Ingrid Law Switch

ISBN 13: 9780803738621

Switch

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9780803738621: Switch

Ingrid Law delivers another heartwarming story about the magic of friendship and the power of family in this companion to her Newbery Honor winning Savvy

Gypsy Beaumont has always been a whirly-twirly free spirit, so as her thirteenth birthday approaches, she hopes to get a magical ability that will let her fly, or dance up to the stars. Instead, she wakes up on her birthday with blurry vision . . . and starts seeing flashes of the future and past. But when Momma and Poppa announce that her very un-magical, downright mean Grandma Pat has Alzheimer’s and is going to move in with them, Gypsy’s savvy—along with her family’s—suddenly becomes its opposite. Now it’s savvy mayhem as Gypsy starts freezing time, and no one could have predicted what would happen on their trip to bring Grandma Pat home  . . . not even Gypsy.
 
With her trademark style and whimsical, beautiful language, Ingrid Law has written another wonderfully moving companion to her Newbery Honor winning Savvy.

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About the Author:

Ingrid Law is the New York Times bestselling author of two novels for young readers, Savvy and Scumble. Ingrid's books have been placed on more than 30 state reading lists, and have earned accolades from Publishers Weekly, Oprah's reading list, the Today Show's Al Roker's Book Club for Kids, and the Smithsonian. Savvy was named a Newbery Honor book in 2009. She lives in Lafayette, Colorado.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 2

In families like mine—savvy families—change can hit fast. When I was still teeter-tottering on tiny feet, my family moved away from our home next to the ocean. Momma and Poppa had no choice; my brother Fish had triggered a hurricane along the Gulf Coast on his thirteenth birthday, and we needed to live someplace where he couldn’t do as much damage with his storming.

My grandpa moved with us, which was lucky. Originally, my parents were going to relocate the family to Colorado. Closer to Poppa’s childhood home.

Closer to Grandma Pat.

Patrice Beaumont was the sourest, least-magical grandmother imaginable. But with the Centennial State still west of sunset, Grandpa Bomba got a twinkle in his eye and we took a detour. Before anyone could say Jack Robinson, Grandpa nudged Nebraska farther north and kicked Kansas farther south, using his savvy to move and stretch the soil. Just like that, we had our own bit of land, smack-dab in the middle of the country. We called our new home Kansaska-Nebransas, and we were happy there.

Grandpa Bomba was gone now, called up to heaven three months ago—right after I turned thirteen. Right after I got my savvy. But his room in our house still stood empty. Nobody wanted to disturb it. The air inside those four walls held too much love. Too much magic. I often stuck my nose into Grandpa’s room, just to remember what he’d smelled like; I grieved as the scent of sun-warmed sand and freshly turned earth faded slowly into the whiff of dust and memory.

After the fiasco at Flint’s Market, I hid in Grandpa Bomba’s room, locking the door to keep my little brother out. Still moping over my miserable afternoon, I remembered the last birthday card Grandpa Bomba gave me. He’d jotted oodles of X’s and O’s inside it. Beneath his hieroglyphic smooches, Grandpa inscribed a quote from Shakespeare, his penmanship wobbly and crooked:

Come what may, time and the hour run through the roughest day.

Grandpa must have known that I’d have some rough days coming, now that I was growing up. I imagined what Grandpa Bomba would’ve said if he were still alive and sitting next to me. He might have smiled and kissed the top of my head, proclaiming, “How I love you, Gypsy girl!” or “You look like you need a good yarn to cheer you up.” Then he would’ve reeled off endless stories, his eyes shining bright. He would’ve told me for the hundredth time how Grandma Dollop had put up radio waves inside of jars the way other ladies put up peaches. Or maybe he would’ve repeated the story of our first savvy ancestor, Eva Mae El Dorado Two-Birds Ransom, the pioneer girl who fell into the Missouri River on her thirteenth birthday and climbed out covered head to toe in gold dust. Trawling gold, forever after. Generations of savvy folk had been having extraordinary thirteenth birthdays ever since; savvy families dotted the map like sprinkles on a sheet cake.
 
My savvy birthday had brought its own set of marvels.

On the morning of October eleventh, the sun had slumbered late beneath the deep-blue covers of night, slow to wake on my special day. Swimming up and out of dreamland, I’d wiggled my toes, too woozy and content to move any other part of me. The hum of my parents’ voices drifted up from downstairs. Momma was busy cooking a special breakfast. Poppa was setting the table with the unbreakable dishes we always used for savvy birthdays.

My sister, Mibs, would be arriving later in the day with her fiancé, Will Meeks. My oldest brothers, Fish and Rocket, were on their way home too. Fish was bringing his new wife, Mellie. Soon, Samson would come out of hiding, like a moth drawn to the thirteen tiny flames atop my cake, and Tucker would get to sing “Happy Birthday” as big and as loud as he pleased. There would be sparks and hugs and windy bluster as everyone helped me celebrate.

My grown-up siblings had all had their own savvy adventures. Even Samson had seen his share of excitement. Samson’s savvy gave him the power of invisibility, and more. Whenever my reclusive sixteen-year-old brother became as unseen as a ghost, he charged up like a battery, giving him a storehouse of inner strength he could pass to other people with a touch. During a particularly heroic moment the previous summer, Samson had given all his strength away, making it difficult for him to disappear again for months. Making him super-cranky too. By the morning of my birthday, Samson was still working hard to get the full power of his savvy back. But at least he’d gotten to see some spectacular Sardoodledom. Some thrilling drama and excitement.

Now, at last, it was my turn to have some fun.

Despite the slugabed bliss of my early-morning snooziness, I’d shivered in anticipation of what the day might bring. I imagined sprouting a pair of wings as beautiful as those of doves and angels. Or going fishing with Poppa and catching candy necklaces instead of catfish. I pictured myself dancing up to the clouds. Moonwalking to the glowing moon.

I took stock of myself as I lay in bed, trying to decide if I felt different. But I only felt like same old, same old me. Believing it was safe to start my morning, I sat up and stretched, blinking into the light streaming through my window.

My blurry window . . . inside my completely blurry room.

“Drat and drumsticks,” I whispered to myself. “My eyesight is getting worse! If things stay this blurry, Momma and Poppa will make me get glasses for sure.” No one else in my family wore glasses. No one but Grandma Pat. And I didn’t want to share one thing more in common with Patrice Beaumont than I already did. I’d already inherited Grandma Pat’s untamable curls—mine the color of sunflower honey, hers now as white as nurses’ shoes, or cottage cheese. We both had pointed chins and peachy-cream skin, though Grandma’s cheeks were more like wrinkled old fruit in skim milk now. We even shared the same birthday!

I hadn’t gotten a birthday card from Grandma since I was ten. That was fine by me. The only things I’d ever found inside Grandma Pat’s cards were crumpled dollar bills and sharp words. Words about growing up and toughening up. Words about not standing out, or being different.

Grandma didn’t like us. She frowned upon savvy smarts and savvy talents. She hadn’t even come to Fish’s wedding.

I was still blinking and rubbing my eyelids, trying to bring the world into focus, when little Tuck burst into my room.

“Why are you still in bed, Gypsy?” Tucker demanded. “You should get up. Know why?” My brother crossed the room and leaned against my bed. “Because it’s your BIRTHDAY!” he yelled. Then he added, “Momma’s making waffles, Gypsy! Waffles!”

At seven—almost eight—Tuck was still years away from getting a savvy of his own, but that didn’t stop him from being super-enthusiastic about mine.

“When I’m thirteen”—Tucker jumped onto my bed and started bouncing—“I hope I get a savvy that lets me turn into a cat.” My brother’s blond hair flew up and down as he made the mattress springs squeak and groan. “Hey! Maybe you’ll get volcano power, Gypsy.” Tucker leaped to the floor and skip-hopped around my room, pretending his feet were on fire.

“Hot lava! Hot lava, everywhere! Help, everyone—help!”

I giggled. I couldn’t help it. Tucker was a clown.

Tuck’s cries roused the rest of the house. Samson arrived first, a long, tall shadow in the doorway. Just in time to see Tucker stop, drop, and roll beneath my bed.

“Watch out, Samson!” Tuck called out. “Hot lava is abrupting from the top of Gypsy’s head.”

“Erupting, not abrupting,” I laughed, correcting him.

“Lava. Really.” Samson had obviously just woken up; his husky voice sounded lower and even more unimpressed than usual. He yawned and leaned against the door frame, fading a little at the edges, like he was thinking about disappearing.

“What’s happened? Is anyone hurt?” Poppa’s words were taut as he pushed past Samson. He held a cook pot lid in front of him like a shield, and he gripped an industrial-sized fire extinguisher in his other hand. Ready to do battle with any bubbling magma.

Surveying the scene, Poppa relaxed his shoulders. “There is no lava, is there. What a relief!”

I was about to assure Poppa that everything was fine, when something peculiar began to happen to my blurred vision. Every time I tried to focus on Poppa’s face, his features began to swirl. The same thing happened when I looked at Samson. My brain felt like a spiral noodle lost inside a cinnamon roll factory—everything was going around and around and around.

By the time I turned to look at Tucker, all I could see was a spinning vortex of moving images. The dizzying swirl spun counterclockwise, then jerked clockwise, before resolving into a single crystal-clear scene. A scene that played out in my mind’s eye like a silent movie. Showing me . . .

Tucker.

Older.

Blowing out thirteen candles on a cake, and then—Gadzooks!

I squeezed my eyes closed and shook my head. I rubbed my eyelids with my knuckles. I’d always had a knack for seeing things other people couldn’t, but this was different. This was wackadoo extreme.

I blinked and blinked as Momma stepped into the room and stood behind Poppa. “I think you can put the fire extinguisher down now, Abram,” she said, taking the cook pot lid from him.

Momma turned to me and smiled.

“Good morning, sweetheart. Don’t be too anxious. I just know today is going to be a Gypsy-wonderful day!” Momma always knew the right words. She was, after all, capital-P Perfect. Her savvy made her that way. My mother never looked rumpled or sloppy. She never stumbled, bumbled, or burned toast. Which was why I was extra, extra confused when my savvy hit full throttle.

I nearly fell off my bed as graceless visions of Momma rioted through my mind’s eye. Blinking through a counterclockwise churn, I saw my mother as a little girl. She was sitting on a bench outside a school principal’s office, looking as happy as a clam, despite being a wild mess. Her socks slouched and her shoelaces were loose. Her braids were half undone. She had a Band-Aid on one knee and a prize-winning shiner. Momma looked like she’d just gone three rounds with the school bully and won.

I blinked in surprise but didn’t take my eyes off Momma. The swirl of flashes in front of me suddenly jerked and switched directions, spinning clockwise before settling into an all-new scene. An all-new vision.

I saw Momma exactly as she was now—she was even wearing the same shirt. Only, in this premonition, Momma stood on a road lined with tall pine trees, illuminated by the bright lights of a tow truck. It was nighttime. It was snowing. And Momma looked frazzled. She held a half-eaten cupcake in one hand, and she had icing and rainbow sprinkles in her hair, on her shirt, even smeared across her cheek. Our station wagon rested behind her, nose-down in a ditch.

I closed my eyes and refused to open them again for the next half hour; I couldn’t look at anyone for more than a few seconds without having another dizzying vision.

There were no candy necklaces on fishhooks for me.

No wings, or moonbeam-dancing either.

My new savvy gave me the power to see willy-nilly into anyone’s past or future, but I had no control over which images I got to see. Momma tried to assure me that control would come later, after I learned to scumble. After I learned to be the boss of my unique abilities.

“Mastering a new set of skills always takes time, Gypsy,” Momma reminded me.

Before my birthday was over, I was the proud owner of a brand-new pair of sparkly purple spectacles, made for me by the one-hour optometrist up in Hebron. My entire family had gone along to help me pick out my glasses. Everyone assured me that the two bottle-thick lenses didn’t make my eyes look as huge as I knew they did. But the glasses did the trick, correcting my vision and giving me quick-fix command over my new clairvoyant abilities. As long as my eyesight stayed 20/20 crisp and clear, there was no swirl. No vortex. When I wore my glasses, my savvy visions stayed away.

Of course, that didn’t keep me from sliding my new specs down my nose and spying on other people whenever I felt like it. Which was how—three months later, inside Flint’s Market—I knew Mrs. Foster was going to take a nasty spill in the bathtub sometime in her future. Slipping on a brand-new bar of Suds o’ Heaven soap.
 
The cordless phone rang in the hallway, bringing me back into the present, back to my mopey-doping inside Grandpa Bomba’s room. From the other side of the door, Tucker shouted, “I’ll get it!” There was a moment of silence, then my little brother’s voice clanged through the house again.

“Poppa! Hey, Poppa! Some lady named Mrs. Kim wants to talk to—oops! I think I just hung up on her.”

There were footsteps in the hall, followed by Poppa’s voice. “Hand me the phone, Tuck. Why don’t you go ask Gypsy or Samson to play with you until dinner.”

“But, Poppa!” Tucker whined as the phone began to ring again. “Gypsy locked me out of Grandpa’s room, and I can never find Samson now that he’s got his savvy back. He’s always invisible. I wish I had my savvy already. I hate being the littlest.”

At the dinner table that night, I picked at my food. I wasn’t hungry, and I didn’t feel like talking. All I wanted to do was sit and wait for time to finish running through my awful day.

Poppa was quiet too, and plainly distracted by worried thoughts. Momma, to everyone’s surprise and distress, was uncommonly clumsy. Samson and I shared a look of shock when Momma dropped an entire pot roast on the dining room floor but served it to us anyway, seasoned with carpet fuzzies. She had tried to make brownies for dessert, but she’d been talking with Poppa behind closed doors, after the mysterious Mrs. Kim called, and didn’t hear the oven timer. The brownies were too burned to eat.

Even with my mind in a fluster over the events and the visions inside Flint’s Market, I could tell something was going on. Something was wrong. Really wrong. I knew Tucker and Samson could sense it too. Tucker got cranky, and Samson disappeared the moment he finished helping me wash the dishes. Kansaska-Nebransas brimmed with tension. It felt as if a big, bad wolf lurked just outside our door.

Chapter 3

At church the next morning, Pastor Meeks said a prayer for Mrs. Foster. Despite my efforts, Shelby’s mom had slipped and fallen in her bathtub the night before, breaking two ribs and busting her elbow. She must have found a bar of Suds o’ Heaven soap someplace else, after leaving Flint’s Market.

Mrs. Foster was recuperating at home, but Shelby had come to church with her father. She turned in her pew and glared at me throughout Pastor Meeks’s entire prayer, like she blamed me for her mother’s accident.

I sighed. In the three months since my birthday, I’d never once managed to change a single bad future I’d envisioned. I’d seen that Tucker was going to swallow a marble; enlisting the entire family to help me, I’d cleared every marble from the house. I told my br...

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