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Karens big move, p.1
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       Karen's Big Move, p.1

           Ann M. Martin
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Karen's Big Move

  The author gratefully acknowledges

  Jan Carr

  for her help

  with this book.


  Title Page


  1 Let’s Go to Chicago!

  2 Karen, the Expert Mover

  3 Kristy’s New Puppy

  4 Flip a Coin

  5 Ghosts and Goblins

  6 Karen’s Important Announcement

  7 The Two Musketeers

  8 Miles and Miles of Piles

  9 Karen Helps Nannie

  10 Surprise!

  11 More Good-byes

  12 Good-bye, Stoneybrook!

  13 Hello, Chicago!

  14 Seeing the Sights

  15 Museum Fun

  16 Bikes and Balls

  17 A Long Morning

  18 A Very Bad Stomachache

  19 A Talk with Andrew

  20 Home, Sweet Home

  About the Author

  Also Available


  Let’s Go to Chicago!

  Home again, home again. It was my first night back at the little house. I opened my suitcase and took out a sweatshirt.

  “Hey, Karen,” said Andrew. He walked into my room. Andrew is my little brother. He is four going on five, and he can be a real pain. “I made up a new song,” he said. “Do you want to hear it?”

  “Not now, Andrew,” I said. “I am unpacking.”

  Andrew did not pay any attention. He started to sing loudly. Actually, it sounded more like shouting. The words of his song went like this:

  “Let’s go to Chicago! Chicago! Chicago! Go, go, go, Chicago! Chicago is great!”

  I put down my sweatshirt and looked at Andrew. I knew he was worried. My family was planning to move to Chicago for six months, and I had promised Andrew that I would go too. But now I was not so sure. It was a problem. A very big problem.

  Maybe I should tell you who I am. My name is Karen Brewer and I am seven years old. I am in the second grade at Stoneybrook Academy. I have blonde hair and blue eyes, and I wear glasses.

  Until now, I have always lived in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. Sometimes I live with my mommy in a little house, and sometimes I live with my daddy in a big house. (That is why I could decide not to move to Chicago. I could stay with my daddy at the big house if I wanted. I will tell you all about my two houses soon.)

  Mommy came into my room.

  “Welcome back, Karen,” she said. She gave me a big hug. Then she looked me in the eye. Uh-oh. I was afraid she was going to ask me if I had made my decision yet. But she did not. “Do you have any dirty laundry?” she said instead. “I am just about to put in a load of wash.”

  Whew! I pulled some dirty socks and a dirty shirt out of my suitcase. I handed them to Mommy.

  “Thanks,” I said.

  Mommy started to leave the room. Then she stopped and turned around.

  “Karen,” she said, “have you made up your mind yet? Are you going to come to Chicago with us? Or have you decided to stay in Stoneybrook?”

  “Well,” I said slowly. “I am still thinking.”

  “Then maybe you should leave out your suitcase. Every time you think of something you might want to take to Chicago, you could put it right in. That way you will not forget anything.”

  “Good idea,” I said. Starting to pack seemed easy enough to me. It did not mean that I had to go. It just meant I had to think about going.

  Hmm. What would I need? It was spring, the beginning of April. I might still need a sweatshirt. I laid my sweatshirt back in the suitcase.

  Andrew started to dance around in front of me.

  “Chicago!” he sang more loudly. “Chicago! Let’s go to Chicago!”

  “Andrew!” I shouted suddenly. “You are making too much noise! Get out of my room!”

  Andrew looked hurt.

  “Please,” I added. “Please get out of my room.”

  I guess I was a little upset. It is hard to make such a big decision. I had a lot of thinking to do. And very little time. My little-house family was going to move to Chicago in only two weeks.

  I pulled some more things out of my suitcase. Something fell out of my shoe. It was a chocolate that Nannie had made. She must have tucked it into my suitcase as a surprise.

  Boo and bullfrogs. I sat down on my bed and sighed. How could I possibly leave Nannie and all the people at the big house? But how could I let my little-house family move without me?

  Andrew poked his head back in my door.

  “Remember your promise!” he said.

  I ran to the door to shoo him away, but my little brother had already disappeared.

  Karen, the Expert Mover

  I am very good at moving. In fact, I am an expert. Andrew and I move every month. One month we live in the big house, and the next month we live in the little house. I will tell you about the big house and the little house now. There is a lot to tell.

  When I was little, I lived with Mommy and Daddy and Andrew in the big house. It was the house Daddy had grown up in. But Mommy and Daddy started to fight a lot. They told us that they loved Andrew and me very much. But they wanted to get a divorce.

  Mommy found a little house to move to, and Andrew and I moved with her. Then Mommy met a man named Seth Engle and she got married again. Now Seth is my stepfather and he lives with us in the little house. He brought his dog, Midgie, and his cat, Rocky, with him.

  Andrew and I have pets at the little house too. I have a rat named Emily Junior and Andrew has a hermit crab named Bob. That is a lot of people and pets for a little house. But believe me, there are many more at the big house. It is hard to know where to start.

  First there is Daddy. Daddy got married again too, and his wife is named Elizabeth. She is my stepmother. Elizabeth already had four children. So now I have three stepbrothers and a stepsister. Sam and Charlie are in high school. (Charlie has a car. Sometimes he drives us places.) Then there is Kristy, who is gigundoly nice. She is thirteen, and the best stepsister ever. And then there is David Michael. He is in second grade, just like me. (He is nice, but I am glad he goes to a different school.)

  There are even more people in the big house. I have a little sister named Emily Michelle. Daddy and Elizabeth adopted her from a faraway country called Vietnam. Nannie lives with us too. Nannie is Elizabeth’s mother. That makes her my step-grandmother. She helps take care of Emily Michelle. She has just started a business making chocolates. Lucky me! I get to help her. (She lets me eat the ones that do not turn out so well.)

  Now I will tell you about the pets at the big house. David Michael has a puppy named Shannon. She is a Bernese mountain dog. Daddy has a cat named Boo-Boo, who is old and fat and cranky. I have a goldfish named Crystal Light the Second, and Andrew has one named Goldfishie. Plus, Andrew and I get to bring Bob and Emily Junior with us wherever we live. As you can see, it is a good thing the big house is big.

  It is fun to move back and forth, but sometimes it can be confusing. To make things easier, Andrew and I have two of a lot of things, one for each house. We have two sets of clothes, two sets of toys, and two sets of books. I have two bikes, and so does Andrew. (I taught him to ride a two-wheeler.) That way, we only have to pack a few things to bring back and forth. Because we have two of so many things, I made up special names for us. I call us Karen Two-Two and Andrew Two-Two. (I made up the nick-names after my teacher, Ms. Colman, read us a book called Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang.)

  The luckiest part is that I also have two best friends. Nancy Dawes lives next door to the little house and Hannie Papadakis lives across the street and one house down from the big house. We all go to Stoneybrook Academy and we are best friends. In fact, we call ourselves the Three Musketeers.

  If I moved to Chicago, I would miss Hannie and Nancy terribly. And how would I pack all the things I needed for six months? I wouldn’t have an extra set of clothes and toys waiting for me in Chicago.

  If I decided to go, it would be a much harder move than I was used to. And I had to make my decision soon.

  Kristy’s New Puppy

  The next morning, at the bus stop, Nancy was very glad to see me. In fact, she had brought me a treat. She pulled it out of her lunch box.

  “I brought you a cookie,” she said. “Do you want it now?”

  “Thanks,” I replied.

  Nancy is always nice to me, but suddenly she was being extra-special nice.

  When we reached school, Hannie had a surprise for me too. She had made me a card. On the front, she had drawn a picture of the three of us. Inside she had written, “The Three Musketeers Forever! We hope you decide to stay in Stoneybrook. If you leave, we will only be the Two Musketeers.”

  “Gee, thanks,” I said. But I was beginning to feel a little funny. What if I decided to go to Chicago? Hannie and Nancy would be very upset.

  I did not have time to worry then. Ms. Colman arrived. Ms. Colman is the world’s best teacher. She looked at the clock and told us it was time for class to begin. Nancy took attendance. She smiled at me when she called my name.

  “Well,” said Ms. Colman when Nancy was finished, “I am glad to see that everyone is here today. We are going to start a new unit, and I think you will all enjoy it. We are going to study working animals.”

  “Goody!” I shouted. (Sometimes I forget to be quiet.)

  Ms. Colman looked at me.

  “Karen,” she said, “do not forget to raise your hand. Since you are so excited about this unit, can you tell us what a working animal is?”

  “It is an animal that does work for people,” I said.

  “That is right,” said Ms. Colman. “Can anyone think of some examples?”

  I raised my hand right away, but Ms. Colman did not call on me. She called on Addie Sidney instead.

  “A sheepdog,” said Addie. “They work herding sheep.”

  Ms. Colman nodded and wrote Addie’s answer on the board. I waved my hand, but Ms. Colman looked around the room. She called on Bobby Gianelli.

  “Police dogs and fire dogs,” he said.

  “Two more good answers,” said Ms. Colman. I waved my hand harder. I could not wait for Ms. Colman to hear my good answer. But she did not call on me. She called on Pamela Harding. Pamela is my best enemy in the class.

  “Guide dogs for people who are blind,” said Pamela.

  Oh, no. I slumped in my seat. That was my answer. Ms. Colman called on me next, but it was too late.

  “I was going to say guide dogs too,” I said. “That is a very good answer for me, because soon I will know a lot about them. My stepsister, Kristy, is getting a new puppy. In fact, she is getting her this very afternoon. She is going to take care of the puppy for a year. And then the puppy will go to a special training school and learn to be a guide dog for people who are blind.”

  “Really?” said Ms. Colman. “That is very interesting.”

  “Yes,” I said. I talked quickly so Ms. Colman would not stop me. “And Kristy told me something very important. People should never pet a guide dog or talk to one when he has his special harness on. The harness means he is working, and he has to stay alert.”

  “That is a good thing for the class to know, Karen,” said Ms. Colman. “I hope you will be able to tell us more about guide dogs as the weeks go on.”

  “I hope so too,” I said.

  I did not know if I would be in school in the weeks ahead. I would not be if I moved to Chicago. Then I certainly would not be able to tell the class all the things I knew about guide dogs. My decision was getting more and more complicated.

  That afternoon after school, Mommy drove Andrew and me to the big house to meet Kristy’s new puppy. As soon as we opened the door, the puppy bounded to us and jumped on me. Kristy came running to get her.

  “I see you have met Scout,” she said.

  Scout licked me with her wet, slobbery tongue.

  “You are a very friendly puppy,” I told her.

  I knew this would help make her an excellent working animal.

  Flip a Coin

  The next morning on the bus, Nancy acted a little strange.

  “Are you still thinking of moving to Chicago?” she asked. “It is very cold there in the winter.”

  “I will not be there in the winter,” I said. “We are only moving for six months.”

  “Yes, but it is windy all the time,” she said.

  Nancy and I both know a lot about Chicago. Last month we worked together on a class project about the city. Maybe it was not such a good thing for me that Nancy knew so much.

  “The city has a population of three million people,” she said. “That is awfully big. You won’t know a single person.”

  “I will know Mommy,” I said. “And Seth and Andrew.” But suddenly, that did not seem like very many people at all.

  At school I found a note on my desk. It said, Remember. In 1871, Chicago had a big fire. The city burned to the ground. Watch out! This could happen again.

  The note was not signed.

  “Look at this,” I said to Nancy. Hannie looked at it too.

  “Hmm,” said Hannie. “Maybe you should think about that. I would not want to move to a city that might have a big fire.”

  I noticed that Nancy was looking at the floor. Hannie was not looking at me either.

  That afternoon after recess, I found another note on my desk. This one read, BEWARE! A lot of mean gangsters have lived in Chicago.

  I showed the note to Hannie and Nancy.

  “Ooh,” said Hannie. “Gangsters? Are you sure you want to move to Chicago?”

  I was beginning to think I knew who had written the notes. When the school day ended, I waved them in front of Hannie and Nancy.

  “Did you write these?” I asked.

  “No,” they said.

  “I think you did. And if you did, it was a very meanie-mo thing to do.”

  Nancy scuffed her shoe on the floor. “Well,” she said, “we did not mean to be meanie-moes.”

  “Then you did write the notes.”

  “Yes,” Hannie admitted. “But only because we want you to stay.”

  “Well, it does not help to be mean,” I snapped. “It is hard enough for me to make a decision.”

  I was glad it was Friday. I was hoping I would be able to think more clearly when I got home. But when I walked in the door, Andrew was waiting for me. He had drawn a picture for me. It was a picture of us in Chicago.

  “See?” said Andrew. “We are standing on top of a very tall building, waving to all the people. I think we will have fun together in Chicago.”

  I wished everyone would just leave me alone.

  On Saturday morning Mommy took me back to the big house so I could visit Scout. I plopped down on the couch.

  “Hi, Karen,” said Kristy.

  I did not answer.

  “What is wrong?” asked Kristy. “You seem awfully quiet.”

  “I cannot make up my mind,” I told her. “I cannot decide if I should move to Chicago or not.”

  “That is easy,” said Kristy. “I will help you. We will flip a coin.”

  “Flip a coin?” I said. What a terrible idea. “I would not want to do that. Then I would have to do what the coin decides. I want to decide for myself.”

  “You can,” said Kristy. “But the coin can help you. This is the way it will work. Let’s say the coin tells you to go. If that makes you happy, then you will know that you want to go. If it makes you unhappy, then you will know that you do not want to go. You can do exactly as you please. The coin will just help you see how you feel about it. It always works for me.”

  Hmm. Now Kristy’s idea sounded like a good one.

  “Why not?” I finally agreed.

  Kristy pulled a penny o
ut of her pocket. She held it on her thumbnail, ready to flip.

  “Heads, you go,” she said.

  She flipped the coin. She caught it, and slapped it flat on her arm. I peered over to see what the coin had decided.

  “Heads,” said Kristy. “That means you go. Is that what you want to do?”

  I still did not know. The coin had not helped me after all.

  “This decision is too, too hard!” I cried.

  Ghosts and Goblins

  That night, when Mommy tucked me in, she sat down beside me on the bed.

  “Karen,” she said. “I know you have been trying very hard to make a decision. I wish there was something I could do to help.”

  “You could tell me what to do,” I said. I was only half joking.

  Mommy laughed. “You know we are hoping that you decide to come with us,” she said. “We will miss you very much if you decide to stay. But I cannot tell you what to do. You have to do what you want to do. And I think perhaps you already know what that is.”

  “That is just the problem,” I said. “I do not.”

  “I mean deep inside,” said Mommy. “Somewhere inside you, you already know the answer. The trick is to find out what it is.”

  Mommy’s voice sounded very comforting. But I had no idea what she meant. If I could figure out the answer, there would be no problem.

  Mommy kissed me good night and turned off the light. I lay awake in the dark for a very long time. I stared at the shadows on my ceiling. Maybe the answer was somewhere in the shadows.

  “Karen?” said a voice. It was Andrew. He was standing in my doorway.

  “You are supposed to be asleep,” I said.

  “I cannot sleep,” said Andrew. “There are ghosts in my room.”


  “And goblins. I think they are hiding in my closet. And some crawled under my bed. Can I get in bed with you?”

  “Okay,” I said. I do not always let Andrew get in bed with me. But that night, Andrew looked very scared.

  Andrew climbed into my bed. He laid his head on my shoulder.

  “Karen, would you sing me a song?” he asked.

  “Sure,” I answered. “How about ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’?” Usually Andrew likes that song. He likes to think up unusual animals, such as aardvarks and anteaters.

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