to realize was this: hiding inside a basket of dirty linens was bad ... but what was to come was much, much worse.

CHAPTER 2

JUNO


On the other side of the Pentangle Galaxy, Princess Junoia Atley-Wolford was just finishing up her morning run along the cliff's edge when she sensed danger. Slowing to a jog, she tilted her head to one side, listening intently for unfamiliar sounds. There were low booming sounds coming from the other side of the forest — near the capitol. Junoia's pet and running companion, Skitter, stilled beside her and sniffed at the air.

Junoia listened, her ears picking out all the strange sounds. At the age of ten, Junoia had spent a month learning to survive — and thrive — in the barren outlands on her home planet. As was the custom on the planet Junoia, the princess had been forced to earn her independence by living on her own with no supervision or support. During that time, she had developed excellent instincts and a fighter's strength. Now, at fifteen, those instincts often proved helpful. Later, her strength would be a true asset as well.

The booming continued. It was unfamiliar to hear such a mechanical sound in the forested landscape. "What is that, Skitter?" Junoia asked, narrowing her dark violet eyes.

Snort snort, Skitter replied. Then the purple fluff ball held its breath and began to grow. When shy Skitter felt threatened, the little critter could puff up to twenty times her usual size.

"Hold off, pal," Junoia cautioned her. She patted Skitter on the back. "We don't know what those sounds are, and I don't want you calling any unwanted attention our way."

Skitter stopped growing and released little pfft-pfft sounds from her backside. With each little puff of air, the critter began to shrink again.

Suddenly, a form stepped out of the swirling morning mist. It approached the princess and Skitter slowly, but with purpose. Princess Junoia's body tensed, ready for a fight.

There was something about the way the stranger moved that told her to hold off from attacking. Although it was difficult, she kept herself from lunging at the stranger. She had a sense that whoever it was did not mean to harm her. She stepped toward the stranger cautiously, and a moment later the stooped figure called out, "Princess Junoia Atley-Wolford?"

"What's it to you?" the princess called back. Skitter snuffed at the dirt on the hillside, then began pawing at the ground like a miniature bull. She — like her master — was always ready for a fight.

"I'm here to lead you to safety," the man said, his voice just loud enough to reach her.

Junoia snorted. The guy — now she could see that the creature was male, and he appeared to be very old — looked capable of leading no one to safety. Leading someone to a tea party, maybe. But to safety? Not a chance. He looked so frail that Junoia was shocked he hadn't yet been blown away by the wind blasting along the cliff's edge. "You want to lead me to safety?" she asked. "Safety from what, exactly?"

"Empress Geela, Your Highness," the man told her. "My name is Chamberlin, and I am the senior butler on the planet of Athenia."

Junoia put her hands on her slim, athletic hips. "If you're a butler on Athenia, what in the name of Grock are you doing here on Junoia? I hate to break it to you, but a guy like you doesn't really belong up here on the cliffs. A rough gust could blow you away like spacegrass."

"I will explain everything in time, Your Highness, but for now, allow me to lead you to safety. It is my solemn duty."

The princess tried not to laugh. "Okay, you do that."

She watched, amused, as Chamberlin scanned the rugged landscape of her beloved home planet. If he were hoping a lighted path would appear out of the mist to show him the way to safety, he was going to be sorely disappointed. Maybe that's the sort of thing that happened on other planets in her galaxy, but not here. On Junoia you had to make your own path. "I thought ..." the butler muttered. "I thought I'd come from that way, but no ... ah ... where was that landing bay?"

Chamberlin rubbed his chin. Junoia choked back a laugh. She stuffed her hands in her pockets and cocked her head. "Lost, are you? Who's supposed to be saving whom here?"

Princess Junoia had heard just enough about the princesses on the other planets of the Pentangle to be certain that she was the least princess-like of them all. They were all probably made of nothing but big hair and fancy gowns and snobby voices — unlike her family, who were super laid back and knew how to laugh and have fun like regular people. And they could also save themselves. They didn't need a butler to hold their hands when the going got rough.

If she had sensed any threat at all from Chamberlin, Junoia wouldn't have hesitated to leave the old guy stranded in the mist. But the royal butler seemed like a decent enough fellow. And from what she could tell, he truly did seem to believe she was in some sort of danger. "C'mon," she said, waving him in the direction of the capitol. "Let me lead you back to the palace."

"No!" Chamberlin said in an urgent voice. "We mustn't return to your home. Empress Geela is waiting for you there. I promised your parents I would lead you to safety — away from Junoia. Beyond this galaxy, even."

Junoia narrowed her eyes at him. "My parents told you to take care of me? You must think I'm a fool. I've been capable of taking care of myself since I was ten. They would never ask a crusty old butler to feed me and wash my clothes."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Spacepop: Not Your Average Princesses by Erin Downing, Jen Bartel. Copyright © 2016 Genius Brands. Excerpted by permission of Macmillan.
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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