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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

The Fix-It Friends: Sticks and Stones

The Fix-It Friends (Volume 2)

Nicole C. Kear; illustrated by Tracy Dockray



Chapter 1

I’m Veronica Conti and I’m seven. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m great at fixing things.

Well, I’m not great at fixing stuff, like necklaces or computers or precious glass vases that accidentally got knocked off the shelf and shattered into a billion pieces. I’m better at breaking that kind of stuff than fixing it.

But I can fix problems. In fact, I am the president of a problem-solving group. Just read the sign hanging on my bedroom wall.

When my big brother, Jude, saw my sign, he rolled his eyes and said, “First of all, we’re not ‘professional.’ That means people pay us, and they don’t.”

So I crossed out professional and wrote world-famous instead.

Was he satisfied? Of course not.

“‘World-famous’ isn’t true, either,” he said. “And you can’t say that no problem is too big. What if someone’s appendix bursts? That problem would be too big.”

“JUDE!” I hollered. “You are driving me bonkers!” I crossed out a bunch of things and wrote new things.

“And you’re not the president,” he said. “We don’t have a president.”

Jude is very bossy. He’s in fourth grade, and I’m in second, so he is only two years older than me, but he acts like he’s already a grown-up.

“Here,” I said, taping the sign back up. This is what it said:

“Fine,” Jude said.

He didn’t care that I called him Bossy Pants, because his real middle name is much, much worse than that. It’s so embarrassing, he made me swear never to tell a living soul. Or a dead soul, either.

There are four Fix-It Friends. We each made our own personal posters, which I hung up next to the group poster. Jude said he didn’t want so many posters cluttering up his bedroom wall, but I said it was my wall, actually. We share a bedroom, and we share the walls, too. Two for me, two for him.

My walls are completely full of posters and pictures and fascinating stuff like that. Jude’s walls are completely blank because he is completely boring.

These are the posters each of us made. First, Jude’s, in his oh-so-perfect penmanship:

His best friend, Ezra, made a cool sign on his computer:

He didn’t write that he was good at speed talking, but he is. In fact, it’s the only way he talks. When he grows up, if he is not a rich and famous computer inventor, he could get a job being the person who talks really fast at the end of commercials and says stuff like “No substitutions, exchanges, or refunds. Must be eighteen or older to order.”

Cora, who is my best friend, wrote her sign in script. We didn’t learn it at school yet, but she taught it to herself:

I know it seems like she wrote the same word twice, but she didn’t. Mediation is when you help people stop fighting. It’s like being a peacemaker. Once a week, Cora is a mediator at the recess playground, and so is Jude. I tried to be one, but the mean recess teacher, Miss Tibbs, didn’t pick me. She said I had “too much personality” for the job—which doesn’t even make sense! That’s like saying you can have too much whipped cream. Impossible!

Meditation is totally different and a lot more boring, if you ask me. I tried to meditate once, when our teacher Miss Mabel made us. We folded our legs into lotus position, which is like crisscross applesauce only more uncomfortable. Then we closed our eyes.

“What do we do now?” I asked Miss Mabel.

“We do nothing,” she whispered. “We think nothing. We say nothing.”

Right away, my nose got sooooo itchy, and I tried to scratch it with my tongue. All the kids laughed, and I got in trouble. But Cora sat perfectly still for so long, if a pigeon had been passing by, he would have thought she was a statue and pooped on her. So it’s true. She really is good at meditation and mediation.

I made a poster, too. I used turquoise glitter. Everything’s better with turquoise glitter.

Dad calls me a chatterbox. Mom says I’ve got the gift of gab. Jude says I’m a motormouth. But I don’t care, because talking is how I find people with problems that need solving.

Like Noah.

I’ve been friends with Noah since first grade. For a long time, I thought he was mute. That’s what you call it when someone doesn’t talk. Like when you hit the “mute” button on the TV, and it makes the sound turn off.

I didn’t mind that Noah was mute, because you don’t have to talk to play tag, and Noah is the best tag player in the universe. He runs so fast, he is basically a blur. One second he’s standing in front of you, and the next second he’s halfway across the playground.

If I were Noah, I would always be yelling, “Eat my dust!” but he never yells that because he never yells at all.

I used to think Noah couldn’t talk, so I helped him by answering questions for him. Then one day our friend Minnie was giving out Life Savers at recess. She gave one to Noah, but he shook his head. So I explained, “He’s allergic.”

Then, all of a sudden, Noah opened his mouth, and words came out!

“No, I’m not,” he said. “I just don’t like the cherry kind. Do you have any pineapple?”

I gasped.

I love to gasp. It adds drama to the day.

“Noah! It’s a miracle! You can talk!” I shouted.

“I could always talk,” he said.

“You could?”

“Sure,” he said oh-so-casually. “I just don’t always have something to say.”

So Noah’s not mute. He’s just the quiet type. I always liked that about him.

I always liked it until J.J. Taylor happened. After I saw what J.J. did in the school yard, I started to think that Noah needed to speak up. And if he wouldn’t, then the Fix-It Friends would speak up for him.

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