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Carolyn Keene is the author of the ever-popular Nancy Drew books.
Macky Pamintuan was born and raised in the Philippines. He moved to San Francisco at age twenty-one and received his fine arts degree from the Academy of Art College.
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew are out to find a cupcake culprit!
Spring has sprung in River Heights, along with a brand-new cupcake café! The Lucky Ladybug, run by twin bakers and celebrities Gwendolyn and Carolyn Porter, is the talk of the town. Nancy, Bess, and George can’t wait to taste some of the delicious cupcakes!
But on the day of the opening, the ceremony—and the cupcakes—are ruined by hundreds of live ladybugs that invade the store. It’s up to Nancy and the Clue Crew to get to the bottom of this cupcake disaster before the Lucky Lady Bug Cupcake Café has to close for good!
“If this is the first week of spring,” eight-year-old Nancy Drew said, “why does it still feel like winter?”
Nancy’s best friend George Fayne shrugged. “Maybe spring hasn’t sprung yet!” she said.
“This is my favorite season!” Bess Marvin, Nancy’s other best friend, said with a smile.
“What do you like best about it?” Nancy asked Bess. “Spring flowers? Spring weather—”
“Spring clothes!” Bess declared.
Nancy smiled. Outside it was chilly, but inside George’s kitchen it was warm and sunny. While George’s mom worked in her home office, the three BFFs sipped cocoa around the kitchen table.
“We’ve got more than the season to celebrate, you guys,” George said, licking away a hot-chocolate mustache. “Tomorrow the Lucky Ladybug Cupcake Café opens for business!”
The three friends reached across the table to high-five. Not only would the Lucky Ladybug be the first cupcake bakery on Main Street but the owners, Gwendolyn and Carolyn, were practically superstars!
The Porters were identical twins. They looked alike—and even baked alike!
“Did you see the sisters on that TV show Cupcake Crusaders?” Nancy asked. “Their cupcakes look too good to eat!”
“Then I’ll keep my eyes closed!” Bess joked.
George smiled slyly as she stood up. “Are you ready for a big secret?” she asked.
“Secret?” Bess said. “Since when do cousins keep secrets from each other?”
“And best friends?” Nancy asked.
“I’m about to tell you, aren’t I?” George said. She walked over to the huge steel fridge. Mrs. Fayne was a caterer and needed an extra-big refrigerator for party food.
“Ta-daaa!” George sang as she pulled the door open.
Nancy gave a little gasp. She brushed her reddish blond hair from her eyes so she could make sure what she was seeing was real. . . .
“Lucky Ladybug cupcakes!” Nancy said.
“What are they doing here?” Bess asked.
“My mom is holding the extra cupcakes in her fridge until tomorrow,” George said. “As a favor to Gwendolyn and Carolyn.”
“I want a taste!” Bess squealed.
“Me too!” Nancy said as she and Bess ran to the fridge.
George’s dark curls bounced as she shook her head. “No sneak tastes,” she said. “Just sneak peeks.”
The girls gazed at the dreamy-looking cupcakes. Nancy’s favorites were the cupcakes with the sunflower design. Bess’s favorites were the bright purple ones.
“Pink is my favorite color,” Bess said, swooning. “But that’s the most beautiful purple I’ve ever seen.”
“They’re called purple passion cupcakes,” George said. “Gwendolyn and Carolyn told me when they loaded the fridge.”
Nancy thought the cupcakes looked yummy. But were they the best?
“I wonder if those cupcakes taste as good as Olivia Chow’s,” Nancy said.
Olivia Chow was in the girls’ third-grade class at River Heights Elementary School. Every Saturday she sold her own cupcakes from a table she set up on Main Street.
“There’s only one way to find out,” Bess said, reaching out her hand.
“What part of ‘no’ don’t you get?” George said. She was about to close the fridge when a voice said, “Don’t shut that door, George Fayne!”
Nancy, Bess, and George whirled around. Standing behind them was—
“Deirdre Shannon,” Bess groaned.
Eight-year-old Deirdre was spoiled and a bit snooty. She usually got whatever she wanted, including her own blog, called Dishing with Deirdre.
“How did you get in here?” George asked.
“I told your mom I was a reporter,” Deirdre said coolly. “And that I want to write about the Lucky Ladybug cupcakes for my blog.”
“How did you know we had Lucky Ladybug cupcakes?” George demanded.
“News reporters know everything,” Deirdre said.
“You mean gossip girls,” Bess muttered.
“Heard that!” Deirdre said.
George stepped in front of Deirdre. “Those cupcakes are a secret until tomorrow,” she said.
“How can I write about them if I can’t taste them?” Deirdre whined.
“You’ll have to wait until tomorrow, like everyone else,” Nancy said.
Deirdre turned and stomped loudly out of the kitchen. “You’re just jealous,” she snapped. “Because I’m a reporter and you’re just silly detectives!”
Nancy glanced sideways at Bess and George. They weren’t silly detectives—they were awesome detectives. They had their own detective club, called the Clue Crew. They even had cool headquarters in Nancy’s room!
“She didn’t want a story,” Bess said. “Just a free cupcake.”
The girls forgot about Deirdre as they gave the treats one last gaze.
“Lucky Ladybug cupcakes in my own kitchen,” George sighed. “How’s that for lucky?”
“Lucky like a ladybug!” Nancy declared. She couldn’t wait for tomorrow—and for the best cupcakes ever!
“Why the superhealthy dinner, Hannah?” Mr. Drew asked. He winked at Nancy across the table. “Is it to make up for all the cupcakes Nancy is going to eat tomorrow?”
Nancy giggled as Hannah Gruen passed around the platter of veggie burgers. Hannah was the Drews’ housekeeper and an awesome cook. But she was also more than that. Nancy’s own mom had died when Nancy was only three years old, and ever since, Hannah had been like a mother to her.
“You know I like healthy meals,” Hannah said with her usual cheery smile. “And now so does Mayor Strong.”
“What does the mayor have to do with it?” Nancy asked.
“Mayor Strong wants to make River Heights healthy,” Hannah said. “He wants restaurants to cut back on sugar. He even started a jogging club called Running Strong!”
“In that case,” Mr. Drew said, “I doubt you’ll see Mayor Strong at the Lucky Ladybug Cupcake Café tomorrow.”
“Why not, Daddy?” Nancy asked.
Mr. Drew smiled as he poured dressing on his salad. “Cupcakes aren’t exactly filled with vitamins, honey,” he said.
“Sure they are, Daddy.” Nancy giggled. “Vitamin Y for yummy!”
Suddenly Nancy heard a bark. It was her puppy, Chocolate Chip, in the front hallway. She excused herself from the table to check on the pup.
“What’s up, Chip?” Nancy asked.
The little chocolate Labrador was pawing the front door. Was somebody outside? Nancy stood on her tiptoes and peeked out the peephole. Nobody there.
“It’s probably a squirrel,” Nancy decided.
But when she opened the door a crack, she saw no squirrels anywhere. Nancy was about to shut the door when she spotted something strange on the doorstep.
“If that is a squirrel, Chip,” Nancy said slowly, “it’s disguised as a creamy green cupcake.”
Nancy looked closer. It was a cupcake, with a tiny piece of paper sticking out of the top. Carefully Nancy pulled out the paper and read the message written on it:
DO NOT EAT AT THE LUCKY LADYBUG CUPCAKE CAFE—EVER!