Smart Cookie


The needle jiggles as a loud bellow of thunder shakes me from the inside.

“We should go back,” I say…

The big red wooden door begs me to break Rule #2: Stay out of the shed.

Elliot ignores the no trespassing sticker pasted across the door. “If we just walk into the shed, we can’t mess anything up. No one will even know we were in there.”

The needle moves to eight as the sky rumbles with purpose.

Elliot stares at me.

“Even the hair on my arms is sticking up. This is what happens right before a spirit shows up on The Great Ghost Pursuit. We have to check it out.”

Maybe he’s right. Maybe if we look and don’t touch anything, no one will know. Besides, Dad doesn’t want me outside in lightning. That’s Rule #1: Stay inside during a lightning storm. And, really, this isn’t even about me or Elliot’s ghost meter. This is about making sure the B&B is safe. What if by some minuscule chance Elliot’s right? What if there is some ghost in there? What if it’s Mom? I mean not her, but her ghost or being or spirit or whatever thingamajig you call it. What if she came back to be with me? Or tell me something really important?

“Come on, let’s go in,” Elliot says again, his nose turning red from the chill that’s fallen around us.

The needle flutters around the eight mark. He moves a few steps so he’s standing right in front of the big red door. I start to say something, but the hair on my arms prickles. I look down and read the meter.


I step in front of the door and turn the doorknob.

This. Is. It.


By Elly Swartz

Published by Scholastic, Inc.

Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

Sometimes you need to keep a few secrets.

Frankie knows she’ll be in big trouble if Dad discovers she secretly posted a dating profile for him online. But she’s determined to find him a wife, even if she ends up grounded for life. Frankie wants what she had before Mom died. A family of three. Two is a pair of socks or the wheels on a bicycle or a busy weekend at the B&B where Frankie and Dad live. Three is a family. And Frankie’s is missing a piece.

But Operation Mom is harder to pull off than Frankie expects. None of the Possibles are very momish, the B&B’s guests keep canceling, Frankie’s getting the silent treatment from her once best friend, and there’s a maybe-ghost hanging around. Worst of all, Gram and Dad are definitely hiding secrets of their own.

If a smart cookie like Frankie wants to save the B&B and find her missing piece, she’s going to have to figure out what secrets are worth keeping and when it’s time to let go.

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Elly Swartz is the author of Finding Perfectand Smart Cookie. She loves hiking, Twizzlers, writing for kids, and anything with her family. Shortly after writing a few chapters of her first book, she found inspiration in the most unexpected place. She opened her Bazooka Joe bubble gum fortune and it read, “You have the ability to become outstanding in literature.” That fortune remains tacked to the bulletin board next to her desk. Elly is a graduate of Boston University and the Georgetown University Law Center. She lives in the Boston area, is happily married, and has two grown sons and a beagle named Lucy.