Caddy's World (Casson Family Series #6)

Caddy's World (Casson Family Series #6)

by Hilary McKay


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The amazing and hilarious Casson family is back in this all-new novel from award-winning author Hilary McKay.

Cadmium Casson is twelve years old the summer that everything changes. Not only are her closest friendships in jeopardy, but her mom is expecting a baby. And when the baby arrives early, Caddy’s world turns upside down. Her mother spends all her time at the hospital, and her father takes over the household, which of course turns into one chaotic (though hilarious) crisis after the next.

When her charmingly dense boyfriend dumps her, Caddy is at her wits’ end. Then she discovers that the fragile baby she is so afraid of losing is not an ending, but a beginning for her whole family. And that love and friendship don’t need to be destroyed by change—they can be strengthened. Another refreshingly wise, funny, and poignant novel from the inimitable Hilary McKay.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442441057
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 03/20/2012
Series: Casson Family Series , #6
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.78(w) x 8.28(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Hilary McKay is the award-winning author of five previous novels about the Casson family: Saffy’s Angel (winner of the Whitbread Award, an ALA Notable Book, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, and a School Library Journal Best Book), Indigo’s Star (an ALA Notable Book and a Publishers Weekly Best Book), Permanent Rose, Caddy Ever After, and Forever Rose. She is also the author of Wishing for Tomorrow, the sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess. Hilary lives with her family in Derbyshire, England. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Alison . . . hates everyone.

Ruby is clever.

Beth. Perfect.

Caddy, the bravest of the brave.

(“Mostly because of spiders,” said Caddy.)

Alison, Ruby, Beth, and Caddy had started school together aged four and five, plonked down at the four corners of a blue-topped table in primary one.

“You four will be friends,” the teacher had told them, pronouncing the words like a charm. She was an elderly person, tall, with silver-streaked hair twirled and looped about her head, black beads, and, remembered Caddy, years afterward, a sort of purple haze about her that may or may not have been a cardigan.

She was probably a witch.

“You four will be friends,” she said again, and her glance included all of them: Alison, who was sulking; Ruby with her thumb perilously close to her mouth and her hair cut short like a boy’s; and Beth, who was not only perfect but also dressed utterly and completely in brand-new clothes, snow white underneath, school uniform on top. Last of all Caddy, who had arrived very late because her mother had forgotten the date.

The teacher smiled down from her looped and beaded heights at the table of little girls. Charmed, they smiled back up into the ancient purple haze. Alison, Ruby, Beth, and Caddy: bewitched.

They stayed that way. All through first school and into secondary school. At twelve years old they were still good friends.

“Best friends,” said Caddy.

Alison lived next door to Caddy, in an immaculate house. No visiting went on between the families. Alison’s mother used to look out the window at Caddy’s mother and shake her head and say, “I’m not getting involved.”

“Absolutely not,” Alison’s father would agree.

They were both estate agents. Sometimes Alison’s father would gaze at the state of the Cassons’ roof and murmur, “I hope we never have that property on our books. You’d have to be honest.”

Their daughter was honest naturally. Alison’s was a lovely but insulting honesty that conceded to no one. Her bedroom window faced Caddy’s, but usually she kept the curtains closed. “I like my private life,” she told Caddy. All the same she was a helpful friend. When Caddy showed signs of oversleeping on school days, she had several times flung slippers and hard-nosed teddy bears at her window and screeched, “Get up!”

“You could work out a much better system than that,” said Ruby. “You’d only need two pulleys if you could fix a pendulum to the lamppost in between. It’s out of line, but it wouldn’t matter if you hung weights or something to take up the slack . . .”

Ruby, now twelve years old and still sucking her thumb, was even brainier than ever. Ruby, small, redheaded, and quiet, owned a hammer and a Swiss Army knife and loved books and maps and numbers and patterns and words from other languages. She was good at mending things too. Ruby knew how to fix charms on bracelets, chains on bicycles, and frozen computer screens with petrified mice. She was an only child—both her parents were dead, killed in an accident when she was a very small baby. Then an amazing and unusual thing had happened. Her four grandparents (all retired, all elderly, all astonishingly intelligent) had pooled their not-very-large savings and bought a house. And into it they had moved with Ruby. All four of them. So Ruby was brought up with not much money but with lots of books, nursery rhymes in five different languages, kitchen chemistry, seaside expeditions to observe the effect of the moon on the tides, and a large, floppy cat, bought in order to stop her feeling too much of an only child. Really, though, it was her friends who did that. They shared with her and teased her, and at school they stopped her ever having to do a thing by herself. That was very useful to Ruby, because as well as being brainier than ever, she was also shyer than ever.

Perfectly happy, though, until the day of her last school report.

Just like all her friends, Ruby had ripped open the brown envelope and unfolded her report the moment she left the school gates.

The first time she read it (eyes round with disbelief), she thought, how amazing!

The second time, with Caddy reading over her shoulder, she thought, but awful!

She became aware that her heart was beating very fast.

“Ruby!” Caddy had exclaimed, when she finally understood the report’s staggering conclusion. “Do you think you’ll do it?”

Ruby did not answer at once. The pounding in her heart was now so loud it seemed strange that Caddy did not hear it too. Her astonished mind was still tottering between AMAZING and AWFUL.

“It would change things a lot if you did,” said Caddy, and then noticed the frightened look on Ruby’s face.

“Don’t worry!” she exclaimed. “We’d still be friends! Just as much . . . in a way.”

Ruby stared at her, eyes wide and shocked.

“You’d be posh!” said Caddy, and laughed a little, to encourage Ruby to laugh too.

“Posh!” repeated Ruby.

“I was only joking. Anyway, you already are, a bit. Well, you’ve got a posh cat! So, will you do it? Would you like it?”

By now Ruby’s heart was bumping less fiercely. Her mind had stopped its tottering between AMAZING and AWFUL. It came down firmly on the side of AWFUL.

“No, I wouldn’t like it!” she said. “And I won’t do it!”

“Don’t you even . . .”

“And I don’t want to talk about it, either! So there!”

“I don’t see why . . .”

“Please, Caddy,” begged Ruby.

“All right,” said Caddy.

Beth. Is perfect.

“I’m not,” protested Beth, neat-haired, brown-skinned, modest as well as perfect. “I’m not . . . If I told you some of the things I think . . .” Her voice trailed away. She never would tell. She was ungrudgingly nice, even to her little sister, Juliet (who preferred the name Jools and was far from perfect).

Beth’s parents were also perfect. Her mother was good at homework and cakes for school fairs, and her father always won the fathers’ race on sports day. To complete this perfection, and best of all, there was a pony named Treacle, a perfect birthday surprise that had appeared when Beth was eight.

“Of course, he’s to share,” Beth was told at the time.

“When Juliet’s old enough.”

Juliet was nine now, and Beth would have shared, but, “No thanks very much!” said Juliet.

Last of the friends came Caddy. Cadmium Gold Casson. Caddy had no special label. She wasn’t perfect or clever and she didn’t hate anyone. For a long time she was just Caddy, which bothered her friends.

“Just Caddy is fine,” protested Caddy. “It’s what I am.”

All the same, they found her a label, mostly because of her fearlessness with spiders. Caddy was sorry for spiders, so universally unloved, and she did not allow them to be squashed.

“Leave them to me,” she would command, and no matter how grey-legged, scrabbling, or hairy, she would gently pick the monsters up and carry them to a place of safety.

Caddy, the bravest of the brave, said Alison, Ruby, and Beth.

“I’m just Caddy really,” said Caddy, but she liked having a label all the same. She felt it gave her a proper place in the circle of friends.

“Alison, Ruby, Beth, and me,” she would say to her little sister and brother, Saffron and Indigo, and told them stories about Treacle the pony; Wizard, Ruby’s enormous cat; and the tank of miniature fish they could sometimes glimpse through Alison’s bedroom window: tiny rose and blue flickering things, like swift-trailing flames.

“I call them The Undead,” said Alison.

“Oh, Alison!”

“Well, they do die.”

“Then what do you do?”

“Scoop ’em out and put some more in,” said Alison. “Don’t look like that! It’s life.”

Alison was a fatalist. She could live with the possibility of almost anything. For nearly four years, ever since she was eight, she had lived with a For Sale board outside her house and never shown the slightest interest in its existence. So completely did she manage to ignore it that after the first shock of its arrival, her friends ignored it too.

Years passed. The board faded, acquired a greenish tinge, and became part of the landscape. Then in its fourth year it blew down. A bright new replacement appeared in its place and Alison’s friends woke up like a startled flock of birds.

“You’re not really moving, Alison? Alison! Why?”

Alison shrugged.

“You wouldn’t go far away?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

“Haven’t you asked?”

“Asked who?”

“Your parents, of course! They must have said something! Haven’t they told you anything, Alison?”

“They go on and on,” said Alison, yawning.

“On and on about where?”



“Where my uncle lives. It’s got a weird name.”

“Oh, Alison, please find something out,” begged Caddy, and she seemed so upset that Alison actually made an enormous effort, communicated with her parents, and listened to the answer.

“Tasmania,” she reported.

“Tasmania!” repeated Ruby, stunned, while Caddy and Beth stared at each other in astonishment. “Tasmania! Are you sure?”

“Think so,” said Alison. “Think that’s right. Tasmania’s south, isn’t it?”

The girls happened to be at Ruby’s house at the time of this conversation, draped around on sofas, watching TV with the sound turned off. Alison, having done her Tasmanian duty, picked up the remote and began flicking through channels as if there was nothing more to be said, but Caddy and Beth continued to stare at each other and Ruby ran out of the room.

She returned very quickly, carrying a small globe, and sat down beside Alison.

“Look,” she said, pointing to a reddish-colored island, chewed-looking at the edges and surprisingly close to the North Pole. “This is here, where we are now.”

“Yeah?” asked Alison politely.

“And”—Ruby turned the globe upside down and pointed again—“that’s Tasmania!”

Alison blinked a bit at that, took the globe in her own hands, found the chewed red island for herself, turned the globe over, and peered. Sure enough, there was Tasmania.

“Oh, right,” she said. “Well, that’s definitely going to be south, isn’t it? Are we watching The Simpsons or what?”

“Don’t you mind?” shouted Caddy, grabbing the remote and turning everything off. “Don’t you care? It’s the other side of the planet! What about Ruby and Beth and me?”

“Caddy?” asked Alison, shocked at last. “What on earth is the matter?”

“I thought we’d be friends forever,” snuffled Caddy. “Like we are now. You and Ruby and Beth and me. With nothing changing.”

Then at last even Alison understood. Because in Caddy’s world, things were always changing.

And Caddy did not like it.

Caddy’s home was like a world that, from time to time, a genie from a bedtime story picked up in his hand and spun upon his finger. People set off on journeys and returned unrecognizable, vanished for days, came to live in your bedroom, hid under tables for hours and hours, wandered the house fast asleep demanding to go home, counted pennies in jam jars until they had enough to buy bread and then the next day gilded halos for the school Nativity play with real gold leaf. Caddy’s home was a turmoil of piled possessions, lost belongings, and unexpected siblings.

“Well,” said Ruby, who sometimes found it to be a bit of a burden being the only one under seventy in a house of five people, “you should try being an only child like me.”

“I was,” said Caddy. “For ages and ages.”

Caddy could still remember very clearly the world before Indigo and Saffron arrived. In those days her father was home nearly all the time. Whole weeks would pass in which no tears were shed, no heads were clutched, no vases were stuffed with apologizing roses, and no hard sums were done to prove the cheapness of renting a place to work in London compared to the enormous cost of building a soundproof, childproof studio at home.

In those days nobody ever wore dark glasses and explained that they had hay fever.

And then Indigo and Saffron arrived a year apart, and if Indigo was an astonishingly swift Sunday-morning surprise, Saffron, aged three, was an unlooked-for and cataclysmic shock. And it seemed to Caddy that no sooner had they found Saffron a place to sleep (in Caddy’s bedroom) than the head clutching and hard sums that had begun with Indigo’s appearance suddenly stopped. (Although the roses and dark glasses did not.)

The matter was decided. Caddy’s father would work in London, renting a studio, and come home to his family on Friday nights. When possible.

All at once there was one parent at home, instead of two, and three children, instead of one.

Caddy got used to Indigo and Saffron, and then very fond of them, but her father stayed away for longer and longer periods, and her mother scrambled through the days and nights, juggling people and painting and children and cooking and always a bit behind with everything, and it wasn’t like other people’s houses.

“Darling Mummy is not the world’s best at multitasking,” said her father on one of his heroic trips home to unscramble the household.

“Darling Bill,” Eve would say, and collapse on the sofa to read fairy tales to the children while Bill restocked the fridge, wrote lists, threw out junk, constructed star charts for good behavior, stared at the bills, and gave everyone lots of very sensible advice.

“Darling kids,” Bill said once, pausing from filling trash bags to gaze at them, good as gold, curled up on sofa cushions, listening to stories. “Aren’t we a nice little family?”

“Little?” asked Caddy. It was June and warm but her skin prickled, cold with alarm. She did not know her father thought they were a little family.

“Little?” she asked again. “I thought you said we were a very big family. Too big to fit in a single hamster. That’s what you said.”

“Cadmium darling,” said Bill teasingly. “You’re not going to start taking life seriously, are you?”

The genie in the bedtime story frightened Caddy sometimes. She pictured his smile as he lifted their world to play. Tonight the smile was on Bill’s face, sweet and teasing and ruthless.

“When are you going back to London?” asked Caddy rudely.

That wiped away her father’s smile, but it didn’t touch the genie’s.

“One day,” said Caddy’s mother, soon afterward, “not now, not soon, not for ages, wouldn’t it be lovely and exciting if we had another . . .”

Once more Caddy’s skin ran with ice-cold fear, but this time she ignored it.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Readers of the series will love this story of the beginning, and those new to the series will be happy getting to know the Cassons."—VOYA

* "In this sixth outing the family sparkles as brightly as ever. . . . With effervescent characters and dialogue, this welcome addition to the Casson saga again strikes a lovely balance between humor and poignancy."—Publishers Weekly, *STAR

"Readers new to the Casson family series will be immediately pulled in . . . In this, book six in the series, McKay proves Tolstoy wrong. Not all happy families are alike."—The Horn Book

* "The Cassons are back. Huzzah! . . . Charming and thoughtful, as well as funny and touching, this is another delightful time with the Cassons and their friends, all of whom are well worth knowing."—School Library Journal, *STARRED

"Fans of the Casson family, rejoice; McKay is returning to the headlong, madcap, and fiercely poignant crew to chronicle the earlier days of the clan. . . . The novel will be open and inviting to new readers as well, and the strong focus on Caddy’s set of friends, who aren’t featured in the other books, puts all readers on an equal footing and provides a school-and-friend story with appeal to followers of Frances O’Roark Dowell and the like."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

* "McKay’s writing is like the Cassons themselves: unpredictable, touchingly human, and alternatingly mad fun and tender. New readers will be thrilled to find there are more Casson family upheavals ahead, and old fans will be delighted to learn how it all began."—Booklist, *STAR

Customer Reviews

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Caddy's World 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So awesome, shame they dont have her others
bookwren on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was very excited when I learned of this new book in the Casson family series because I adored all the other books. I enjoyed this one, but it had a different feel than the others and I didn't love it as much. There seemed to be a bit of a harder edge to it, with the mention of Eve using valium and some other such darker themes. I liked the beginning and the end more than the middle, which seemed to bog down a bit with more mention of Caddy's friends. I enjoyed more the parts about the Cassons. A good read in that it explains more about Rose's difficulties at birth, and the meaning of her paint color, "Permanent Rose" becomes evident; also elucidate Caddy's affinity for animals. Still, I laughed out loud over some of the hilarious conversations and incidents, particularly those between Indigo and Saffron. This book also gave more insight into Bill Casson; he was portrayed in a slightly kinder light. My favorite chapter was "Lost Property" because of the introduction to Caddy's caring for animals and the humor of Saffy and Indigo thinking they would help the wee bird by giving it a bath. I liked this book quite a lot, but I didn't adore it.
2chances on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This latest addition to the Casson family chronicle (the prequel to the delightful SAFFY'S ANGEL) has a terrible cover. I'm sorry, Hoder's Children's Books UK, but it does. So I was a bit prejudiced from the beginning, and my prejudice was instantly strengthened when the first chapter introduced three new characters, none of whom appeared in the other four books, and none of whom, in my opinion, had any business being there. But I love Hilary McKay and I love the Cassons, so I persevered, and how glad I am that I did! This is a worthy prequel indeed, an excellent opportunity to focus on Caddy, to date the least developed character among the Casson children. CADDY'S WORLD opens Caddy's heart to the reader and she is so enchanting that I did not want the story to end. Cadmium Casson, the Bravest of the Brave. If there is a more endearing character in contemporary children's literature, it can only be Caddy's brother Indigo or sister Permanent Rose. Personally, I cannot choose between them.
Jennie_103 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to agree with a previous reviewer that I hated the cover too, although perhaps I am not in their main target audience...It was lovely to see more of Caddy's story and see her as a younger teenager. It was still laugh out loud funny in places (burying the fish as a prime example...) and brought out other elements of the Casson family from the rest of the series.If you haven't read any of the Casson books before, you could certainly start with this prequel and not ruin any of the future books. Even the major revelation of Saffy's Angel (book 1) is only hinted at here. If you know already, it makes sense but I don't think that you would work it out from the tiny hints.There was quite a few "issues" crammed into this book, perhaps one too many, and I feel the ending was too quick; although many of the Casson books do start slowly then gallop to a conclusion so perhaps this is just part of McKay's style.
foggidawn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Hilary McKay writes a new book about the sparkling, dysfunctional Casson family, I read it as soon as possible -- so I jumped on the recently-released Caddy's World. This book is actually a prequel to the series, but I would recommend reading them in publication order, as this book gives away (or at least strongly hints at) one of the major plot points from Saffy's Angel.Before Darling Michael, before the hamsters, even before Permanent Rose, there were four friends -- Alison, who hates everyone; Ruby, the clever one; Beth, who is perfect; and Cadmium Gold Casson, bravest of the brave. "You four will be friends," their first primary school teacher instructed . . . and so they were. But now, during Caddy's twelfth summer, her beautiful, unchanging friendship seems to be coming apart. Alison's parents are threatening to sell their house and move their family to Tasmania. Ruby has been offered the chance at a scholarship to a private school. Beth is growing too big for her beloved pony, and Caddy's family is in even more of an uproar than usual because Eve is at the hospital with the new baby, which seems so small that Caddy can't see how it could possibly survive. Will the four friends be torn apart by circumstances, or can they make it through together?I love the Cassons, and Caddy has always been the most distant one, since she is nearly grown up in the other books. It's lovely to get to know her better here. I don't know if there will be more books in the series (Caddy and Rose have had two books each; I think Saffy and Indigo need more books now), but the epilogue in Caddy's World made me want to pick up Saffy's Angel again and reread the rest of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Let me start off saying this is not a bad review. I'm just sad that they don't have Caddy Ever After on here. I'm so sad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book. Should hav others, though
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read all the books rigth now i am on forever rose
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aww, this book is so cute. Scared me for a while, though. Pneumonia, heart surgery... that poor baby went through everything. It really did look like they were going to lose her. And poor Caddy, too! She lost her boyfriend, almost lost her friends, had to put up with her father taking over the house, and was constantly forbidden to see the baby she thought she would lose due to picking up sickness from Saffron and Indigo. I love the end, though. It was so sweet. Much to everyone's relief, the baby lives through all her pain and suffering and gets a special name: Rose. And it ends with Rose smiling her very smile. So cute. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read alomst all of her books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When Will All Of Her Other Books Come Out Like Indigo's Star And All That I Can't Wait Either. About the book I thought it was great and so is she.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't wait for ALL her books to show up on NOOK. She's so funny! She's so British! I want to read these over and over.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hiliry mcayis
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You got that right lol :3 i didn't even wnt to rate it a one!!!!!!