Vacation dreams, p.1

Vacation Dreams, page 1


Vacation Dreams

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Vacation Dreams

  To Daisy, cute and fluffy, lop-eared

  childhood friend—SB


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East,

  Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland

  (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 707 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3008, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

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  Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

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  Chaoyang District, Beijing 100020, China

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed

  in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate

  in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  Text copyright © 2010 Sue Bentley. Illustrations copyright © 2010 Angela Swan. Cover illustration © 2010 Andrew Farley. First printed as Holiday Dreams in

  Great Britain in 2010 by Puffin Books. First published in the United States in 2013

  by Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group,

  345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. GROSSET & DUNLAP

  is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.

  ISBN: 978-0-698-14390-6

  Vacation Dreams


  illustrated by Angela Swan

  Table of Contents


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  About the Author

  Arrow looked around at Moonglow Meadow. Many of his fellow magic rabbits were hopping around on the dry patchy ground while others were nibbling wilted plants. He had returned just in time.

  The tiny gold key he wore on a chain around his neck glowed brightly and a cloud of crystal dust rose into the air. It sprinkled down gently and a lush carpet of fresh grass and brightly colored wildflowers appeared and spread until it covered the whole meadow.

  The hungry rabbits began to eat. Some of the younger ones rolled over and over, getting the scent of the dewy grass on their fur.

  An older rabbit hopped toward Arrow. He had a dark gray muzzle and wore a wise expression.

  “Strike!” Arrow bowed his head in greeting before the leader of the warren.

  “It is good to see you again, Arrow,” Strike said in a deep velvety voice. “We chose well when we made you keeper of our magic key.”

  Arrow felt a surge of pride at the leader’s praise. He knew that he would guard the key with his life.

  Suddenly, there was a commotion at the far side of Moonglow Meadow and Arrow saw a group of rabbits rushing toward them.

  “The-the dark rabbits are coming!” one of them squealed, wide-eyed with panic.

  Arrow flattened his silver-tipped ears nervously. The dark rabbits lived nearby in a deep gully. The land had become so dry that nothing grew there and they were hungry, but the dark rabbits had refused Strike’s invitation to live with them in Moonglow Meadow.

  “They are coming to steal our magic key,” Strike rumbled, “and use it to make their gully green and beautiful again.”

  “But without the key’s power, Moonglow Meadow will become a desert!” Arrow gasped.

  “That is why you must go to the Otherworld once more,” Strike said gravely. “Hide there so the dark rabbits cannot find the key!”

  Arrow felt very young and scared, but he knew the warren was relying on him. “I will do it!”

  Strike gave a soft but piercing cry.

  Every rabbit in the warren came speeding toward them and formed a circle around Arrow. Suddenly, the golden key hanging from Arrow’s neck glowed very brightly.

  The light slowly faded and where the pure white-and-silver magic rabbit had been now stood a tiny pale coffee-colored bunny with fluffy fur and huge brown eyes that twinkled with tiny rainbows.

  “Go now! Use this disguise,” Strike said. “Only return when Moonglow Meadow needs more of the key’s magic. And watch out for the dark rabbits!”

  Arrow held up his tiny fluffy head. “I will!”

  Thud. Thud. Thud. The rabbits began thumping their feet in time. Arrow felt the magic building and a cloud of crystal dust shimmered around him as Moonglow Meadow grew fainter and fainter…

  Becky Hodge woke early with a feeling of excitement. “Yay! It’s vacation!” she cried, thinking of all the things she could do with her friends—tennis, swimming, maybe even horseback riding. She flung back the covers, almost falling out of bed in her eagerness to get up.

  A shaft of early morning sunlight streamed into the darkened room through a heart-shaped hole in the wooden shutters. Becky frowned in puzzlement.

  Wooden shutters? Her bedroom didn’t have…

  And then she remembered where she was. “Foxglove Farm!”

  Becky was staying at her aunt and uncle’s farm while her mom and Aunty Katy were away on a business trip. They taught classes in country crafts and knitting.

  Even though it was a bit strange being at the farm with only Uncle Den and her cousin Leon, who played computer games all day, at least there was more to do on the farm than at her house. Her dad was at home working on an important assignment for his job and needed peace and quiet—and that was not how Becky wanted to spend her vacation!

  “See if you can’t drag Leon away from his computer for an hour or two,” Dad had said as he kissed her good-bye last night. “If you can’t, no one can!”

  Becky grinned to herself as she went to the bedroom shutters. Dad was always teasing her about being too enthusiastic and not taking no for an answer.

  She stood looking out at the view of the farmyard with its huge barns and fields full of corn and vegetables.

  There was the faint outline of a village far away in the distance; beyond that, all she could see were thick woods and the green slopes of rolling hills.

  Becky sighed as she turned away from the window. The farm was miles from any other people. She had no choice but to make the best of things.

  As she dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, she tried hard to think of something Leon might like doing besides playing computer games. Soccer! All boys liked that, didn’t they? Maybe she could persuade him to come outside and play.

  She was pulling on her sneakers when there was a knock at the door.

  “Come in!” Becky called.

  Leon stuck his head around the door. He had sandy hair that flopped over his forehead and serious blue eyes. At twelve years old, he was three years older than Becky.

  “Hi, Leon! Do you want to kick the soccer ball around later? I’m pretty good at sports
. Look!” Becky shuffled her feet encouragingly as if she was dribbling a ball. But in her eagerness she caught the toe of her sneaker on the rug and almost tripped.

  Leon looked at her curiously. “Er, sorry, I can’t. I’ve got stuff to finish.”

  “Oh…okay. Well, when you’re done, maybe we can do something together?” Becky tried again. “How about tennis or baseball? Or you could show me around those woods—”

  “Maybe later.” Leon edged out of the doorway and called from the landing. “I only came to tell you that breakfast’s ready!”

  Becky tried to ignore a growing feeling of dismay as she followed her cousin downstairs. Maybe Leon didn’t like hanging around with younger kids. Whenever Becky was here, he always stayed in his room.

  Uncle Den sat at the kitchen table drinking tea and reading a farming magazine. He looked up and smiled as Becky came in. “Hello, honey. Did you sleep well?”

  “Yes, thanks.” Becky returned his smile and sat down next to Leon, who was staring into space as if he was deep in thought.

  “This is Mrs. Kelly.” Her uncle nodded toward a small round figure bustling about at the stove. He explained that she’d be doing the cooking and house-keeping while Becky’s aunt was away.

  “Hello, Mrs. Kelly,” Becky said cheerfully.

  “Good morning.” Mrs. Kelly smiled back at Becky, but only briefly. Her gray hair was pinned into a neat bun and a spotless apron covered her blue flowered dress. She placed a steaming dish of eggs, bacon, and sausage on the table, followed by a stack of toast.

  “Here you go. Help yourselves.”

  Becky could feel her tummy rumbling at the sight of the feast in front of her. She began loading her plate.

  While they all ate, the housekeeper washed pots and pans at the speed of light. She then strode into the laundry room next to the kitchen. Becky heard a whooshing sound as the washing machine went into action.

  “I’ll be giving those bed sheets a good airing,” Mrs. Kelly said loudly, to no one in particular. “I don’t use those new-fangled tumble-dryers.”

  What’s the big deal? Becky wondered. Mom dries our laundry—doesn’t everyone?

  Becky finished everything on her plate. She was just enjoying some toast with butter and jam when Leon stood up and asked to be excused from the table. “It’s okay, isn’t it, Dad? I’ve got something really important to do.”

  “Sure, go ahead. But I don’t want you shut away upstairs for hours on end while Becky’s staying with us,” his father said. “I’m relying on you to entertain our guest.”

  “Yeah, of course I will. I just have to finish this first!” Leon said over his shoulder, already rushing out.

  Becky heard him clattering upstairs and then slamming his bedroom door.

  Uncle Den shook his head slowly as he turned to Becky. “Leon writes a column for an online magazine—or ‘’zine’ as he calls it. He takes it very seriously. Do you like computers, honey?”

  “They’re okay. But I get bored sitting down all the time,” Becky replied. “I usually prefer being outside and doing stuff.”

  “An action girl, eh? Sounds like you’ll be good for Leon!”

  Becky smiled, hoping he was right. But things didn’t look too promising. Leon hadn’t shown much interest in spending any time with her so far.

  Uncle Den began reading the classifieds. A kitchen clock ticked loudly in the silence.

  Becky finished her toast. She leaned forward and propped her cheek on one hand, wondering what she might do next. Is it worth going upstairs and trying to persuade Leon to come exploring with me or should I just go on my own?

  “There will be no elbows on the table, young lady, if you don’t mind!” A stern voice spoke close to her ear as Mrs. Kelly reached for Becky’s empty plate.

  Becky almost jumped out of her skin. “Um…sorry.”

  She blushed as she quickly leaned back and put her hands in her lap. No one minded about stuff like that at home.

  Uncle Den put down his magazine and stood up. “Don’t worry about Mrs. Kelly. She has very high standards. But her bark’s a lot worse than her bite,” he said, winking at her. “Well—I have a rabbit problem to look into. The little devils have been playing havoc with my crops and I have got to take some serious action. You and Leon have a good day. If you need anything, just ask Mrs. Kelly.”

  “Okay. See you later,” Becky said.

  Mrs. Kelly was now sliding a floor mop under the table. As it almost whisked across her sneakers, Becky leaped up out of her chair and headed into the back garden. The housekeeper was seriously scary.

  It had been raining earlier, but the sun was shining now and everything smelled fresh. Becky made her way around the side of the house. One of the farm workers was driving a tractor across the farmyard and another was coming out of the barn. They smiled and waved at her so Becky waved back.

  She spotted a gate that led into a field with a duck pond. She went through and wandered over the damp grass.

  There were a number of wild rabbits hopping about in the next field, their white cottontails flashing.

  “Watch out! Uncle Den will be after you if you get into his crops!” she warned them.

  Suddenly, there was a bright flash and a shower of crystal dust drifted toward her in a twinkling cloud.

  “Oh!” Becky narrowed her eyes, trying to peer through it. As the dust slowly cleared, she spotted a fluffy pale coffee-colored bunny on the grass right in front of her.

  “Can you help me, please?” it asked in a scared little voice.

  Becky’s jaw dropped and she stared at the cute little bunny in total amazement. Perhaps it was someone’s pet. She didn’t know a lot about pet bunnies, but she was pretty sure that they couldn’t talk.

  She laughed at herself. Just because Leon wouldn’t talk to her, it didn’t mean a rabbit would!

  The pale brown bunny’s little pink nose twitched nervously and it looked up at her with huge eyes like chocolate drops.

  Becky edged closer and slowly bent down, trying not to frighten it.

  “Hello. Aren’t you sweet?” she crooned. “You don’t seem all that scared of me. Do you want to be friends?”

  “Yes. I would like that very much,” the bunny said in a trembly little voice.

  “Whoa!” Becky gasped in shock. She lost her balance and sat down hard on the damp grass. “You…you really can talk!”

  “Yes. All of my warren can talk. I am Arrow, guardian of Moonglow Meadow,” the cute bunny told her, his long floppy ears lifting proudly. “What is your name?”

  “Um…Rebecca. Rebecca Hodge. But everyone calls me Becky. This is my uncle’s farm. I’m staying here while my mom and aunt are away on business.” She noticed that Arrow’s deep-brown eyes seemed to be glimmering with tiny rainbows.

  The bunny bowed his head. “I am honored to meet you, Becky.”

  “Me too.” Becky moved onto her knees, wondering if she should curtsy or something, but she finally settled for just dipping her chin. “Is Moonglow Meadow another one of Uncle Den’s fields?”

  “No. It is far from here. In another world,” Arrow explained. As he lifted his chin, something around his neck twinkled. Becky saw that he wore a fine gold chain with a key hanging from it.

  “What’s that?” she asked him.

  “The magic key, which I must keep safe from the fierce dark rabbits. Their land is dry and stony and they are hungry, but they refuse to share our land with us. They want to steal the key and use it to make only their land lush and green. But if they do this, Moonglow Meadow will become a desert.”

  “Oh no! That would be terrible!” Becky exclaimed.

  “Yes. I will not let it happen!” A determined look crossed Arrow’s fluffy face. “That is why I agreed to come here all by myself.”

  Becky was still having trouble taking all this in, but fascination was starting to take over from shock. Arrow’s world sounded so strange and magical.

  She smiled warmly at him. “You’re very
brave for such a tiny bunny.”

  Arrow raised himself onto his back legs and flicked his tail mischievously.

  “I am not so small. Please stay back!” he ordered.

  Becky felt a weird warm tingling sensation down her spine as the key around Arrow’s neck began flashing and a cloud of twinkling crystal dust swirled around him. When it cleared Becky saw that the little bunny had disappeared and in his place was the most stunning rabbit she had ever seen. It was as big as a large cat and had silky white fur, flecked with silver. The tips of its ears twinkled with what looked like molten silver, and big jewel-bright rainbows flashed from its eyes.

  Becky gasped in amazement. She’d never seen anything so majestic or so beautiful.

  “Arrow?” she gulped.

  “Yes, Becky. It is still me,” Arrow said in a smooth voice.

  Before she had gotten used to seeing him in his true form, there was a final flash of light from his key and Arrow reappeared as a pale coffee-colored bunny.

  “Wow! That’s a cool disguise!” Becky exclaimed.

  Arrow twitched his nose nervously. “I am afraid the dark rabbits will see through it if they catch up with me. I must find a place to hide, and quickly.”

  Becky’s heart went out to the brave little bunny. She wanted to do all she could to help him. “You can live in my bedroom. Wait until I tell my cousin Leon about you. He might even talk to me then and—”

  “No, I am sorry, Becky, my mission is secret. You can tell no one. Please promise me,” the magic bunny asked anxiously.

  Becky felt a little bit disappointed. She had been hoping that Leon would want to spend more time with her if he saw that she had a magical new friend. But she also felt proud that Arrow was prepared to trust her with such an important secret.

  “Okay, then, I promise,” she agreed. “I’ll smuggle you into the farmhouse. No one’s going to notice. Mrs. Kelly will be too busy doing housework and Leon’s on his computer. He doesn’t even seem that interested in me being here.”

  Arrow dipped his head gratefully. “I would like to stay with you very much. Thank you, Becky.”

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