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Ethan knows all about New York, because his family has lived there for centuries. There's even a picture of his great-great-great-grandmother in the county museum.
Fun thoughts for the first day of school, when is when this chapter opens.
Ethan, for some reason we can't really figure out yet, doesn't like to have a seatmate.
In fact, it seems like he just doesn't like mates, period.
So anyway, he's got this method for keeping people from sitting next to him. It's some complicated maneuver with his leg and a bookbag, and it always works.
Until this morning.
As they're driving along, the bus passes a new housing development—you know the type.
This one is a little weird to Ethan, because it's called The Farm. Nice name, right? Very agrarian.
What's weird is that Ethan really is a farmer—or at least his family is. So, he doesn't really get fake farms.
But it's cool. Ethan is musing about all this when the bus stops somewhere unusual—Sillington House, the old mansion that belonged to the farm that's been turned into The Farm.
A kid gets on. But not just any kid. This guy—well, he obviously didn't get the memo, because he's not only wearing knee socks and shorts but carrying a bookbag, like an actual leather bag that you put books in. And he's Indian. And he waves goodbye to his dad like a little kid. And then he walks right down the whole length of the bus and introduces himself to Ethan. In a British accent. And then shakes his hand.
If you haven't gotten it by now, Julian Singh is definitely not from around here.
Ethan literally cannot believe that this kid has chosen him as his new BFF, but he can't help asking questions.
Turns out, Julian's dad has bought Sillington House to turn it into a B & B—a bed-and-breakfast hotel. (By now, you shouldn't be surprised to know that Noah's mom was the realtor.)
Ethan's day gets even better when he realizes that this weird new kid is in his homeroom.
Time for the second surprise of the day: Mrs. Olinski, the new teacher, is in a wheelchair.
Her day gets off to a bad start, too, when a kid named Hamilton Knapp meanly asks her to write higher on the blackboard. Unless her wheelchair is on hydraulics, that's going to be a little difficult.
Mrs. O writes a long word on the board: paraplegic. In other words, she's paralyzed from the waist down.
At lunch, Nadia, Noah, and Ethan all end up eating together.
Julian chows down alone and then leaves without asking permission. When the kids get back to their room after lunch, they see that someone has erased "paraplegic" and replaced it with "cripple."
Kids these days. No wonder Margaret Draper retired.
The weird thing is, Julian is standing in front of the word with an eraser in his hand. What's he doing there?
We've only known Julian for about three pages, but we're already going to bet that he's not the one who wrote "cripple."
Actually, we've got a pretty good idea who wrote it. His name starts with "H" and ends with "amilton Knapp."
Ham gives himself away by siccing a gang of bullies on Julian—writing on his bookbag, trying to trip him, making fun of him, and just generally being budding sociopaths.
Julian ignores the bullying and is just generally awesome.
On Saturdays, Ethan helps his mom sell produce at the Farmers' Market. Everyone expects that he's going to take over the family business, but Ethan has a different plan. An awesome plan. He's going to be a designer on Broadway.
Sure, sounds great! In the meantime, there are pumpkins to sell.
One day, Julian and his dad buy pumpkins from Ethan. Four identical pumpkins.