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Authors: Jennifer Bell

The Crooked Sixpence (32 page)

BOOK: The Crooked Sixpence
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Ivy couldn't help laughing.

‘So did you really meet Mr Punch, then?' Seb asked her.

‘Oh yes. I'll explain it all when we're home.'

‘Ivy,' he said, looking at her new gloves. ‘We are gonna come back here, right? Valian said it opens again in the spring.'

Ivy shrugged. ‘I think we have to. Someone's got to stop Selena.'

Seb nodded gravely. ‘Yeah.' His mouth twitched into a smile. ‘But also, I was thinking earlier about all the cool stuff we might've missed this time round. Like, I know my uncommon drumsticks are awesome, but there must be something better than that. And then it came to me . . .'

‘What did?' Granma Sylvie asked.

‘Cars, you guys! I can't believe I've only just thought of it now! Uncommoners must drive amazing cars. I wonder if they trade spare parts – uncommon tyres and stuff.'

Ivy shook her head. ‘Is that what you've been thinking about? Driving an uncommon car?'

‘What's wrong with that? I'll be able to take lessons in a couple of years. Anyway, what've
you
been thinking about?'

Ivy laughed. She and Seb had faced death; they'd fought monsters and talking wolves, discovered a whole new branch of their family and used everyday objects to bend the laws of science. ‘I've been thinking how everything feels different now,' she admitted. ‘We're not muckers any more; we're uncommoners. Haven't you thought about how our lives will change?'

‘I dunno about that,' Seb replied. ‘But one thing's for sure: I'm never going to look at a toilet brush in the same way again.'

Acknowledgements

My gratitude goes to Sarah Davies and the teams at the Greenhouse Literary Agency and Rights People, for all the hard work they've done and continue to do on my behalf.

I'd like to send lots of love to everyone I worked with closely at Foyles Bookshop on Charing Cross Road: Neil, Cleaver, Kate, BXL, Mac, Rupert and Sean – you made that place feel like home and were a constant source of inspiration. Sam and Jo – this book wouldn't have happened had I not had the incredible fortune to work with both of you for so long. Thanks for teaching me how to be a good children's bookseller; I know it's helped me to become a better children's writer. Thanks also to all the publishing sales representatives who were full of encouragement: Andy Penguin, Foy, the gorgeous Heidi, lovely Lucy Cornwell, Tobes, Glen, Birchy and my bestie, Peter Fry. I miss you all.

A very special thank you to Ginny Garramone who valiantly read several early drafts, and to Gemma Cooper and Robin Stevens for showing real kindness and making me feel like part of the family. Jim Dean, thanks for the twitter advice – sorry I'm such a social-media failure. Dawn Kurtagich, I apologize now for shaking my fists at the sky during our skype calls; you've been a ray of sunshine after some pretty bad storms.

Maintaining my sanity throughout the process is due, in part, to the brilliant and beautiful Sarah Bryars, who has coached me out of many a panic, and the truly lovely George Hanratty – a conversation with you can work wonders. Thank you both for being there.

Sarwat ‘the guru' Chadda, you are a complete legend. I wouldn't have written a decent draft without your guidance, or found Greenhouse. I owe you one . . . thousand.

Tamara Macfarlane, thank you for taking me under your wing and inviting me into your wonderland at Tales On Moon Lane. Kath, Leah, Julia and especially Tereze, you've been so patient and I am utterly grateful.

Thank you to everyone in the Blue Bar book group who has supported me, in particular Frann Preston-Gannon, Lesley Preston and Robert Croma for reading an early draft, and Roy Butlin, who pretended to hate it. It's funny how only a few words from you gave me the confidence to write a lot more.

To my agent Polly Nolan, it has been an utter privilege getting to know you and working with you. You are the most graceful tough cookie I've ever met and I still can't believe someone as talented as you has decided to be my champion. If you were an uncommon object you'd be a grade ten, no question.

To my long serving friends: Natalia, you not only gave me the inspiration for Ivy's incredible hair, but also the most loving support throughout the whole process. Nichol, this all started with that copy of
Eragon
– who knows what I'd have ended up doing without it. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction, and for being there every step of the way.

Tara. What can I say? It's so comforting to have a best friend who's a writer too. Your belief in me has been unflinching and you were the first person who answered that phone call. Thanks for being there during the meltdowns and always managing to make me feel better.

Finally, I wouldn't have written a story about a girl who has to save her family, if I didn't have an incredible one of my own: Mum and Beth – I hope you know that. You're my lucky stars.

About the Author

Londoner Jennifer Bell began working in children's books as a specialist bookseller at Foyles – one of the world's most famous bookshops – in Charing Cross Road. There she looked after the shop's five not-so-deadly piranha fish as well as recommending children's books to celebrities, royalty and even astronauts. After having the privilege of listening to children talk about their favourite books for many years, she started writing one of her own. Jennifer came up for the idea of
The Crooked Sixpence
while packing for a holiday and wishing she could just disappear inside her suitcase and be there already. The world of Lundinor is inspired by sayings from traditional English nursery rhymes as well as the stories Jennifer grew up with about the Cockney markets her grandparents used to visit.

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First published 2016
This ebook published 2016

Text copyright © Jennifer Bell, 2016
Cover art © Karl James Mountford, 2016

The moral right of the author has been asserted

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN: 978–1–448–19499–5

All correspondence to:
RHCP Digital
Penguin Random House Children's
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL

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