Talk about out of the frying pan, into the fire! I was pretty sure that my freaky stepsister and that freaky field guide of hers would ruin my life. But now it looks like they're going to ruin all of Florida, too! Okay, maybe that's not fair. Maybe all these stupid giants would be waking up anyway, but if it wasn't for her and that book, I'd be home playing video games and this would be someone else's giant problem!
About the Author
Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award, a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of both an Andre Norton Award and a Newbery Honor. She lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door. Visit her at BlackHolly.com.
Tony DiTerlizzi is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator who has been creating books with Simon & Schuster for more than a decade. From his fanciful picture books like Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World Moon Pie Adventure, Adventure of Meno (with his wife, Angela), and The Spider & The Fly (a Caldecott Honor book), to chapter books like Kenny and The Dragon and The Search for WondLa, Tony always imbues his stories with a rich imagination. His middle grade series, The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Holly Black), has sold millions of copies, been adapted into a feature film, and has been translated in more than thirty countries. You can visit him at DiTerlizzi.com.
Read an Excerpt
A Giant Problem
By Holly Black
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
In Which Nick and Laurie Are Surprised by Their Visitor
Nick pressed his finger down harder on the controller, making his car on the screen accelerate. He swerved it in front of Laurie's Volkswagen, knocking into its side and making virtual sparks fly.
She scowled, biting her lip in concentration.
Rockets shot out of her bumper. His car exploded in a whoosh of orange flame as she crowed with laughter. "I'm getting better," she said with a huge smile.
He grinned too. He didn't mind her winning. He was having fun. The air-conditioning filled the house with cold, sweet air, and just breathing it in made him feel safe. Rain smeared the windows, making the outside blurry and far away. And the more he concentrated on the game, the less he had to think about the nixie waiting in her pond for him to find the rest of her sisters, or all of the giants that might be waking up, or how some blind old guy thought that they could do anything about it. This was how summer was supposed to be.
Besides, this could be considered a kind of training. Maybe. Laurie's reflexes were definitely improving.
Downstairs, a door slammed and his father shouted. "That's not what I said!"
Nick stopped smiling.
"You didn't say you would be home early?"
Charlene demanded. "You said you would call if something came up. The kids atehours ago."
"I said I would try. The weather, the rain, it's making things hard."
Didn't they realize that just because they couldn't see anyone else didn't mean they couldn't be heard? His father was a contractor; shouldn't he be aware of vents?
Laurie put down the controller with a sigh, looking at Nick's face. "Everybody fights."
"You tell me everything will be different after the development is done, but there's always going to be another crisis," Charlene yelled. "I don't think you're ready for this. For being married again."
Nick didn't hear the rest because he clapped Jules's headphones over his ears and plugged them into the game. He turned up the sound and set it to single player. He didn't want to hear anyone say anything about his mother. Didn't Charlene know you were supposed to shut up about the dead?
He blew up three of his own cars before Laurie tapped his arm. He shook her off.
"Nick," she said, pulling one side of his headphones down. "Jack's here."
He blinked at her in confusion. "What?" Nick looked around, like Jack was hiding somewhere in the room.
"He's downstairs. Says he has something to show us." She wore a satchel on her hip and had her flip-flops on. "Your dad is freaking out."
"Uh..." Nick hadn't even realized she'd left. He took off the headphones and followed her downstairs.
Charlene's back was toward them, her shoulders hunched and shaking slightly as if she were crying. She walked into the study and slammed the door.
Jack stood in the front entrance. He was grinning like a loon.
"Come on, kid," he said. "We got work to do."
"Do you know this man?" asked Nick's dad.
Laurie smiled and started in on one of her elaborate lies. "He's my friend's dad. From where we used to live. Turtle eggs are hatching at the beach and he promised to take us."
"It's very late," Nick's dad said, but he glanced toward the room Charlene was in. Nick bet he wanted to get back to his fight. "Where are you all going? And what did he mean about work?"
"Down to the beach," Laurie said. "My friend Emily is waiting in the car. Her dad thinks we can do a science project about it."
Jack smirked in a way that seemed too amused to be parental.
Nick cleared his throat. "Isn't Jules there? Maybe we can meet up with him."
Jules was always at the beach. It didn't matter if it was sunny or raining, early or late. He could be counted on to surf until his skin wrinkled up and he got hungry or tired enough to come home.
Nick's dad looked at Noseeum Jack's bare feet and the machete at his hip.
"It's for cutting open fruit," Nick said, following his father's gaze. "And cutting weeds, of course."
"Fruit," repeated his dad. "Fine. Why don't you call your brother?"
"I'll do it." Laurie went to the phone and punched in a bunch of numbers. Then she waited for a few moments, like it was ringing.
"Hi, Jules. It's Laurie. Yeah. No. Um, we were wondering, if we came down to the beach, would it be okay if we hung out with you? No, we wouldn't have to be really close by or anything. Just so you could see us. We promise not to bother you. Okay. Okay." She put down the phone.
"He says okay," Laurie reported. If Nick hadn't watched her hold the off button on the phone the whole time, even he might have believed she'd really had that conversation.
Nick's dad looked at Noseeum Jack again and sighed. Then he glanced at the study again. "All right. Be back by ten." He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and handed it to Nick. "Call me if you can't find your brother. Oh, and look out for a raccoon on your way out. Something's been getting into the garbage."
Nick and Laurie walked out onto the lawn with Jack. As the door closed, Nick heard Charlene say something in a shaky voice and his dad shout something back. Thunder cracked overhead, but the rain had slowed to a drizzle.
"Let's go," Jack said.
The lake was choked with newly planted water lilies. Raindrops rippled the water, but there was no sign of the nixie.
"Hey," said Nick, "we promised to help Taloa find the rest of her sisters. Maybe we should -- "
"Later! I came to show you both something important, not to dawdle."
"Just one more second," Laurie said. She grabbed a stick of gum out of her bag, chewed it, then used it to affix a piece of paper to the garage door.
Nick watched her as she scrawled on it: JULES -- WE SAID WE WERE WITH YOU. DON'T SQUEAL ON US.
"You're crazy! What if they see that?"
She rolled her eyes. "They're going to fight for ages."
"What if one of them storms out?" Ladies on the soap operas his aunt watched did that all the time.
"Into the rain?" Laurie was looking at him like the idea was ridiculous.
"Come on!" said Jack. He made a sweeping gesture with his hands and started walking. They followed him.
Copyright © 2008 by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
Excerpted from A Giant Problem by Holly Black Copyright © 2008 by Holly Black. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
List of Full-Page Illustrations
Map of Mangrove Hollow
Chapter One: IN WHICH
Nick and Laurie Get One Lesson and Learn Another
Chapter Two: IN WHICH
Nick and Laurie Are Surprised by Their Visitor
Chapter Three: IN WHICH
Nick and Laurie Witness One Fight and Almost Have Another
Chapter Four: IN WHICH
A Sandspur Gets Stuck with Nick
Chapter Five: IN WHICH
Noseeum Jack Is Seen
Chapter Six: IN WHICH
Nick Finds Hope in Wreckage
Chapter Seven: IN WHICH
Nick Dances to a New Tune
Chapter Eight: IN WHICH
A Bridge Is Crossed
Chapter Nine: IN WHICH
The World Turns Upside Down Again
About Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black