Last week we announced that Stacia Deutsch & Rhody Cohon’s Lucky Phoo is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of our student reviews and of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category:
When luck and the magic of friendship combine, anything is possible…
Seventh graders Caylie Jiang-Kahn, Lauren Blindell and Sabrina Robinson are making a movie about their friendship when a dirty stray dog shows up and ruins the day. In frustration, Lauren mutters, “Oh phooey,” which leads to the girls naming the dog “Phoo.”
When Phoo is caught and taken to the animal shelter, the girls agree to foster him until he can be adopted. They immediately notice something strange. Every time the dog is around, lucky things seem to happen. The moment he’s gone, the luck disappears.
What happens when they all need the dog’s magic at the same time? It’s up to Caylie, Lauren and Sabrina to decide once and for all: Is Phoo truly a lucky dog?
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Enjoy Our Free Excerpt:
Sabrina: Movie Magic
“Scene one. Take one.” Sabrina Robinson adjusted the zoom and focus on her digi-cam. “Ready.” Squinting, she surveyed the scene.
A colorful picnic blanket was laid out in the center of a wide grassy area. A wicker basket, neatly packed with food, sat nearby. Her friends, Caylie Jiang-Kahn and Lauren Blindell, were both carefully positioned, resting on the blanket, soaking in the Sunday afternoon sunshine.
Sabrina was very excited and at the same time very nervous. She never had time to do what she wanted and more than anything, Sabrina wanted to make this movie. It had taken her months to squeeze out enough time to write the script. And now, finally, she had a free hour to start filming. Sixty minutes. Not a minute more. Sabrina needed everything to go perfectly.
The title was VBFs and the moviewas about what it meant to really, truly be “Very Best Friends.”
“Act natural,” Sabrina directed Caylie and Lauren, her VBFs.
“How could I be more natural than this?” Caylie was lying on her stomach, flipping through a pile of fashion magazines, tearing out the pages she liked and stacking them to the side.
Lauren was acting natural, too. She was sitting cross-legged on the blanket, head down, quietly doodling on the back of Sabrina’s script.
“Ready. Action…” In the corner of the camera’s frame, not very far behind the girls, there was a dog. “No. No―” There was no dog in Sabrina’s script. “CUT!”
“Ewww.” Sabrina groaned as the mutt lifted his leg and peed on a tree.
She peered through the camera lens and zoomed in on the stray, ratty-looking thing. Under a thick, disgusting layer of mud-coated and hopelessly matted fur, Sabrina saw glimpses of yellowish fur peeking out. There was a touch of gray around his greasy-looking mouth. He didn’t look like any breed she’d ever seen. The dog was about knee high with weird ears; one stood up, the other flopped down.
“Leave!” Sabrina shouted across the park, waving her arms. The dog finished doing his business, but instead of moving out of her shot, the mutt lay down in the grass and proceeded to get cozy.
“Go away!” she told him. The dog looked up at her and cocked his one perky ear quizzically.
“Get out of my movie,” Sabrina said, feeling certain he was listening.
The dog nodded. Or at least she imagined that he did. And a few seconds later, he hopped up and trotted off, out of the camera’s view.
“Here we go again.” Sabrina readjusted her purple beret over her super short, jet-black hair.
The camera had been a present for her twelfth birthday. Sabrina always loved seeing movies, so her mom thought she might like to make one. The very moment she opened that box, she began to dream about becoming a director.
She imagined that she would be the first tween-aged African-American female director to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Sabrina had already cleared an open spot on her bedroom bookcase. That’s where she’d put her golden statuette.
“Ready.” Sabrina eagerly peered at her friends through the eyepiece.
Caylie was wearing a patchwork skirt with a lacy blouse and bright turquoise cowboy boots. Her long, straight dark hair hung to her shoulders. Because Caylie’s mom was Chinese, she always added an Asian touch to her outfits; today it was jade dragon earrings that glinted in the sunlight.
Lauren was dressed like, well, like Lauren: plain, simple, and boring.
Usually, Sabrina didn’t care what Lauren wore. Sabrina herself was almost always decked out in warm up suits and tennies. But still, she secretly wished that Lauren had worn one thing, anything, that wasn’t beige. Even the brightly colored picnic blanket couldn’t make Lauren pop in the frame of the shot.
Perhaps for another scene, Lauren would let Caylie pick out her outfit.
Shoving the thought aside, Sabrina pressed the button and began recording.
“Action!” she called.
“It’s a fabulous day for a picnic!” Caylie recited the film’s very first line. Her flowing sleeve draped low as she reached for the picnic basket and pulled it forwards.
“We are so lucky to have such a nice park in the neighborhood,” Caylie continued, pointing just like Sabrina had instructed, to the nearby playground. Sabrina slowly rotated the camera to capture a few kids giggling as they came down a large silver slide. “This is our numero uno place to hang out on weekends, right Lauren?”
Moving the camera in a smooth arc, Sabrina focused on Lauren, all set to record Lauren’s cheerful expression as she recited the next line of the script.
A beat passed, but Lauren didn’t speak or smile. Instead, Lauren sat there frozen. Her pencil hovered above one of the doodles she’d been drawing.
Suddenly, Lauren put her hand over her mouth and burped. Loudly.
That wasn’t in the script.
“Um…” Caylie peeked up at Sabrina and shrugged. Sabrina motioned in a big circle with her hand, the director’s signal to stay the course. Keep acting. So, with a nod, Caylie turned back to Lauren. “We LOVE it here. Right, Lauren?” She improvised, working to save the take.
Suddenly, in one super-speedy movement, Lauren popped up from the blanket, waving her hands around and saying, “Wait! Wait! Wait!” Her face was pasty and green.
Sabrina paused her camera. “Cut!”
“I’m sorry, Sabby,” Lauren apologized. “I…I can’t be in your movie.” Lauren put her head in her hands and let her long, curly blonde hair fall forward. She was completely hidden under the mass. “Seriously, Sabby. I can’t do it.” Lauren grunted. “I thought I could, but I can’t.” She shook her head sadly. “I feel the same way I did just before the disaster on book report day.”
Caylie quickly popped up and scooted back, away from Lauren. “Are you going to do the projectile barfing, head spinning thing again?”
“Maybe.” Lauren wrinkled her nose. “I’ve got a terminal case of stage fright.” She corrected herself. “Camera fright, too.” Lauren exhaled sharply. “I’ll never be a public kind of person.”
“But it’s just the three of us,” Sabrina said. “Pretend we are hanging out and I’m not filming.”
“No can do. Every time I look up at your camera, my stomach flips.” Lauren crossed her arms and hugged herself tightly. “I know how badly you want to make a movie starring the three of us, Sabrina, but it won’t be pretty if I’m heaving my guts out in every scene.”
“It could be a horror movie,” Caylie suggested with a mischievous giggle, getting up off the blanket.
Sabrina tagged Caylie on the arm. “You’re not helping!”
“Wait a second,” Caylie cheered. “I have an idea.” Caylie had a lot of ideas. Sometimes they were good, sometimes not so much.
“I know you weren’t planning to be in the movie till scene three, Sabby, but how-a-bout you put yourself in the movie now.” Caylie explained, “You don’t have to re-write the script. If you say all Lauren’s lines, all she has to do is smile. Or nod. Or shake her head.”
“I think it might work…” Lauren breathed heavy. “I’ll keep my mouth closed. That seems safe.” She practiced by giving a nod “Yes.” Then, Lauren shook her head, “No.”
“I’m good,” Lauren said confidently. “Let’s get this over with.”
Before Lauren could change her mind, Sabrina grabbed the camera remote out of her bag and reset the scene. “VBFs. Scene one. Take two.” Sabrina began recording. “Action.”
“It’s a fabulous day for a picnic!” Caylie recited her line again. “We’re so lucky to have such a nice park in the neighborhood.” Caylie continued. “This is our numero uno place to hang out on weekends, right Sabrina?”
Sabrina glanced over at the tri-pod and smiled into the camera. “Yeah. It’s awesome. The park is so pretty,” she said.
When Sabrina said “pretty” that was Lauren’s cue to nod.
But she didn’t.
“The park is so pretty,” Sabrina repeated. Still no response from Lauren.
Lauren’s face was ghostly white and she was swaying. Sabrina wondered which Lauren was more likely to do first: puke or maybe faint. She was about to call “Cut!” and try to come up with another plan when, Lauren suddenly nodded.
“Ace!” Sabrina was thrilled. Caylie’s idea had worked!
A few more pages through the script and today’s filming would be a wrap. With time to spare, even.
Everything was going perfectly—
Until that mangy stray dog started barking.
Caylie: Oh Phooey!
“What’s his deal?” Caylie asked the others. “That dog is freakish.”
A short distance away, over by the bathrooms, the dog was going bonkers. He was barking loudly in sharp tones, pawing the ground and snarling.
“Someone’s gonna need to call the dog catcher,” Caylie said as she followed the direction of the dog’s growls and noticed what the stray was seeing. “Darn.”
Liza Montgomery and Blaire Yeskel were headed their way.
“Meap alert,” Caylie leaned in tight and whispered to Sabrina. “Now I feel like growling, too.”
Sabrina pressed a button on the remote, turning off her camera. “Ugh. I don’t want those two in my movie.”
Liza and Blaire were the two most popular girls in the sixth grade at Lantana View Middle School. Caylie had invented the word “Meaps” special for Liza and Blaire. It was a combination of Mean and Popular.
Liza stepped up to the edge of Sabrina’s picnic blanket. “Well, lookie who’s here, Blaire.” Liza had her dog, a Maltese/Poodle mix, on a rhinestone studded black and pink leash. The dog looked a lot like an oversized rat dressed-up in a sweater and a tiny tiara. On her collar, in pink glittery stones, was the name FiFi.
“So, what are you guys up to?” Blaire asked.
Lauren, Sabrina, and Caylie all looked at each other. None of them really wanted to answer.
In the uncomfortable silence that followed Blaire’s question, Caylie noticed that the stray dog had stopped barking. She glanced over towards the bathroom. He was gone.
“Oh fine. If you have to know, we’re making a movie,” Caylie replied. She hoped that if she and her friends acted busy enough, Liza and Blaire would take a hint and go away. “We don’t have time to chat. Gotta get this part done today.” Hint dropped. Like a brick.
But, the Meaps didn’t leave.
“Oooh, that sounds awesome,” Blaire said enthusiastically. But then, as she tossed back her long black hair, Blaire noticed Liza’s icy expression. Blaire awkwardly corrected herself, sputtering, “Awesomely lame.”
“Your movie would be so less lame with us in it.” Liza ran her fingers through her bobbed blonde hair, primping as if she were already a celebrity. “It might even be good.” Liza asked Sabrina, “What roles do you have for us? I would be the perfect leading lady. Blaire would make a good supporting actress.”
Blaire pointed at Liza’s little rat. “FiFi should have a part, too.”
“Let me see.” Liza snatched Lauren’s copy of the script off the blanket. “There must be a place where we can add scenes.” She began thumbing through the pages.
Lauren, who had been silently sitting next to Caylie all this time, began to shake. Caylie looked at her friend and realized that Lauren was in full panic mode. Her breathing was shallow and she looked as though she might start hyperventilating.
Curious, Caylie followed Lauren’s gaze. She was staring up at Liza’s hand. The hand that held the script. The script that Lauren had been drawing on…
On the back of the script, Lauren had drawn a bunch of little hearts. All with small arrows through them. And INITIALS inside! LB+JH.
Caylie gasped as she realized why Lauren looked completely horrified. If someone didn’t do something fast, Lauren Blindell’s top secret crush would be revealed to Liza and Blaire! This would be a much bigger disaster than projectile puking on book report day! Epic Middle School Devastation!
Caylie leapt into action. “I need that script.” She grabbed at the pages.
Sabrina helpfully added, “We’re already in production. It’s too late to add more roles.”
Liza pulled the script up and away from Caylie. “I’m not done looking yet.” She handed FiFi’s leash to Blaire so she could use both hands to flip through the pages.
“See here?” Liza pointed at a page with one long, powder-pink finger nail. “There’s room for me and Blaire to first appear in Act Two. Scene Three.”
“I don’t think―” Caylie made another grab for the pages, but Liza held the script tightly, shoving it behind her back.
“Hey,” Blaire said, pointing over Caylie’s shoulder. “Is that your dog? Is he going to be in the movie, too?”
“Huh?” Lauren asked, turning to look.
The dog was scrunched down in the grass, slowly headed their way, crawling forward incrementally, like a combat soldier on attack.
“Uh, no. He’s not our―” Caylie began as the dog continued towards them, his big brown eyes focused on Liza.
FiFi began to yip.
Ignoring the yappy rat, the muddy mutt rose from the grass and marched directly up to Liza. The dog stared at Liza for a long second, brow furrowed, then put his head down and solidly rammed himself into Liza’s leg.
“What the heck?” Liza started backing up.
Blaire was having trouble holding FiFi back. The rat was pulling the leash hard and barking wildly. But FiFi didn’t scare the stray away. The dirty dog wouldn’t leave Liza alone. He pursued her, growling low and steady.
Liza was wearing white jeans and every time his head smacked her leg, it left a mucky mark on her pants. Three dirty doggy head prints quickly became four. Then, five.
“Get away from me, grime ball!” Liza shouted, trying to shove the small dog away with her foot. The dog growled again. He leapt forward and grabbed her pant leg in his teeth.
Liza waved Lauren’s script at the dog, trying to chase him away, shouting, “Go! Go!” But the dog didn’t go, in fact he seemed to tighten his jaw and grip onto her pants even tighter.
Struggling to hold FiFi back with one hand, Blaire grabbed Liza around the waist with the other, and tried to pull her friend’s pant leg out of the mutt’s teeth. Blaire was stretched between FiFi and Liza. That’s when FiFi yanked the leash out of Blaire’s grasp. The rat started jumping around, bouncing and nipping at the stray.
The stray suddenly let go of Liza, turned and growled menacingly at FiFi.
“Help me!” Liza snapped at Caylie. “He’s going to EAT FiFi!”
Caylie took a fast look at Sabrina and Lauren. With a quick exchange of glances, they decided that even if Liza was the most irritating person at school, letting her rat-dog get eaten by a stray was wrong.
“Oh, fine,” Caylie groaned. “We’re on it.” Caylie lunged toward the stray. Lauren went after FiFi while Sabrina attempted to help Liza, who needed to keep her distance in case the stray went after her pants again.
The mutt easily dodged Caylie’s grasp. Caylie went left, then right. And left again. The dog was faster than she expected. Trying to go right again, Caylie stumbled and fell onto the grass. The dog leapt over her and dashed away.
When Caylie got up to launch another attack, her boot got caught in the hem of her patchwork skirt. Trying to free her shoe, Caylie heard a terrible, awful, dreadful noise; it was the sound of ripping fabric.
Horrified, Caylie slowly peeked down to check out the damage. Her eyes flew open. There was a huge tear! It went straight down the center, across three patch frames—the skirt was totally ruined!
Now that her parents were divorced, Caylie was given a small amount of money each season to buy clothing. This one item cost way more than a whole season of her clothing allowance. It had been worth it even though she couldn’t buy anything else till summer. Now, the skirt was trashed and the mutt was totally to blame.
“That dog made me rip my skirt!” Caylie exclaimed to her friends. “We’ve got to get him.”
Dodging FiFi, the stray began to run around Liza. Sabrina and Lauren chased him. Caylie chased Lauren and Sabrina. FiFi dodged between them all.
Blaire rushed after FiFi. Liza followed FiFi as well. Soon, everyone was dashing around in circles.
After a few minutes of chaos, Caylie had an idea. She rotated quickly and went after FiFi. Her skirt was already ruined, so what did it matter? Caylie dove forward, skidding like a baseball player into home, snagging little FiFi, successfully separating the two dogs.
With FiFi out of the way, Sabrina leaped towards the mud-crusted mutt, arms raised, yelling, “Go away!” and “Get out of here!”
“I’ve got him!” Lauren snatched up the picnic blanket and swished the brightly colored fabric, trying to shoo the stray away like a matador. She didn’t chase him off, but instead captured him under the blanket where he couldn’t go after Liza or FiFi anymore.
There the stray rolled around, barking for freedom, but Lauren held tight, firmly trapping him underneath.
Liza snagged her dog out of Caylie’s hands. “We’re leaving! Forget about asking us to be in your stupid movie. We don’t want to be in it!” Then, Liza said to Blaire, “Come on. Let’s get out of here. FiFi needs a bath.” She glanced down at her mud-covered pants’ leg. “And I need to disinfect my jeans!” The two of them stormed off.
“Meaps.” Caylie sighed as she, Lauren, and Sabrina turned to watch Liza and Blaire leave. Once they were gone, the stray settled quietly under the blanket and stopped struggling.
“I’m letting him go now.” Lauren lifted the blanket.
The dog jumped up and gave a big, loud bark in the Meaps’ direction. Then, instead of taking off, he sat down calmly in the grass. He glanced up at the girls, happily wagging his tail, before rolling over onto his back.
“I cannot believe it! This grass-staining, skirt-ripping mutt thinks he deserves a tummy rub,” Caylie remarked.
Lauren tucked her hands into her pockets. “No way.”
“Well, I’m not petting him,” Sabrina said. “He’s dirty and he stinks.”
“Sorry, Charlie,” Caylie told the dog. “Scram. You’ve caused enough trouble today.” She thought about it a second, then added, “While we appreciate your help chasing off the Meaps, we could have handled it ourselves.”
With snort and a small whimper, the dog stood up and gave a long look at Caylie, then Sabrina, and finally Lauren. He slowly turned and walked away.
Once the dog was gone, Caylie asked Sabrina, “Should we try to finish filming the scene?”
“That would be terrif―” Sabrina began as she looked at her watch. “Oh bagel! Is that really the time? I gotta hustle. I’m already going to be late to tennis practice.” Sabrina hurried over to the tri-pod. She began to break down the camera and put it away.
“You’d think that since your tennis coach is also your dad, he’d cut you some slack,” Caylie said, helping Lauren fold the blanket.
Sabrina shrugged. “You know what Coach Robinson always says?”
“Practice makes perfect?” Caylie guessed. Sabrina shook her head.
“Success is doing ordinary things, extraordinarily well?” Lauren tried another of Sabrina’s dad’s favorite inspirational sayings.
Sabrina smiled. “Nah. Not that one either. I was thinking ‘Don’t be late or you’ll run laps. Two laps for every minute you make me wait.’”
“It’s so not fair!” Lauren exclaimed. “The only reason you’re going to be late is because that dumb dog showed up and ruined everything! Your movie was wrecked. And Caylie’s skirt got destroyed.” She stomped her foot. “Oh phooey!”
Sabrina and Caylie looked at each other wide-eyed, then dissolved into fits of laughter. “Phooey? Phooey!” They laughed hilariously, holding their sides and giggling until it hurt.
“That’s the funniest word ever,” Caylie remarked, struggling desperately to control her chuckling.
Lauren smiled sheepishly and shrugged. “Now that Grammy Hawthorne lives with us, I guess I’m talking like her. She was a very hip chick in the olden days!”
“Pretty soon you’ll be saying things have ‘moxie’ and are ‘the cat’s meow.’” Sabrina tossed out some phrases from old movies she’d seen.
The girls all laughed some more.
A quick, sharp bark made Sabrina glance around. “Hey. Look. Over there.” She pointed at the stray dog, now sitting near the park gate.
Lauren shouted, “Phooey on you, little picnic party pooper!”
“So long to you, Phoo!” Sabrina called out.
“Ha! That name fits him perfectly!” Caylie complimented Sabrina, then yelled to the dog, “Have a good siesta now that you ruined our fiesta, Phoo!”
“You’ve got to admit, he is kind of cute,” Caylie said, taking a long last look at the dog as the three friends walked past, heading home.
Lauren glanced back over her shoulder. “I guess if you can get past the mud and stink, there probably is an adorable dog under there somewhere.”
When Sabrina didn’t chime in, Caylie turned to her and asked, “What do you think, Sabs?”
“Oh. I…” Sabrina changed the subject completely. “I wasn’t thinking about the dog. I was thinking about my movie.”
“What about it?” Caylie prodded.
“There’s a tennis competition coming up that I need to prepare for. I just don’t know when we’ll get a chance to film Act One, Scene One again,” Sabrina replied. “And without wrapping Scene One, we’ll never get to Scene Two.”
“Look, Sabby, if you can find some free time,” Lauren said, “we’ll be ready. I promise not to pass out.” She quickly added, “At least, I’ll try not to.”
“Text us when you have a sec,” Caylie agreed. “We’ll rush over.”
Sabrina smiled happily, linking arms with Caylie and Lauren. “I’m so lucky! You two are the best VBFs a girl could ever have!”
“Nothing will ever break us apart,” Caylie cheered.
“Nope. No way. No how!” Lauren agreed. “We’re gonna be friends forever.”
Lauren: School Daze
Caylie grabbed her English notebook out of her locker, then turned toward Lauren, saying, “I loved that skirt.” She stuck out her lip in a pout.
“Totally Phoo’s fault,” Lauren said, shaking her head. “He made such a mess of everything yesterday. I hope Sabrina didn’t have to run too many laps at practice.” Shifting her weight, Lauren struggled to balance the three books and notebooks she was carrying for her morning classes.
“Crazy dog,” Caylie agreed as she dug through the stuff in her locker.
“Did Sabrina get a chance to look at the little bit of video that she made?” Lauren asked.
“I haven’t heard,” Caylie said. “Have you seen her today?”
“Nope. Not yet. Her Monday morning practices always seem to run over.” A notebook tumbled out of Caylie’s locker. Lauren very nearly dropped everything she was holding, but didn’t. Somehow she managed to free one hand, just in time to catch Caylie’s math binder.
Caylie took the binder back and shoved it into her locker, saying, “I need my green sweater. I know it’s in here somewhere.”
Leaning back on the locker next to Caylie’s, Lauren wondered how Caylie was ever going to find what she was looking for. Always forgetting something important at either her mom’s house or dad’s apartment, she had taken to stashing about half her wardrobe in her school locker.
Today, Caylie was wearing bright yellow leggings, a lime green shirt-dress and maroon strappy sandals. Her Asian touch was a jade and pearl barrette.
She finally found her sweater and slipped it on. “Wouldn’t this sweater have looked fab with that skirt?” she asked, mournfully. “There’s no way I’ll ever get another one as cool. I can’t ask my parents for a loan. Hanukkah and Christmas are over and my birthday isn’t for another three months. I’m doomed.”
“You need―” Lauren began to make a suggestion, when just then, Sabrina showed up. She was wearing a blue striped track-suit and loaded down with her own school books. Her tennis bag was hanging over one shoulder. “Did the bell ring?” she asked, breathless from the run in from the parking lot.
“No,” Lauren told her. “Not yet.”
“Ace!” Sabrina cheered. “Come with me to my locker, okay?”
Caylie quickly finished filling her messenger bag with the things she needed for class and the three walked down the hall to together.
“What were you talking about?” Sabrina asked as they went along.
“Caylie’s need for financial freedom,” Lauren explained.
“Do you mean like a job?” Sabrina asked, turning the knob on her locker and popping open the door. Unlike Caylie’s locker, Sabrina’s was mostly empty. She hung her tennis bag carefully inside.
“Job?” Caylie repeated the word thoughtfully. “That’s a good idea, Sabs. If I had my own money, then I wouldn’t have to ask my parents for cash all the time. It would be one less thing for them to fight about.”
“That’s what I was going to say! But, you better be careful,” Lauren warned playfully. “If your parents stop fighting about money, it might lead to world peace.”
“I wouldn’t mind a little peace in my world,” Caylie said, eyes glittering at the thought. “But who’s going to give a job to a twelve-year-old?”
“You could babysit,” Sabrina suggested.
“Diapers?” Caylie plugged her nose and made a face. “No thanks.”
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Sabrina said, recycling a well-worn quote from her dad.
“I’d spend everything I made on nose plugs,” Caylie said. “Besides, my dad is always complaining about how he never has enough time with me, even though I’m there every weekend. So I can’t really babysit while I’m staying at his apartment. And there’s homework every night during the week when I’m at my mom’s.” She moaned. “What else could I do?”
“Lawn mowing?” Sabrina asked.
“My dad lives in an apartment. None of his neighbors have grass. And my mom doesn’t own a mower. Our yard is mostly rocks.”
“Umm, newspaper delivery?” Lauren tried.
“Are there even papers to deliver anymore?” Caylie asked.
“Tutoring?” Lauren tossed out another idea.
“That’s like doing someone else’s homework,” Caylie groaned. “No thanks.”
For every suggestion the girls had, Caylie came up with a reason why it wouldn’t work. “It’s useless,” Caylie said at last. “I can’t ask my parents for money and I can’t get a job. Divorce makes everything impossible.”
“Don’t get all negative yet, Caylie. We’ll think of something,” Lauren said. “And when you make your own money, you can have all the fancy skirts you want!”
The five minute warning bell rang and Sabrina slammed her locker. “Let’s go,” she said, leading the way towards Mrs. Bakersfield’s English class.
The girls didn’t get far before the Meaps cut them off.
“Hey, Lauren. I believe I have something that belongs to you,” Liza said, pulling Lauren’s copy of the VBFs movie script out of her tote bag and holding it up. “This is yours, isn’t it?”
“I―I―” Lauren stuttered. Her nerves were kicking in as a small crowd gathered around to see what the Meaps were up to.
“It’s mine.” Sabrina reached out to take the script. But just like at the park, Liza pulled the script back and held it out of Sabrina’s reach.
“You might have written it,” Liza said. “But I am positive this copy belongs to Lauren.” She winked at Lauren in a wicked way.
“Cut it out, Liza,” Caylie said. “You stole the script from us. Give it back.”
“I didn’t steal anything,” Liza said. “Your dog attacked me while I was reading it and I forgot to return it.”
“He’s not our dog,” Sabrina said, as if that mattered.
“So, give it back. Now!” Caylie ordered Liza.
“I don’t think so,” Liza told them. “After what happened, I decided to throw the thing away. That’s when I saw the back cover.”
Lauren felt her face flush pink, then red. She began to sweat. Her heart sank into her stomach as she braced herself for what was coming.
“Check this out!” Liza announced loudly to everyone in the hall, which at this point was most of the sixth grade. She held the script high in the air. There, for everyone to see, were the little hearts Lauren had doodled on the back. Each heart with an arrow through it. And the initials: LB+JH.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know who JH was. There was only one guy in the whole school with those initials.
Caylie and Sabrina knew the truth of course. But no one else was ever supposed to know about the crush. Especially not…Jorge!
And now, Jorge was standing next to the drinking fountain about three feet away! He was staring at the script Liza held.
Lauren desperately wanted run away. She was sure she had a fever. A bellyache. Sore throat. Headache. Hives. She should go to the nurse. Maybe she could get sent home…
With a sharp laugh, Liza said loudly, “Can you believe it? Lauren Blindell likes Jorge Hernandez!” She handed the script to Blaire.
Liza and Blaire laughed madly.
If ever there was anyone truly “saved by the bell,” it was Lauren. When the bell rang, passing period was over. The principal’s office door opened and the students in the hallway scattered.
“Here.” Liza took one last look at the doodles and shook her head with disgust. “You can have this now. My work is done.” But, instead of handing the script over to Lauren, Liza dropped it into the nearest trashcan.
Then, Blaire spit her gum on top.
Giggling to each other, Liza and Blaire headed off to English.
The instant they were gone, Caylie put her arm around Lauren. “Augh! I can’t stand the Meaps.”
With tears in her eyes, Lauren said to her friends, “I’m gonna to have to transfer to a new school.” She set her books down on the floor and sank into a heap next to them. Lauren covered her head with her arms.
“You’re not changing schools, Lauren,” Caylie said, plopping down next to her. “Those Meaps! They’re so…Meapish!”
While Caylie was comforting Lauren, Sabrina pulled the script out of the trash and picked off Blaire’s sticky gum. “Here.” Sabrina handed Lauren the script.
“Thanks,” Lauren said. She tore off the doodled back cover and ripped it to shreds. Scared to leave the pieces in the trash, she tucked them into her pants pocket.
“This is entirely that awful stray dog’s fault. He distracted us and we forgot that Liza never gave the script back.” Lauren shook her head. “Phooey on you, Phoo!”
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