On her annual trip in her father’s 18-wheeler, eight-year-old Jolene is headed to Los Angeles on a six-day road trip to deliver some newsprint with her dad. Just like last year, they tell each other stories and listen to music. They also keep up their favorite tradition: critiquing one type of food at every stop. This time it’s onion rings.
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Text copyright © Sara Cassidy 2020 Illustrations copyright © Charlene Chua 2020
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Title: Genius Jolene / Sara Cassidy; illustrated by Charlene Chua. Names: Cassidy, Sara, author. | Chua, Charlene, illustrator. Series: Orca echoes. Description: Series statement: Orca echoes Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 20190169141 | Canadiana (ebook) 2019016915X | ISBN 9781459825291 (softcover) | ISBN 9781459825307 (PDF) | ISBN 9781459825314 (EPUB) Classification: LCCPS8555.A7812 G46 2020 | DDC jC813/.54—dc23
Library of Congress Control Number: 2019947367 Simultaneously published in Canada and the United States in 2020
Summary: In this illustrated early chapter book, Jolene travels to Los Angeles with her father, a long-haul trucker.
Orca Book Publishers is committed to reducing the consumption of nonrenewable resources in the making of our books. We make every effort to use materials that support a sustainable future.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover artwork and interior illustrations by Charlene Chua Author photo by Katrina Rain
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERSorcabook.com
Printed and bound in Canada.
23 22 21 20 • 4 3 2 1
For Dale, Pam, Rowan and Siobhan, who understand the joys of adventure, family and love.
Oven-Baked Onion Rings
Dad, Joey and I step out of the apartment building into the cool night. A streetlamp hums above us, and the enormous Freightliner rumbles at the curb. It isn’t actually allowed on most city streets because it weighs so much. As much as a school bus carrying eight elephants, Dad likes to say.
Joey hands me my backpack. “You pack too light,” he says.
“I pack what I need,” I tell him. “Four underwear, four T-shirts, a hoodie and the jeans I’m wearing.”
“One of Dad’s T-shirts.”
Joey shakes his head. “You’ll get cold.”
“It’s nearly summer!” I cry.
But Joey’s already running back into the apartment building. I look at Dad and smirk. He shrugs. Then he yanks open the door of the truck’s cab, and I scramble up.
My side of the eighteen-wheeler is completely different from his. It’s duller than a waiting room. The biggest excitement is the glove compartment.
But Dad’s side is a party. A cockpit with dials and levers and switches and gauges and two radios and a navigation screen. His huge chair goes up and down and back and forth, and it has a switch that makes the seat as hard as cement or as soft and fluffy as a cloud.
It’s a strict rule that I stay on my side. I’m allowed to reach over to turn on the fan if the cab is sweltering, or to change the radio station if the news is too sad, but that’s it.
While Dad waits for Joey, I arrange my blanket around me and strap myself in. Cozy. Dad’s beaded keychain, which I made for him at out-of-school care, sways from the ignition switch.
A blue cardboard tree dangles from the fan. It’s called an air freshener, but, as Joey says, it doesn’t make the air fresh; it just smells it up with something different. What kind of stink would blue be? Blueberry? I rub the tree, then put my fingertips to my nose. The smell makes my throat itch like the school janitor’s floor cleaners do.
Joey comes out of the apartment building with a plastic shopping bag stuffed full of clothing. I spy the sash from my fuzzy bathrobe and my least favorite pair of pajamas, the ones with the too-tight waistband.
On the sidewalk Joey and Dad talk like strangers.
“Have a safe trip,” Joey says to Dad.
“We’ll be on the number 19 all the way,” Dad tells him. “That highway’s designed for safety. It’s lit up at night like a video game. We can’t go wrong.”
“Call when you can,” Joey says. Then softly he adds, “Okay?”
“I will,” Dad says. He steps toward Joey. They clap each other on the back. Then, quick as a sniff, as a bird darting from one tree to another, they kiss on the lips right there on the street.
Dad opens his door and hops into his seat, whistling. He winks at me and puts the truck in gear.
“He’s going to be mad,” I say as we pull away.
“About what?” Dad looks in the side mirror and sees the bag on the ground. “Whoops. Well, I’m not turning this rig around now.”
We drive past the rec center and my school. A school at night, with no kids or teachers, is the emptiest thing. The store on the corner with the fifty-cent candy bags is dark, except for the pop machine deep inside, lit up like a heart. I snap a photo.
“I’m hungry,” I say.
“I’m starving,” Dad growls.
We burst out laughing. Because didn’t Joey just feed us a pile of scrambled eggs and a stack of toast and a “Hollywood hill” of beans?
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