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Aussie Chomps : Just One Wish : Primary School Readers - Sally Rippin

Aussie Chomps : Just One Wish

Primary School Readers

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Penny has just moved to Australia from China. She can hardly speak English. She doesn't know anyone. And horrible Cousin Betty is determined to make life at her new school totally miserable.

But then her grandmother gives her a magic Chinese pouch. Penny has just one wish to make things right . . .

About The Author

"When I was growing up I went to many different schools all over the world and made lots of different friends, but none of them were vampires. At least not as far as I know! Now I live in Australia with my two sons, Gabriel and Max, who help me come up with good ideas for stories. I also have a baby boy, Dominic, who is not a vampire either, but he does keep me up at night sometimes. Apart from eating the odd dried worm, we have a fairly normal family. What's that? You've never tried a dried worm? You don't know what you're missing!" Sally Rippin

Chapter 1

I walk out of the bedroom in my new school uniform and everybody cheers - Ma, Ba, Aunty May and Uncle Du. Even my grandmother, Nai Nai, looks up from the television for a moment to clap her papery old hands together. Only Cousin Betty sits in the corner of the lounge room and rolls her eyes to the ceiling.

'Aiya! So pretty!' Aunty May screeches in Chinese, pinching my cheeks so hard that my eyes water. 'Better than the school uniforms in China, huh? So much easier to keep clean.'

I tug Ma's arm and pull her to one side. 'Ma, please don't make me go,' I beg. I'm trying not to cry in front of Cousin Betty, but my throat feels so tight it's like I've swallowed an orange.

'You'll be fine, Little Pumpkin,' Ma says, calling me by my Chinese name. In front of my cousin, it sounds like a baby's name and I feel embarrassed. 'Your cousin will look after you, won't you, Magnificent Treasure?'

My cousin sighs. 'That's my oId name, Aunty. They call me Betty here.' She shakes her head and looks at Ma like she's a squashed old dumpling on the road.

I don't like the way my cousin talks to my parents. We were all born in Shanghai. Just because she has already lived in Australia for three years and can speak English better than me doesn't mean she has suddenly grown an extra brain.

'Okay, everyone in the car,' Uncle Du says, clapping his hands together. We all bustle towards the door. I drag my feet but Ma's hand is like a claw in my back.

'Don't make me lose face in front of your Aunty May,' she hisses in my ear.

Ma is always concerned about what Aunty May thinks. Ma's the one who wanted to come to Australia. In fact, my Ba and I didn't want to come here at all. We were perfectly happy in my old school in Shanghai - I was going into grade six and Ba would have been my art teacher. But Ma wanted to come. Aunty May kept telling her how good Australia was - big houses, good schools - and Ma always hates to think that Aunty May might have something better than her.

The only good thing about coming to Australia, as far as I was concerned, was seeing Nai Nai again. I'd missed her so much since she left Shanghai. When I was little she used to look after me and Cousin Betty when our parents were at work, but Uncle Du and Aunty May took her with them to Australia. When she left Shanghai, I cried for three whole days.

Suddenly, Nai Nai makes a noise. Everyone turns around, surprised, because Nai Nai hardly ever talks anymore. She just sits in front of the TV watching ads all day and sipping thimble-sized teacups of bitter black herbs. Nai Nai raises a shaky arm and points at me. I look at Ma who puts the claw back into my shoulder blades, but this time she pushes me towards my grandmother.

Betty groans. 'We'll be late! Just ignore her.'

'Let Nai Nai wish her grand-daughter well on her first day of Australian school,' Aunty scolds. Betty huffs and stomps out the front door towards the car.

I shuffle over to Nai Nai's couch and she grabs my hand in both of hers. Her fingers are knobbly, and worn as smooth as polished rosewood. I look down as she slips something into my palm. It's a tiny silk pouch embroidered with red and green dragons. It's beautiful.

'Thanks, Nai Nai,' I say and kiss her cheek, which feels soft and wrinkled like rice paper.

I begin to open the pouch but Nai Nai clutches my hand.

'No! Don't open it yet!' she whispers. 'It might flyaway!'

I pull back, startled. 'What's in it?'

Nai Nai leans in close so that I smell musty herbs on her breath.

'A wish,' she says.

'Sorry?' I'm not sure I've heard her correctly. Outside, Uncle Du has already started the car.

'A wish.' She winks at me. 'Be careful you don't waste it. Keep the pouch tightly closed. If you look after it, a wish can last a lifetime. And remember, you can only use it once. And you can't wish for more wishes - that won't work. So, think very carefully about how you are going to use it, Little Pumpkin. Now, off you go.' She pats my shoulder gently.

'What . . . ?' I begin, trying to understand everything Nai Nai has told me.

But the ads have come on again and Nai Nai looks back towards the television.

Uncle Du is beeping the horn.
Sally Rippin

Sally Rippin was born in Darwin and grew up in South-East Asia. As a young adult she studied traditional Chinese painting for three years in Shanghai and Hangzhou, which inspired her first novel Chenxi and the Foreigner.

Sally is the author of many books for children, including the popular Billie B Brown and Hey Jack! series, and the highly acclaimed children's novel Angel Creek. Currently, she lives in Melbourne with her partner and three sons, and writes and illustrates full time.

Sally is a regular fixture at Writing Festivals and Workshops across Australia and overseas. She also teaches Writing for Children at RMIT University, is a mentor for the Australian Society of Authors and is one of the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge Ambassadors.

Visit Sally Rippin's Booktopia Author Page

ISBN: 9780143304463
ISBN-10: 0143304461
Series: Aussie Chomps
Audience: Children
For Ages: 10 - 13 years old
For Grades: 6 - 9
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 86
Published: 4th May 2009
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 11.5  x 0.7
Weight (kg): 19.8
Edition Number: 1