13 Gifts Read online

  My jaw falls open.

  “Unless you still don’t want to move, of course. A deal’s a deal. We can cancel our offer on the house.”

  I start bouncing up and down in the seat, coming dangerously close to banging my head on the roof. I’m so happy I probably wouldn’t notice. “That would be totally bonza!” I shout.

  “Is that a yes?” Dad asks.

  “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

  Later, after what was no doubt the best day of my entire life, I sit down to write the rest of my essay about what I’ve learned this summer. Even though I’m not going back to my old school (Tara = Still Jumping for Joy!!) I want to finish what I started.

  First I reread what I’d written after my first week in Willow Falls. Then, before I come up for air, I’ve written another whole page.

  I’ve learned that the universe doesn’t care what our motives are, only our actions. So we should do things that will bring about good, even if there is an element of selfishness involved. Like the kids at my school might join the Key Club or Future Business Leaders of America, because it’s a social thing and looks good on their record, not because they really want to volunteer at the nursing home. But the people at the nursing home still benefit from it, so it’s better that the kids do it than not do it. And if they never did it, then they wouldn’t find out that they actually liked it.

  I have learned that almost anyone will help you if you ask for it.

  I’ve learned that mothers can love their babies even before they’re born and then will do all sorts of crazy things to try to keep them safe. Which leads to another thing I’ve learned —that everyone should be allowed to keep their secrets. But if they eat away at you with guilt, or make you move your family to a different town every year, you should not keep them.

  I’ve learned that if you wait long enough, you might get a second chance at something you gave up on. And sometimes you’ll be the one to give the second chance to someone else.

  I’ve learned that sometimes you can meet your favorite movie star and he can turn out to be even greater than you thought, and that it’s possible to be really happy for your new friend that he likes her and not even be jealous.

  That said, I’ve also learned that it’s possible to die from embarrassment when your dad, upon meeting aforementioned movie star at the premiere of his new movie, says, “Hey, you’re the guy on my daughter’s wall! She kisses your picture every night!”

  I’ve learned that everyone can do their part to repair the world, and that the more you look for them, the easier it becomes to spot all the little pieces.

  And most of all, I’ve learned that the sidelines may be safer, but life is played on the field.

  Aussie Glossary

  ace: great!

  agro: aggressive

  ankle biter: small child

  arvo: afternoon

  bingle: car accident

  biscuit: cookie

  blokes: male friends

  bloody: very

  bonza: excellent

  brekkie: breakfast

  cactus: broken

  chewie: gum

  chuck a sickie: take the day off work/school when you’re not really sick

  chuck a U-ee: make a u-turn

  cobber: friend

  don’t fret your freckle: don’t stress

  dunny: bathroom

  furphy: false rumor

  g’day: hi!

  give it a burl: try it

  gobsmacked: astounded

  good on ya: congratulations! well done!

  I’ll be stuffed: well, I’ll be; an expression of pleased surprise

  knocker: someone who criticizes

  London to a brick: it’s absolutely certain

  make a quid: make a living

  mate’s rate: a special discount given to someone who’s a friend

  mates: friends

  not my bowl of rice: I’m not interested in that

  nut out: figure out

  oldies: parents

  pinch: steal

  port: suitcase

  rellies: relatives

  ripper: really great

  she’ll be apples: it’ll be all right

  spit the dummy: be very upset

  yabber: talk a lot

  About the Author

  Wendy Mass is the author of award-winning books for young readers, including A Mango-Shaped Space, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall, Leap Day, Every Soul a Star, The Candymakers, the Twice Upon a Time fairy tale series, and the books set in Willow Falls, 11 Birthdays and Finally. She lives in New Jersey with her family. You can visit her online at www.wendymass.com.


  Copyright © 2011 by Wendy Mass.

  Cover photograph © by Michael Frost

  Cover design by Elizabeth B. Parisi

  All rights reserved. Published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., Publishers since 1920. SCHOLASTIC, SCHOLASTIC PRESS, and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.

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  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data available

  First edition, September 2011

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  eISBN: 978-0-545-38793-4