by Cindy Callaghan
Genre: Tween, Upper Middle-Grade
A tween comedy-of-errors that chronicles the most cringe-worthy day of 13 year-old Abby Gray's life.
middle-grade novel from the author of Just Add Magic and Saltwater
Secrets . . . .
In this hourly time-stamped,
action-packed tween comedy of errors, Abby Gray, feeling weighed down by her
secrets and lies, lets five balloons float into the sky with her deepest
secrets attached to them in a desperate attempt to clear her conscience. Her
relief is short-lived, though: the next day, those balloons start dropping one
by one at her school, revealing Abby’s innermost thoughts to both friends and
frenemies and creating hilarious misinterpretations of crushes amongst her
This is the worst day of her life . . . or is it? Before the last bell rings, Abby manages to integrate the oddball who is blackmailing her into her friend group and to fix the mix-ups the notes have caused—not only getting couples back together but also making a few new love matches—and finally comes clean as the author of the notes that have created such chaos.
temperature dove below zero and snow flurries whirled, but my mom braved the
cold and helped me haul boxes of decorations into school.
“Thanks,” I said as she dropped a bag from the Donut Hole
into the last box for me to manage on my own. The Hole was right next to the
school and, like most kids, we often stopped and grabbed breakfast on our way
My math teacher, Mr. Valdez, pulled his pickup truck into
the parking lot. Mom waved and flashed him her signature smile, which she
always has even when she’s tired from working late into the night.
She kissed her hand and touched my cheek with it. As she
left, she called to Mr. Valdez, “Have a nice day.”
He waved to her with his free hand while the other fiddled
with his car’s antenna.
“What’s that?” I called to him.
“Oh, nothing.” He put something in his pocket, walked over
to me, and put a red ribbon into my box. “Here, I think maybe you or someone
“Uh, thanks,” I said, but I hadn’t been near his car, so I
don’t see how I could’ve dropped it there. Maybe a stray piece of ribbon blew
“Go on inside before you freeze,” he said, his eyes
following my mom’s car as it pulled out.
It was impossible not to notice the school office since it
was overflowing with balloons. A delivery guy walked in behind me with another
“I’ll take those,” I offered, and towed a bunch of balloons
to the gym along with my box. It was going to take a lot of trips to transport
the rest of the delivery from the office.
Jess and Paige had started early and already striped one
entire wall with red and white streamers. It looked great, like peppermint
sticks, except they’d made ten stripes, while peppermint sticks had eleven, my
favorite of all the prime numbers. I figured I’d add one more stripe later when
no one was around. There was no need to be inaccurate.
Paige beamed at the balloons. “Yay! They’re here.” She
looked behind me and the smile drained from her face. “Where’s the guy?”
“What guy?” I asked.
“Didn’t the party
store send a balloon-arch-maker guy?”
“No guy,” I said.
Logan Murphy swaggered in behind me. “I’m a guy.” This was
the understatement of the trimester. Logan wasn’t just any guy. He was Mount
Lebanon Middle School’s “It Guy.” Logan worked in the school office on his free
periods, like now, which gave him access to hall passes, which was a big deal.
At The Mount, hall passes were gold.
“Hi Abby,” he said to me without a hint of flirtation, yet
I felt my cheeks blush.
All the girls at The Mount liked Logan. So far, he hadn’t
asked anyone to the dance, and lots of girls were holding out in hopes he’d ask
“How’s it going?” I asked.
Before he could answer, Jess said, “Well, that’s not gonna
work. Logan can’t build a balloon arch. He couldn’t even build an Egyptian
pyramid out of Legos in Social Studies.”
Logan said, “Legos are rectangles and pyramids are
triangles, so it’s not as easy as it sounds.”
As if Jess hadn’t heard his defense, she said to me and
Paige, “Look, he might have an awesome smile and be captain of the basketball
team, but he is NOT a balloon arch builder. We need a professional.” Then, she
added, “Just sayin’.”
Logan didn’t seem offended. “You don’t have to apologize
for thinking I have an awesome smile. People tell me that a lot.” He showed off
the famous grin. Geez, he was cute.
“Okay,” Paige said. “Slight problem with the crème de la crème of our decorations.
And as chairwoman, I have a solution. We’re going to make this arch ourselves
with directions I’m going to download and print right now.”
Nothing would stand in Paige Bakenya’s way of transforming
this gym into a Peppermint Twist Dance Wonderland.
stripe the next wall. I’ll be back before you can say ‘peppermint.’” With that, she took the one coveted hall pass
Mr. Valdez had given us for the day.
“I’ll let you girls handle this stripe business,” Logan
said, “and I’ll get more balloons from the office.”
“Paige just took the hall pass,” Jess said.
He chuckled. “Dude, it’s me. I navigate these halls like a
stealth weapon.” On his way out, he was decked by Chloe, who entered the gym
dancing and singing.
“What the heck?” Logan asked, picking himself up and wiping
gym floor dust off his basketball shorts—yeah, he wore shorts all winter.
Chloe ignored him. “He likes me!” she said and twirled.
“Uh, yeah, so I’m outta here.” Logan left the gym.
“Who?” Jess and I asked.
Chloe said, “Tao.”
WTW? Paige’s Tao?
This was shocking. So shocking that I couldn’t get words
out to ask for clarification.
Chloe continued pirouetting, as if she were in a magical
love trance. “I love love. Don’t you?”
Luckily, Paige wasn’t around to hear this because she
would’ve choked on her Peppermint Twist planner at the idea that her boyfriend,
who she’d recently kissed for the first time, liked Chloe. This was so Chloe to
stir up drama.
Jess asked, “What are you talking about?”
“You heard me right. Sorry for your friend Paige—actually,
sorry, I’m not sorry—but here’s the harsh reality, Jessica Sawyer: Tao likes me.”
Lots of girls were jealous of Paige. She was pretty,
friendly to new kids, handed in assignments early, and had the best-decorated
locker. She always shared her homemade cookies with everyone, and somehow they
always seemed just out of the oven, even when it was late in the day. It was a
mystery no one’s ever been able to solve.
“Everyone knows Tao and Paige are boyfriend and
girlfriend,” Jess said. “Where did you even get this idea? I’m just sayin’, the
idea is ridiculous.” Sometimes Jess not having a filter was good because it got
her point out in the open rather than beating around the bush.
say? Then why did he give me this?” Chloe held up a paper that Jess
snatched and read to herself. When she was done, she handed it to me. But I
didn’t have to read it.
I already knew what it said, because Tao hadn’t written it.
The Girl Who Ruined Christmas
by Cindy Callaghan
middle-grade Christmas novel from the author of Just Add Magic and Saltwater
Secrets . . . .
Imagine you’re a tween visiting a small town
that loves nothing more than its prize fir—a perfect Christmas tree destined
for the White House. Now picture yourself accidentally destroying that tree,
making you public enemy number one. Lastly, imagine that to repay your debt,
you have to remain in said town for the Christmas season.
That’s what happens to Brady Bancroft.
When Brady ruins Harper Hollow Fall’s prize tree, she’s sentenced to stay in the holiday-festooned town for the month of December. At first, she couldn’t be more depressed about the whole situation; but during her month there, she is surprised to discover that there’s much more than pine needles to the little town holding her captive. In the end, Harper Hollow Falls reminds Brady of the true meaning of Christmas—and she, in turn, saves the town.
About the Author
Cindy Callaghan is the award-winning author
of eleven MG novels including JUST ADD MAGIC and JUST ADD MAGIC 2: POTION
PROBLEMS, which were made into an Emmy-nominated Amazon Original series now in
its fifth season and distributed world-wide via Nickelodeon. She’s well-known
for the best-selling Lost In… books: LOST IN LONDON, LOST IN PARIS, LOST IN
ROME, LOST IN HOLLYWOOD, and LOST IN IRELAND. Her Agatha award-winning
stand-alone SYDNEY MACKENZIE KNOCKS ‘EM DEAD sells out every year around
Her 2020 book SALTWATER SECRETS, which is
nominated for an Agatha Award, won Delaware Press Association and National
Federation of Press Women’s awards, and two International Book Awards, is set
up by a major studio.
Triple-award-winning THE GIRL WHO RUINED
CHRISTMAS, (October 2021) sold out its first print run before Thanksgiving. MY
BIG HEART-SHAPED FAIL has won three awards since it's 2022 launch. These books
along with original concepts are actively being shopped to producers, networks
and streamers along with Cindy’s robust portfolio of original features and
A Jersey girl at heart, Cindy lives in Delaware with her family and rescued-pets.
the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!