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Philippa fisher and the.., p.1
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       Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker's Daughter, p.1

           Liz Kessler
 
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Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker's Daughter


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either

  products of the author’s imagination or, if real, are used fictitiously.

  Text copyright © 2009 by Liz Kessler

  Illustrations copyright © 2009 by Katie May

  Cover illustrations: copyright © 2009 by iStockphoto (background);

  copyright © 2009 by Gail Shumway/Getty Images (butterfly)

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, taping, and recording, without prior written permission from the publisher.

  First U.S. electronic edition 2010

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 2008938410

  ISBN 978-0-7636-4202-0 (hardcover)

  ISBN 978-0-7636-4829-9 (paperback)

  ISBN 978-0-7636-5244-9 (electronic)

  Candlewick Press

  99 Dover Street

  Somerville, Massachusetts 02144

  visit us at www.candlewick.com

  ATC

  one DECISION

  two THE COTTAGE

  three POTLUCK

  four REUNION

  five SCULPTURE TRAIL

  six THE BOY AND THE BUTTERFLY

  ATC

  seven SPECIAL MISSION

  ATC

  eight THE ROOM IN THE BACK

  nine THE DREAM CATCHER

  ten THE WOMAN IN THE PICTURE

  eleven THE REQUEST

  twelve THE DREAM MAKER

  thirteen RETURN TO THE FOREST

  ATC

  fourteen THE OAK TREE

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  “We have a problem.”

  “What is it?”

  “We’re nearly out of time. There’s only a matter of weeks left.”

  “So what’s the problem?”

  “The child. We all know the conditions that were set.”

  “Yes, and?”

  “And she hasn’t met them yet. Her heart is closed.”

  “Give me the file.”

  “Here it is. It’s all up to date, just —”

  “She needs a friend.”

  “Someone to talk to . . .”

  “. . . Open up to.”

  “Exactly.”

  “Can’t you check the files? There must be something in there that can help.”

  “Done. I’ve cross-referenced everything — twice. I couldn’t find anything.”

  “Nothing at all?”

  “Well, there’s just one possibility. It’s an outside chance, but there was a case earlier this year. The friendship score was the highest ever.”

  “Show me.”

  “Here it is. I’ve already located that client. She might be just what we need — if only we could get her in the right place.”

  “So, how do you propose we do that?”

  “We could use the fairy from the original assignment. I know we wouldn’t normally match a fairy godmother with the same client twice, but that girl may be our best chance. We just need to get her here, set up a few meetings —”

  “Do it! Get that fairy godmother on the case, and let’s get moving. We haven’t got a moment to lose.”

  So here’s the situation. You’ve won tickets for your whole family to take a vacation anywhere you like. What do you do?

  Most normal people would start with the Internet, or a brochure or two, perhaps a travel agent. My parents? Thirteen different road maps, two atlases, and a box of pushpins. That’s what you need to plan a vacation in our house. And this was day three of planning. Remember, I said normal people do it the other way — the easy way.

  I grabbed a magazine and left them to it.

  “How about the Poconos?” Dad asked, opening up the fourth map and laying it on top of the others across the kitchen table. “We’ve never been there.”

  “Yes, we have. Don’t you remember? We were on our way to visit friends and ran out of gas, so we had to stay there for the night.”

  “Oh, yes. A little hilly, wasn’t it?”

  Mom leaned farther across the map, knocking a cup of cold coffee all over the mountain range — and herself. “What about Florida?” she asked, wiping her shirt with a tea towel.

  “Too far.”

  “New York?”

  “Too near.”

  I got up from my stool and joined them at the table. “Mom. Dad. You know, this is . . .”

  Dad looked up as my voice trailed off. Mom was too busy opening the box of pushpins to notice the hesitation in my voice. “Come on, let’s just stick one of these in a place and go for it,” she said. She was on a mission. She started rolling up the tea towel that she’d just used to mop up the coffee. “We’ll do it blindfolded,” she announced firmly.

  “‘This is’ what?” Dad asked, stopping to look at me. “What is it, sweetheart?”

  This is supposed to be my vacation, I wanted to say. This is my prize.

  I’d won it at the school’s talent show at the end of the year. Tickets for my parents and me to go anywhere we liked. Anywhere I liked. I was the one who’d won them! We’d been planning to go in the summer, but my parents had had lots of parties booked. Their party-entertaining business is at its busiest in the summer, so we’d ended up having to postpone the trip to my fall-break vacation.

  I looked into Dad’s eyes. They were dark and tired. He smiled his goofy smile at me, and I couldn’t help softening. He deserved a vacation as much as I did. So did Mom. They’d both worked really hard all summer without a real break at all. At least I’d had a week away at Charlotte’s — if you could count that.

  I took Dad’s hand in mine. “This is fun,” I said, forcing a smile. “Go on — I’ll go first.”

  Mom stood behind me and tied the tea towel around my head. “No peeping, now,” she said. “Just stick the pin in the map, and wherever it lands, that’s where we’ll go!”

  “Unless it’s in the middle of a city,” Dad said.

  “Or in the middle of the ocean,” Mom added.

  “Or a building site,” I chipped in, finally letting their puppy-dog enthusiasm infect me. I reached into the box of pushpins and took one out. I was about to stick it into the map when Dad grabbed my arm. “Wait!” he yelled.

  “What?”

  “Look!” he said, ignoring the fact that I had a coffee-stained tea towel wrapped over my eyes. I pulled the towel off and rubbed my face.

  I saw it right away. A butterfly, fluttering over the map. It must have flown in through the window.

  “It’s beautiful,” Mom said.

  “I’ve never seen markings like that before,” Dad added, silently bending over the table. “So intricate.”

  “So pretty,” I said, watching as it flew the length of the map, twisting this way and that, in tight little circles and figure eights. Its wings buzzing and vibrating, it hovered just above the map, as though searching for the perfect place to land.

  It finally chose a spot in the top corner of the map, and we all leaned in to take a closer look.

  “Careful,” Mom whispered. “Don’t want to frighten it away.”

  The butterfly maneuvered slowly across the map, wings open, like an airplane taxiing to the runway. Its wings were so delicate. They looked as though they’d been made from the thinnest silk in the world and decorated with the tiniest brushes that could possibly exist. Dark purple lines wriggled all around the tips, which were dotted with baby pink spots. Dark purple faded to ocean blue at the center of each wing.

>   “Amazing,” I said.

  “Nature’s incredible, isn’t it?” Dad murmured.

  “Hang on a sec.” Mom tilted her head to peer under the butterfly on the map. “Look at that,” she said.

  “We are looking at it,” Dad said with a laugh. “Can’t you see us? This is us looking at it.”

  “Not at the butterfly!” Mom said, pointing at the map. “At where it’s landed.”

  The map showed a patch of green bushes and stick pictures of trees, with a straggly blue line weaving in between them.

  “A forest with a river running through it,” Dad said. “What about it?”

  “It’s exactly what we’re looking for!” Mom said.

  “It’s certainly not in the middle of a city,” I said.

  “Or in the middle of the ocean,” Dad added, winking at me.

  “Or a building site!” Mom concluded.

  “Ravenleigh Woods,” I read from just below the butterfly’s wings. “Sounds nice.”

  “Doesn’t it?” Mom said dreamily. “Kind of romantic.”

  “That’s where we’re going, then?” Dad asked.

  Mom and I looked at each other. The butterfly fluttered its wings. “Yes!” I said.

  “Why not?” Mom agreed. “A butterfly’s as good as a pushpin.”

  Which is quite a strange thing to say, if you think about it, but I rarely question the way my parents’ minds work. At this point I was just happy a decision had been made. Anything that meant we could get rid of the maps that were beginning to take over the house.

  “Good. I agree. I’ll start checking out local B&Bs,” Dad said. He squeezed my hand before pulling Mom over toward him. Twirling her in a circle, he danced her across the kitchen floor. Mom’s skirt flowed around her as Dad spun her. While they giggled and whirled around the kitchen, I started putting away the maps.

  The butterfly was still sitting in the same spot. I stopped and looked at it again. It turned to face me, its tiny, goggly bug eyes trained on mine.

  “Hey, I know you’re only a butterfly and all that, but you just did me a big favor,” I said. “It’s taken us three days to make that decision!”

  And you know what? A moment later, I swear the butterfly replied. I mean, I know that it didn’t really give an actual reply — obviously. It was probably the wind blowing through the window, ruffling the maps. But it sounded like words. And it sounded as though it came from the butterfly.

  See you there.

  I glanced over my shoulder to see if Mom and Dad had heard it, but they were too busy jiving around the kitchen to notice anything else. It was just the wind. I laughed at myself. I was at it again.

  You see, an incredible thing happened to me a little while ago. I had a fairy of my very own! Honestly, it’s true. Well, she wasn’t actually mine. Daisy always made sure to point out that she didn’t belong to me — but she was on an assignment that involved giving me three wishes. By the time she’d finished, it had become more than an assignment. We became like real friends — best friends, even.

  That was months ago now, and it seemed I still couldn’t stop hoping to find magic everywhere. To be honest, it was more that I wanted Daisy to come back. I looked for evidence of fairies and magic in everything. I was even trying to convince myself that a butterfly had talked to me now! I laughed out loud as I looked back at the map.

  But, just for fun, I whispered back, “Yeah, see you there.”

  The second I’d spoken, the butterfly slowly opened and closed its wings, as if it were clapping. Then it inched up off the map, rising like a helicopter. It was almost as though it had waited for me to reply before leaving.

  A moment later, it flew straight out the window — and was gone.

  I shook my head, laughing quietly at myself. Then I folded up the map and thought nothing more of it.

  I waited on the highest branch of the farthest tree in the forest, as I’d been told. The view was incredible from up here. The tops of the trees waved in the breeze, their leaves rustling softly, as though they were whispering to the rest of the forest to be quiet.

  Shhhhhhhhhhh.

  A patch of sunlight flickered in between the leaves, growing into a sparkling fan on the forest’s floor. Tiny triangular rainbows danced in its light.

  My supervisor had arrived.

  “Good work, Daisy. You did well.”

  “Is she coming?”

  “They’ll be here next week.”

  Next week! I was really going to see Philippa again, after all this time! “I will be able to meet up with her, won’t I?” I asked.

  “Daisy, we can’t make any promises. Your special mission was to bring her here. You’ve done that, and we’re grateful. But you still have your own job to get on with at Triple D.”

  “A job where she’ll be right on the doorstep!”

  “Even so. We can’t allow any distractions from our main objective.”

  “Which is what?” I asked briskly. I knew better than to talk to FGSunray239 disrespectfully, but I couldn’t stop myself. Spikes of annoyance were growing inside me so sharply they were making my wings itch.

  The sunlight faded slightly. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you that.”

  “Why not? If it concerns Philippa, it concerns me. She’s my friend.” My best friend, I added under my breath.

  “Daisy, in your previous assignment with this client, you showed a high level of personal involvement.”

  “So? I completed the job, didn’t I?”

  “You did indeed — and you did it very well.” FGSunray239 smiled, and the treetops sparkled for a moment, as if grateful for her warmth. “Your compassion for the child was fully in keeping with your assignment. But too much personal attachment can be dangerous, and in your case it made you careless.”

  “Careless? What do you mean?”

  “I’m referring to your ability to keep confidential information to yourself. For this reason, your role in this part of the assignment is now over.”

  “I won’t do it again,” I said feebly — although in my heart I wasn’t so sure. I wanted to share everything with Philippa! That was what you did with a best friend, wasn’t it?

  “Maybe you wouldn’t,” FGSunray239 said. “But we can’t take any risks. A high degree of confidentiality is needed for this mission, or it will fail. And Daisy . . .”

  “What?” I looked up, dazzled by the light shining brightly before me.

  “A high-ranking fairy godmother is watching this case very closely and has let us know, in no uncertain terms, that we must not allow this mission to fail.”

  Despite the warmth of the sunlight all around, I felt a shiver sneak through me, making my wings flutter and twitch. “I understand,” I said.

  “Good. Now put this extra task out of your mind and go back to your job. You have work to do. There’s a new delivery waiting for you.”

  And with that, FGSunray239 disappeared, taking the sparkling light with her and leaving the trees to continue whispering among themselves.

  “Well, this is nice, isn’t it?” Mom called from the living room as Dad and I lugged our bags into the kitchen.

  We’d decided to rent a cottage in the end. We’d managed to track down a couple of B&Bs in the area, but they were full. There was a big swanky hotel about five miles down the road, with two swimming pools and a Jacuzzi and entertainment every night, but Mom and Dad didn’t want that. “Not our scene,” they said.

  I would have argued — swimming every day for a week in a heated pool; how could that not be anyone’s scene? — till I saw the hotel’s dress code. The brochure said guests had to be “neatly attired at all times.” At mealtimes, ties for the men and evening dresses for women were “encouraged.” The thought of my parents dressed up in evening wear was the biggest laugh I’d had all year. They didn’t often stray from their jeans and tie-dyed T-shirts with Greenpeace slogans on them.

  And the idea of having to accompany them seven nights in a row while they tried to behave li
ke normal grown-ups was a stress that even two swimming pools and a Jacuzzi couldn’t outweigh. No, the rented cottage would be just fine. The compromise was that they’d said we’d see if we could get guest passes and go swimming for a day while we were here.

  A fence ran around the cottage, beyond which tall, thin trees stretched almost higher than I could see, their branches reaching out toward the roof and tickling the upstairs windows. There was a gate behind the cottage that led directly into the forest.

  “It’s all right here,” Dad said, opening every door he could find and sticking his nose in every cupboard. There were two patio doors leading from the kitchen out to a small garden. A few rays of late-afternoon sun beamed in, lighting up a small patch on the floor.

  I joined Mom in the living room. A fireplace was filled with logs, and a comfy sofa and two big cozy-looking chairs stood facing it, all ready to be snuggled into. Behind them, shelves were stacked from floor to ceiling with books and games.

  “Scrabble,” Mom said. “Great! But I bet half the letters are missing.”

  I headed upstairs to check out the bedrooms.

  The floorboards creaked and groaned as I inspected each room. At the end of the corridor, there was a big double bedroom with a four-poster bed and a connected bathroom. That would be Mom and Dad’s room, no doubt. At the other end of the corridor, the floor sloped past another bathroom and down to a second bedroom. It had a four-poster bed, too, with curtains draped all around it. Yikes — a bit too much for me!

  I was turning to go back downstairs when I noticed another staircase in the hall. It was more like a ladder, with chunky wooden steps leading almost vertically up to a trapdoor. It sort of reminded me of our tree house at home.

 
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