Quiet Revolution is excited to share an excerpt from Adriana Brad Schanen’s new children’s novel, Quinny & Hopper: Smart Cookies–the third book in her Quinny & Hopper realistic fiction series, which centers on the yin-yang friendship between Quinny, an exuberant, relentlessly-social girl who has the “fastest engine” in her 3rd grade class, and Hopper, a thoughtful, cautious, creative boy for whom solitude is fuel. Narrated by both Quinny and Hopper, this award-winning series celebrates social courage, friendship diversity, and the silliness of chickens.
“I loved creating this temperament-diverse boy-girl friendship, and letting both main characters take turns telling us the story,” says Adriana. “One of my greatest joys was showing the layers and passions of a quiet kid–Hopper–who is sometimes overlooked but secretly fascinating. His connection with Quinny helps them both grow their empathy and perspective-taking muscles, as they weather the ups and down of third grade life together.”
In the latest installment of this series, Q&H: Smart Cookies, which releases today, Quinny petitions to overturn a new school-wide ban on sweets (the horror!), but finds that fighting for change isn’t as easy as she expected. Meanwhile, Hopper reinvents the “Friendship Bench” at recess and creates an extraordinary way to help Quinny with her math anxiety–but struggles himself with feeling invisible when others take credit for his ideas. As Quinny and Hopper help each other through life’s inevitable struggles and surprises–including a kooky new flock of chickens that won’t stop fighting and a beloved guinea pig that goes missing–they both learn to find their voices and embrace the qualities that make them who they are.
Quinny isn’t at the bus stop again on Tuesday. That’s two mornings in a row.
When I get to school she’s not there, either. By the lockers, I find out why.
Victoria is whispering in a way that isn’t really a whisper, but a voice she wants everyone around her to hear. “And then she . . . big crash . . . couldn’t even make a pizza stop … the guard tried … crying … big bruise on her … broken … you should’ve heard her scream.…”
I move a little closer. But all I can figure out is that there was some kind of accident at the skating rink yesterday. Where is Quinny now? Victoria doesn’t seem to know, either.
I don’t know what to think. Is Quinny okay? When is she coming back to school? Is she coming back? I try to picture school without Quinny, and I can’t do it—my mind goes blank.
After morning meeting, I hear Alex repeat Victoria’s story to Caleb, but in his version, a hockey stick hit Quinny in the face and blood gushed out of her nose like a waterfall. Later, on the way to gym, McKayla tells Xander she heard Quinny broke her leg and got taken away in an ambulance with sirens. The way people are talking, Quinny will probably be dead before lunch.
I don’t know what the truth is. It doesn’t seem like anyone else does, either.
At recess, I don’t feel like running or kicking or tagging people.
I’m about to go and sit on the steps with my book, but then I decide to go to the Friendship Bench instead. It’s quieter there. Shadier, too. And no one will bother me, because no one ever sits there.
I spend recess reading. And looking around, since I can see the whole field from here.
Izzy is sitting behind the sycamore tree.
Buck is standing by the door to the school, looking straight up at the sky.
That quiet girl Juniper is walking on the edge of the field, dragging her fingers across the fence. Her eyes are half closed, like she’s watching a private movie inside her eyelids.
Some people want to be alone at recess. I’m one of them, a lot of the time.
But I didn’t realize there were so many others.
After my best friend, Owen, moved away last year, I started spending recess by myself. I didn’t want another friend. I didn’t want to admit I wanted one, at least—not until Quinny moved in next door and forced me to be her friend. Maybe that’s why no one sits on the Friendship Bench. It’s hard to show the world you’re lonely. It’s hard to say you need a friend.
Even if you need one so badly it hurts to breathe.
My Tuesday morning is full of tragedy, and then Daddy drops me at school just in time to miss recess and sit still for math. Oh, yay.
Mrs. Flavio is up at the whiteboard again putting numbers into bunk beds (that’s called fractions) and then mixing them up with a bunch of decimal dot numbers. My brain has to squint to figure out what she is even talking about. Plus, Hopper isn’t in class today, which makes me even less happy to be here.
“Mrs. Flavio, can I go to the bathroom?” I call out.
Then I remember to raise my hand. You’re supposed to do that before you ask your question, but maybe she won’t notice I did it in the wrong order.
Mrs. Flavio leans down and looks me in the eye. It’s terrifying stuff.
“I find it interesting, Quinny, that every time I mention decimals, you feel the sudden urge to use the restroom.”
“I’m not sure it’s that interesting, Mrs. Flavio. When you gotta go, you gotta go.”
She finally says ok-but-come-right-back-no-dawdling, and I get a hall pass and go to the bathroom and sit there in the stall and wait until I’m pretty sure decimals is almost over.
(If Mom knew I did this, she’d be super upset. That’s why I’m never going to tell her.)
When I go back out to the hall, there is a giant surprise waiting for me.
“Hopper Hopper Hopper! It’s you.”
“It’s me,” he says.
“What are you doing out here in the hall? And why weren’t you in class?”
“Mrs. Flavio needed a responsible person to take a note to the main office.”
“Oh, Hopper, we have so much to catch up on.”
“What happened at the rink? Everybody was saying you got hurt—”
“Oh, it was nothing, I just crashed into a kid who was ten feet tall. But I was fine and went home and everything, but this morning my arm really hurt so Daddy took me to Urgent Care for an X-ray, but the meanie doctor wouldn’t even give me a cast, he said it was just a sprain.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re okay.”
“I’d be even better if they gave me a cast, because then people could write on it. Hey, speaking of writing, Hopper, can you sign my petition to save the cookies?”
“It’s a petition to ask Principal Ramsey to change his mind and let us have classroom sweets for birthdays and holidays still. Remember how Nidhi brought in red velvet cupcakes for her birthday? And for Christmas did you know Daddy and I always bake coconut snowballs—”
“Uh, sure. I’ll sign it.”
“Great. And by the way, before you sign that petition, could you also help me write it?”
Writing a petition sounds a lot more complicated than signing a petition.
“Quinny, I don’t know anything about making a petition.”
“That’s okay, neither do I!”
“I’m not even on student council—”
“You don’t have to be on student council to do a petition. And Victoria has decided to be enemies with my petition, so I need your help big time.”
On the bus ride home we get to work on the petition. Quinny says words out loud and I write them down. But right away, there’s a problem.
“Dear Principal Ramsey,” Quinny says. “Weren’t Nidhi’s birthday cupcakes just so yummy? And wait till you try my coconut snowballs at the winter holiday party! I promise to bring you some extras if you could just let us still have sweets and cookies in class, so please change the rules back, or school will turn into such a frowny, miserable place—”
“—full of gloomy kids who don’t want to come, and then you’ll have no customers—”
“Quinny, I think we have to convince him with facts and ideas, not just whining—”
“Fine—Dear Principal Ramsey, it’s a fact that cookies are an important part of school, and cookies make kids happy, and happy kids get better grades, so please don’t make us all flunk out by stealing all the cookies, because we want our cookies back and we want them back now!”
I don’t even bother writing any of this down. “Quinny, slow down, that’s a lot of words.”
“Oh, Hopper, you’re right. People look at stuff more than they actually read words, so let’s illustrate that petition with lots of yummy cookies!”
“Yeah, you know, like you could draw cookies and treats on it, because we’ll get more people to sign it if it looksdelicious. And also, we should make signs and walk around the playground. Save the cookies!A sign is much bigger than a petition.”
I stare at Quinny. She’s serious. Then she gets this startled look on her face and her eyes zoom toward the bus window. “Hopper!!! Look!” She bounces and points.
Our bus passes Grandpa Gooley’s pickup truck, parked by Mrs. Porridge’s house. He’s got something big in the back, covered by a tarp cloth.
“Hopper, is that . . . are those . . . feathers!?!”
The bus pulls up to our stop and Quinny rushes off and runs over to Grandpa Gooley’s truck like her hair is on fire.
“Grandpa Gooley!” she cries out. “Is that what I think it is in your truck?”
“Take it easy, Quinny. I’m just dropping something off for Mrs. Porridge.”
“But Grandpa Gooley, I saw feathers! And I heard clucking!”
“Feathers? What would I be doing with feathers?”
Bipp. Brrrp. Bock.
“Chickens! Hopper, listen, I think those feathers belong to real live chickens!”
Mrs. Porridge comes over to us. She doesn’t look too excited. “These hens weren’t supposed to arrive until tomorrow,” she snaps. “I’m not even set up for them yet. And I was hoping to surprise the children.”
“Oh, Mrs. Porridge, we’re totally surprised,” says Quinny. “You said no more chickens ever, and Grandpa Gooley said it’s impossible to make you change your mind about anything—”
“Did he, now?”
“But don’t worry, we’re here to help,” says Quinny. “Hopper and I can get that
chicken coop cleaned out and ready for these new birds in no time. I’m free right now!”
“Fantastic,” says Mrs. Porridge. “Just the nice, calm afternoon I was hoping for.”
Brrr bup brrrrrippsays something under the tarp in the truck.
“Grandpa Gooley, let us see—come on, come on,” cries Quinny. “We need to see those beautiful, brilliant chickens from head to toe right this very minute!”
“Okay, let’s do it.” Grandpa Gooley grabs the tarp. “Ready to meet your new neighbors?”