Wasps and Chocolate
"Smile, please!" said Daisy as she pressed the button and a bright flash lit up the bathroom. Her dad's foam-covered face froze in the viewfinder, razor held in midair and eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Hey!" he protested, scraping another pathway through the foam. "If I'd known we were doing a photo shoot, I'd have dressed up for the occassion."
Daisy reversed into the bedroom, fell backward onto the double bed, and took an action shot of the ceiling on her way down.
"Hey!" said Mom, lifting her coffee cup out of harm's way. "Be careful where you're bouncing, missy!"
"Sorry," said Daisy. "But a good photographer has to be able to take photos on the move." (She had read this in a magazine at the dentist's, so she knew it was true.)
"Like the new camera, then?" asked Dad, toweling his face dry.
"It's the best birthday present ever," said Daisy. She turned around to take a shot of her mom drinking her coffee.
"Well, don't waste the film," said Mom as she flicked through her magazine. "I'm not sure the world is ready for pictures of your dad first thing in the morning."
"Thousands would disagree," said Dad.
"Don't worry," said Daisy. "It's digital. See? You can just delete it if you don't like it." She pressed a button, and the picture dissolved away to nothing. "There," she said. "All gone!"
Daisy's mom looked at the clock, then dropped her magazine and sprang out of bed. "Gone is where we all should be. It's a quarter past eight already!"
Daisy put her camera back on the shelf and hoped she wouldn't be late for school again. Miss Frink had suggested setting her alarm clock ten minutes earlier, but this just meant that she had more time to do interesting things before she left the house.
She picked up the bottle of Strawberry Surprise (birthday perfume from Grandma) and squirted some under her chin. It reminded her of the delicious chewy red candy she liked so much, so she gave herself another quick blast. Then she swung her backpack over her shoulder, jumped down the stairs three at a time, and ambled into the kitchen.
"P.U.," said Dad. "What's that smell?"
"It's my perfume," replied Daisy. "Strawberry Surprise."
"Surprise is right," said Dad, wrinkling up his nose.
"Come on, Daisy," said Mom. "Stop dawdling and get a move on. You know what Miss Frink said about you being late."
"Don't worry, Mom," said Daisy, kissing her on the cheek and skipping out of the back door. "Daisy Dawson is on her way!"
Daisy wandered down the lane, listening to the bees buzz and the swallows sing. Apart from a few bumpy white clouds here and there, the sky was clean and empty. With the sun warming her face, Daisy leaned on the gate and gazed at the old tumbledown barn.
"Boom!" she called. "I've brought you some breakfast!"
There was a scrabbling sound from inside the barn, and a large bloodhound poked its head through a hole in the wall.
"Morning, Daisy," he said. "You're bright and early."
"Well I was," replied Daisy as Boom lumbered toward her. "But I got involved in a photo shoot, so . . ."
It was only a few weeks since Daisy's encounter with the magical yellow butterfly, but she was already so used to talking to animals that it didn't seem the least bit strange to her. In fact, it would have seemed stranger if she'd suddenly discovered she couldn't talk to them.
"A photo shoot?" asked Boom. "What's that?"
"I got a new camera for my birthday, and I've been taking photos with it," said Daisy. Boom looked puzzled, so she tried to explain. "You know when you shut your eyes and, if you concentrate, you can still see someone's face for a while?"
Boom shut his eyes and nodded.
"Well," said Daisy, "a camera stops it from fading away. I'll show you tomorrow, if you like."
"I would," said Boom. Then he sniffed the air. "Have you been making jam sandwiches?"
"Oh, that's my new perfume," said Daisy. "Strawberry Surprise." She opened her lunch box and took out the ham sandwich she had made for him. "Would you prefer jam tomorrow?"
"No thanks," replied Boom, chomping on the sandwich. "Jam is fine, but ham is divine. Want some company?"
"Always," said Daisy. She opened the gate to let him out, and together they trotted down the lane.
"BUZZY-BUZZY JAM JAM, BUZZY-BUZZY JAM JAM, ME-WANT, ME-WANT, ME-WANT, ME-WANT! BUZZY-BUZZY JAM JAM, BUZZY-BUZZY JAM JAM, ME-WANT, ME-WANT, ME-WANT, ME-WANT!"
"Aargh!" squealed Daisy, flapping her arms around. "It's a wasp!"
"BUZZY-BUZZY JAM JAM, BUZZY-BUZZY JAM JAM, ME-WANT, ME-WANT, ME-WANT, ME-WANT!"
"Keep still," said Boom as the wasp circled above Daisy's head. "He'll fly away in a minute."
"But he's not flying away!" squeaked Daisy. "He keeps trying to land on me!"
"I think it's your perfume," said Boom. "Tell him."
"What?" asked Daisy, flapping frantically. "What do you mean, `tell him'?"
"Just tell him he's wasting his time," said Boom.
"Oh," said Daisy. She fixed the wasp with a hard stare. "Now listen here," she said sternly. "I don't have anything for you to eat, so why don't you just buzz off?"
The wasp flew back a little way and hovered in front of her.
"BUZZY-WHAT? BUZZY-WHAT? BUZZY-WHAT? BUZZY-WHAT?"
"I'm saying," said Daisy, "that whatever you want, I don't have it."
"LIAR-BUZZ, LIAR-BUZZ, LIAR-BUZZ, LIE!"
"I am not a liar," said Daisy irritably. "What you smell is my strawberry perfume, that's all. You can't eat it, so you might as well leave me alone and go do something useful instead."
"That'll be the day," said Boom.
The wasp changed direction and began buzzing angrily around Boom's head.
Boom yawned. "Why don't you just calm down for a minute and listen to what she's trying to tell you?"
Excerpted from Daisy Dawson and the Secret Pond by Steve Voake. Copyright © 2010 by Steve Voake. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.