Read Kepler’s Dream Online

Authors: Juliet Bell

Kepler’s Dream


G. P. P

An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS • A division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2012 by Juliet Bell. All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, G. P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

G. P. Putnam's Sons, Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Published simultaneously in Canada. Printed in the United States of America.

Design by Annie Ericsson. Text set in Kepler Std.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Bell, Juliet. Kepler's Dream / Juliet Bell. p. cm.

Summary: While her mother undergoes radical cancer treatment, eleven-year-old Ella stays with her father's mother in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she learns about grammar and family history, and helps investigate the theft of an extremely rare book from her grandmother's library.

[1. Books and reading—Fiction. 2. Grandmothers—Fiction. 3. Swindlers and swindling—Fiction. 4. Family life—New Mexico—Fiction. 5. Cancer—Fiction. 6. Kepler, Johannes, 1571–1630. Somnium—Fiction. 7. Albuquerque (N.M.)—Fiction. 8. Mystery and detective stories.] I. Title.

PZ7.B82432Kep 2012 [Fic]—dc23 2011024136

ISBN: 978-1-101-57207-8

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2



for Samuel and Romilly

and for Henry


when you want to be hearing strange noises. I don't care how brave you are. No one wants to be restless and almost-asleep, then rustled awake by a thudding overhead and the feeling that someone is trying to get into the room.

There was a tapping at the door. A whisper I could hardly hear.


Someone was calling my name.

I sat up in the darkness. It was always so dark at my grandmother's. I don't know what they do to the nights in Albuquerque, but whatever it is, it makes their midnight air thick and slippery like oil, and impossible to see through.

I listened.

I heard the scratching sound again, and then Lou started to growl. My dog Lou may have been softhearted, but he was as spooked by that house as I was, and if some ghost or monster really tried to get me, he'd want to protect me. The problem was,
the rumble in his throat made it hard to hear what was going on. It seemed like an intruder was working away at the outside door to the bathroom. My bathroom had two doors, one into the room where I slept and one that connected to one of the murky areas behind the house, a scratchy tangle of brambly wilderness and rusty fencing and, for all I knew, buried treasure. I'd never been able to use that door to get outside. It was one of the features of my grandmother's house that seemed part of some mysterious, earlier time, when people were running around—actual children maybe. Not just ghosts.

“Ella!” I heard again. Lou gave a short woofle-bark, but I shushed him, saying it was OK. A breeze of relief cooled my nervous sweat: I recognized that voice.

“Rosie?” I whispered back.

“Yeah. Can you open the door? I'm freezing out here!”

That was the other thing about Albuquerque nights, even in the summer. They were
. It was the end of June, but I always slept under about ten ancient, musty blankets, and even then, my nose, like a dog's, sometimes got cool and clammy.

“Just a minute.” I kept whispering, because I really didn't want to wake up the GM (the name I had secretly given my grandmother Violet Von Stern). She had made it clear in some lecture or other—maybe the time she told me I must never go into her room without asking; or the time she said, with her trademark sarcasm, how
it would be if people could sound less like a herd of elephants stampeding through the hallways—well, anyway, it was clear that if I ever woke my grandmother up by
mistake, I would regret it. I'd always been confused about the difference between corporal and capital punishment, but I was pretty sure the GM believed in both.

“Can you open the door?”

I could hear the shiver in Rosie's voice. I felt sorry for her, even though we weren't friends. I wasn't sure why. She seemed to think I was a wimp, especially since my embarrassing fall at the Circle C—which was too bad, because on the soccer field I'm not a wimp at all, I score goals and have “grit,” according to Coach, but how could Rosie know that? We had met a few times by then, but it hadn't worked out. Just because you're both eleven doesn't mean you're going to get along. Friendship isn't a math equation. We might both have been stranded there that summer—me staying with my grandmother because of my mom's cancer treatment, and Rosie with her dad, who worked for the GM—but she and I didn't hang out.

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