- See Also: Minor Characters in Grace's Stories
Chapter By Chapter Summary
Chapter One: A Good Idea
Grace races downstairs in her pajamas and slides a few yards across the kitchen floor as her mother steps through the back door. Mom, her face as pink as her running shirt, tells her to slow down since it's only the first day of summer vacation, and Grace has almost three months ahead to do all the things she wants to do. Grace replies that she just thought of a way to make Grandma's muffin recipe even better. Mom unties her running shoes, telling Grace that she may use the oven, but asks for a 'good morning' first. Grace apologizes and says good morning, adding that she would hug her but blows her a kiss instead. Mom announces proudly that though she is sweaty, she did seven miles that morning, as there are only a couple of months till the half marathon. Mom then sits down at the computer to log her progress, which she does after every run. Grace thinks that she is like her mother that way since they both like to have a plan. Grace preheats the oven, then pulls a blue ceramic bowl of muffin batter out of the fridge. She gently grates the rind of a lemon and folds the zest into the batter along with fresh blueberries. Grace then spoons the batter into a muffin pan and asks Mom if she can bike with Maddy and Ella, and that they want to meet at the bakery for Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary celebration and then ride the bike trail. Mom, who is setting the table for breakfast, agrees as long as the girls stay within the boundaries they'd discussed, then asks Grace to give Grandma and Grandpa a hug for her, adding that thirty years is a long time to be in business. Grace promises that she will as she puts the muffin pan in the oven and sets the timer, anxious to see how Grandma's recipe with Grace's new secret ingredient would turn out. While she waits for the muffins, Grace takes a turn at the family computer and checks her online calendar for "Today, June 17". It reads:
8:30 Bake muffins
10:00 Help Grandma and Grandpa celebrate!
11:00 Ride bikes with Maddy and Ella
3:00 Go to library to check out books
Grace then takes a bowl of cereal out to the deck to eat, making sure she is still able to hear the oven timer. She is joined by Mom a minute later. From behind a maple tree comes a clinking noise, which turns out to be Dad tinkering with the old stone wall. He peers over his shoulder and calls good morning to the two "lovely ladies". Grace promises fresh muffins soon, Dad tells her to just say when before going back to chinking out a broken stone. Grace thinks that their wall isn't quite as old as their mill town on the Blackstone River, which popped up during the Industrial Revolution, but it's pretty close to being that old. She also reflects on Dad's hobbies, and that working on the wall, as well as cross country skiing and building quirky birdhouses, is a break from his work as a therapist. Dad once told Grace that stones whisper if you listen closely. From next door, Grace hears a friendly bark and dashes over to greet the Chatsworths' golden retriever, Zulu. When Mrs. Chatsworth calls Zulu inside, Grace longingly asks her mother if they can get a dog this summer. Mom replies that she'll be teaching fifth graders while Grace will be starting fourth grade--which Mom can hardly believe--and that a dog is a huge responsibility for a busy family like theirs. Grace groans that she thought Mom would say that, but Mom continues that Grace seems to have the best of both worlds; she can give Zulu attention whenever she feels like it, without the daily work of taking care of her. Grace is about to protest when the oven timer buzzes. She heads inside, saying that she needs to check the muffins. Mom follows, commenting that she needs a shower, then adds that Grace has inherited the baking bug like her Aunt Sophie. Grace recalls that Aunt Sophie is her mother's younger sister who went to Paris to study pastry making, married a French baker, and moved to Paris for good. To her mother, Grace says that she does love baking, but she also loves dogs, and she can't hug a muffin or a cookie. Mom chuckles that Grace has a good point as she helps her take the muffins out. When Grace smells the muffins, she wonders excitedly if her secret ingredient made a difference.
Later, Grace parks her bike outside First Street Family Bakery and steps inside, breathing deeply. She thinks that she wouldn't get tired of that smell in a hundred years. Grandma greets her as "my favorite girl" from behind the well-stocked bakery counter. She adds that Grace came at a perfect time since--she gestures towards her new laptop--she and Grandpa aren't exactly up to speed on technology. Grace says that it just takes practice, and Grandma, smiling, asks what they say about old dogs. Grace asks if Grandma means it's hard to teach a new dog tricks, and Grandma nods. Upon being asked by Grandma what she has in her paper lunch bag, Grace holds it out and says it's for her and Grandpa. Grandma takes the bag as Grace tells her to be honest about what she thinks. Grandma pulls out a lightly golden muffin and remarks that Grace tried the muffin recipe. Grace nods as Grandma takes a bite and smiles. Grandma says it's wonderful and asks what Grace added this time. Grace proudly announces lemon zest, then goes on to say that she loves playing around with Grandma's recipes. She struggles to say how it makes her feel, and Grandma offers that Grace must feel like she's carrying on the family tradition. When Grace agrees, Grandma continues, saying that someday Grace won't even need recipes and that she'll make them up on her own. She says that Grace is already experimenting with new ingredients and that she is always full of ideas. Grandpa walks in then from the kitchen with a plate of assorted cookies. He greets Grace and asks if she's come to help them celebrate First Street Family Bakery's anniversary. There is already a banner in the front window that reads "Celebrating 30 Years of Baking in Bentwick, Mass." Grace asks what she can do to help, and Grandpa says she can hand out cookies to customers. Grace agrees as a white-haired couple come in, looking at the bouquet of balloons on the counter. The man says that the bakery has been around since before they moved to Bentwick, and Grace offers them free cookies and points out the napkins on the counter. The woman remarks that while many businesses come and go, the bakery is still going, saying that's really something. Grandpa says that they never gave up, even when they were starting with just a few dollars. He says that they rented first, before buying an old brick building, and that they needed a lot of elbow grease to get it shipshape. He finishes by saying though it wasn't easy and it took a while to get used to waking up at three AM, he's never regretted it. Grandma adds that they've met some wonderful customers and that it's fun to do what you love and share it with others She says it makes a good life, then links arms with Grandpa and smiles. More customers come and go. Grace offers them all cookies while Grandpa, who usually works in the kitchen, lingers by the counter and visits with everyone. In between customers, Grace blurts out an idea that had crossed her mind before; that she wants to start a business like they did. Grandma and Grandpa look at one another with a smile, then Grandpa says it's a good idea, that Grace could be her own boss, and if she gets an idea, she can run with it. Grace says that would be fun and that she'd love to find something that interests her and jump online to learn more. She adds that she just wishes she could start something right away. Grandma looks at her Boston Globe newspaper and says that they'd just read something about kids who start their own businesses. Grace, excited, asks if that means she doesn't have to wait to start something and Grandpa says that she just has to come up with an idea that she can make work. Grace wonders aloud what she can do, and Grandpa tells her to brainstorm and keep her eyes and mind open. He adds that she'll come up with something. Grace thinks his confidence is contagious in a good way and that she could really do this.
Chapter Two: A Change of Plans
The bell rings above the bakery door. Grace turns, expecting more customers, but instead finds her friends. Maddy, with her curly red ponytail bouncing, hugs Grace, saying she's so excited that summer vacation has started. Ella says hello as well, while Grace reflects that Ella looks like a movie star and could be one, except that she's super shy until you get to know her. From outside, Ella's dog Murphy is heard barking. Ella says that he'll just keep barking until she goes back outside, but Grace asks if she wants a cookie first. Before Ella can take one, Grandma holds out a tray of glazed doughnuts and says that she knows the girls love doughnuts and that they are her treat. Grace takes chocolate with coconut sprinkles, Maddy picks cherry with pink frosting, and Ella chooses a cinnamon-sprinkled doughnut. After thanking Grandma, the three girls head outside. Murphy, a shaggy gray mutt, sniffs Ella's doughnut. She gives him her last morsel which he licks from her fingers. Grace says Ella is lucky to have such a good dog, as Ella unties his leash from the lamppost. She says that she has to walk him home to get her bike. As Grace and Maddy ride slowly alongside Ella and Murphy, Grace shares her idea about starting a business. She says her grandparents made her realize that she could start one right away. Maddy suggests that they start a business together. Grace says that would be fun, and Maddy enthusiastically says that they could sell things online, since she is good with art and computer stuff and everyone is online nowadays. Grace comments that even her grandparents are online, or at least trying to be. Ella shyly says that she's okay at math. Grace says that Ella is far more than okay and that she was top of her class in third grade last year. Ella concedes that she's pretty good with a small smile. She says that if they start a business, she could handle numbers and money. Grace wonders what she has to offer, then remembers what her mom said that morning. She says that she loves to bake and that they could start with a bake sale. Maddy says that there would be too much competition in bake sales and that it sounded too much like the lemonade stand Grace started last summer. Ella says that this time, they needed to make more money than they spent. Grace agrees and asks what else they could do. Washing cars is her first suggestion, but Maddy says that high schoolers always wash cars for fund-raising. Grace then suggests weeding gardens, looks at her clean hands, then says that's not a good idea. Maddy suggests mowing yards, but Ella interrupts her, saying they could tutor kids in math. Maddy says that while Ella may be able to tutor kids in math, she can't. The girls arrive at Ella's house, where Ella puts Murphy inside and gets her bike out of the garage. When she begins to pedal, though, the bike begins to make squealing sounds. Ella says it sounds like a parrot, Maddy adds it sounds like a sick parrot, and Grace says it sounds like a dying parrot, adding that Josh could probably fix it. The girls ride to Grace's house where Grace sees bike parts all over the garage. Piano music plays from inside, which Grace takes to mean that her fourteen-year-old brother Josh had gotten distracted from fixing his bike. She announces that she will go find him and goes inside. Josh is playing their upright piano when Grace asks him to take a look at Ella's bike. Josh asks what's wrong as he heads out to the garage. Ella answers that it sounds terrible, and Josh jokingly asks if his music was that bad. Ella says that the piano was nice, and Maddy explains that it's Ella's bike that sounds terrible. Josh rolls the bike into the garage while the girls wait. Ella says she wishes she had a new bike and Maddy says she does too, and that she's tired of her "little kids" bike with pink tassels on the handlebars. Ella says that her dad would say there's a difference between want and need. Maddy laughs and says a new bike needs her. Grace thinks that she doesn't need a new bike, but can't find anything wrong with wanting a dog someday. Just then, Josh wheels Ella's now-silent bike out onto the driveway. Not only did he fix the squealing, but he wiped the whole bike down so it looked like new. Grace compliments Josh on how fast he fixed the bike, and Josh says he just used oil. He tells them that the oilcan is in the garage for any time they need it. Passing the bike to Ella, he says that if the girls want new bikes, they can just find a way to earn some money. He himself makes a few bucks fixling bikes at Cycle Sports. Grace proudly says that the three of them are starting a business already. Josh asks what it is and Grace says they just need the right idea, and they have plenty of time to plan. Josh looks skeptical, which only strengthens Grace's resolve, as she and her friends ride down the street.
Grace and her friends ride along the bike trail, which was once a towpath for horses that pulled barges in the adjacent canal. She notices that many of the pedestrians they see are walking a dog or two, and comes up with the perfect idea--a dog walking business. Ella says that she already has experience walking a dog, and that they don't need to buy anything to get started since dog owners already have leashes and waste bags and such. Maddy says that she could design and print out advertising signs to post along the trail. The girls talk a little more about what they could do before racing back to Grace's house for online research. From the search keywords kids, business, and dogs come many different options; dog sitting, dog washing, dog grooming, dog training, and dog walking. At that moment, Mom walks in and clears her throat, frowning, with her cell phone in hand. Grace wonders if she's done somesthing wrong. Slowly, Mom explains that Aunt Sophie called. Her doctor said she needs to go on bed rest until her baby came. Grace, thinking that bed rest sounded serious, asks if Aunt Sophie would be okay. Mom says she thinks Sophie would be okay, but she'd need a lot of help around the house and with her bakery. Mom is wondering if she should go and be with her. Mom pauses and smiles, adding that maybe Grace could come as well, to help out and keep her cousin Sylvie company. The only time Grace saw Sylvie, Aunt Sophie's stepdaughter, was at Sophie's wedding in Boston a couple of years ago. Grace tries to picture her face, but Maddy interrupts, asking if this means Grace gets to go to Paris. Grace realizes that it does, and is dumbstruck. Mom adds that they have to talk to Dad since they'll be gone a long time, about five weeks. Ella says that's about half the summer, and Mom apologizes for interrupting the girls' plans. Grace thinks that spending the morning starting a business then getting such an abrupt change is like sailing along on a bike and getting a flat tire. Mom says that she can see that Grace needs a little time to get used to the idea. She adds that they can't leave until they can get Grace a passport in Boston, which could take about a week, which gives them time to plan and pack. Mom then leaves the room. Maddy says she'd love to go to Paris for the summer. Ella says she never knew Grace had a cousin in France, asking how old she is. Grace replies that she thinks Sylvie is a year younger than the three of them, but adds that she only met Sylvie once and doesn't remember her very well. Ella asks if Sylvie is nice, Grace responds that she doesn't really know. Maddy asks what if Sylvie isn't nice, Grace admits that would make it a very long trip. Maddy asks what this means for their dog-walking plans, and Grace, feeling like she just ruined someone's birthday, says they'll just have to go on without her. Ella says no, it wouldn't be the same without Grace and that she'd rather wait until Grace gets back. Maddy agrees, making Grace feel relieved and then a bit guilty. She apologizes, but Maddy only laughs, saying that Grace is going to Paris and therefore has nothing to be sorry about.
Chapter Three: Bon Voyage!
Grace thinks she likes having time to plan ahead, like she did for a surprise birthday party her third-grade class threw for their teacher Ms. Tureno the previous year. She reflects on specific details, like the cupcakes and decorations, and that the party was a huge success. Grace worries that she won't be able to plan for a trip to another country that lasts half the summer. But as she does research, she begins to get excited. Lots of girls dream of going to Paris. Grace prints off maps, tourist information, and some French travel phrases in preparation. She thinks that she can't wait to get to know her new cousin better, but worries that no matter how nice Sylvie is, she'll still miss Maddy and Ella after not hanging out with them for five weeks. Grace begins writing a packing list, but Mom says only one rolling suitcase each. Grace protests that they are there for five weeks, and Mom says that they don't want to be tripping over their luggage and that they will do laundry while they are there. Grace trusts Mom, since she had visited Aunt Sophie before. After packing, she and Mom drive an hour north to Boston to get Grace's passport and shop. They need to get a travel guide, maps, and a French/English dictionary, as well as a few special outfits each. In a small boutique, Grace studies her reflection in the dressing room mirror, wearing a pink beret and matching skirt with a black bow. She smooths her T-shirt to read the words on it next to a picture of the Eiffel Tower: Paris Je T'aime. Mom says it means "Paris, I love you", and that the outfit is lovely. Grace adjusts the beret and says it's so French, feeling more excited and ready for the trip.
A few days before they leave, Grace and Mom share a going-away barbecue with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma, watery-eyed, says that five weeks is a long time. Grandpa tells them not to get any crazy ideas about staying there, as he's already "lost" one daughter to Paris. Grace has a hard time saying goodbye to her grandparents, and thinks about all the people she'll miss while she's gone--not only Grandma and Grandpa, but Dad, Josh, and her friends too.
The day before Grace leaves, she invites Maddy and Ella to a picnic near Bentwick Dam off Bridge Street. Grace doesn't want them to forget her while she's away. They spread out a blanket by the old stone mill. Grace listens to the rushing water of the Blackstone River, which according to Grandpa flows faster than any other water in America except Niagara Falls. Grace tries to memorize the sound, thinking she might miss it in Paris. opening her eyes, she sees three bright red kayaks downstream of the dam, commenting that they look like rubies. Ella agrees that they are beautiful. Maddy says that since Grace is going to see lots of amazing things in Paris, she has to send both of them photos and emails. Grace says she has an even better idea to stay in touch and let both of them see Paris as well--a travel blog. Maddy asks if Grace knows how to do that, and Grace says that Mom uses a blog with her class and has promised to help Grace use the site. She says that she'll let them know how to get to the blog. Maddy says that's cool, and Ella says that it makes her feel better and she misses Grace already.
Later that day, Grace tries to prepare for the trip by practicing a little French around the house. She attempts to greet Josh in French when she enters the living room, but the words come out stiff and awkward. Without even a pause in his piano playing, Josh turns and tells Grace to keep practicing. Grace thinks that playing the piano comes as easily to Josh as baking comes to her, but French feels impossible. Josh stops playing and asks Grace to take lots of pictures. Grace promises that she will, but adds that she wishes that he and Dad could come too. Josh can be a pain at times, but Grace had never been away from him for more than a week. Josh says that it's okay, since he's trying to get in more hours at Cycle Sports that summer. He teasingly adds that he heard from someone who went to Paris that the French aren't all that friendly. Grace remembers something she'd read and runs to get her travel book. Coming back she tells Josh that according to the book, Parisians are "sticklers for politeness" and use formal greetings a lot--hello, good-bye, and thank you. She adds that the book says Americans, by comparison, are quite casual where manners are concerned and so can seem impolite to the Parisians. When Josh seems interested, Grace continues, struggling to pronounce bonjour, s'il vous plaît, and merci. Josh says that they'll think she's fluent. Grace says she's trying, and goes on to say that all men and boys are called Monsieur, women Madame, and girls Mademoiselle. Josh concludes that the French just have different ideas about manners than Americans do, calling Grace "Mademoiselle". Grace agrees, calling Josh "Monsieur", then curtsies and dances out of the room.
On June 27th, Dad and Josh drop off Mom and Grace at the Boston Logan International Airport. Grace wonders about what being up in the plane will be like, since she hasn't been on one since she visited Dad's parents (Grandma and Grandpa Thomas) in Florida when Grace was three or four. Dad pulls the luggage out of the trunk and asks what he will do without the two of them. He asks Grace to make sure she and Mom video-chat with him every week, then hugs her tightly. Finally, Dad tells Grace to take care of Mom while she (Mom) is taking care of everyone else. Josh gives Grace a gentle punch goodbye and tells her to have a blast but make sure she comes back--no staying in France like Aunt Sophie. Grace tells him not to worry and hugs him. As she and Mom walk into the airport, Dad and Josh wave and call "Bon voyage!" Grace responds with "Au revoir!" as she follows Mom. After going through security, Mom leads her toward their boarding gate, saying that she hopes Grace will sleep a little on their seven-hour flight. Grace thinks she'd rather remember every moment.
When the plane takes off, Grace is thrilled. She and Mom look down at Boston, and Grace spots the John Hancock Tower and Old North Church, before the plane rises into the clouds. Grace passes time looking out the window and studying French phrases until dinner. She chooses chicken pasta, which comes with a dinner roll, tossed salad, and chocolate mousse. After dinner, Mom hands Grace a jewelry box. Inside is a charm bracelet. Mom explains that Grace can add charms to it to remind her of special places and moments from their trip. Grace tries to imagine what might happen on the trip, but there's no way she can know what's ahead of her. She puts the bracelet on and thanks Mom, saying she loves the bracelet. After that she tries to watch the movie playing on the overhead screen, but falls asleep.
Mom wakes Grace up as they descend over France. The plane lands at the Charles de Gaulle Airport The steward announces, in English and French, that they are in Paris, France and the local time is 8:30 AM. Mom explains that they are six hours ahead and it's only 2:30 AM at home. Grace and Mom get off the plane, but when Grace tries to take pictures, she is told that isn't allowed in the airport. She is ashamed, but Mom tells her that they're in another country now and need to stay loose, explaining that it's a running term. If runners are too tense before a race, they'll knot up and perform worse. Mom yawns, and Grace yawns back at her. Their passports are stamped, their baggage is claimed, and they hail a taxi, since Uncle Bernard and Aunt Sophie don't have a car. The taxi driver greets Mom and Grace in French and places the luggage in the trunk. Once they are all settled, Mom asks the driver if he speaks English ("Parlez-vous anglais?"). He replies that he speaks a little English. Mom shows him Bernard and Sophie's address on a piece of paper and asks if he can take them there. He replies "Oui Madame" while Grace watches out the window. Some things look much the same as at home, though the billboards are in French, but as they drive on Grace notices more fountains and parks. The taxi driver points out "L'Arc de Triomphe", but Grace catches only one word of his explanation--Napoléon. Grace looks at the people out the window, observing what they are wearing (dresses, suits, blazers, berets, scarves, and skirts) and what they are doing (strolling, bicycling, walking dogs, painting, sitting on benches or at café tables, or traveling by subway, bus, or in tiny little cars). The taxi crosses over the Seine River, and the driver points out the Eiffel Tower. Grace says that they're really in Paris and Mom replies they certainly are. Grace notices that all the street signs are blue and read "Rue de" something. She concludes that "Rue" must mean "street". The driver stops at Aunt Sophie and Uncle Bernard's bakery and sets the luggage on the sidewalk. Mom pays him with euros, and he says "Au revoir, Madame. Au revoir, Mademoiselle." Grace musters up her courage and says "Au revoir, Monsieur." The driver waves and drives away as Grace looks up at the bakery. A sign that says La Pâtisserie hangs over a window with cases full of baked goods. A few customers are eating at outdoor tables. Mom announces that they're finally there. Grace takes a deep breath, reminding herself to stay loose, and goes with Mom into the bakery.
Chapter Four: Flowers on the Wall
Grace steps into the pâtisserie and is amazed at the variety of beautiful pastries all around her. Mom greets a dark-haired teenage girl behind the counter, who asks if she is Madame Sophie's sister. Mom replies "oui" and the teenager asks if this is Grace. Grace says "oui" as well. The teenager introduces herself as Colette before speaking French into her cell phone. Colette covers her phone and says that Sophie and Bernard are happy that they have arrived. She then points the way to a side door behind which is a narrow staircase. As Mom and Grace climb the stairs, they are greeted by a chorus of happy voices. Sylvie smiles down at Grace with her sandy curls framing her face. Grace recognizes her right away, though she's grown some since the wedding. Uncle Bernard appears from another door downstairs and insists on carrying the luggage the rest of the way up. Once Grace and Mom are upstairs, Uncle Bernard kisses them both on each cheek. Sylvie, after a pause, does the same. Grace isn't sure which way to turn her head and accidentally bonks Sylvie's nose. Aunt Sophie appears and hugs Grace, who says she thought Sophie had to stay in bed. Aunt Sophie responds that she does most of the time but not every moment. She says she's so happy that Grace and her mom are there and offers to show them around. Uncle Bernard says that they want to welcome them first. Sylvie brings in an armful of gifts, giving Mom a bouquet of flowers and Grace a bag from the pâtisserie. Inside is a box of macarons and a tarte in its own red box. Grace thinks they're almost too beautiful to eat. She thanks her aunt, uncle, and cousin with a merci. Uncle Bernard says something in French to Sylvie, who looks down and agrees. Uncle Bernard tells Grace that while Sylvie practices English with Grace, she can practice French with Sylvie. Grace responds "oui", feeling pleased with herself for knowing a few French words already. Aunt Sophie shows Mom and Grace around the apartment, which is quite small. She introduces a golden tabby cat as Napoléon, which leads Grace to mention that they heard about Napoléon on the way there. Aunt Sophie nods and says she isn't surprised, since Paris is full of reminders of the emperor Napoléon Bonaparte. She adds that the cat acts like he rules the apartment as if he was the emperor. The tour of the apartment continues. Grace notes that the bathroom holds everything but a toilet, which has its own separate room. In the master bedroom, a new bassinet is already waiting for the coming baby. And in Sylvie's room are yellow curtains and pictures of flowers on every wall. Aunt Sophie offers that room to Mom for privacy, saying the girls can sleep in the living area, but Mom asks how they will be able to stay up and visit once the girls are in bed. She then insists on taking the couch. Sylvie pulls a mattress out from under her bed for Grace, then shows her an empty dresser drawer and half the closet that she has prepared for her. Grace says thank you, correcting herself and saying merci, but Sylvie only smiles. Grace tries again to talk to her cousin, with little response. Sylvie then begins cutting out pictures of tulips from a magazine and taping them to a wall. Aunt Sophie says that Sylvie has been making flower art since her grandmother died. Grace tries to be friendly one more time both to Sylvie, then to Napoléon the cat, but neither of them return the favor. For lunch, Uncle Bernard serves asparagus wrapped in carrot slices. Just when Grace is wondering if that's all, Aunt Sophie explains that lunch comes in courses. The second course is roast chicken with French fries, and the third is stewed apple with assorted cheeses, which Grace tries tentatively and discovers the apple melts in her mouth. She eats fast at first until realizing that everyone else is eating slowly, and makes an effort to slow down. When they are finished, Aunt Sophie says that the best remedy for jet lag is to get outside in the natural light, mentioning that the Luxembourg Gardens are a short walk away. She says that Sylvie can show Grace the park. Mom says she'll do the dishes to make sure Sophie goes back to bed. They joke around some, and Grace asks if Sophie moved to Paris to get away from her big sister. Sophie answers that she moved because she loves baking and all things French, and that with Sylvie and another baby on the way, her heart is forever in Paris. Grace notices that, though Sylvie looked up at the mention of her name, she hadn't shown much interest in the conversation. Grace wonders if Sylvie is as much in the dark about English as Grace herself is about French.
Later, Sylvie brings Grace to the Luxembourg Gardens, or Les jardins du Luxembourg. Grace says that the park is beautiful, but Sylvie only smiles. They see a cluster of pigeons, and Sylvie crumbles a piece of bread from her skirt pockets, and begins feeding the birds. Grace musters up her courage and asks Sylvie if she speaks English (Parlez-vous anglais?) Sylvie shakes her head. Grace's heart sinks. How was she supposed to have fun with her cousin for five weeks if they couldn't understand each other? She looks at the pigeons, marveling at their unique colors and wishing she could tell Sylvie how much she likes them. Grace feels alone and misses Maddy and Ella, so she begins taking pictures for her travel blog. As the girls keep walking, Grace sees a pond full of miniature remote-controlled sailboats, an area for riding colorful pedal-powered go-carts, a playground with a climbing structure that resembles the Eiffel Tower, a puppet theater,riding ponies, a carousel, and some food stands. When the girls turn around to head for home, Grace begins to feel tired but perks up when she sees a little black and white dog crouched in a play bow. She points it out to Sylvie, whose face lights up. She calls to the dog; "Bonjour, petite chienne!". The dog races over and Grace sees that it is a female, with a black patch around one eye. She snaps a photo of the dog greeting Sylvie, then notices that the dog is thin and does not have a collar. Sylvie feeds the dog the other piece of bread from her pocket and waves good-bye. On the way home, Grace looks up petite chienne in her dictionary and discovers it means "little dog". She is sure that the dog is a stray and wishes they could help her. Grace feels so tired that she can barely walk the rest of the way to the apartment.
Grace blinks, not sure where she is. She doesn't recognize the room at first, but then remembers that she's in Paris. Sylvie is not there. Grace leaves the room, discovering that it's late afternoon. She sees that Aunt Sophie's door is open and enters. Mom is sitting on a chair next to Aunt Sophie, who is in bed. Mom says that Grace slept four hours and that she's having trouble staying awake herself. Grace asks where Sylvie is, and Aunt Sophie says she's in the bakery with her dad. She adds that Sylvie has faced a lot of change in her life--losing her mother, her father marrying Sophie, losing her grandmother more recently, and now there's a new baby coming. Aunt Sophie is glad for Sylvie's sake that Grace is there, but Grace says that Sylvie doesn't seem too excited about it. Mom says Sylvie just needs more time. Grace wonders what five weeks will be like if Sylvie doesn't warm up to her. Grace goes to the kitchen for a glass of water and sees herself in a refrigerator-magnet photo of Sophie and Bernard's wedding. She notices that most of the other photos on the fridge are of Sylvie and wonders if Sylvie is worried that the baby will take up all the attention she has been getting up until now. Mom comes in and points out a photo of Sylvie's grandparents and explains that Sylvie and her grandmother were very close. Grace tries to imagine life without Grandma and realizes that she would feel lost, too. She gazes out the window. Mom says that they can borrow bicycles from Sophie and Sylvie to go sightseeing the next day. Grace enthusiastically agrees, saying she needs more photos for her travel blog. Aunt Sophie says it's a good idea and that she's just a phone call away if she needs help. Just then, Uncle Bernard comes in, greeting everyone with "Bonsoir!" He asks Grace "avez-vous faim?" as Sylvie comes in behind him. Grace is confused until Uncle Bernard mimes eating. Grace agrees that she is hungry, (j'ai faim). Uncle Bernard asks if Sylvie will be ready to eat and Sylvie agrees, showing that she does understand a little English. Grace smiles encouragingly at her, but Sylvie looks at the floor.
Before dinner, Mom helps Grace post her first photos to her blog and write captions. Grace lies in the first caption that she is having a great time with Sylvie and her cat Napoléon. Under the picture of Sylvie with the dog, Grace types "First day at Luxembourg Gardens and saw this little dog (petite chienne) who needs a home!" After dinner, Grace checks the blog and sees two comments from Ella and Maddy. Ella writes "Really pretty. And what a cute dog!" Maddy writes "Lucky you!". Grace is happy about the comments but wonders what to do next. She reviews some French phrases in her travel guide at first, but still has trouble falling asleep.
Chapter Five: Paris by Bike
The next morning, Mom and Grace go to the pâtisserie. Grace snaps photos of different treats, such as crème brûlée, flan, napoléons, éclairs in chocolate and coffee flavors, madelines, truffles, amandines, macarons, tuiles, and many flavors of tartes. She is overwhelmed by the variety and ends up closing her eyes and pointing to choose. Grace orders the chocolate éclair while Mom orders pistachio macarons, explaining as they sit down outside the difference between them and macaroons. Grace says that her éclair is better and Mom says they have to trade bites to find out. Grace declares it a tie, adding that both treats are amazing. Once she and Mom are done eating, they borrow bicycles from Sylvie and Aunt Sophie and ride along the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower. Grace is nervous at first but eventually finds a rhythm and relaxes. The Eiffel Tower looms ahead and Grace is struck by how huge it is. She and Mom take a glass elevator to the top, where Grace is awed by the view of Paris from so high up. She takes pictures and mentally notes some interesting Eiffel Tower facts for her travel blog. On the way back down, Grace stops at a gift shop and buys an Eiffel Tower charm for her bracelet.
Mom and Grace continue riding, across the Arts Bridge, or Pont des Arts. Grace asks Mom why the bridge is covered with locks and Mom explains that couples add locks to the bridge as symbols of their love. Grace says that the bridge is an example of how one good idea can really take off. She adds that she hopes her business with Maddy and Ella can take off the same way. Before they keep riding, Grace takes a picture of the two of them on the bridge with her phone.
Standing outside the Notre Dame cathedral, Mom comments on how creepy the gargoyles look. Grace explains that they were used instead of rain gutters to spout water away from the building, and that people thought making gargoyles as ugly as possible would scare away evil spirits. She comments that the gargoyles would more likely just give people bad dreams, and Mom agrees. Grace suspects that Mom already knew all of those facts and accuses her of doing "her teacher thing" again. Mom confesses that she does do that sometimes. Grace takes a picture of the gargoyles to send to Josh before they enter the cathedral. Inside, Grace looks around at the candles, stone walls, and stained glass windows and imagines the author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame being inspired there. She whispers to Mom that the walls would have lots of stories to tell if stones could talk like Dad says they can. Mom says it makes her miss Dad and Josh, and Grace agrees.
For lunch, Mom and Grace ride to the Café de Flore. Grace follows Mom to an open table but is confused by the menu. She looks for the closest thing to a grilled cheese sandwich, but is so flustered when the waiter returns that she accidentally asks for rabbit stew. The waiter points out the English subtitles on the menu, and Grace orders the croque-monsieur, a grilled cheese with ham. She takes a picture for her blog before tentatively taking a bite. Discovering that it is delicious, Grace gives her mom a thumbs-up. She wants to describe the sandwich on her blog but realizes that some things just have to be learned through experience.
When they return, Grace sees the little black-and-white dog near the pâtisserie. She points it out to Mom, who says that it is a French bulldog. Grace giggles and crouches down to greet the dog. Mom tells her to be careful, and Grace says Sylvie knows the dog already and it is friendly. She says that the dog has no collar and is a stray. Mom says she's sure the dog has a home somewhere, but Grace isn't sure. She promises herself that she'll keep something in her pocket to give the dog the next time she sees it, as it's the least she can do.