Madison's Starry Spell, page 1
For the Edinburgh Book Shop,
with love and thanks
Welcome to Stargirl Academy!
My name is Fairy Mary McBee, and I’m delighted you’re here. All my Stargirls are very special, and I can tell that you are wonderful too.
We’ll be learning how to use magic safely and efficiently to help anyone who is in trouble, but before we go any further I have a request. The Academy MUST be kept secret. This is VERY important…
So may I ask you to join our other Stargirls in making The Promise? Read it – say it out loud if you wish – then sign your name on the bottom line.
Thank you so much … and well done!
I will never speak of Stargirl Academy to others outside these cloudy walls, whatever they ask and whatever they offer.
This I solemnly promise, for now, always and for ever.
The Book of Spells
Fairy Mary McBee
Head Teacher at
The Fairy Mary McBee
Academy for Stargirls
A complete list of Spells can be obtained from the Academy.
Only the fully qualified need apply. Other applications
will be refused.
Starry Spells are suitable for those at the beginning of their career in magic, through a little experience is helpful.
Starry Spells include such spells as:
The removal of mould
Encouraging hens to lay
I need to swear you to secrecy. Cross your heart and hope to die – and swear not to tell anyone about us Stargirls!
Oh! I’m so silly. You don’t know who I am! I’m Madison Smith. I live with my mum and my big sister. My dad (he was around back then) was so excited when she was born that he insisted she was called Arizona. Of course she hates it, and we all have to call her Izzy. Just sometimes I call her Arizona. It makes her so mad that it’s funny!
But I’m not meant to be telling you about Izzy. I’m meant to be telling you about Stargirl Academy…
I bet you know all about Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother. Well, the Academy USED to be where Fairy Godmothers got trained. Then the head, Fairy Mary McBee, realised that Fairy Godmothers might be a little bit old-fashioned, so she decided to bring the whole thing up to date. She changed The Cloudy Towers Academy for Fairy Godmothers into The Fairy Mary McBee Academy for Stargirls.
Who are the Stargirls?
Girls like ME! Girls just like YOU!
We’re learning about spells and magic so we can help people, just like Fairy Godmothers used to do. It’s all SO amazing. We wear our very special Stargirl necklaces, and if we tap once on the pendant … WHEEE! We can’t be seen – we’re completely invisible.
Isn’t that just mind-blowing? I’m still in shock.
But I want to tell you what happened when the wand chose me…
Last Monday afternoon, Izzy and I had the worst row ever. We used to get on really well, but just recently we’ve been fighting loads. Ever since she went to her new school, she thinks she’s SO grown-up, and she can’t be bothered with me. We never cuddle up on the sofa any more, and we never go shopping together. I used to love it when we did that – we used to giggle all the time, and come back with all sorts of rubbishy things that we both adored. But not now.
This particular row ended with Izzy pulling my hair and emptying my school bag all over the carpet, then storming up to her bedroom and slamming the door. My mum was FURIOUS, and said it was all my fault, but it wasn’t. Well, maybe just a teeny weeny bit, if I’m honest.
This is what happened.
We were coming home on the bus – our schools are quite close, and sometimes we end up on the same one. Izzy was sitting with a tall girl, and I slid into the seat behind them. Izzy didn’t say hello, or even look at me, and that made me cross.
“Hel-LO!” I said. “Little-sister alert! It’s ME!”
The tall girl turned and gave me a beaming smile. She seemed much happier to see me than Izzy did. Then she looked at Izzy. “A little sister?” she said. “You never said you had a little sister.”
Izzy wriggled in her seat and mumbled something like, “You never asked, Di.”
Di raised her eyebrows, and turned back to me. “You look so cute. I’d LOVE a little sister like you.” She heaved a massive sigh. “I’ll tell you a secret, if you promise not to tell. Izzy knows, because she’s my best friend. But nobody else does. Promise?”
Of course I nodded.
“I don’t have any brothers or sisters. It’s just me and Mum, and Mum’s ill. She needs loads of looking after, and it’s me that has to do it.”
Di gave me a sad smile, and I saw she had tears in her eyes. Real tears! I thought Izzy would give her a hug, but she didn’t. That REALLY surprised me, because Izzy’s always been a total sympathy freak. She hugs little old ladies when they drop their shopping, and she hugs every shrieking baby she can get her arms round, and she cries her eyes out if anyone even mentions little lost puppies.
I wanted to ask Di what was wrong with her mum, but I was scared she’d think I was cheeky. It sounded really awful, whatever it was.
“At least I’ve got friends,” Di went on. “Friends like your big sister Izzy. I don’t know what I’d do without her.” She squeezed Izzy’s arm. “Izzy’s going to be an angel and help me with my homework, aren’t you, Iz?”
“I always do, don’t I?” Izzy sounded grumpy, but Di took no notice and I thought how nice she was not to mind. Di gave Izzy’s arm another squeeze. “So you’ll meet me tomorrow? Before school?”
That was when I had an idea. I wanted to make up for Izzy being unhelpful, so I said, “Couldn’t she bring it round to your house?”
Di shook her head. “No good, cutie. My mum can’t cope with visitors. She has to lie down all the time, and the only person she wants to see is me.” She sighed again. “Poor old Mum.”
“Ah,” I said. I didn’t know quite what to say. “I’m … I’m sorry.”
Di pinched my cheek. “It’s OK. I’m used to it.” Then she brightened. “But I could collect it tonight. Where do you live?”
“Launceston Lane,” I said. “Number 23.”
I got a dazzling smile. “Thanks. Your big sister’s lucky to have you. Isn’t she a total poppet, Izzy-wizzy?”
Izzy nodded. She was looking cross, and I knew why. She didn’t want me getting friendly with someone from St Dunbow’s. She never said anything about her friends there, and I was certain it was because she wanted to keep them for herself.
Di leant over and pulled Izzy’s homework book out of her bag. “Let’s have a look and see what we’ve—” The bus gave a lurch and Di dropped the book. It slid under the seat and another girl picked it up.
“This yours, Izzy?” she asked and then she looked at the book more closely. “That’s odd. Why does it say A Smith?” She turned to the girl beside her. “A for Isobel? First I’ve
Izzy went very pink. “It’s just a mistake,” she said, and she snatched the homework book back and stuffed it in her bag.
Di gave Izzy a massive nudge, and winked at me. “You need to be more careful, Iz. Doesn’t she, cutie?”
“Yes,” I said, and I winked back at her. She was so nice! But Izzy didn’t seem to think so at all. It was weird! Di was her best friend, but Izzy was bundling her stuff together and pulling on her coat as if she couldn’t wait to get away.
“Hurry up, Madison. You’re so slow! It’s our stop any minute—”
I looked at my sister in astonishment, and she made a stupid face at me – and that did it. I stood up and said, very loudly, “I know it’s our stop, ARIZONA.”
Izzy went completely purple and grabbed my arm. “You little beast,” she hissed, and she hauled me down the aisle as if I was a sack of potatoes before pushing me off the bus the second the doors opened. I heard Di calling after us, something about seeing us later, but Izzy didn’t answer. She stomped home without saying a word – but as soon as we were through the door she started shouting at me. She said I was interfering and I’d ruined her life and I didn’t know what I’d done because I was stupid and silly and a baby – oh, all sorts of stuff. And then she shut herself in her room.
So I suppose it was me that started the row … but she didn’t need to pull my hair. OR throw my stuff around.
After Izzy had stormed off, Mum asked what had happened. I had to confess I’d called her Arizona in front of everyone on the bus, and Mum said that was totally unfair, and it was up to Izzy to tell people if and when she wanted to. She said I’d better go and tell Iz I was sorry, but I didn’t. I flung myself on my bed and pulled my diary out from under my pillow. I wanted to see how many times my big sister had been mean and horrible in the last few weeks – and it was LOADS!
“H’mph,” I thought, and I wondered if it was possible to ask Fairy Mary McBee for some kind of spell to teach her a lesson.
I began to write in my diary. “If Izzy was turned into a pig for a week or two, maybe she’d be nicer when she went back to being a girl—” And THAT was when I got a Tingle in my elbow.
I felt this little electric shock and I thought, “HURRAH!” Because when the Tingle comes it means the Academy is somewhere close by, and it’s time for lessons.
That probably sounds weird, so I’ll explain and then it’ll sound even weirder!
I think I told you the Academy used to be called Cloudy Towers, so you won’t be surprised when I tell you it has lots of towers. None of us has ever seen all the rooms inside. Lily and Ava think they move around when we’re not looking! (Lily and Ava are my very best friends, by the way. And so are Olivia and Sophie and Emma. We’re all in the same team – Team Starlight.)
The Academy isn’t a fixed kind of building, though. It’s on a cloud, so it can actually float to lots of different places.
Isn’t that amazing? I couldn’t believe it when I was first told about it. I thought Miss Scritch was joking, until I found out that she NEVER makes jokes. She’s much too serious. She’s the deputy head and she’s tall and thin, and she looks down her nose at us. Lily says Miss Scritch disapproves of us, but I don’t know. Sometimes she can be quite nice, and although she’s very strict she’s always fair. And if she tells you something, you can be sure that it’s true.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes. When it’s time for Stargirl classes we get a Tingle, and then we have to hurry to the Academy. And that’s another weird thing … however long we spend there, we always get home at EXACTLY the moment we left, so nobody knows we’ve been away and they don’t have to worry about us.
I’d love to know how Fairy Mary McBee does it. I know it’s magic, but it makes my head feel odd when I think about it. I mean, where does the extra time go? Can you fold it up and tuck it away somewhere? One day, when I’m feeling brave, I’m going to ask.
PING! The Tingle came again.
It was time to get going.
The last time I’d felt the Tingle, I’d been out in our garden, and it had suddenly filled with mist. I’d been really confused – I didn’t know what was happening. I’d tried to find my way back to the house, but instead I found some steps, and the steps had led me to the Academy’s front door.
This time something made me look out of my bedroom window, and sure enough it was misty again – and there was a bridge outside, even though I was two floors up! I couldn’t see what was at the other end, but I just KNEW what it was.
I heaved the window open and crawled out … and a moment later I was knocking on the door of The Fairy Mary McBee Academy for Stargirls.
The door was opened by Ava, and she gave me a quick hug. “Hurry up,” she said. “You’re late! We’re all in the workroom, and Miss Scritch is muttering about not having time to learn today’s spell properly.”
“I came as soon as I could,” I told her.
“It’s OK,” Ava said, and she grabbed my hand and rushed me inside. I couldn’t help feeling a bit hurt, but when I stepped into the workroom Fairy Mary McBee greeted me with a beaming smile.
“Madison, dear! I’m so sorry! I was just telling Miss Scritch that your Tingle got held up. The first two times I sent it, it bounced back – were you very busy?”
“Busy?” I thought about it. I hadn’t exactly been busy. I’d had Mum telling me off, of course, and I’d been really, REALLY fed up with Izzy…
“No, Fairy Mary,” I said, and then something in the way she was looking at me made me explain. “My mum was cross with me. She doesn’t like it when I tease my sister.”
Fairy Mary McBee nodded. “I see. And you were angry too, perhaps?”
“Erm…” I hesitated, and then I couldn’t help adding, “My big sister’s HORRIBLE!”
Fairy Mary nodded again. “Well, well. But never mind that now. You’re here, and we’re delighted to see you.” She snapped her fingers. “Girls! I think there’s time for us all to have a hot drink while Madison sits down and catches her breath.”
I made my way to the seat Ava had saved for me. Lily was on my other side, and as I slid into my chair she whispered, “Hi, Madison!” Emma, Sophie and Olivia waved. Only Melody and Jackson didn’t say hello. That didn’t surprise me; they always stick together. On our very first day at the Academy, they’d refused to be part of our team and had insisted on being a team of their own.
Miss Scritch gave me a chilly smile, then took a large tin tray out of a cupboard and put it on the table. She murmured something under her breath, and the very next minute the tray was full of mugs of steaming hot chocolate. There was a loud Ooooh! from everyone, and as Sophie and Emma handed out the mugs I looked round.
The workroom was just about the same as the last time I’d seen it. The shelves were still weighed down with tottering piles of paper. The weird-looking jars and bottles were just as dusty as before, but the spiky-leaved plants hanging from the ceiling looked as if they’d grown. They were certainly much greener. The cupboards under the shelves didn’t seem to be quite so full, though, and someone had changed the labels. I could see Sharpened pencils on one cupboard, and I was almost disappointed. It sounded much too sensible for an Academy that taught magic. Then I saw Travelling spells, fast and slow (NB CAUTION ADVISED!!!!) and Helpful Answers to Unfortunate Wishes, and I thought, “That’s better!” The rusty old telescopes were still hanging on the wall, but there was a gap next to them. I was sure there’d been something there – hadn’t it been something important? – but before I could ask anyone, Sophie handed me a mug, and I forgot all about the gap. The chocolate was perfect! I’d never had anything half as good.
“JEEPERS CREEPERS!” It was Lily. She was sipping her chocolate with her eyes shut in complete and utter bliss, and it made me want to hug her. She lives with an ancient old aunt, and although the aunt is LOADS better than she used to be (thanks
“Has everyone finished?” It was Miss Scritch, and we hastily drained the last of our hot chocolate and put our mugs back on the tray.
“Yes, Miss Scritch,” we chorused.
“Then perhaps we can get on with what we are meant to be doing. Clear the table!” Miss Scritch waved her hand, and the mugs disappeared. That, I decided, would be a brilliant spell for when Mum wants me to wash up … but then I began to think about it. Where did the mugs actually go? Did they get cleaned all by themselves? Or did they disappear to some special place to be washed up by elves or goblins or—
Lily dug me in the ribs, and I suddenly realized Miss Scritch had asked me something.
“Yes, Miss Scritch?” I said brightly.
She glowered at me. “I asked, Madison, if you could remember what we did in our last lesson. But perhaps your own thoughts are more interesting? If so, do please tell us what they are.”
“Well … ” I hesitated. “Actually, I was wondering about the mugs. They just vanished. So where did they go? And how do they get washed?”
To my amazement, Miss Scritch almost smiled. “Excellent questions. I like a practical and enquiring mind. For your information, the mugs have gone to the kitchen. They will be washed up later.”
“Oh,” I said. “Erm … thank you. And I do remember, by the way. We learnt how to float things last time. It was a Shimmering Spell.”
“Good.” Miss Scritch still didn’t smile properly, but she looked a lot less fierce. “Yes, indeed. So this week we are going to learn how to Solidify with a Starry Spell.”
Other author's books:
- Emma's Glittering SpellHedgehogs Don't Eat HamburgersAva's Sparkling SpellThe Flight of DragonsThe Snarling of WolvesSophie's Shining SpellThe Robe of SkullsMadison's Starry Spell
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