It was late at night on the second day of summer vacation, and Molly Parker couldn’t sleep.
The good thing about not being able to sleep on summer vacation is there’s nothing you need to wake up for in the morning.
But the bad thing is it gets really boring when you’re lying there with the lights turned out.
At least there were some interesting things to think about—like what had happened the day before, on the last day of second grade. Molly and her twin brother, Finn, had come home from school to find a camper in their driveway. It used to belong to someone named Professor Vega. She taught in the astrophysics department at the same college where their dad worked. He had traded his old car with Professor Vega for the camper.
It looked like a regular camper on the outside. It was white with one orange stripe and one yellow stripe, a rounded roof, and three windows on each side.
But inside, it had a PET.
Not an ordinary pet, like a dog or a goldfish. This PET stood for:
PET used the information superhighway to travel anywhere in the world within a matter of seconds! Last night they went to Colorado. Molly and Finn spent the whole day there, riding horses, saving a cow, and learning to square dance. But when they returned home, it was only the morning. Their parents were just waking up. They didn’t even know the twins had been gone.
Molly wondered if PET would take her and Finn away again tonight. Anything was possible. . . .
Where would they go? And how did the magic work?
There was only one way to find out. Molly slipped out of bed and put on her fuzzy bunny slippers. She tiptoed so as not to disturb her parents, and wandered outside to the driveway. The camper door was unlocked and opened without a squeak.
“Took you long enough!” Finn said. He jumped up and tossed his pocket-sized baseball video game onto the couch. “Are you ready?”
“Hang on, I want to check something,” Molly said.
She walked to the bulletin board in the back of the camper, where a map of the world was pinned up, with two pushpins stuck into it. One was in Ohio, where the twins had lived all their lives. The other one was in Colorado. Molly touched the Colorado pin and felt a spark at the tip of her finger. “Whoa,” she said.
“Let’s go!” Finn said.
Molly raced with her brother to the two big leather seats at the front of the camper. Finn sat down in the driver’s seat, just like he had the night before.
Molly took the passenger seat. “I can’t wait to talk to PET again,” she said. “I have so many questions.”
“Me too,” Finn said. “Starting with, where do we get to go this time?”
Molly pressed the power button on the TV screen, but the screen stayed dark.
“PET, wake up!” Finn said. “We’re back!”
PET was silent.
“C’mon, PET,” Finn said. He turned to Molly. “What are we doing wrong?”
“Maybe we need to do all the same things,” Molly said. “First, I think you made some vroom vroom
“Okay, vroom vroom
,” said Finn.
“And then . . . ugh. I hate to have to tell you this . . . and then you sang that baseball song you always sing.”
“Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the croooooooowd
,” Finn sang loudly. Molly put her fingers in her ears. Still, PET did not wake up.
“Maybe the magic was only for one night,” Molly said.
“That stinks,” Finn said. His video game whooped
from the couch. He got up and headed back to it.
Molly moved to the driver’s seat. She wanted to know how the magic worked. Even more than that, she wanted another adventure. An adventure like the ones she read about in books. She’d read a book called The Cricket in Times Square
. It was about a cricket who lands in the middle of a bustling New York City subway station. Molly had seen a bunch of crickets at home in Ohio, but she’d never seen a talking cricket, and she’d never seen Times Square. She imagined PET taking her to New York, to the center of Times Square, where she’d meet up with the cricket and his friends.
Except that was just a book. And their magic camper had turned back into a regular old camper. The kind of camper that traveled on roads, not the information superhighway. New York was over five hundred miles away, and Molly got carsick on long rides. She rested her head on the steering wheel and sighed.
“Welcome back,” a robotic voice called. Molly whipped her head toward the TV screen. The words “Welcome back” were scrolling across the screen in bright red.
“PET?” Molly whispered.
“That’s my name. Don’t wear it out!” the camper answered.
Copyright © 2019 by Courtney Sheinmel and Bianca Turetsky; illustrated by Stevie Lewis. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.