“Claire Marie Boucher!” Mom shouted extra loud across the sugarhouse, but the maple steam was so thick it just about swallowed up her voice anyhow. “Make sure you come straight home from the rink after the show’s over. We don’t have Holly and Camille to run pancakes this year, nor Austin to cook. And I’ve got Jake and Christopher running wild under my feet.” Claire’s brothers were fighting again instead of bringing in wood. A snowball flew in through the open screen door and sizzled into the bubbling sap.

“I’ll be back by noon.” Claire tossed her skating bag over her shoulder and stepped out of the steam into the cold March air. Even with the sun shining, spring wasn’t ready to climb out of the snowdrifts and shake itself off just yet.

She already knew there wasn’t enough help for sugaring weekend this year. Holly and Camille from the Ladue Farm left for college last August and hadn’t even come back to visit. Austin Gonyea from the next hill over had traded in pancakes for a job tossing pizzas in Plattsburgh, half an hour away.

Even her cousin Charlotte, who used to spend every spare minute with Claire skating on the cow pond, was off skating on some fancy college rink in Pennsylvania. Claire’s boots crunched through iced-over puddles all down the driveway. Who could blame them for leaving? Mojimuk Falls didn’t have much to offer unless your life revolved around maple trees, like hers did. You could farm or work at the border, and that was about it. The very name of the place— Mojimuk— was the Abenaki word for “going away.” Maybe that’s why they all did.

Claire leaned against the mailbox to wait for Natalie. At least Natalie couldn’t go anywhere for a while. They both had more than five years until graduation, and that was just fine. Five more years of skating on the cow pond as soon as it froze solid enough. Five years of milk-shake nights, talking about classes and skating and Nat’s honeybees in their hives out by the orchard. Five years of boiling maple sap and serving up pancakes every March, fighting over who got to wait on the cute boys.

Excerpt © 2010 Kate Messner

About the book:

For Claire Boucher, life is all about skating on the frozen cow pond and in the annual Maple Show right before the big pancake breakfast on her family’s maple farm. But all that changes when Claire is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity-a scholarship to train with the elite skaters in Lake Placid. Tossed into a world of mean girls on ice, where competition is everything, Claire soon realizes that her sweet dream-come-true has sharper edges than she could have imagined. Can she find the strength to stand up to the people who want her to fail and the courage to decide which dream she wants to follow?

What people are saying:

“One moment Claire Boucher is tapping the sap from her family’s maple trees; the next she is plucked from obscurity by a coach who sees her skate in the Maple Show and offers a scholarship in Lake Placid…. Even those who don’t know their double toe loops from their single salchows will enjoy…reading about what it takes to make it on the ice.” ~Booklist

“For fans of ice skating this book is nothing short of a dream come true. If I don’t see a copy of this book in every single ice skater’s gym bag by the end of December I will eat my proverbial hat.” ~Betsy Bird on her Fuse #8 School Library Journal Blog

“Delightful… Messner has a flair for depicting engaging characters.” ~School Library Journal

“Claire’s self-doubt and inner turmoil over whether to continue with the Silver Blades after her scholarship ends is both realistic and sensitively depicted. The solidarity among some of the skaters is nicely contrasted with the mind games and meanness of others. The addition of a light romance and the satisfying conclusion will appeal to those who have skating fantasies of their own.” ~Kirkus

Released: December 7, 2010 by Walker Books

About the author:

Kate Messner is the author of THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. winner of the 2010 E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers, SUGAR AND ICE (Walker/Bloomsbury), the MARTY MCGUIRE chapter book series coming from Scholastic this spring, and two picture books on the way from Chronicle Books. She’s also a National Board Certified middle school English teacher. Learn more at her website: