Nine-year-old Willis Wilbur had his summer figured out. He and his best friend, Shelley, were going to Band Camp, and he was going to learn how to play the sousaphone. Easy. Simple. A done deal. But when Shelley is whisked off to Hawaii for a summer with her family, Willis is left staring down the long, boring road of an empty summer. Or even worseeight long weeks of Day Camp. So Willis decides to try something new. He's going to MAKE A DATE WITH DESTINY. And after spotting a flyer for a local business competition, he finds exactly what his true calling really is: becoming the Neighborhood Life Coach. A kid helping other kids with kids' problems. His niche, he discovers. And he was going to be great at it. The best at it. So good, that he was going to become wildly, ridiculously famous. All he needed were some clients...
With gumption, tenacity, and many other buzzwords he finds in self-help business magazines, Willis dives bowtie-first into the entrepreneurial waters. But starting a business alone, especially without his best friend by his side, is tough work. And with neighborhood bullies getting in his way, a guinea pig client who's actually a guinea pig, and an annoyingly competent little sister asking for a raise, Willis has his work cut out for him.
Funny, heartfelt, and overwhelmingly endearing, Willis Wilbur is here to make all of your (well, his) dreams come true. (For a small fee.)
About the Author
Working from his home studio in leafy Amersham on the outskirts of London, Daniel Duncan is a children’s illustrator specializing in picture books. He likes creating vibrant characters in engaging and detailed environments, using earthy colors and textures.
Read an Excerpt
Finishing third grade was a big deal. Though maybe finishing isn’t a strong enough word. Accomplishing? Conquering. That’s it. Third grade was the end of the middle. Third grade was finally being old enough to play four square, but never making it to the A square. Third grade was moving into bigger fractions and science experiments. There was nothing little about third grade.
But fourth grade? Fourth grade would be difficult division and long book reports. Important secrets. Maybe some of us would start wearing deodorant. We would be “upperclassmen.” Not only would I be older than many of the kids at Green Slope Elementary, but also taller. Wiser. Fourth grade was a responsibility I was thrilled to accept.
On the last day of third grade, I gave Mrs. Harding a “Teachers Are Tubular!” mug before heading into the cafeteria for the yearbook signing party. My best friend, Shelley Kalani, was in the office, talking to her mom. Mrs. Kalani was the school nurse, which was a busy job during the last days of school. Too many kids throwing books or tripping as they ran in circles screaming “Summer!”
In a few more days Shelley and I would be leaving for six whole weeks of summer band camp. So, when I wasn’t signing yearbooks, I was adding to my list of extra stuff I still needed to pack. Things you might forget, like a water bottle or an essential oil diffuser.
I hoped Shelley would hurry, so I could use her gel pen collection. In the meantime I had to sign everyone’s yearbooks with a regular blue pen, which is just as embarrassing as it sounds. My name just looks better in teal. On the plus side I’d worked on my cursive signature all night. My wrist was sore, but at least I’d come up with the perfect phrase to write in everyone’s book. Here, look:
Hope you have a busy summer. Go make something of yourself!
PS Call me sometime. We’ll catch up:
I bet when my name comes up months from now, kids would say, Willis Wilbur? The guy with the clever yearbook advice?
Finally, Shelley ran through the cafeteria doors. I should tell you—Shelley doesn’t just spontaneously run, not unless she’s on the softball field. She’s far more collected than that. Have you ever heard the saying “Calm as a clam”? That’s Shelley. (Except I say “calm as a shell,” since Shell is her nickname. We always laugh at that one.)
“Willis! Willis! You’re not going to believe it.” Shelley slid into a seat next to me. I held up my hand to show that I had to finish with this autograph, but once I was done, she had my full attention.
“You got four new gel pen colors?” I asked.
Her face fell. "Oh yeah. I forgot to get those."
Ugh, my little blue pen just got sadder. Maybe I could trade Caleb Ito some gum for his red pen.
“Listen to what happened.” Shelley grabbed my arm. “My mom! Got a job!” She continued to talk really fast, but all I could catch were words like summer nurse and Hawaii.
“Hawaii?” I repeated. I knew that Shelley moved here from Hawaii in kindergarten. But in that moment I kind of forgot where Hawaii was. Not that close to Green Slope, Colorado, right? Where’s a map when you need it?
“Yes! Mom applied for a job. She’s gonna be a nurse at a fancy camp in Oahu. It’s close to my aunty’s house. There’s a place to stay!”
“So you get to visit your mom in Hawaii after we go to band camp?” Maybe they’d invite me to come along, too. Wow, Hawaii! Now I remembered—an archipelago of islands in the Pacific Ocean. Maybe we’d visit a national park or botanical garden and I would use a word like archipelago and the guide would be so impressed that he’d say, Hold on, I have to talk to my manager. They would come over and offer me a job as Kid Administrator of Hawaii, and I could help other kids traveling there find cool places to visit. Not the ocean, though—I hate swimming—but land stuff like easy hikes and historic sites! People forget there’s a lot of cool things on land.
Huh, I’m not sure what I would wear as an official Kid Administrator of Hawaii, but there’s still time to mood board—
“Willis!” Shelley waved her hand in my face. “Don’t start imagining yourself as president of the Pacific, okay?”
“I’m not.” Because I wasn’t. There’s no such thing as president of an ocean, anyway.
“Good. Because . . . because I’m going to Hawaii. Tomorrow, actually. With my mom. And brothers. We’re staying with my cousins. It’s been two years. My mom got a last minute deal on the flights. I’m gonna surf and eat musubi to the max. I’ll be there for—”
“Okay,” I interrupted. “I’ll miss you for a week, but—”
“The whole summer.” She dropped her gaze. “Willis. I . . . I can’t go with you to band camp.”