Recipe for a SMART COOKIE:
1. Take one spunky main character (Frankie), stir in a Dad who owns a Vermont bed-and-breakfast, and whip in a puppy, a hedgehog, a Gram, and a ghost-loving friend named Elliot.
2. Check to make sure all characters are present. No, don’t add a mom. She’s the missing ingredient. Yes, that seems too sour, but life is like that sometimes, especially when a parent dies. Frankie doesn’t like this situation any better than you do, but let her fix things on her own. She’s got an idea up her sleeve—Operation Mom—that just might give her a real family of three before the Winter Family Festival Parade.
3. Carefully measure out the secret ingredient—an online dating profile for Dad. Interview possible moms. (Possibles) Sift out any Possibles who don’t like eleven-year-old girls, beagle puppies, African pygmy hedgehogs, cookies, hiking, and bed-and-breakfasts.
4. Blend in a cup of spice, or something spooky, like a ghost. If you don’t have a ghost handy, then toss in Elliot’s ghost-meter to prove one is hanging around the B&B and driving away the guests. To add tension, sprinkle in a raspberry gum-chewing ex-best friend, a stolen charm bracelet, and a locked shed overflowing with secrets.
5. Before you pour everything into a baking pan, crumble in a few Nacho Cheese Doritos. (They’re Frankie’s favorite.) Spoon in a healthy dose of sweetness, like a photo of Mom, a boyfriend for Gram, and a kindergarten teacher with a parrot named Taco. Even if the bowl is overflowing and the batter seems lumpy, trust me, you need the kindergarten teacher. She will help smooth everything out.
6. Bake. Frost with a fresh coat of snow in time for the Winter Family Festival Parade. Garnish with roses, both yellow and pink. Before diving into the final product, admire what you have created: A family for Frankie, full of a lot of stuff she had before she started stirring everything up.
SMART COOKIE, by Elly Swartz, is published by Scholastic Press. Elly is also the author of the middle grade novel FINDING PERFECT. For more information on the author, visit ellyswartz.com.