Happy Wednesday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for HOW TO SAVE A SUPERHERO by Ruth Freeman! I’m so excited because today I have an excerpt of the book to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so excited to for you to find out more about it, PLUS enter for a chance to win a print copy!
How to Save a Superhero by Ruth Freeman
Published on October 19, 2021 by Holiday House
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade, Mystery
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Author Links: Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon
Addie and her mom never stay in one place too long. They've been up and down and all around the country. When her mom, Tish, gets a new job at Happy Valley Village Retirement Community in Pennsylvania, Addie believes they'll be on the road again in a month. But this time, something is different--make that, someone. Mr. Norris, a grumpy resident of Happy Valley and. . .a former superhero?
Well, that's what Marwa, whose mom also works at Happy Valley, would try and have Addie believe. Addie and her friend Dickson know better even if there are things they can't explain. Like the time Mr. Norris was about to get hit by a car and was suddenly on the other side of the road or the way his stare seems to take root in Addie's stomach.
When a man starts prowling the Happy Valley grounds, claiming to be the great-nephew of a resident, Addie, Marwa, and Dickson soon stumble into a grand conspiracy involving the Manhattan Project, a shady weapons company, and the fate of the human race.
The map was no help at all. Fat raindrops fell from the trees overhead, hit the ink drawing, and turned the lines into blurry blue rivers and splotches. Wet leaves blew down and stuck to her raincoat like postage stamps. Everything around her smelled lost and lonely.
Was this really the right way? Uncle Tim and his brother-in-law, Matt, had said to follow the stream. Was that what they called this ditch going down between the trees with a trickle of dirty water in it? Addie wished her mom had shown her the way instead of giving her a pat, and a bit of a push, on the back and a “You’re good at maps, Addie. You’ll figure it out. You always do. And I’ll see you when you get there.”
A squeaky voice behind her made her jump.
“I’ve seen the most unusual insects in September.”
It was this little kid with a huge backpack coming
up behind her. Because he never took his eyes off the ground, he had to push his glasses up his nose about every other second.
He talked in a slow, precise kind of way like he was some scientist in a lab coat.
“Once . . . I found a caterpillar . . . with white bristles . . . and red spikes on its tail . . . like horns.” And he walked extra slow too, prying up stones and rotten sticks with one toe. When he squatted down to get a closer look at something, his backpack made him look like one of those million- year- old tortoises.
“Want to see a slug?” Not getting an answer, he looked up, his excitement fading. “Is that a map? Are you lost or something?”
“No, I’m good,” said Addie, turning and walking away into the woods.
“Okay. Well, see ya.” He launched his backpack into place and began to wander off.
Addie stopped. Face-to-face with one tree after another, she had to admit she had no idea where she was going.
“Wait!” she called before the kid got too far away.
“Do you know where Happy Valley Village is?”
“Sure,” he said over his shoulder. “That’s where I’m going.”
And that was how Addie found her way: by following this kid called Dickson down the rocky path he called the ravine to the retirement place where his mother and Addie’s mother both worked. She also found out, though she certainly hadn’t asked, that he was in fourth grade, a year behind Addie, he had skipped first grade because he was so smart, and slugs have green blood.
Following him was slow going, since he kept stopping to poke around in the dirt. At least Addie didn’t have to talk to him. While Bug Boy droned on with some new bit of information, Addie looked at the trees that arched over her, shutting out most of the afternoon light. It wasn’t like Mount Repose, Maine, where she and her mom, Tish, had lived with Granny Lu. That was spruce country, where zillions of needles combed the wind soft as a sigh and the air smelled of Christmas trees. Here, in Pennsylvania, there were leaves. Leaves rustling like colored paper, falling thick like pencil shavings and sticking to the soggy ground, where they settled into the mud and smelled of mold.
She and Tish had lived with Granny Lu ever since Addie was born. Addie’s mom was the youngest after four brothers. Definitely the baby of the family, until she grew up and had Addie when she was seventeen.
Addie was short for Adelaide. The story was that Granny Lu had cornered Tish one day when she was pregnant.
Addie could just picture it: Granny Lu asking in her gravelly voice, which did a good job of hiding the tenderness inside:
“So, Tish, got any baby names in mind?”
Knowing Tish, she had probably shrugged and tried to ignore her mother. As the one and only girl in the family, Tish had been named after Granny Lu’s own dear, sweet mother, Letitia, maybe because Granny Lu was hoping to pass some of that sweetness on to her baby girl.
Granny Lu went on to say that if Tish’s baby girl was named after one of Granny Lu’s dearly beloved sisters, Granny Lu would leave all her money to Tish and Addie.
Well, Tish always said Granny Lu had a sense of humor. Tish didn’t think anything in Granny Lu’s house was worth more than $3.50, but you never can be sure, can you? So Adelaide it was, and Addie she became. Which, in the long run, wasn’t so bad, since the other sisters were Eunice and Leona, and, thank goodness, no one had suggested using Granny Lu’s real name, which was Lucretia.
Life with Granny Lu had been pretty good, especially when she and Tish were getting along. Granny Lu had opened Lulu’s House of Hair in her extra bedroom even before her husband died young. There was one chair for clients in front of a jeweled mirror, one chair at a sink, and one attached to a dome hair dryer. Twinkly lights went across the ceiling. A tinselly pink Christmas tree came out in November and stayed till February, when the strings of red hearts came out. Granny Lu was into seasonal decorations and bought way, way too many things on Home Shopping TV.
As soon as she was old enough, Addie was put in charge of decorations and sweeping up for an allowance. She loved leaving the school bus behind and running up the walk to chat with Mrs. Donald about the weather, or make Ms. Schmidt a mug of tea, or see the latest pictures of Mrs. Leroux’s cat.
The one unbreakable rule was that no client was kept past 4 p.m., because that was when Granny Lu and Addie had business to attend to. Some days it was Home Shopping TV. “That commemorative coin is going to be worth a jackpot someday . . . just you wait and see!” And some days it was exercising with their favorite videos, such as Bollywood Dance Craze. Addie and Granny Lu had matching rainbow leggings. Granny Lu was all about keeping up with the latest styles in clothes, haircuts, and eye shadows, and she tried to pass this along to Addie, without much success. Addie didn’t care much about looking good, but she definitely liked the dance routines, and the decorations for each season, and she loved Granny Lu.
Then Granny Lu died and everything changed.
Since then, Addie and Tish had bounced around to each of Tish’s brothers, with a few cousins thrown in. They were on the last ones: Nice Uncle Tim and Crazy Aunt Tina. Aunt Tina had a brother, Matt, who worked in landscaping at the Happy Valley Village Retirement Community, which was how Tim got his sister, Tish, a job there. Owing to a few minor run- ins Tish had had with the law, it wasn’t easy, but Tim and Matt convinced them to try her for a month. So they had one month to make it work.
Addie didn’t have high hopes, as Granny Lu would have put it. Tish wasn’t one to put down roots and stick around anywhere for too long. This new school was Addie’s eleventh, if you counted preschool.
“Wait till Wilma sees this millipede!”
Dickson was holding something with a lot of legs. Addie gave a snort.
“She’s in for a real treat. Who’s Wilma?”
“You’ll see. She works at Happy Valley Village . . . HVV, for short. There it is.”
Addie stopped. At the bottom of the ravine the trickle had grown into a full- fledged stream and flowed into a wide, round pond. It was surrounded by a lawn that stretched up a sloping hill to the biggest old house Addie had ever seen. There was a round tower sticking up at one end, and a long grassy terrace edged by a low stone wall. On both sides of the old house were modern buildings stretching out from it like giant arms.
What made Addie stare, though, was how, at that moment, the sun burst from under the dark gray clouds like a spotlight turning every window to a blinding melting gold. Maples beside the house blazed like rubies and topazes.
Addie could barely breathe. Maybe it’s a sign, she thought. Maybe things could turn out all right here. She thought she could feel something good starting down in her toes. . . .
She shook her head. Whoa, who was she kidding? Granny Lu always said, among other things, “Don’t get your high- flyin’ hopes flyin’ too high.”
Excerpted from How to Save a Superhero by Ruth Freeman with permission from Holiday House. Copyright © 2021 by Ruth Freeman.
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What do you think about How to Save a Superhero? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!