Freddy Peach had been keeping a huge secret from his family, and it was finally time to spill the beans. “Everyone, I have an announcement,” just-turned-eleven-year-old Freddy blurted out at dinner one evening, a few weeks before spring break. Then he sat quietly and waited for their full attention. The trouble was, Freddy made many announcements—most of which were interesting random facts he’d recently learned—and the rest of his family sometimes ignored him. He cleared his throat and added, “An important announcement.”
Twelve-year-old Lucy grabbed a roll from the plate in the center of the table and began to butter it. “Freddy, you already told us that bees can only produce about a teaspoon of honey in their entire lifetimes.” She turned to their younger brother, Herb, and asked, “Can you please pass the milk?”
Herb, who was eight (but almost nine), set down his fork and carefully slid a carton of milk across the giant wooden table that filled the center of their family’s large and formal dining room. “And we also know that a queen bee can lay up to two thousand eggs in a day.” Herb popped a piece of curly pasta in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “That’s more than one egg per minute!”
“This isn’t a bee announcement,” Freddy clarified.
Their dad, Walter, stood up to get himself some sparkling water from the fridge in the kitchen, then returned to his spot at the head of the table. “We have just one family of four checking into the bed-and-breakfast tomorrow,” Dad blurted out, continuing to ignore Freddy’s announcement. “I was thinking we could let them spread out into both of the guest rooms on the second floor, since no one else is staying with us at The Peachtree B and B this weekend.”
The Peach family had recently opened a bed-and-breakfast in an old, historic mansion in their hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. They had spent several months fixing up their Great Aunt Lucinda’s former house and had opened their doors to the public just after Thanksgiving. There were three guest rooms at the B&B in total, but ever since Christmas had come and gone, these guest rooms stood empty most of the time.
Though Duluth was a beautiful city nestled right at the very tip of Lake Superior in Minnesota, it was freezing cold most of the winter, and not a lot of people wanted to visit. The Peaches were hoping business would pick up a bit come summer, because the mansion was an awfully big house for just the four of them. And, in order to continue to be able to afford to pay all the expensive heating and electric bills that came along with living in a house like this, Dad had told them they really needed more customers.
“That’s a good idea to let the guests spread out, Dad,” Lucy agreed. “I’m sure they’ll be much more comfortable in two rooms than they would be in one room with a couple of fold-up beds crammed in. We can hope for a great review online after they stay!”
Freddy cleared his throat.
“How old are the kids who are coming this weekend?” Herb asked. “Where do they live?”
Lucy added, “Are they coming to Duluth for an event, or to ski, or—”
“WHY IS EVERYONE IGNORING MY IMPORTANT ANNOUCEMENT?” Freddy shouted, interrupting his sister. The other three members of the Peach family turned to look at him. Freddy nodded. Much better. “Hello, family. Now that I have your attention,” he said, “I have something very exciting to share with all of you.”
“There’s been an awful lot of lead-up to whatever it is you’re about to say,” Lucy muttered. “This better be a good announcement.”
Lucy made a fair point, but Freddy ignored the jab. “Do you want the good news or the very good news first?”
Herb squeezed his eyes closed, then blurted out, “Start with the regular good news.”
“Thanks to good ol’ Freddy Peach, everyone’s favorite brother and son,” Freddy said with a flourish, “we have won…a whole year’s supply of yogurt!”
Dad blinked. “What, now?”
“A whole year’s worth of yogurt,” Freddy said with a mile-wide grin. “For us, for free.” Before anyone had a chance to ask any more questions, Freddy explained. “Over the past couple of months, I’ve been entering Dad in dozens of sweepstakes and contests.”
“Me?” Dad said.
“You have to be eighteen to win most sweepstakes,” Freddy explained. “So I’ve been using your name and birthdate. And a fake email address I set up with Theo’s help, so you wouldn’t get a bunch of junk emails in your regular account.” Theo was the guy their family had hired to help at the B&B whenever Dad was at work and the Peach kids were at school. He was also a counselor at the Cardboard Camp that Freddy went to each summer, which made him one of the coolest people on earth.
“Ah—” Dad said, covering his mouth to hide a bubbly-water burp.
“Anyway,” Freddy went on. “I felt like luck has finally been on our side lately, so I decided to enter us in some sweepstakes to test my theory.”
Up until about nine months ago, things in the Peach house hadn’t been so great. After Freddy’s mom died a couple years ago, their family sort of fell apart. Dad disappeared into his work, they never had time or energy for fun as a family, and the world felt all wrong without Mom in it anymore. But last spring, one of Mom’s inventions had sold and Dad used part of the money to buy a food truck so the four Peaches could travel around the country baking and selling pies. After they came home from that road trip, Great Aunt Lucinda had given them her mansion, and they’d somehow managed to turn her old Peach Pit into the all-new Peachtree B&B. Life still didn’t feel right without Mom in it, but at least everything didn’t feel quite as wrong anymore.
“I entered us in every single sweepstakes and contest I could find online and in magazines—the ones that looked legit, anyway—and we won!” Freddy grinned.
“Yogurt,” Lucy repeated blandly.
“Yogurt,” Freddy agreed, nodding. “A whole year’s worth of yogurt!”
Dad slapped the table. “Well, that is good news.” Then he frowned and said firmly, “It’s not okay that you impersonated me to enter a bunch of sweepstakes, and I’ll need to talk to Theo about the whole fake email thing…but it’s pretty neat that you—uh, I—actually won something.”
“I also entered you in a contest to win a lifetime supply of coffee and free breakfast at the New Scenic Café. I signed up for a cheese contest and entered to win the chance to get bread-baking lessons from a French chef…” Freddy was having a hard time remembering all the sweepstakes he’d entered but rattled off a few that popped into mind. “A free cookie-of-the-month subscription! Um, a trip to visit the set of a soap opera, a walk-on role in a Nickelodeon show, family season passes for a minor league baseball team in Kansas—”
“I always thought sweepstakes like that were fake,” Herb interrupted. “I assumed no one ever won.”
“Me too!” Freddy said. “But we won. A whole year’s worth of yogurt. Do you think they deliver it all at once, or do you think it comes in the mail every few weeks? Do you think we get to pick the flavors we want, or will they just mail us a random selection and we’ll be stuck with, like, fourteen coffee-and-cream flavor yogurts that no one wants to eat? I wonder if—”
Lucy cut him off. “Wait…you said this was the good news. What’s the very good news? Are we getting a year’s supply of granola to go with the yogurt?” She bit her lip hopefully. “Or a walk-on role in the Nickelodeon show?”
Freddy shook his head. “Nope, even better.”
“Spill it,” Lucy said.
“We also won…” Freddy paused, for dramatic effect. “A trip to…”
Dad, Lucy, and Herb all stared at him. The only sound in the dining room was the snuffling and smacking sound of the family’s four small dogs chewing bits of food that had mysteriously “fallen” off Herb’s plate and onto the floor.
“Ladies and gentlemen, buckle your seat belts and zip up your coats! The Peach family will soon be on our way to one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, because we’ve won…” he said, dangling his secret news before them like a wrapped gift. Finally, Freddy hollered out, “We’ve won a trip to the world-famous Icehotel in Sweden!”
The dogs all began barking like crazy, sharing in his excitement.
“To an…ice hotel?” Dad echoed. “Did I hear that correctly?”
“You heard right,” Freddy said, pounding his fists on the table. “Get ready, Peaches, because we’re going to Sweden!”