We are so excited to reveal to you the DELIGHTFUL cover of Kim Baker's THE WATER BEARS!
But that's not all! In addition to revealing this lovely cover we are also sharing the first chapter AND doing an ARC GIVEAWAY!
To enter leave a comment at the end of this blog post! (Open until August 15th)
ABOUT WATER BEARS...
Newt Gomez has a thing with bears.
Last year, he survived a bear attack. Now he finds an unusual bear statue that just might grant wishes. Newt’s best friend, Ethan, notices a wishbone on the statue and decides to make a wish. When it comes true, Newt thinks it’s a coincidence. Even as more people’s wishes come true, Newt is not convinced.
But Newt has a wish too: while he loves his home on eccentric Murphy Island, he wants to go to middle school on the mainland where his extended family lives. There, he’s not the only Latinx kid, he won’t have to drive the former food truck— a gift from his parents— and he won’t have to perform in the vaudeville festival. Most importantly, on the mainland, he can escape memories of the attack. Newt is almost ready to make a secret wish when everything changes.
Tackling themes of survival and self-acceptance, Newt’s story illuminates the magic in our world, where reality is often uncertain but always full of salvageable wonders.
The Water Bears is a quirky, empowering story arriving April 21, 2020 from Wendy Lamb Books, Random House Children’s Books.
Read the 1st chapter...
People notice details when they hope a day might be special. It could be a surprise-visitor day, a hey-I’m-starting-to-grow-a-mustache day, or a blow-out-the-candles-on-your-favorite-cake day.
I found my mom on the computer in my brother Carlos’s old room. I stood in the doorway behind the desk, where she couldn’t see my leg. I am an expert at keeping furniture between us, especially when it’s hot enough for shorts. Even with the desk and me standing with my good leg in front of the bad one, Mom was careful not to look down. She hugged me and sang “Happy Birthday” like an opera singer. I clapped for the effort.
“Where are Dad and Little Leti?” I asked. I thought they might be out getting me a present. My sister always waits until the last minute. Or they’d gone to the bakery to pick up a cake. Dad used to make our favorites at home, but he’s working more this year.
“They’re down at Gertrude Lake. Everyone’s down there,” she said. Everyone but us. She brushed dog hair off the keyboard and straightened a stack of bills. “Your dad saw it this morning.”
“Saw what?” The first thing I thought of couldn’t be right, but she said it anyway.
“He saw Marvelo.” She smiled again, like that was good news, or a joke, or the start of a conversation. She stretched and turned back to the computer, scrolling through recipes and fishing reports.
There was nothing to say back.
Marvelo is a creature that supposedly lives in Gertrude Lake, in the middle of the island. Optimistic tourists rent paddleboats and pump quarters into the telescopes on the beach, hoping to see it. There’s a warning at the paddleboat stand that boaters might get eaten. It’s a joke with the locals. Every year, Marvelo is “spotted” before the Marvelo Festival. Bits in blurry pictures could be a lake monster if you squint, or they could be logs. We have a lot of logs.
I walked slowly over the squishy mud so my leg wouldn’t be too sore on the way back home.
Islands are shaped like things, the way clouds are shaped like things. On a map, Murphy looks like a wonky avocado half, thirty-seven miles from the mainland. Rocky beaches and smooth mudflats are the skin, and Gertrude Lake is the pit. Everything else is the creamy green stuff that goes brown if you leave it out.
Dad stood with the pack of friends he calls comrades beside a gazebo that Mom helped build out of old farm equipment and blue bottles.
“Just forty feet that way!” he said. “It spy-hopped and breached like a humpback, but leaner and more serpent-like. “Newt! Come here!” Dad pulled me in for a hug. “Happy birthday, mijo! Thirteen! You feel different?” I shook my head. “Can you believe it?” I didn’t know if he was talking about turning thirteen or Marvelo. My answers would have been yes and no, but he didn’t wait. He spun around when someone asked about the reward. A cryptozoology club in Portland offered three thousand dollars a while back to anyone who could prove that Marvelo lived in the lake. The club has reward offers for Sasquatch and jackalopes too. It’s that kind of operation.
“It’s lucky I didn’t pick up your present, or I would have missed Marvelo! Meet me at the ferry dock after school on Monday, and I’ll give you your present then. Today I’m helping with storm cleanup. It washed Tom’s patio table away!”
I nodded and waded around in the shallows, away from the crowd, so people would stop looking at my leg. Even when they think they’re being subtle, I can feel it. I should have worn pants.
The water stayed flat as Dad described Marvelo all over again to a new group of passing comrades. I’m not a comrade, so I walked home.
Last year, I said I didn’t care what I got for my birthday and got shirts and a sleeping bag. This year, when they asked, I said I wanted a bike. I left windows open on the computer to new bikes I liked. I ordered bike catalogs and left them lying around. No surprise camping gear this year, even if I do use the sleeping bag to sleep in the tub sometimes. Plus, the doctor said riding a bike would be good for my ligaments.
There are a finite number of bikes already on Murphy Island. None are new. A lot of them are cruisers that were here for guests to use back when the island was a fancy resort. They are older than my parents. I detoured to the bike rack near the parking lot to see if maybe Dad was just being sly and was setting me up for a surprise. A new bike would stand out like a jewel, but old island bikes filled the rack. One had a motorcycle windshield welded on and a Jolly Roger flag. The next bike had antlers for handlebars, and the one beside that was covered in Astroturf, with a raccoon tail attached to the back of the banana seat. I walked home under the whirligigs and mobiles on the pedestrians-only trail.
Mom sat on the porch with our dog, Chuck.
“Mail came,” Mom said. She handed me birthday cards from her side of the family.
“How’d it go?”
“He said he’d give me a present on Monday,” I said. I sniffed. “Is that a cake?” It smelled like pineapple and banana. I opened a card from my uncle and five bucks fell out.
Mom and Dad asked all week if I wanted any hints about my present. They said I could never guess what it was, so I didn’t. We all knew it would be a bike.
I told her that Dad and his comrades planned to take turns keeping watch at Gertrude Lake. She nodded, like watching for a lake monster was a normal way to spend a day.
“Why didn’t you stay?” she asked.
I shrugged. Because it doesn’t exist, I wanted to say. Because it’s my birthday and I hoped we would do something fun. I crossed my fingers that he would be back in time for cake. I could blow out candles and wish to be far away on the mainland, where there are no made-up lake monsters.
Excerpt copyright © 2020 by Kim Baker. Published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.