So, I’ve been looking for some new middle-grade fiction for my nieces & nephews. I think OMG… I Did It Again? by Talia Aikens-Nuñez looks promising.
What do you think?
* from Goodreads
“Ahhh!” April Appleton sat up in bed and let out a gasp. Breathe. Breathe. Her chest went up and down from her heavy breathing.
Boom, Boom, BOOM, BOOM! The noise was getting louder and louder. The closer it came, the more her bed shook.
Is that an earthquake? Is there construction going on? Is that thunder? What is that?
Her whole body vibrated with each ‘boom’. Her clock banged against the wall. The framed pictures bounced and danced on her desk. Her posters flipped and flapped on the wall.
She threw her legs off the bed and jumped up. Scurrying to look out her bedroom window, there she saw it. The lump in her throat grew. One, two, three, four, then she stopped counting. She saw them marching down the street. They were larger than they were in her dream. But they were the exact same color. Huge, grey, wrinkled elephants were marching down the street.
She grabbed her cell phone from the desk. She jumped back into her bed and pulled the comforter over her head, as if that would stop what was happening outside.
She swallowed hard. With her fingers shaking she typed:
TO: Eve LaRue, Grace Galapagos
She squeezed her eyes tightly together, and hoped this was still a dream. She pinched herself. Ouch. This isn’t a dream.
Then, memories flashed before her eyes. She remembered Googling a spell to turn her pestering older brother, Austin, into a dog. Then him teasing her on the bus. Poof. The spell worked! She panicked and texted Grace, her best friend who was in fifth grade with her. Grace knew Eve, a new student in school who moved to their town from New Orleans. Eve told April about her grandma who also had magical powers. Eve gave April her Book of Magie, her spell book. April remembered using her powers to turn Austin back into an angry, red-faced boy. It all came back to her. OMG … I am a witch! Her breath quickened.
The loud footsteps of the elephants grew louder and louder. And everything shook more and more.
She opened her eyes and exhaled. Still under her comforter, the sun streamed through the large pink polka dots. She blinked hard just to make sure all this was real.
With the phone close to her face, she typed:
“OMG … I did it again?!”
With a whoosh, the door to her bedroom opened. She hit the send button.
Holding her breath, she peered over the top of the covers. Austin stood in the doorway with his arms crossed and glaring at her. His foot was tapping. He walked into her room and closed the door behind him. April slowly pulled the covers down to show her face.
His eyes locked on the cell phone. He stomped over to April, grabbed it out of her hands and read the most recently sent message.
“I knew it!” he yelled at her. “You did this,” he said pointing out the window at the elephants. “You did it AGAIN!”
“Austin, please don’t yell. Mom and Dad might hear you,” April pleaded. She was breathing heavily.
Her cell phone rang. April grabbed the phone back. Please be them. Please be them. She looked at the screen:
‘Grace calling …’
“It’s Grace, see?” April extended her arm to show the phone to Austin. “She and Eve will help me fix this.”
Her hands quivered as she answered the phone, “Hello?”
“So you’re the reason the circus is going down the street, huh?” Grace said with her typical sarcasm.
“Oh, sweet pea, you did it again, huh?” Eve asked, with her sing-songy Southern accent. They had their phone on speaker. But April pressed her phone tightly to her ear.
April hung her head low. Her eyes filled with water. As a tear fell, Austin came closer to her. He put a hand on her shoulder. She lifted her head and wiped the tears away.
“I know you can fix this. You fixed me and you can fix this,” Austin said looking into her eyes. His voice was much calmer and lower.
“Even your former furball brother knows you can fix this,” Grace said with a chuckle. April cracked a smile.
Austin glared at the cellphone. “What did Grace say?”
April cleared her throat. “She said that was really sweet, what you said.”
“I didn’t say that,” Grace spoke louder. “I said, he’d better watch out or you could turn him back into a FURBALL!”
Austin reached out to grab the phone. April stepped backwards to avoid his reach. “Wait a minute, you two. We have to fix this — not fight. Austin, can you go keep Mom and Dad busy? Grace and Eve, where are you guys?”
“We’re at Grace’s house. Remember, we were all going to meet at the park? My mom dropped me off earlier this morning,” Eve said.
“That’s right! The whole elephant thing kinda threw me off this morning,” April was talking really fast and throwing her left arm in the air. She started to pace.
“I know this whole being a witch thing is dramatic, but, save the drama for yo mama,” Grace said with attitude.
“If you were in my situation you would be freaking out too!” April quipped back.
Eve jumped in, “Whoa, whoa, girls, girls. We have to stick together and then we will figure out how to handle this. April, sweet pea, start from the beginning and explain, how exactly did you do this?”
Thud!Thud! Thud! The steps of the elephants were coming closer and closer. Everything in April’s room was bouncing and vibrating. “Well, it all started when I was —” April started.
“April! Austin! Kids, where are you!” April’s mom screamed up the stairs.
April stopped speaking. April and Austin froze. Austin’s eyes bulged. April held her breath.
“April?” Eve asked. “Where did you go?”
“I’m here,” April whispered. “My mother is calling me and Austin. What should we do?”
“OK. Here’s the plan. Tell Austin to stall your parents. April, you grab the spell book. I think we left it under your bed. Bring it over here and then Eve will help us find a spell to fix this. And, you can tell us how you did this. OK?” Grace sounded determined.
“Sounds good. See you soon,” April said as she hung up the phone. “Austin, you go stall mom and dad. I am going to bring the Book of Magie over to Grace’s so Eve can help me read it to find a spell to fix this.” She grabbed her book bag and put in the spell book and her cell phone. Slinging the bag over her shoulder, she grunted.
April looked at Austin. His face was pale. His mouth was slightly open and he looked like he was having trouble breathing. She held Austin’s hands. She swallowed hard.
“Austin, we can fix this. I know we can. I just need your help. I need you to go downstairs and distract Mom and Dad. I will text Mom reminding her that I am going to Grace’s. I’m going to sneak downstairs and go out the back door.”
“OK. I can do that,” Austin sighed. He walked out of April’s room. “Mom!” he yelled. “I’m right here. What’s going on?” Austin ran down the stairs to meet his mother who was in the kitchen.
April scurried out her door and peered over the hallway banister. She looked down the stairs. She heard Austin talking super fast to their mother. April smiled. She ran back into her room and closed the door.
She walked over to her bed and put her book bag on it. She opened it and found her cell phone. She texted:
“Mom: I’ll be at Grace’s.”
She hit ‘Send’.
April quickly tossed the phone back into the book bag, put it on and ran out of her room. She flew down the stairs. She reached for the knob of the back door.
“Where are you going, young lady?” she heard the familiar voice ask. April froze. She slowly turned her head to the side and saw her father standing there holding his cup of coffee.
“I … I … I … um … I’m going to Grace’s,” April said, as she started to feel butterflies in her stomach.
“Well, right now may not be the best time for you to be outside,” April’s father said as he looked out the window at the elephants marching down the street.
April’s mother rushed to the door with her cell phone in her hand. Red-faced she said, “Oh no, missy. You are staying put until they figure out what the heck is going on out there.” She had one hand on her hip and the other hand that held the phone pointed outside.
Austin came trailing behind his mother. “But, Mom … but, Mom,” Austin pleaded.
“END of discussion,” their mother declared. April knew that fiery look in her mother’s eyes. Her mother was not going to let her out of the house.
April went back upstairs to her bedroom and closed the door. She put the book bag down and pulled out the cell phone. As her fingers pressed the buttons, her heartbeat quickened. What am I going to do? Her shaking fingers pressed the ‘Send’ button.
Grace and Eve answered on speaker, “Hello?” Grace asked.
“Where are you?” Eve asked.
“My helicopter mother won’t let me out of the house. Can you guys come here?” April asked.
“I guess we’ll have to,” Grace said. “My mother is downstairs right now freaking out because of this little elephant parade you created and Michael is at a park with his friend across town. Actually, I may be able to make that work for us. Hmmm … let me see if I can make this happen. I’ll call you back.” Grace hung up the phone before April could respond.
April took the spell book out of the bag. She ran her hand across the rough leather cover. The raised edges looked like they may have been gold at one point in the past. She opened the book. The binding made a cracking sound and the smell of a cozy library rose up to greet her. She gently turned the pages. The pages were so thin they were almost like tissue paper. April studied the words as she turned the pages. She really wanted to be able to read the book on her own. She told her mother she wanted to learn French. So, her mother bought her a French/English dictionary and signed her up for French classes for the upcoming summer. April used the dictionary all the time.
She turned to a page that had a light pencil drawing at the top. The drawing looked like it was of a person sleeping in a bed. But, there was another drawing next to it that looked like it was the same person standing. The drawing showed the wind blowing and the person with her eyes closed as if she were sleepwalking or flying in her sleep.
Above the drawing, in cursive, the words, Rêver Magie were written. April put down the book and reached for her French/English dictionary on her desk. Just as she opened it, her bedroom door flew open. April’s heart raced. She jumped off the bed and dropped both the dictionary and the spell book on the carpet. As they fell to the ground she heard a page tear
April looked up from the book to the door and exhaled. “Whew. I’m glad to see you guys,” April said to Grace and Eve who were panting in her doorway. She ran over and gave them both a huge hug. Then she gasped.
“Oh no! The Book of Magie. I heard it tear.” April walked over to it and slowly picked it up and turned it over. Her eyes scanned the pages. Luckily, it was only a small tear at the top of the page.
Eve walked over and looked at the book over April’s shoulder. Her eyes narrowed as she looked closer at the page. “Well, shut my mouth.”
Grace looked at Eve like she had ten heads. “Please do translate what that means?”
Eve rolled her eyes then looked at April. They both sat down on the edge of the bed. Eve’s eyes were as wide as saucers. “April, dear, did you — can you understand what page you were on? Do you understand what you were looking at?”
“Well, not really. I was just about to use my dictionary,” April said, looking at the dictionary on the floor. “But then you guys came in and startled me. Wait, how did you guys get over here?”
Grace jumped up with a big smile on her face. She threw her arms up in the air. Grace was so dramatic. It often seemed like she belonged in a play or a movie. “Well, you know me. I always can come up with a plan. My mother was FREAKING out about Michael being across town, since, you know, the elephants came to town. I knew just how we could get over here because your mother wasn’t going to let you come to my house. I went to her and said …” Grace walked closer to April. She placed her hand on April’s shoulder and looked into April’s eyes. Grace blinked a few times and made a concerned face. “… I said, ‘Mom, why don’t you go get Michael since you are so worried and Eve and I will go to Mr. and Mrs. Appleton’s house. We will be safe there.’ She completely bought it! She brought us here as fast as she could. Then she took off to go get Michael.” Grace’s voice became quieter, “I hope she drove safely by those elephants.” Grace looked off into the distance.
April raised an eyebrow and looked at Grace. “You are sometimes a little too tricky for your own good.”
“If that ain’t the truth,” Eve said with a smile.
“Tricky? I’m the tricky one? I’m not the one who put the elephants on the street. By the way, it stinks outside! It smells worse than the bathroom smells after my dad is in there for a while. Those elephants are pooping up and down the street. Everywhere!”
“Anyway, Eve,” April said turning to face Eve. “What was that thing you just said about shutting up?” April asked as she furrowed her brow.
Eve tilted her head to the side like she was thinking. “Ohh, you mean when I said, ‘well shut my mouth’.” She laughed. “You’re funny. Well that means … oh never mind what it means. I was just surprised when I was reading this page that you were reading in the Book of Magie.”
“So, why is that surprising?” Grace asked as she sat on the bed next to Eve and April. Grace was very focused on what Eve was saying.
Eve ran her hand across the torn top of the page where the pencil drawing was of the person sleeping in bed. She lightly smoothed out the crinkled top.
“Well, this page is about doing magic in your dreams. So, April, how exactly did you make these elephants appear? What happened?”
April passed the book to Eve and looked down at her hands. She started picking at her nails. “I really was trying to help,” she said as a lump grew in her throat.
Grace touched her hand. “April, we know that you did not want to do anything bad. Just tell us what happened.” April raised her head. Her eyes scanned her room. On the wall, she noticed one of her art projects of an elephant with his trunk raised. She remembered that her mom told her that trinkets or pictures of elephants with their trunks up are good luck. Oh, Mom I hope you are right. I need some good luck now. April let out a heavy sigh.
Eve used her one free hand to pat her friend’s back.
“Well, in school, my class has been trying to help the elephants, right?” Beads of sweat formed on April’s nose. Her new glasses slid down to the tip of her nose. She pushed them back up.
“That’s right. And you are part of the Save the Elephants Club too,” Eve said nodding her head. Eve put her hands back on the book. Eve and Grace were in the other fifth grade class and they were working on different projects.
“Yes, one night on the Discovery Channel, my dad and I watched this documentary about what’s happening to the elephants in Africa and Asia. The elephants were so cute and they looked so happy with their babies. But, there are these people that hurt them and kill them. Did you know that in ten years the elephants might be extinct?”
Heat rose into April’s face. “Did you know that people are killing them for their ivory tusks? They are just big, harmless animals.” April balled her hand into a fist. She pressed her nails into her hand. “They have been on Earth forever. It’s not right that people are killing them!”
“Whoa, April, calm down. We agree.” Eve assured her.
“We SO agree,” Grace made her eyes really big.
“So, in class, I wrote a letter to the President about why we need to do something to help the elephants.” April took a deep breath. “Some other kids also wrote letters to the President, Congress people and other government people,” April spoke quickly, without taking a breath.
“Didn’t you do that march for elephants a few weeks ago?” Grace asked as she got up and walked to the window.
“Yes! My dad, mom, Austin and I marched to raise money to help protect the elephants,” April smiled. “There were so many people there and we raised a lot of money. My mom said we can do the march again next year!”
“That is really awesome that you are an elephant lover and all; but how did we get from you loving elephants to me watching this elephant poop on Mrs. Smith’s deck, then go take a bath in her pool?” Grace asked as she pointed out the window.
Eve and April jumped up and walked over to the window. They pushed their heads in front of Grace’s to look.
“Oh my,” Eve said as she put her hand in front of her mouth.
By Talia Aikens-Nunez, Alicja Ignaczak
Central Avenue Marketing Ltd.
Copyright © 2016 Talia Aikens-Nunez
All rights reserved.
|Publisher & Date:||May 1st 2016 by Central Avenue Publishing|
|Genre:||Middle Grade Fiction, Fantasy|
|ISBN:||1771680342 (ISBN13: 9781771680349)|
OMG… Am I a Witch?!
OMG… I Did It Again?!
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