The Magic School Bus meets Over the Moon in this first book in a new chapter book series about a young Indian American girl who loves science and has a big imagination!
Sejal Sinha is looking forward to celebrating Diwali with her family. But when a hurricane appears, Sejal and her cousin Mira learn that the house is in danger from the imminent storm. With the help of Sejal’s favorite stuffed animal, Professor Cheetah, the two girls use Cardboard Box Magic to build their own Hurricane Hunter and fly into the eye of the hurricane!
They learn about a project from the 1960s called Project Stormfury, where a team actually tried to stop hurricanes. Can Sejal and Mira do what the previous Stormfury team couldn’t and battle the superstorm?
Chapter One: Professor Cheetah and the Moon Mission
CHAPTER ONE Professor Cheetah and the Moon Mission Cardboard boxes have a lot of magic that grown-ups just don’t get. They can turn into anything and take you anywhere. Need a submarine to go to the bottom of the sea? Need a machine to dig to the center of the earth? Need a train to take you deep into a mine filled with crystals?
A cardboard box can do the job.
“Another successful mission!” I said as we landed back on the shaggy rug in my family’s basement.
“Excellent work! I can’t wait to examine my moon samples,” Professor Cheetah said, giving me a high five.
She was the smartest of all my stuffed animals—and my best stuffie friend. She’d been my copilot on our cardboard box trip to the moon, and now she hopped out of the box and took the samples to her laboratory (also known as the toy shelf).
Just then I heard the doorbell ring upstairs. As she always did, my puppy started barking super ferociously. You couldn’t tell she weighed only five pounds, because she sounded way bigger.
“Oof!” said Professor Cheetah. “Does Fluff Monster need to be so loud? I’m trying to concentrate!”
Professor Cheetah took science very seriously. I liked learning how things worked, but mostly went on the missions for the adventure.
Right now, though, I was excited to be back home. Because today was Diwali! My favorite Indian holiday, all about light winning over darkness. We dress up in fancy clothes and make pretty designs with colored sand out on the porch. We light up the house with candles, play with sparklers in the backyard, and eat a huge yummy feast. With plenty of sweets for dessert, too.
Plus, my aunt, uncle, and cousin Mira were coming to celebrate with us. I couldn’t wait! Just one problem. I hadn’t cleaned up the basement even though Mom had told me to. Oops.
I started picking up the pieces of my little brother Abu’s train set since he was “helping” Dad with dinner. Which probably meant making dinosaur sculptures with poori dough. That sounded more fun than cleaning, but when I had complained, Mom had given me that squinty look she got when she was annoyed. The one that meant she might give me some math problems to do. Mom loved assigning extra homework. She thought our teachers didn’t give enough.
I hadn’t gotten much picked up before the basement door opened. My cousin Mira came down the steps, my cookies-and-cream-colored pup following excitedly behind her.
“Hi, Sejal,” Mira said.
“Hi, Mira!” I dropped the train track piece I was holding and ran to give her a hug.
She hugged me back, but then peeked over at my spaceship. “Don’t tell me you’re still playing with cardboard boxes!”
Maya Prasad is a South Asian American author, a Caltech graduate, and a former software engineer. She currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys hiking, canoeing, and raising her budding bookworm kiddo. She’s the author of young adult novel Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things and the Sejal Sinha chapter book series. Maya has also had short fiction published in Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA, Cast of Wonders, and Voyage YA. She is passionate about creating brown girl leads in children’s literature.