The Wells Bequest: A Companion to The Grimm Legacy.pdf

The Wells Bequest: A Companion to The Grimm Legacy.pdf


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* "A clever, sparky adventure made of science fiction, philosophy and humor." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

School Library Journal Best Book
—Bank Street Best Book
—Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award Master List
—Texas Lonestar Reading List
—Georgia Book Award  
—Green Mountain Book Award Master List
—Keystone State Reading Association Young Adult Book Award
—Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) Reader Awards Final Nominee List, Truman Awards

Praise for The Grimm Legacy:
     * “This modern fantasy has intrigue, adventure, and romance, and the magical aspects of the tale are both clever and intricately woven, from rhyming charms to flying-carpet rides. . . . Shulman’s prose is fast paced, filled with humor, and peopled with characters who are either true to life or delightfully bizarre. Fans of fairy tales in general and Grimm stories in particular will delight in the author’s frequent literary references, and fantasy lovers will feel very much at home in this tale that pulls out all the stops.”—School Library Journal, starred review     
     “Captivating magic fills the pages of this exciting new novel. . . . Action fans will find plenty of heart-pounding, fantastical escapades as the novel builds to its satisfying, romantic conclusion. A richly imagined adventure with easy appeal for Harry Potter fans."—Booklist


Polly Shulman ( is also the author of The Grimm Legacy (a Bank Street Best Book and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Finalist) and Enthusiasm. She has written for The New York Times, Discover, Newsday, Salon, Slate, Scientific American, Archaeology, and The Village Voice, among others, and edits news stories for Science magazine. She is an alumna of Yale University, where she majored in math. She grew up in New York City, where she lives with her husband and their parakeet. 

Chapter One

How a Six-Inch-Tall Me Appeared in My Bedroom


The Wednesday when the whole time-travel adventure began, I was fiddling with my game controller, trying to make the shoot button more sensitive.

Wednesdays are my intense days. It was a Wednesday back when I took the test for Cooper Tech, where my big sister, Sofia, goes, and a Wednesday when I found out I didn’t get in. It was a Wednesday when I didn’t get into any of the other schools I was hoping for either and learned I would be going to my current school, the Manhattan Polytechnic Academy. Which means it was also a Wednesday when Sofia stopped calling Poly “Tech for Dummies” and started telling everybody that Poly kids are really very creative.

It’s not just bad things that happen to me on Wednesdays, though. I was born on a Wednesday. My family came to America on a Wednesday. And it was a Wednesday both times Jaya Rao and I first met—the Wednesday when I first met her, and the one when she first met me.

I had just figured out how to double the input speed on my game controller. I was messing around with the wires with half my attention, while with the other half I tried to think of a good science fair project. Science fair projects are a big deal in my family. Dad is the chief technology officer at a big media software company downtown, Mom is a cognitive neuroscientist, my brother, Dmitri, is a physics major at MIT, and my sister, Sofia, can’t seem to remember she’s not actually an immuno-oncologist yet, just a high school junior interning in Franklin-Morse Hospital’s immuno-oncology lab.

Me? I’m a student at Tech for Dummies, where the kids are really very creative.

I toyed with the idea of doing something really very creative involving rats. I like rats. They’re jumpy and inquisitive, like me. But what, exactly? Something with mazes, or chemicals, or electric shocks? Everything I could think of sounded pretty unpleasant for the rats. Besides, rats have minds of their own. They were sure to make my project skitter off in surprising directions, with unusable results.

That’s what usually happens to my experiments, even without rats. I’m great at coming up with clever fixes and mysterious surprises. Unfortunately, science fair judges aren’t so crazy about mysterious surprises.

I reconnected the game controller to my computer and launched Gravity Force III. A space raider appeared at the upper left of my screen. I whipped the cursor down to the right, ducking my ship behind a dust cloud. My fix worked! The button moved twice as fast as before, and so did the blaster fire. This was great!

I heard a slither behind me, then a crash. I looked up, startled. A blast of wind had come from nowhere. It had blown my new manga poster off the wall and knocked over my lamp. And—wait! Was something wrong with my eyes? Slowly, right in front of me, an object was appearing.

No, it wasn’t my eyes. The thing had heft. It was a machine around the size of a football, made of glittering metal. It had gears and rods and knobs and a little saddle, with two tiny dolls sitting on it. They were moving like they were alive.

Not dolls—people.

But that wasn’t even the weirdest part. The weirdest part was that one of the tiny people looked just like me.

“Hi, Leo! Bet you’re surprised to see us,” said the one who didn’t look like me. She was sitting in front of him. The guy who looked like me—exactly like me, with my long face, brown eyes, that stupid curl falling down his forehead—was hugging her tightly around the waist so he wouldn’t fall off the saddle.

I should have been too busy with surprise and confusion for anything else, but I felt a distinct jab of jealousy.

That surprised me even more. I never thought much about girls, but when I did, it was the action-graphic type, the kind of girl who wears skintight bodysuits and high-tech, thigh-high boots so she can kick the blaster out of the bad guy’s hand while doing a backflip.

The tiny girl on the tiny machine looked nothing like that. She was wearing an old-fashioned dress like something out of an educational video about pioneers. Her knot of black hair had fallen over her left ear, and tufts were sticking out in all directions. Her dress was all muddy. She had soot on her face and a funny chin. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.

“What . . . who . . . where did you come from?” I said. Wow, Leo. Real smooth talking.

“Hi, um, me,” said the tiny guy. He was wearing a dorky old-fashioned suit. “It’s me, Leo. I’m you. Wow, you’re big. Listen, this is important. Read H. G. Wells—”

“What do you mean you’re me?”

“I’m you, only later. Well, right now we’re the same time, but I was later before. Then I was earlier. But from a linear point of view, I guess I’m always later. But it doesn’t matter—”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“It’s not important. The important thing is, read The Time Machine.”

“I don’t understand. How did you get so small?”

“We used a shrink ray,” said the girl impatiently, like it was obvious. “Listen, Leo, this is important. When you meet Simon FitzHenry, make sure you stop him from—”

“Jaya! Stop it!” Mini-me put his hand over her mouth. “You’ll change history! Ow! Don’t bite!”

She pulled his hand away. “I’m trying to change history! Save everybody a whole lot of trouble.”

“Cause everybody a whole lot of trouble, you mean. Wow, you’re impossible.”

“Me? If we just tell him a few things that he’s going to know anyway soon, we can stop Simon before he—”

The guy covered her mouth again. “Come on, Jaya. We don’t have time to argue about this right now. Ow!”

She spat out his hand again. “Oh, so you’re the impatient one now? What do you mean, we don’t have time? Time is exactly what we have. We have all the time in the world.”

“No, we don’t! My sister’s coming.”

The girl—Jaya—ignored him. “Listen, Leo,” she said to me. “You have to tell Simon not to—”

Mini-me leaned around her and pressed a lever. They started to fade, getting softer and more transparent. Jaya was still talking, but I couldn’t hear her. The wind sprang up again, knocking my books over. Then they were gone, machine and all.

Not a moment too soon. My door burst open. “Jeez, Leo, what’s all the banging?” It was my sister, Sofia.

“Just knocking things over.” I picked up lamp and the books and put them back on the desk. I turned my back, hoping she’d go away. I had a lot to think about.

“You know what the trouble with you is?” asked Sofia.

“Yeah. I better by now, because it’s your favorite thing to tell me.”

“The trouble with you,” she said, “is you’re growing so fast you don’t know where your hands and feet are.”

“That’s not what you said yesterday. Yesterday the trouble with me was I didn’t have the simple human decency to put the milk back in the fridge.”

“Maybe the two things are connected,” Sofia said, sitting down on my bed. She looked like she was planning to stay awhile.

I tried to make her leave by saying, “Well, I better get back to my project.” I didn’t think it would work, though.

It didn’t. “What project?” she asked, looking pointedly at my computer screen, where my ship was lying in an ignominious heap of fragments. Schist! I’d almost made it to Level VIII before the tiny machine distracted me. That crash was going to poison my score.

I had to admit, it was a little crazy to worry about a game score being destroyed by impossible tiny people riding a science-fiction machine.

“Science fair,” I said.

“What’s the topic?”

I shrugged. “I was thinking about teleportation or maybe time travel. Maybe I could build like an anti-gravity device. Or a shrink ray.”

Sofia waved her hand in the air, the way she does. “There’s no such thing.”

She was wrong. After what I’d just seen, I knew those things existed. That machine with the little people had to involve teleportation or anti-gravity or time travel. Or maybe all three. It definitely involved a shrink ray. I said, “Sure there is! Physicists can teleport subatomic particles. Just ask Dmitri. Or time travel—you told me yourself you could go back in time if y...


Leo never imagined that time travel might really be possible, or that the objects in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novels might actually exist. But then a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, and he recognizes one of the tiny riders: himself! His search for the time machine and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library that lends out objects instead of books. Hidden away in the Repository basement is the Wells Bequest, a secret collection of powerful objects straight out of classic science fiction novels: robots, rockets, submarines, a shrink ray—and one very famous time machine. And when Leo’s adventure of a lifetime suddenly turns deadly, he must attempt a journey to 1895 to warn real-life scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. A race for time is on!



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