Between The Lines is a sporadic feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which authors and other industry professionals provide further insight into the writing and publishing process in the form of interviews, guest posts, etc. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy as we read between the lines.
Happy Monday, everyone! It’s the beginning of a brand new week and I can think of no better way to celebrate than by welcoming my friend, author Alison Cherry, to Pop! Goes The Reader. Alison’s newest book (and first middle grade title!), The Classy Crooks Club, is being published tomorrow and today I have the distinct pleasure of sharing an exclusive excerpt from the novel, as well as offering readers an opportunity to win a signed, finished copy. Having been lucky enough to read an advance reader copy of Alison’s latest, I can personally attest to how wonderfully fun, quirky, and special it truly is. The Classy Crooks Club follows the story of AJ, a twelve-year-old girl forced to move in with her grandmother for four weeks while her parents are away on a trip to the Amazon rainforest. What begins as a boring summer filled with sewing samplers and etiquette lessons soon turns into something else entirely, however, when AJ discovers that Grandma Josephine’s bridge club is actually a heist club! I will be sharing my complete review of the novel tomorrow, but suffice it to say that this madcap caper is one of my new favourite middle grade titles and one I won’t hesitate to recommend to readers of all ages. Don’t believe me? Please read on to enjoy an exclusive (and exciting!) excerpt from The Classy Crooks Club, and to enter for your chance to win a signed, finished copy of the novel. This is one contest you do not want to miss!
About Alison Cherry
Alison grew up in Evanston, IL. She is a professional photographer and spent many years working as a lighting designer for theater, opera, and dance. Now she lives in Brooklyn and writes young adult novels full time. She is represented by the lovely and amazing Holly Root of Waxman Leavell.
I hop on my skateboard, and having it under my feet makes me feel more like myself. The tension drains out of my shoulders as I glide up and down the hallway Grandma Jo told me was off-limits, humming softly to myself. Skating on a marble floor isn’t the same as skating on a sidewalk — there are no gritty bits to help me get traction — but I get used to it pretty quickly. It becomes a problem only when I try to do an ollie and the board shoots out from under me and hits the door to the storage room with an earth-shattering bang.
I’m positive Grandma Jo is going to appear any second wearing a long black nightgown and toting a shotgun, but I don’t hear any footsteps, just a slow, quiet creaking sound. I’ve probably knocked the storage room door ajar. I press myself into the shadows and hold very still until I’m sure nobody’s coming, and then I tiptoe toward the room to close the door back up.
But it’s solidly shut. When I test the knob, I find that it’s locked.
Okay. That’s kind of weird. My heart’s beating quickly now, but there are a bunch of doors in this hallway, and any one of them could’ve creaked. But now I’ve freaked myself out, and sneaking around in the dark is starting to seem more terrifying than fun. I decide to steal another piece of cake from the kitchen, take it back upstairs, and call it a night.
I’m reaching for my board when I hear a girl scream.
I’ve heard lots of screams in my life. There’s the happy kind; the frustrated “We lost the game by one point” kind; the creeped-out “There’s a spider on my arm” kind. But this isn’t any of those. This is the “There’s a stranger hiding behind the shower curtain with an ax” kind. It sounds super close, like whoever’s screaming is in this hallway. I grab the skateboard, hold it up like a weapon, and whip around. But there’s nobody here but me.
Another scream echoes through the house, long and loud and terrified, and this time it sounds like it’s coming from inside the storage room. I can’t believe my grandmother’s sleeping through this. Should I wake her up or investigate the situation myself?
I still haven’t made up my mind when I hear a totally normal, conversational woman’s voice say, “Knock if off, Tommy.” As I’m trying to make sense of this, I hear the creaking door sound again, followed by a third voice shrieking, “Let me out! Let me out!”
Oh wow, there are lots of people in there. My grandmother has multiple people locked inside her storage room. No wonder this hallway is off-limits.
Even though my heart is pounding so hard I can feel it in my fingertips, I reach out and knock softly on the door. There’s no answer, so I knock again, louder this time. “Hello?” I call. “I’m here to help you. Can you open the door?”
I hear a rustle. “Knock it off, Tommy,” a voice says again.
“It’s not Tommy,” I tell them. “My name is AJ. Tommy’s not going to hurt you anymore.” I have no idea who Tommy is, but it seems like the right thing to say.
“Let me introduce you to my trusty knife,” a raspy voice says, and a thrill of terror races up my spine. I jerk away from the door and stumble back a few steps. Is there a guard inside the room, watching my grandmother’s prisoners to make sure they don’t escape? Or was that one of the hostages talking?
“Please put your knife away,” I say, trying to sound calm. “I’m unarmed. I’m just a kid. Can you tell me what’s going on? Are you tied up? How many of you are there? Should I call the police?”
For a few seconds, there’s no answer. Then I hear the desperate woman’s voice again. “Let me out! Let me out!”
I wonder if I should call the cops right now, but I doubt they’ll take me seriously if I don’t have any proof. “Okay,” I say. “You don’t have to tell me anything. I know you’re scared. I’m going to get my phone and something to open the door, and then I’ll come right back and get you out of there.”
I fly upstairs and grab my phone off the table next to my bed. Then I dig through my backpack until I find my library card — Maddie and I found an online video about how to open a locked door with one. I’ve only managed to do it once before, on her upstairs bathroom door (to the great annoyance of her sister Lindsay, who was getting out of the shower.) Let’s hope I can do it again, now that it really matters…
Title The Classy Crooks Club
Author Alison Cherry
Pages 336 Pages
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Mystery
To Be Published March 29th, 2016 by Aladdin
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com ● Chapters
Twelve-year-old AJ dreads spending an entire month living with her strict Grandma Jo. Not only does her grandmother dictate how she walks, what she eats, and which rooms she can enter, she fills all AJ’s free time with boring sewing lessons. Grandma Jo wants nothing more than to transform her adventurous, fun-loving granddaughter into a prim and proper lady.
But AJ’s dull summer takes a sharp turn when she discovers that her grandmother’s “bridge group” is actually a heist club. When Grandma Jo offers to let AJ learn lock-picking instead of embroidery in exchange for help with a few capers, AJ is happy to join her grandmother’s madcap band of thieves, who claim to steal only for ethical reasons. But even the most respectable ladies can hide truly surprising secrets, and AJ finds she must decide for herself what it means to be one of the good guys.
Alison has been generous enough to offer a signed, finished edition of The Classy Crooks Club to one lucky reader! This contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Enter by using the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.