Win a copy of Water Balloon! Details at the end of this post.

Brightly Colored Happiness

The blitzing began five years ago, in second grade, on one of those amazing spring days that remind you how hot summer can be. I was sitting outside, waiting for my best friends to come over. I knew we’d spend the day outside–the weather was the kind of gorgeous that makes you feel stupid if you spend a minute indoors.

I have no idea why I had a bag of balloons in the garage, but I did. Before Leah and Jane arrived, I blew up a ton with the hose, and filled this big planter, behind my dad’s grill, with water balloons.

Whenever we hung out, we played Monopoly. We were inventing our own rules, our own way to play. Whoever bough Park Place had to get drinks for all players. If you landed on Marvin Gardens, the other players had to quickly come up with a new hairstyle for you. That kind of thing. These days, there’s an action associated with every space (Except Baltic. If you land on Baltic, you can just relax.) But on that day, we were still making it up.

So there we were, playing our evolving version of Monopoly on the wooden picnic table in the backyard. Leah was leaning back to get some sun on her face. Jane was focused on the game, like me. She had a pad next to her, keeping track of the random action we applied to each space.

I landed on B&O Railroad, which, according to our rules, meant I had to go get pretzels for them. Instead, I went to the planter.

Was there a minute, a pause, before I started throwing the balloons? A second when I realized that something way beyond awesome was about to take place? I wish I could remember.

Excerpt copyright © 2011 Audrey Vernick

About the book:

Marley is stretched as tightly as an overfull water balloon. Her parents have separated and her relationship with her forever best friends is disintegrating. To top it all off, she is forced into what must be the worst summer job in history. She is trying hard to hold on to everything she loves, but if she squeezes any tighter, something’s going to burst. Luckily, there’s also a boy in the picture with amazing light blue eyes and the ability to make baseball actually seem interesting . . . but young romance, too, has lots of opportunity for humiliation and misinterpreted signals. As everything changes around her, can Marley loosen her grip on the past long enough to embrace the present, and maybe even the future?

What people are saying:

“Vernick’s writing is beautiful, her characters well-rounded and believable, and the coming of age situations and emotions are spot on.”—Kathryn Erskine, author of the National Book Award winner Mockingbird

“Tender and true, anchored by heartbreak and buoyed by love, Water Balloon is a sweet summertime celebration of the unforgettable moments that change everything. ”—Cynthia Leitich Smith, New York Times bestselling-author of Tantalize, Eternal, and Blessed

“A funny, poignant, beautifully written story about family, first love, and the joy and pain of girls’ friendships, reminiscent of Lynne Rae Perkins’ All Alone in the Universe. I was really caught up in the world Vernick created; in Marley’s own words, ‘it is amazingly, fantastically real.’ I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!”—Joanne Rocklin, author of One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street

“Tweens will relate to this heartfelt story of a girl who is struggling to navigate the many changes in her life that seem to greet her at every turn.”—Lisa Schroeder, author of It’s Raining Cupcakes

“Marley Baird is a lovely protagonist with an engaging voice, and readers will wish they could be her best friend and help her cope with all of life’s uncertainty, aggravation, and heartache.  They will recognize their own struggles in Marley’s and cheer her on as she finds her way.”—Gina Willner-Pardo, author of The Hard Kind of Promise

Water Balloon is breathtakingly luminous. From the start, readers will root for Marley, an unforgettable and authentic heroine; we *know* this girl, our heart breaks with hers, we laugh with her, and we want to be her friend for life. Vernick’s lyrical and astonishingly perceptive prose tells this captivating story of friendship, love, and resilience with honesty, grace, and power. This book is the real thing—I want to hug it daily!”—Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of 8th Grade Superzero

“A nicely reassuring read with a satisfying ending; a harbinger of more good novels to come from this author.”–Kirkus

Released: September 6, 2011

About the author:

Audrey Vernick is the author of the picture books Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?; Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums; and She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story. A two-time winner of the New Jersey Arts Council’s fiction fellowship, Audrey lives near the ocean with her husband, son, daughter, and dog. Water Balloon is her first novel. You  can visit her at or read her blog at


Audrey has been kind enough to contribute an ARC of Water Balloon for a giveaway!

Just comment on this post to enter.

For extra entries:

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Please list your extra entries in the comments.

The contest is open in the US and Canada, and ends on September 20th at midnight EST.

Good luck and happy reading!