Authors: Jan Bozarth
“This sparkling combination of action and magic is bound to enchant.”
“Excellentâ¦. The writing is refreshingly well done and weaves together the author's knowledge of art, folklore, and botany to paint a magical world where readers' senses are piqued by the likes of stone fairies, cave anemones, and a queen named Patchouli.”
“Great for girls who love fairies and magical worlds.”
“Bozarth's tale is a beguiling mix of magic, adventure and eco-awareness, and her message of girl-power and positive change will resonate with tween readers.”
“A fun, light read that ought to be a hit with girls who like adventure and magic.”
âBooks for Kids (blog)
“Bozarth has taken the best aspects of various young adult genres and mixed them together in a fresh and optimistic way.”
The Fairy Godmother Academy
Dedicated to my friend Meredith Dreiss
and my Cuban family
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The Long Road
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The last Saturday in October, a week after my thirteenth birthday, was awesome. Autumn in New York City can have practically any kind of weather, from warm Indian summer, to clear and crisp, to rainy and miserable. That day the trees along the streets of Manhattan wore their most beautiful fall leaves, and there was a hint of chill in the air. It was a perfect day to sleep in, have a lazy brunch, and then go for a walk in the afternoon. I love to wander around with friends, poking through the things that street vendors have for sale, eating hot pretzels, riding the carousel in Central Park, or watching tourists in the horse-drawn carriages.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a lazy Saturday in the Guevara family. That's because my parents own a bakery on the Upper West Side, and
everybody in our family works thereâfrom my mother's mother down to JosÃ© Junior (J.J. for short). We all wake up at four in the morning to get the bakery ready to open at six-thirty for the grabbing-breakfast-on-the-way-to-the-office crowd. Sundays are the only exception. The bakery is always closed on Sundays to get ready for the following week.
I hate mornings. I mean, how many thirteen-year-olds even have a job, much less one that starts at the break of dawn? I don't usually argue, but once, after staying up too late looking at my world atlas the night beforeâstudying maps of all the countries I'll probably never get to seeâI made the mistake of telling my parents I was too young to work at Alma de Chocolate, which means “soul of the chocolate.” In fact, on the sign outside our bakery, below the name, are the words “We Feed the Soul.”
PapÃ¡ had given me a stern look. “It's the family business,
. We all have to do our part.”
is short for
, which is “my daughter” in Spanish, and that's what my parents usually call me. My brothers and friends just call me Zally, though.)
MamÃ¡ gave a small shrug and said, “It is not so bad. In many places, children much younger than you go to work.”
Abuelitaâmy grandmother, who is so short
the top of her head only comes to my shoulder.âchuckled and said, “In some countries, you are old enough to be married. At least you do not have children of your own to support.” She chuckled again.
I haven't complained since. Now I just drag myself out of bed, no matter how sleepy I am, and get going. Once I get my body up and moving, eventually my brain wakes up, too.
That Saturday seemed like most Saturdays at Alma de Chocolate. It's my job to wait on the customers, so that's what I did. I actually like talking to the people who come in and finding out where they've traveled. I ask about what they did and where they stayed, whether there were any cool ruins, and what kind of animals they saw. I want to know everything!
On the counter, we keep a globe that has Guatemala marked with a teensy Guatemalan flag and a sign that says:
A PORTION OF THE PROFITS FROM
ALMA DE CHOCOLATE
GOES TO SUPPORT THE CHILDREN
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATRONAGE
Anyway, Saturday mornings are slow, and I was doing homework when a man walked into the shop, wearing a baseball cap, a Windbreaker, and a confused expressionâdefinitely a tourist. He had a map of Manhattan and looked disappointed when he saw me behind the counter.
“Oh, I was hoping someone could help me with directions. Never mind,” he said, starting to walk out.
Don't you hate it when somebody thinks that you can't possibly know how to do something just because you're young? “
can help you,” I said, stopping the man in his tracks.
He didn't look like he believed me, but he turned and came back to the counter. “I'm supposed to meet somebody at the Metropolitan Museum of Artâ”
“Simple,” I said. I whipped out a blank sheet of paper and sketched a map of the route through Central Park from our shop to the Met.
Have I mentioned that I love maps? Maps have been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember.
The man raised his eyebrows as I labeled the streets and told him what landmarks to watch for. I loved his look of surprise. He bought a loaf of bread, a mini magdalena, a couple of chocolate
, and a cup of coffee. Then, thanking me, he left with a smile on his face.
I sat back down, feeling like a true New Yorker.
I was born in New York City, but my parents didn't grow up here; they grew up in a tiny village in Guatemala. After they moved to America, they had to work so hard for every penny that now they never take anything they have for granted. Clothes get passed down or given to a homeless shelter. In the bakery we also find a use for everything. Cans, bottles, paper, and plastic go into recyclers. Day-old breads or pastries get donated to a soup kitchen. On top of that, twice a year my mother travels down to Guatemala with a group of volunteers to build schools. MamÃ¡ had been gone for over a week on one of these trips and was due back home on Sunday. When I am fourteen, I'll get to goâmy first international trip!
My favorite form of “recycling” in our family is that whenever somebody in our neighborhood finds a stray pet that has no tags, they bring it to us at the shop. Then one of us carries the animal home and cleans it up. We also take in animals whose owners can't care for them any longer for one reason or another.