This season’s dispatch from Babyville goes straight out to the kids! Here’s a sneak peek into my new chapter book series, The Fix-It Friends, published this May by Macmillan Kids’ Imprint.
The idea for this series came from years of watching my kids and their pals wrestle with challenges, both big and small. I thought it would be awesome, and fun, and helpful to write a series of books which showed smart, tough, kind kids working together to solve real problems. So I did. And here’s a little glimpse for you!
My name’s Veronica Conti and I’m seven. That means I’ve had seven whole years to learn things. Here’s what I’ve figured out so far:
1. Everything tastes better when you put whipped cream on it. Even peas. Even—blegh! ugh! mercy!—broccoli.
2. When your big brother is acting super annoying, just pretend that a UFO is about to touch down any second and steal him. It makes you feel a lot better.
3. Everyone has problems.
Even worms have problems. I learned that when I tried to give my pet worm Walter a suntan. I left him on a big rock for a few hours, and when I came back, he was as dead as a doornail.
Grown-ups think kids don’t have problems. They think just because you’re a kid, your life is easy-peasy, all butterflies and rainbows and whipped cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ha!
I have a whole bunch of problems:
1. My big brother, Jude, who is nine.
3. My dad’s allergic to dogs, so I can’t have one even though I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really want one.
4. Did I mention Jude?
Thankfully, I’m pretty great at solving problems. Which is why I decided to start the Fix-It Friends. Maya was my first client. In fact, Maya was sort of the whole reason I started the group to begin with.
I met Maya on the first day of second grade. At recess, which is my favorite part of school. The rest of school can be pretty boring.
“It can’t be all boring!” my mom always says, as cheery and bright as a big yellow sunflower.
“Oh yes, it can.”
“What about writing workshop?”
“Writing makes my hand hurt.”
“Reading too much gives me a headache.”
“Are you kidding?” I say. “I’d rather eat a bathtub full of broccoli than do subtraction.”
“Broccoli is very high in calcium,” my mom says.
“Not the point, Mom,” I remind her.
“What about recess?
” She’s got me there. Recess is the super-supreme best. It’s when I get to see all my friends and turn cartwheels and jump rope and play tag, which is my all-time favorite! These are the people I play tag with almost every day:
1. Cora, who is my best friend. She has naturally curly hair, which is red, and freckles on her cheeks. If she were a dog, she would be a poodle. Sometimes I get jealous of her because I have always wanted red hair and curly hair and freckles and she has all three, which kind of isn’t fair. She says she is sometimes jealous of my hair, which is straight and blond, but I think she is just being polite. Cora is always polite. She loves school, even the most boring parts like practicing penmanship.
2. Camille, who is Cora’s twin sister. They’re identical. The really weird thing is that they have two five-year-old brothers named Bo and Lou who are twins, too! I am not even kidding. Camille has curly red hair just like Cora’s, but her hair is always cut short, and it’s a lot messier. Sometimes I find bits of twigs and leaves in her hair, and once there was even a big acorn in there! Camille is a whiz with balls, especially basketballs. She can spin one on her fingertip like a pro! If she were a dog, I think she’d be a cocker spaniel.
3. Minerva, who everyone calls Minnie for short. Her grandma is from Puerto Rico, so she taught Minnie how to speak Spanish, and Minnie can say absolutely anything. She has taught me how to say important stuff in Spanish, like “No brócoli para mí gracias. Si me lo como, yo podria morir ,” which means “No broccoli for me, thanks. If I eat it, I could die.”
Minnie can play the piano with both hands at the same time. In fact, she is so good at the piano that she can sometimes play without even looking at her hands! She has silky black hair, which she wears in two braids, and she is very tall and skinny, just like a greyhound.
4. Noah, who is the shortest boy in the second grade and also the fastest runner. He reminds me of a beagle because of his enormous brown eyes and floppy brown hair. Noah is the quiet type, which is my favorite type for a boy to be. He is kind of mysterious, but I do know a few things about him. He absolutely hates when people talk about him being short, and he absolutely loves playing soccer. He wears a soccer jersey to school every single day. I think it’s because of his dad, who used to be a famous soccer star in Brazil. Now his dad has his own sports show named after him, called The Rafael Rocha Radio Hour, so I think he is still kind of famous . . . or his voice is, anyway.
So that’s my tag group, and we have been playing together since first grade. Sometimes other kids join our tag game, and sometimes Jude comes over with his best friend, Ezra, and they teach us new kinds of tag like Air Tag and Backwards Tag and Dog Tag. Whenever we play Dog Tag, I’m a golden retriever because if I were a dog, that’s the breed I would be. Guess what kind Jude pretends to be? None! He is always the dogcatcher.
Usually, though, it’s just the five of us who play. Except if one of us is sick or injured. If you are really sick or injured, you go to the nurse, but if you are just a tad hurt, you sit on top of your lunch box by the fence.
I feel so sorry for the people who have to do that. It happened to me once, when I knocked my head into Camille’s head and we both had to spend the rest of recess sitting by the fence. It was pure torture, I tell you!
So there I was, on the first day of second grade, at recess with the tag group. Except Minerva was missing.
“Hey, where’s Minnie?” I asked.
“She has a headache, so Miss Tibbs told her to sit by the fence,” squeaked Cora.
Cora has a super-squeaky voice. I can imitate her voice, and it always cracks her up. She sort of sounds like she’s a mouse trapped in a girl’s body. What makes it extra funny is that Camille’s voice is real low and raspy, like a crocodile’s.
“Minnie is by the fence?” I asked.
I gasped. Gasping is my favorite sound effect. It makes people sit up and pay attention.
“Then what are we WAITING FOR?” I shouted. “Our friend needs us!!
” I dashed over to the fence. Sure enough, there was Minnie. Her hair was in two neat braids as usual, and she was wearing a beautiful red headband, too. Minnie looked tired. She was leaning her chin on her hand.
“HERE I AM, MINNIE!!” I shouted.
“Oh NO!” I yelled. “What can I DO?”
“Well, maybe you could talk a little quieter?” she asked with a smile.
“Oh yes, of course!” I whispered. “Hey, maybe you have a headache from that headband. It might be pinching your brain.” I love headbands, but I can never wear them for more than two minutes because they make me feel like a giant is squeezing my head in his fist.
The other kids ran up and asked Minnie questions, like had someone been using a jackhammer too close to her, or had she eaten extra cold ice cream too fast? But I wasn’t listening, because that’s when I noticed Maya.
HAVE NO FEAR!
By Nicole C. Kear
Illustrated by Tracy Dockray
Want to read more of Have No Fear!, and the second book in The Fix-It Friends series, Sticks and Stones? Look for them at your local bookstore or library! To find out more about the series, and play cool games, visit fixitfriendsbooks.com