Miracles might come in all shapes and sizes, but I’m still not convinced they are small and furry like Lady Gaga
It’s funny what people consider to be a miracle. After Dad had his “little accident”, Grams said, “Joe, it’s a small miracle you didn’t kill yourself.” It wasn’t a small miracle though, it was Eileen from the hairdressers and nothing about Eileen is small or miraculous. If she hadn’t been walking her dog, Lady Gaga, at that exact moment, she wouldn’t have seen Dad’s post van roll down the hill and shouted at him to move out the way. So, as I said – not a miracle, just good timing. Well good-ish timing– he still broke his leg.
Our teacher, Mrs Walker, once said that if she finished the school year without strangling one of us it would be a miracle. At the end of Year Six all my class were still alive…at least I think they were still alive. Dylan Katano disappeared midway through the autumn term, but I heard he went back to Japan. Anyway, my point is that Mrs Walker was wrong. Not strangling one of 6W is not a miracle – even if we were a handful.
In the olden times miracles used to be bigger. Although there’s no knowing if those miracles actually happened. Once Charlie, Ben and I tried to share a bag of fish and chips from Marley’s. It stretched the very limits of our friendship – and Marley’s is known for their big portions. How some bloke called Jesus managed to share three haddock and some whitey slicey with 5,000 people, I do not know. I guess people wanted to believe it had happened.
Dad says people like a good story and if it makes them happy then why let the truth get in the way? I suppose that’s what happened in Wales this summer. People saw what they wanted to see. And they wanted to see miracles.
If you’d have asked me at the beginning of July what I thought about that, I’d have told you that the truth is important. That facts are important. Back then, facts were just about my favourite thing. Some people collect Pokémon cards, some people collect stickers, I collected facts. See, once you know a fact, it’s yours to keep for ever. It can’t leave you and no one can take it away. But then, this summer I saw something truly miraculous which made me question everything.
You probably need to know a bit about Ben and Charlie to understand why they got involved in this whole thing
The summer should have gone like this – Ben was supposed to be going to America with his dad and his new step mum Becky, Charlie was going to some vegan sanctuary with his parents and I was going to be loafing around the house with Dad and Grams. But none of this happened.
On the surface you might think Ben had the best deal. But you haven’t met Becky. Even Disney World can’t cancel out Becky. Grams said she’d met women like her before. I don’t know who these women were or where she met them, but I got the impression Grams did not approve.
On the last day of Year Six we sang a really shouty version of “One More Step Along The World I Go” in our leavers’ assembly. Then Mrs Walker wished us and our future teachers the best of luck and led us out to the playground to be picked up by our parents. She looked pretty frazzled by then. Ben had put five packets of Mentos in a bottle of Coke at the class party and there had been a massive explosion. He said he didn’t know it would happen, but we all knew that was a lie because a lively woman with striped tights and a badge that said I Love Science had done it in assembly in Year Five.
I had permission to walk home as Dad couldn’t drive after his accident and Grams wasn’t allowed to drive after she crashed into the war memorial in the centre of town. I think the doctor said it was because she had guacamole in her eyes – which is odd because she wouldn’t eat foreign food. (She also couldn’t have driven me home because by this point she was dead – but I didn’t know that at the time. I’m telling you now so you’re prepared for the sad bit later.)
Ben, Charlie and I were walking out of the school gates – I was heading to the newsagent to buy my usual after-school snack of a packet of Monster Munch – when Ben’s new step mum Becky rolled up in their new Range Rover and wound down the window. She was wearing a very low-cut top which Grams would have said is “just asking for attention”.
“Hi, boys!” She smiled, revealing a lot of teeth. Actually, I have a fact about teeth – you might want to write this down, it’s a good one. Grown-up humans have thirty-two teeth. Which, in the animal kingdom, is not that many. Most people think sharks have the most teeth, but they’re wrong. The garden snail has over 14,000 teeth. Even Becky doesn’t have that many.
Charlie whistled and said something embarrassing like, “Your new mum is awesome!”
Ben didn’t like that, so he gave Charlie a shove – not hard though. Ben reckons Charlie doesn’t have a filter. He’ll just blurt out whatever he’s thinking. I reckon Ben’s right about that.
Anyway, Becky flicked her long blonde hair and lifted up her huge sunglasses. “Hop in, Ben, I’m taking you for a haircut before our family holiday. You’re looking shabby.”
Ben wasn’t looking shabby. He has this really cool flat top going on. Sometimes he even has zig-zag lines or patterns shaved into the sides. The girls seem to like it. Well, they like it more than the haircut Grams gave me with the pinking shears that left me with a crinkly fringe. She blamed that on the guacamole too.
Ben was definitely upset by the shabby comment. He takes his hair quite seriously. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and mumbled so Becky couldn’t hear but I heard what he said. He said, “She’s not my new mum. She’s not even family.”
Becky didn’t like being kept waiting. Her face got a bit ugly and she shouted, “Benjamin!”
He seemed to get smaller and muttered, “It’s Ben.”
Everyone knows he doesn’t like being called Benjamin. But I don’t think Becky cared about what Ben liked, because she rolled her eyes and said, “Whatever, Benjamin – get in the car. We’re going to be late.”
Charlie and I shot each other a glance as Ben clambered into the back seat and slammed the door. And even though I knew he was going to Disney World, I felt sorry for him.
Becky tooted her horn and she must have forgotten that she was angry, because her big red lips stretched into another huge smile. She shouted out the window, “Have a wonderful summer, boys!” and then, with a screech of tyres, they were off.
After their car had turned the corner, Charlie did this big sigh and said, “Ben is so lucky. His new mum is really lovely.”
This is what I meant by Charlie having no filter and being blurty. I glared at him and said, “Charlie, we hate Becky remember?”
He puffed out his cheeks. “I know, I know, but—”
After that he convinced me to skip the Monster Munch and go with him to the chicken shop. He said he wanted “one last supper” before he went off to Camp Mung-bean for the annual Anderson family detox. Charlie’s mum turned vegan three years ago and he hasn’t stopped moaning about how it has ruined his life.
He ordered a family-sized bucket at Texas Fried Chicken and as he picked the bones clean he banged on about what a rubbish summer it was going to be for him at Healthy Kids = Happy Kids with only avocadoes to eat.
I wish I’d known at the time what was actually going to happen and then I could have put a stop to all his whingeing. But I didn’t, so I listened to his plans to sew sweets in his pyjamas and hide crisps in his sleeping bag, all the time thinking that my summer was going to suck waaaaaay harder than his.
Coming May 2020
Freddie Yates likes facts. Just not the one staring him in the face – that his secret plan is not, in fact, secret.
Because Freddie's journey wasn't meant to involve Big Trev and the onion-eating competition or the loo-exploding pear-and-potato turnovers. And Freddie definitely didn't expect to end up, with his two best friends, on national television in a supergirl costume.
But journeys never take you where you think they will. And for Freddie, that fact might just have to be enough...
The super funny, heart-warming adventure of three boys, one summer holiday, and a few miracles along the way.
“A big-hearted comic journey about friendship, family, and a miraculously well-timed seagull.”
David Solomons, author of My Brother is a Superhero
“This sleuthing-trip-cum-crime-solving spree has all the fizz of Jeremy Strong.”
“One of the funniest books you'll read this year, with bundles of heart to boot.”
Fiona Noble, The Bookseller
Jenny Pearson has been awarded with six mugs, one fridge magnet, one wall plaque and numerous cards for her role as ‘Best Teacher in the World’. When she is not busy being inspirational in the classroom, she would like nothing more than to relax with her two young boys, but she can’t as they view her as a human climbing frame. She has recently moved to the North East of England and while she has yet to meet Ant or Dec, she has learned how to use canny in a sentence. Which is dead canny, like.
Read the following reviews or write one of your own.
“Couldn't stop laughing”
I couldn’t stop laughing out loud. Each time I finished a chapter I didn’t want to stop reading.
The book was AMAZING! I laughed out loud…it sucks you in and makes you want to read more!
It was SO funny! I kept laughing out loud, especially the part where Freddie thought his Grams had guacamole in her eyes!
I belly laughed, cried and experienced every emotion in between
Fun, factual and a little bit naughty