The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister

Charlotte Agell; illustrations by Charlotte Agell

Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books

Accidental Adventures of India McAllister
1
Me--India McAllister
My name is India McAllister, and I'm nine and a half years old. I live in Wolfgang, Maine, where there are no wolves, but the coyotes grow almost as big. You can hear them calling to each other at night.
My house is on the corner of Blueberry and Buckle streets, so my address sounds like the best breakfast in the world: blueberry buckle! Nowadays, it's just Mom and me, and Tofu of course. He's my dog. It's a big house with really high ceilings. You could practically playbasketball in here. I've never done that, but badminton works okay, except when the birdie gets stuck in the chandelier.
We actually have a chandelier, but we never dust it, and I can't seem to knock down that birdie.
Everybody always asks me about my name. People think I'm from India. But I'm not. My mom and dad adopted me from China, back when I was too little to remember. The way I look at it, I'm from Wolfgang, Maine. Here's what I'm not named for:
Except for being born in China, I've never even been outside of Maine. Here's what I am named for:
That's because Rosemary, my mother, is an artist, and she's in love with ink. India ink. She says it's the best smell on earth and that it's darker than night. I think it's okay, but personally I prefer sour apple gum, or how the grass smells when it gets cut.
Right now, Mom isn't working much in ink. She's in an oil paint phase. Since her studio is in the big front room, our house smells like turpentine. That room used to be the parlor, Mom says, back when fancy people lived in this house, instead of us.
Once upon a time, my dad lived at the corner of Blueberry and Buckle, too. His name is Andrew. He isn't fancy either, but at least he lived here. Now he lives in Ottenbury with his friend Richard. He left when I was seven, but sometimes it doesn't feel that long ago. I see him all the time--almost every weekend. But I miss him more than that.
I don't miss Richard. I don't really know Richard.
My mother says she doesn't care. Divorce is fine with her. Mom insists she's so busy painting these days that she can hardly think of anything else (except me, of course). And she is busy--very busy. She even forgets when to cook. It's a good thing I can put together a balanced meal by myself.
Our whole back room is full of paintings. Sometimes she sells one in a big show in New York City and is excited for weeks. Mom promises that next time she has a show there, we'll both go. Too bad for Dad. He'll be stuck in Ottenbury with Richard.
There's a lot to know about me. Like what I like. What people like is very revealing. For example, Richard likes smelly cheese.
I do not!
Here's what I do like ...
India McAllister's Top Ten List!
1. Tofu. He's the best dog in the world, even if he eats our slippers.
2. Some of my mom's paintings. Not all of them. And my mom, of course.
3. My teacher, Mr. Argentoth. He lets me read when he's teaching. Also, he has the mustache of a grand villain, only he's really, really nice!
4. Colby, my best friend. He's a boy, but half the time, I act more like a boy than he does. (In third grade, that didn't matter. Amanda Roden says it matters now because we're in fourth grade, but I say it doesn't. Amanda Roden is not on the top ten list of what I like, or even my top hundred list, and there are definitely good reasons for that!!!!!)
5. My dad when we do cool stuff together. Actually, my dad all the time, except when he calls me on the phone. For some reason, I hate phones. Everything I say on the phone sounds like someone else talking.
6. Science. It just makes more sense than most things.
7. The crab apple tree in the middle of town. It's great for climbing. When the blossoms are out in May, nobody can see you, which is why I spent a whole day up there, but that's too long a story for a list.
8. Reading. I'm suspicious of people who don't like to read, although Colby is one of them, and I like him fine. He's just wrong about reading.
9. My next-door neighbor, Mrs. Ordinance. Her last name means "rule" but she hardly has any--rules, that is. When I want to hear myself think, I go to her house, and she listens.
10. Adventures. I haven't really had any yet, but I am planning to.
Text and illustrations copyright © 2010 by Charlotte Agell