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Lumberjanes: The Moon Is Up, Page 2

Mariko Tamaki


  Later that morning, Jo was walking from the metalsmithing workshop to the library when she spotted a cluster of bubbles wafting in the breeze.

  Which is not a completely unexpected thing, but it was curious enough that Jo peeked behind the mess to see where the bubbles were coming from. She spotted BunBun sitting on the back steps.

  BunBun was the daughter of Chef Kzzyzy Koo and a very interesting person. This summer, she had taken to wearing little cat ears. Cat ears, NOT bunny ears.

  “Hey BunBun,” Jo chirped.

  “I’m very busy,” BunBun said, very seriously, blowing on her little plastic wand and sending another flurry of bubbles into the breeze.

  BunBun was always very busy doing whatever it was she was doing.

  Last week Jo had spotted BunBun petting the grass. When her mother called her, BunBun called back, “I’m VERY BUSY!” Then she continued to pet the grass for another five minutes before wandering off to talk to a tree.

  Behind the mess, coming from the kitchen, you could hear the boom of Janis Joplin and the high notes of Chef Kzzyzy Koo, roaring along with the music while pots and pans clanged, an orchestra of metal and lung. Kzzyzy Koo didn’t cook without the freshest ingredients and a set list of music from the ’60s. She grew her own veggies and herbs (pronounced with a hard “h” in this case), with the help of the scouts earning their Grow Up! badges.

  It has been said that in a former life, Kzzyzy Koo was denied organic produce but toured the world as a drummer in one of several possible rock bands.

  Now she was a chef who sang her way through prep with a throaty yowl you could hear across camp.

  Jo stepped toward BunBun. “Nice bubbles,” she said.

  “I KNOW,” BunBun said tersely.

  Kzzyzy came out onto the back step, her waist-length blue hair tied into an impossibly big knot on the top of her head, her face flush from the heat of the ovens and the many pots and pans boiling and sizzling away inside. “Hey Jo!” She waved, then, kneeling down, she looked at BunBun. “Hey. Have you been nibbling at the cheese, BunBun?”

  BunBun frowned. “NO!”

  “Sugary shortbread,” Kzzyzy grumbled. Kzzyzy was wearing her KOO COOKS FOR YOO apron today, which was already stained with any number of sauces and spices. She put her hands on her hips. “How is it I’m missing like a pound of Alaskan Hybrid Goat Cheese?”

  “That’s a pretty big nibble,” Jo noted.

  “I don’t E-VEN LIKE Alaskan HY-BRID Goat Cheese,” BunBun announced in her carefully enunciated yells, waving her wand and sending up a cluster of bubbles. “I like CHE-DDAR, I like GOU-DA, and I like Himalayan Holey HA-VAR-TI.”

  Jo liked Parmesan, provolone, and pecorino. Preferably pasteurized.

  Kzzyzy stood and scratched her head. “Then where did that Alaskan Hybrid go?”

  In the distance, Jo spotted Rosie tromping through the grass with what looked like a massive net tossed over her shoulder.

  BunBun followed Jo’s gaze.

  “There is a lot happening here all the time,” she said to Jo.

  “That’s true,” Jo said, assuming BunBun meant a lot of somewhat unexplainable things.

  “And NOT all of it is about CHEESE,” BunBun insisted.

  “It’s only ever some of the time about cheese,” Jo agreed.

  Seemingly from thin air, BunBun pulled out a small briefcase. She tapped her ears and stood up, some leftover bubbles still buzzing in the air.

  “I have to go,” she said to Jo. “I have a big meeting. I’m VERY busy.”

  Jo watched BunBun toddle off before realizing she had stuff to do too.

  Hmmm, Jo thought to herself. Cheese.


  The First Annual Lumberjanes Official Opening Ceremony for the First Annual Lumberjane Galaxy Wars took place at an hour that old people who like to walk on the beach call “The Magic Hour.”

  (Which is just on the edge of sunset.)

  Scouts were inside the mess hall finishing dinner when there was a sudden CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!

  Ripley jumped up, almost losing the scoop from her ice cream cone. “HOLY CARRIE FISHER, IT’S TIME!”

  Bubbles hovered by Ripley’s elbow as she ran outside, ready to catch a frosty nibble.

  April grabbed Jo’s sleeve. “Come on!!”

  Everyone burst out into the courtyard . . . to encounter another world.

  Ripley let out an exhilarated breath.


  Suffice it to say, Jen and the rest of the counselors of Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for Hardcore Lady-Types had truly outdone themselves.

  Which is sort of typical for Lumberjanes. Why just “do,” when “out-doing” is so much better?

  The front of the mess hall was covered in an arcade of twinkling lights. The ground was covered in a galaxy of constellations painted with nontoxic paints. Strings of different-colored bulbs circled the camp, flickering pink and blue and white. Fireflies, unaware they were part of the show, zoomed down and around.

  “It’s like floating in a sea of stars,” Molly marveled, holding her arms out as she slowly spun around to take it all in. “Space without the inconvenience of space travel.”

  It reminded Jo of sitting in the planetarium with her dads when she was little.

  Each cabin had a small flag behind which stood a gaggle of excited, anticipating scouts.

  The members of Zodiac cabin—Barney, Emily, Hes, Wren, and Skulls—pulled little star bands out of their pockets and strapped them to their heads. They looked tough. Like a solar army. They looked ready for solar battle.

  “Zodiac look rad,” Ripley said, waving at Barney, who waved back jubilantly, their silver star twinkling against their raven-colored hair.

  “We should have a star thing too,” Molly added.

  “Ooo!” Mal reached up and gave Bubbles a pet. “Or we could make Bubbles our team mascot.”

  Molly looked up at Bubbles, who was licking ice cream off his little raccoon lips. “Maybe we could make him a little moon hat or something.”

  Rosie stepped up to the platform next to the flagpole, wearing a pair of star-shaped glasses instead of her usual cat-eye rims. She addressed the crowd of wide-eyed scouts.


  Roanoke clustered next to their flag, which to Ripley’s delight was the same color of blue as the streak in her hair.

  Rosie held up her hand. “As you all know, this is our First Annual Lumberjane Galaxy Wars event, and your counselors and I have spent considerable time deciding what reward should go to the winning cabin.”

  April rubbed her hands together.

  “The winning team will have their names engraved on the first-ever GALAXY WARS CUP, and their portrait will hang in the Mess for the rest of the summer.”

  “Great Lady Dana Deveroe,” Mal whistled, recalling the former Lumberjane who now lived in the clouds and was obsessed with winning things and having people remember her for winning things.

  “In addition,” Rosie opened her hand to reveal a shining silver pin in the shape of a comet, “each cabin member will receive a Celestial Shield!”

  “Twiiiinkly,” Ripley oooooed.

  The rest of the scouts ahhhhhh-ed appropriately.

  “WE are getting that shield,” Hes hissed to her fellow Zodiacs.

  April looked over at Zodiac. Her competition. Then she looked at the shield again. That’s what you think, she thought.

  Jo looked at the sky and thought about the fact that the stars we see up in the sky, from Earth, are actually stars that might have gone out decades ago, which makes them sort of space ghosts. If there are space ghosts, Jo wondered, what else could be up there?

  “Hey,” April grinned as she poked her elbow into Jo’s side. “This is no time to SPACE out!”

  Jo rolled her eyes. “Let the space puns begin.”

nbsp; Rosie tucked the Celestial Shield back into her pocket. “Best of luck, scouts!”


  Someone pressed PLAY somewhere, and heavenly strains of Tasmin Archer filled the camp. The door to the mess hall creaked open, releasing a dramatic cloud of pink smoke.

  As the smoke trickled down the steps and over the stars painted on the ground, a line of Lumberjane camp counselors appeared through the mist in fishbowl helmets and silver gloves.

  “Holy Sally Ride.” Molly pressed her hands to her face.

  The music faded, and one astronaut stepped forward and removed her helmet to reveal . . . JEN!

  “Yeah, Jen!” Ripley cheered. “ASTRONAUT POWER!”

  Jen smiled as she raised her intergalactic megaphone to her lips. “LUMBERJANE SCOUTS! ON BEHALF OF THE LEAGUE OF GALAXY, I PRESENT THE CELESTIAL SCAVENGER HUNT!”

  What is a celestial scavenger hunt and why is it so exciting?

  Well, first of all, just about any scavenger hunt, which is a hunt for things using clues, is exciting. A scavenger hunt takes that classic question, “Where is it?” and poses another question: “I don’t know, why don’t you use your brain and go find it?”

  A Lumberjane scavenger hunt is not your average scavenge. In the early, early, EARLY days, the Lumberjanes held scavenger hunts that lasted three days and three nights, long after anyone could even remember what it was they were looking for.

  “SCOUTS! You must use your skills and knowledge of astronomy—and scouts who have their Astrono-me-me-me badges will definitely have an advantage—to find eight orbs, one orb for each of the eight planets, which I and your fellow counselors have hidden all over camp!”

  The members of Roanoke, all of whom had the Astrono-me-me-me badge, grinned.

  Obviously. I mean, when you have Jen the astrono-obsessed as your camp counselor, you learn a little something about the stars and planets.

  “The game ends when all of the orbs are found. The cabin with the most orbs WINS!” Jen announced. She could not stop smiling. I mean come on, planets, stars, and guided activities for campers? What could be better?

  “OKAY,” Vanessa called out as she stepped up with a bullhorn.


  “On your MADELEINE.”

  “Get SAMARA!”



  They’re off!

  “GRACE HOPPER FORMATION!” April shouted, pointing up at the sky in a dramatic pose worthy of the occasion. The scouts shifted into two lines.

  “All right scouts,” April said, putting her hands on Jo’s and Ripley’s shoulders and leaning in conspiratorially, “tonight is the first night of our momentous celestial victory, our first step toward planetary greatness.”

  “Okay,” Molly said.

  “First things first,” April said, pulling out a pen, “let’s make a list of all the planets, which is ULTIMATELY a list of all the orbs we will find on our path to victory.”

  “Right. Mercury,” Mal said, starting to count them off on her fingers.

  “Venus,” April added.

  “Earth!” Ripley cheered. “Mars! Jupiter! Saturn!”

  “Uranus and Neptune,” Jo said.









  April looked at her arm. “So we know that each planet’s facts are the clues to where they’re hidden. So that could be the name of the planet . . .”

  “It could have something to do with the temperature of the planets,” Mal added.

  “Or the atmosphere,” Ripley gasped. “Or the color.”

  “Or it could be relative to where they are to the sun,” Jo said, picturing a map of camp and several circles representing the various orbits of the planets around the sun.

  “Or their names,” Mal noted.

  Jo mentally flipped open her dog-eared copy of Everything You Wanted to Know About Roman Mythology and Then Some.

  Just then Molly’s face lit up like a light bulb, or a star. “I’ve got it!”


  What’s in a name? Technically your name is something someone gives you when you are born, which means your name is something someone who’s just met you, in the flesh, gives you, on the first day you exist.

  April was named for a month her mother liked.

  Mal was named after a character in an ’80s sitcom that her mom thought was really funny.

  Molly was named after her great-grandmother.

  Ripley was named Ripley because of her father’s favorite alien movie.

  Jo was the only person in her cabin who had chosen her name. She’d chosen her new name when she was ten. She liked that it took only two letters to spell, which made her think of the periodic table.

  Planets are also named, not by parents but by the people who first spotted them in the sky and thought, “Hey, I think that’s a planet.” In most cases these people were Romans. This is probably why the planets are named mostly after Greek and Roman gods.

  (It’s a true, but weird, story that the planet Uranus was almost named Herschel, possibly because of the astronomer William Herschel, who discovered Uranus, although he’d wanted to name it George’s Star, after King George III.

  Totally true.

  It would be kind of cool to have a planet named Herschel though, don’t you think? Or George? Or Cathy. Cathy would be nice.

  Not coincidentally, when Jo was little she had a toy microscope named Herschel the Microscope.)

  “Mercury,” Molly huffed, as she led Roanoke scrambling across camp, “is named after Mercury the messenger, right?”

  “Correct,” April puffed, speeding up.

  “So what’s a place associated with messages?” Molly asked.

  “The mail room?” April asked.

  “There is no mail room anymore,” Jo noted.

  The mail room had been invaded by a band of marauding squirrels looking for cookies several years ago, and now the mail room was just a sack Rosie kept locked in her office.

  All the members of Roanoke cabin suddenly flashed on the same image.

  April snapped her fingers. “EUREKA!”

  Mal grinned at Molly. “You’re so smart,” she gushed.

  Jo nodded.

  Ripley jumped up in mid-run.

  “The phone booth!” they all whispered, so as not to let the rest of the cabins, whizzing around, know their plan.

  The phone booth wasn’t actually a working phone booth, because most phone booths now are historical relics people point out and say, “Aw, look, a phone booth.” This booth even had a phone with a rotary dial, which you can also chalk up to a thing of nostalgia (which is when people miss things that aren’t around anymore). The booth was very much like a small wooden cabin, with no real purpose or explanation for being. Why a phone booth in the woods? There was a rumor that there was a secret number you could dial on the phone that would send the booth into another dimension, but April hadn’t figured it out yet.

  Not for lack of trying, mind you.

  Picking up the pace, the members of Roanoke cabin charged past the library and hooked around the stables to where the phone booth was semi-hidden, tucked in amongst a thicket of pine trees.

  “HARK!!” April cried, pointing through the trees. “OVER THERE!”

  It was Zodiac, who had obviously had the same idea and were running toward the booth from the other side of the stables.

  April gritted her teeth. Zodiac were picking up speed!

  The members of Zodiac were many things, and, unfortunately, in this moment, fast was one of them. Hes and Emily were both the stars of their basketball teams back home, and now the whole cabin was pounding through the trees with their eyes fixed on a slam-dunk.

  Jo had another idea. “Hey, Rip!” She lowered her hands in a loop. “ROCKET RIPLEY TIME?”

  Ripley grinned a mischievous grin
. “YAAAS!”

  And with that, Ripley sped up, jumped, put one foot on Jo’s hands, and was hoisted with all of Jo’s might into the air with the speed of a comet, cutting through space, hurtling toward its intended target.


  April shielded her eyes. “Going.”

  Mal squinted at disappearing Ripley. “Going!”

  Jo, of course, had mentally mapped Ripley’s likely trajectory, considering Ripley’s average speed, weight, height, and general Ripley-ness.

  “Three,” Jo whispered, “two . . .”

  Molly smiled. “Aaaaaaanddd . . .”


  Ripley landed on a patch of pine needles and bounced up onto her feet a few steps from the booth. She tucked and rolled, stood, and dove through the doors of the booth. There it was, glowing like a radical orange sonic jewel on top of the receiver.

  “I GOT IT!” Ripley cried, hopping on top of the booth and holding up the orb with one hand.



  The camp was chaos: flashlights bobbing in the dark and voices calling out “OVER HERE!” and “OVER WHERE?!” and “OVER HERE!”

  Owls sitting on their perches hooted and tipped their heads at impossible angles, annoyed because making weird noises at night was their thing.

  The counselors, still in their helmets, peered out from behind trees and from rooftops as the rest of the scouts foraged their brains for a hint as to where the planets might be hidden.

  Zodiac beat Roanoke to the next orb, Saturn, which was tucked in next to the wool-crafting area in the arts and crafts cabin. Because Saturn, as owners of the Astrono-meme-me as well as the Wool You Be Mine badge know, has shepherd moons.

  Shepherds Sheep Wool.

  Kind of a stretch but, you know, okay.

  “Garr,” April fumed as they tromped away from arts and crafts, the cheers of Zodiac cabin melting into the dark behind them.

  “At least we guessed the right place,” Molly offered hopefully.

  “These clues are . . . curious,” Jo said.

  Molly blinked, looking into the darkness. It was strange, she thought, how the dark was like its own thing to see, a whole extra world of shadows and shapes.