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Philippa fishers fairy g.., p.1
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       Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister, p.1

           Liz Kessler
 
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Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister


  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 © 2008 by Liz Kessler

  Illustrations copyright © 2008 by Katie May

  Cover illustrations: copyright © 2008 by iStockphoto (flower background); copyright © 2008 by Simon Spoon/iStockphoto (fairy)

  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 2008933678

  ISBN 978-0-7636-4070-5 (hardcover)

  ISBN 978-0-7636-4596-0 (paperback)

  ISBN 978-0-7636-5243-2 (electronic)

  Candlewick Press

  99 Dover Street

  Somerville, Massachusetts 02144

  visit us at www.candlewick.com

  ATC

  one TREE HOUSE

  two MOVING DAY

  three NEW GIRL

  four TRANSFORMATION

  five WISH VOUCHERS

  six DECISION

  seven SHOOTING STAR

  eight NEW LIFE

  nine RECONCILIATION

  ten NIGHT VISIT

  eleven MISS POPULAR

  twelve THE MISSING WISH

  thirteen LIFE CYCLE

  fourteen TALENT SHOW

  ATC

  Acknowledgments

  Excerpt from Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker’s Daughter

  “So who’s next on the list?”

  “I thought we could try this one.”

  “For 3WD? Are you sure? She hasn’t worked directly with humans before.”

  “We’ve all got to start somewhere.”

  “Granted, but she does have particularly strong feelings about them. You know how she took the incident last year with her friend.”

  “That was a high-risk assignment. He was a bumblebee, for clouds’ sake!”

  “But still . . .”

  “It’ll be fine. We’ll give her a flower life cycle — a nice, gentle way for her to make contact. All she’ll need to do is position herself perfectly, and she’ll be picked with love and care and admiration. No danger of being swatted!”

  “You’re sure she’s ready for this?”

  “It’s time she started on the extra tasks. She needs to start deepening her compassion. She’ll have to if she’s ever going to move on.”

  “We’ll need to monitor the assignment closely.”

  “Ray will cover it. He’s supervised her before.”

  “Well . . . OK. It looks like you’ve got everything covered. Let’s do it.”

  “Good. I’ll tell 3WD that we’re ready to go.”

  Sunday morning began with the awful realization that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life.

  It had all started on Saturday. The weekend began like any other. Mom and Dad were rushing around, packing puppets and balloons and face paints into the van for a party in the afternoon. There’s nearly always one going on somewhere on Saturdays. They’re party entertainers; the weekends are their busiest time. I used to go along to the parties, but then I — well, I just don’t anymore.

  Birthdays, anniversaries, passing your piano exam — anything you want to celebrate, they’ll be there, singing, pulling rabbits out of hats, throwing pies at your big brother. Whatever it takes to make you smile.

  Other kids think it must be great to have them as my parents. They think my home life must be a nonstop party. Um, not quite.

  It used to be fun, I suppose — when I was young enough not to get bored with making dogs out of balloons every week; when I actually liked being driven around in a bright yellow VW van with pictures of clowns and jesters and rabbits on the side; when I didn’t know that there was any such thing as a problem that couldn’t be sorted out with tickle therapy. I used to think that my parents were the most incredible human beings on the planet.

  Now I just think they’re embarrassing.

  This Saturday I didn’t mind, though. I hardly even noticed them. I was busy putting the final touches on a present that I was making for my best friend, Charlotte.

  “Philippa, we’re going now!” Mom called up the stairs.

  “OK,” I shouted back.

  “There’s tofu rolls and veggie burgers for you and Charlotte.”

  I rolled my eyes. Once, just once, it might be nice to have something normal, like grilled cheese or fish fingers, for lunch.

  “Great!” I replied, hoping I sounded more sincere than I felt.

  I looked up as my bedroom door opened. It was Dad. He had a bright orange sun painted on one cheek and a black night sky with a crescent moon on the other.

  “Which hand’s the penny in?” he asked, grinning widely as he held his palms out.

  I pointed to the penny in his left hand. “That one.”

  “Are you sure?” Dad winked. Then he closed his hands, shook them, got me to blow on them, and then — presto — the penny had disappeared. It was a good trick. It was probably even better if you hadn’t already seen it approximately three times a week for eleven and a half years, and if you didn’t already know how to do it yourself.

  Still, I’d never say anything. It would only upset him, and I did secretly enjoy his magic. I liked it when he showed me how to do a new trick. I’d go away and practice it for days afterward. Not that I’d ever do it in front of anyone except Charlotte. Just the thought of performing made me tremble. I’d never do that again.

  “Neat,” I said, smiling.

  Closing his hands again, Dad reached forward, tickled my ear, and opened his palms. “Hey, look where I found it! It was in your ear the whole time,” he said. “Now, why didn’t you tell me?”

  I kept smiling. “They’ll love you, Dad,” I said.

  He leaned over to kiss the top of my head. “Be good, sunshine,” he said before leaving me and bounding downstairs to join Mom.

  I watched the van drive to the end of the road, and then I got back to the friendship bracelet I was making for Charlotte.

  Charlotte had been my best friend since the first day of school. We had even been in preschool together, so we’d known each other for nearly seven years — and this weekend she was moving away. Her parents had bought a farm hundreds of miles away. They were “getting back to nature.” All homegrown food and solar panels and no phone or TV. They weren’t even going to have a computer, and it was so completely in the middle of nowhere that they probably wouldn’t even have cell phone reception. They might as well have been leaving the planet.

  They were really excited about going, though. Even Charlotte. All I knew was that it felt as if someone were about to chop off one of my limbs. That’s how close we were. Charlotte said she felt the same way, but I knew she was looking forward to her new life, too. She was going to have a pony of her own, and her parents said they’d get a dog and chickens. I was happy for her. Really, I was. But how was I ever going to be happy without her around?

  The friendship bracelet! She’d be here any minute. I wiped my eyes and got back to work. It was a really complicated pattern in turquoise, pink, and purple: all her favorite colors.

  I’d just threaded the last piece of cotton into place when the doorbell rang. That’s the last time she’ll walk over to my house, a heavy voice said in my mind.

  I looked in the mirror, wiped my eyes again, and practiced smiling. Don’t think about it. Don’t let
her see how sad you are; don’t make it hard for her, I said to my reflection.

  “I want to say good-bye to the tree house,” Charlotte said as we ambled through the backyard. The tree house was “our” place. We’d shared so many secrets and games there. The tree house knew everything about our lives.

  Dad had built it when I was a baby. He said it was a labor of love because of something that had happened a long time ago. Years before I was born, my dad was traveling, when he realized that he’d run out of money and had nowhere to sleep. He met an old man begging on a street corner. Dad felt bad that he couldn’t give the man any money, so instead he emptied out his bag and told him to take anything he needed. The beggar took an apple from Dad, and they got into a conversation.

  When Dad told him that he had nowhere to sleep, the man mentioned a place on a nearby beach where there were huts built on stilts. Dad set off for the huts, and that’s where he met Mom. She was working in the area for the summer. He ended up staying for three months and got a job there, too. Then they spent the next six months traveling together. They were married almost as soon as they got back.

  He’d modeled our tree house on those huts.

  The tree house is right in the middle of a clearing at the far end of the backyard. It’s huge and round and built on top of three tall wooden legs, with a wooden roof that looks like a giant umbrella. It’s got three great big windows in the sides and a ladder that takes you into the hut through a trapdoor in the floor. If we ever moved, I’d miss the tree house more than the house.

  You could easily fit five or six people in there. Usually it’s just me and Charlotte, though. Mom and Dad don’t bother with it nowadays, which I’m glad about, because there’s so much of my stuff in there. I don’t think I’d want anyone prowling around! It’s full of private things, like my diaries, and notebooks filled with ideas for stories and lines of plays that Charlotte and I have started writing together, and letters and notes that we’ve left there for each other.

  It’s also littered with cards and newspapers from the magic tricks I practice on Charlotte. I probably do them really badly and look stupid, but when I’m doing a trick, it’s like nothing else exists. Charlotte’s always so nice about watching them. Her favorite is the one where I make a coin disappear and then get her to peel open an orange and the coin is inside the orange. It’s so easy, but she’s never guessed how I do it. She tells me everything I do is brilliant. But that’s a best friend’s job, isn’t it?

  I won’t have anyone to tell me I’m brilliant after she moves.

  “You coming up?” Charlotte called from the top of the ladder.

  “I’ll wait for you here. I thought it’d be nice for you to say good-bye on your own,” I said. The truth was that it would probably make me cry if I had to listen to her say good-bye to our special place. Charlotte looked at me for a second, then she just nodded and climbed into the tree house.

  I sat down in the clearing to wait for her. The sun had been trying to come out from behind the clouds all morning. Now it was trapped behind the biggest lumpy white cloud in the sky. As I watched, the cloud narrowed and lengthened, stretching into a new shape. The sun started boring holes through it, dusty bright rays poking out through the gaps. When that happens, I always think it looks like cosmic staircases coming down from heaven or from another planet, and that if we could only find a way to climb them, we’d be able to discover a whole new world that existed right beside ours.

  I once told Charlotte what I thought, and she laughed and explained in great detail why it was scientifically impossible. She says I don’t need other worlds anyway, because I live in a dreamworld of my own half the time.

  I must get it from Mom. She believes all sorts of crazy things like that. She reckons that sun rays are fairies coming down to visit the world and look after all the humans. She used to sing a song to me that she said would make fairies appear. We’d sing it together sometimes.

  Fairy come, fairy go,

  Fairy, oh, I need you so.

  If I count from nought to nine,

  At midnight, fairy, please be mine.

  We sang it every day for about a year and never saw a single fairy, so I eventually decided that it was just a silly song she’d made up — even if she did try to convince me she’d learned it directly from the fairies themselves!

  I leaned back on my hands, singing the song to myself and letting the sun warm my face as it gradually broke free from the cloud, edging out so brightly that I had to turn my face away.

  As I looked down, I noticed a clump of daisies beside me. I picked a couple of them, slicing the stem of one and pushing the other through it.

  Charlotte’s shadow fell over me. “What are you doing?” she asked, sitting down next to me.

  “Making a daisy chain.”

  “Cool. I’ll join you. I haven’t made one of those in ages,” she said, picking a couple of daisies of her own.

  We worked in silence for a while, each lost in her own thoughts. Were hers the same as mine? Was she as sad as I was, or was she too busy being excited about going to live on a farm and having a pony of her own?

  The thoughts made my eyelids sting. I turned away from Charlotte and concentrated on looking at my daisy chain. I counted up the daisies. Eight. Almost enough. One more should finish it off. I was going to make it into a necklace and give it to Charlotte with the friendship bracelet.

  The last daisy is always the hardest one to find. It’s got to be long enough to fit the head of a daisy through the stem, and strong enough to stay in one piece and hold the whole necklace together.

  The trouble was that the daisies were all looking a bit blurry through my tear-filled eyes, so it was hard to know which one to pick. I quickly brushed the back of my hand across my eyes and continued the search for the perfect daisy.

  As I stared, a breeze blew across the clearing, making the daisies dance and sway. One of them stood out instantly. It was taller than the others and seemed to bend right over, toward me, almost as if it were asking to be picked. I reached out for it. As I did, a tear plopped out of my eye, landing on the daisy.

  “Oops, sorry,” I said absentmindedly. The daisy nodded back at me, as though accepting my apology.

  It had understood me! The daisy had heard me; it had answered me!

  I turned to Charlotte, about to tell her, but then I remembered how she responded to the sunbeam-staircase theory and a hundred other ideas I’ve had over the years that she’s pointed out are physical impossibilities. She’d only say the same about my daisy. And on this occasion I supposed she’d be right. Even I had to admit that flowers don’t talk!

  Turning back to the daisy, I reached carefully down to the bottom of the stalk and pulled it out of the ground. As I did, the strangest feeling came over me. A kind of sparkling inside. That’s the only way I can describe it. There was a buzzing sensation, starting in my fingertips, then spreading up my arms and into my body, filling me with an itchy tingle. I squirmed and wriggled as I took a closer look at the daisy.

  Looking down at it in my palm, a thought filled my head. No, it was more than a thought. It was a kind of knowledge, almost a certainty. The daisy was a . . . No — it couldn’t be. I was being ridiculous! It was probably just because I’d been thinking about Mom’s silly song. I could still hear it over and over again in my head.

  If I count from nought to nine . . .

  That daisy had been the ninth one I needed for the chain!

  That was when I knew it was true — even if it sounded crazy, I absolutely knew it.

  At midnight, fairy, please be mine.

  The daisy was going to turn into a fairy at midnight.

  I need to get one thing straight before I go any further, in case you’re like Charlotte and concerned with what’s sensible and logical.

  I don’t actually believe in fairies.

  Or I didn’t. I mean, I — look, I’m eleven and a half years old, not a little kid. I’m in middle school now! I can’t b
elieve in fairies!

  If someone had asked me last week if I did, I’d have said definitely not . . . I think.

  I certainly wouldn’t have thought there might be one living in my backyard!

  But something deep inside me told me that there was. And you’ll just have to trust me on this for now, OK?

  I peeked at Charlotte to see if she had read my thoughts. Her tongue was poking out at the edge of her mouth as she concentrated on her daisy chain.

  “Just got to get something from the tree house,” I said. Charlotte nodded without looking up.

  Closing my palm gently around my daisy, I crept up the ladder and searched around for something suitable to put it in. Rummaging through the old magazines and puzzle books, I found it. A small, oblong, copper-colored tin with a picture of an oak tree on its lid. Mom had bought it for me in a gift shop when we were on vacation last year.

  I’d been waiting for something special to put in the tin. And now I’d found it.

  I grabbed a bit of dry grass that was lying around on the tree-house floor and pressed it into the tin. I know it sounds stupid, but I wanted to make sure the fairy would be comfortable. Then I put the daisy into the tin and placed it carefully on the window ledge. There isn’t actually any glass in the windows; they’re just big gaps in the walls with chunky wooden ledges. “See you later,” I whispered to the tin, feeling a bit silly. Then I climbed back down the ladder to join Charlotte.

  “Done!” she said, brushing her legs as she stood up. I quickly found another daisy and completed my chain.

 
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