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Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus ...

Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus ...

4.0 9
by Kristen Tracy

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Fair: just, equitable, what is right.
Unfair: the life of Camille McPhee.

Imagine being Camille McPhee. She has low blood sugar, so she carries extra food in a cooler. Would you want to do that?

Didn’t think so.

And you wouldn’t want to fall under the school bus. That happened to Camille, too!

Her cat, Checkers, is lost.


Fair: just, equitable, what is right.
Unfair: the life of Camille McPhee.

Imagine being Camille McPhee. She has low blood sugar, so she carries extra food in a cooler. Would you want to do that?

Didn’t think so.

And you wouldn’t want to fall under the school bus. That happened to Camille, too!

Her cat, Checkers, is lost. And her best friend, Sally, moved to Japan. It would be hard to stay optimistic, right? But Camille is what her mom calls hopeful. Because really? There are plenty of things to be positive about: gifted reading, a nonsqueaky mattress, eating banned foods, the big blue butterfly.

Even making a new friend. Imagine that!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, November 2009:
"This book about friendship and loss kindly teaches that life is pretty much what one is willing to make of it."

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2009:
"At heart, Camille’s a survivor, 'born with the power to bounce back,' which she does with surprising panache and hope in this touching debut."

Children's Literature - Summer Whiting
Camille is a feisty fourth grader with big, spectacular hair. However, her big hair is not enough to carry her through life, and all indications are that she is in for a rough year. Her best friend has moved to Japan, leaving Camille has to navigate the treacherous waters of elementary school all alone. Also, one winter morning, while wearing an all-white coat, she slips and falls underneath the school bus. Her cat is still missing after three years. And she lives in a house that resembles an eggplant. In spite of these negatives, there are some positive parts to Camille's life. She gets to go to gifted reading three days a week. She can carry a cooler around school and eat all day long, thanks to low blood sugar. She even gets to babysit when her mother is called out unexpectedly. Readers will enjoy the many antics that occur throughout this story. Laughable moments cushion the seriousness of several issues throughout the story (e.g., the death of a friend's parent, her parents' constant arguing). This is an excellent book that can be used to engage reluctant readers. Reviewer: Summer Whiting
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Camille, a fourth-grader who lives in rural Idaho, literally slides on the ice and under the school bus. Though she's fine, she decides to stay home for the day, having plenty to worry about. Her best friend, Sally, who recently moved to Japan, hasn't written as promised, so Camille has resolved to act like the dingo that she saw at the zoo, ignoring the pack and refusing to become involved with anybody around her. Though Polly, her neighbor, attempts friendship, Camille is determined to remain a loner. When her parents decide to try out a brief separation, Camille feels that the only person she can talk to is her aunt, who lives far away. Despite her problems, Camille truly is resilient and eventually figures out a new approach. As winter turns to spring, she and Polly begin to build a friendship, her parents begin to work out their issues, and Sally's mail finally arrives (having been delayed by a zip-code snafu). Camille falls down a few times but always manages to bounce back. Everything isn't rosy; instead, there's growing appreciation that life isn't perfect for anyone. The lively, first-person narrative moves readers through possibly banal or overly traumatic episodes with a gentleness and humor that has them rooting for Camille. This book about friendship and loss kindly teaches that life is pretty much what one is willing to make of it.—Sheila Fiscus, Our Lady of Peace School, Erie, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Camille McPhee's father warns her: "Don't expect life to be fair." Is it fair that hypoglycemic Camille's the only kid who has to carry extra food to school in a cooler? Is it fair when her best friend Sally moves from Idaho to Japan, making fourth grade "pretty rough"? Is it fair kids call Camille "soccer-ball head" even though she has thick, movie-star hair? Is it fair she slipped on ice and slid under the school bus? Is it fair her cat disappeared or her parents fight over money and might be splitting? Eleven-year-old Camille understands life is full of ups and downs, but how can so many unfair things happen to one person? Although Camille wryly relates her fourth-grade saga in the first person with droll humor, it's clear she's afraid to make new friends and even more afraid of what's happening to her parents. But at heart, Camille's a survivor, "born with the power to bounce back," which she does with surprising panache and hope in this touching debut. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
610L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

When I woke up and kicked the covers off, I moved my legs back and forth in the air like superpowered scissors. I did this because I needed to get my blood moving. I needed to move my blood from my legs to my head so that when I stood up, I wouldn't get light-headed. My mom and dad thought that the reason I got light-headed was because I had low blood sugar. They said I was hypoglycemic.

You might think that someone with low blood sugar would be allowed to eat a lot of sugar. But I wasn't that lucky. When I felt shaky, I had to eat cheese. My parents said that I had to eat every three hours to keep my blood sugar levels stable. This meant that I had to carry extra food with me to school in a cooler.

I was the only student at Rocky Mountain Elementary School who was allowed to eat during class. I could open up my cooler and pull out a ham sandwich right at my desk whenever I wanted. And I did.

You might be thinking that I was a pretty fat fourth grader, but I wasn't. I weighed less than sixty pounds. Five of those pounds were from my hair. I was very lucky. I didn't have long, stringy hair like Polly Clausen or Gracie Clop. I had movie-star hair. It was thick, caramel brown, and beautiful.

When I walked outside on a sunny day, the sun bounced off my hair, making every strand shine like gold. It's a really good thing that I had great hair, because it helped camouflage my head. Some people thought it was big. And they enjoyed pointing this out. You might think that a big head of hair drew more attention to a big head.

Well, it did. But when people said some mean thing like "Hey, soccer-ball head," or "Why do you have a blimp attached to your neck?" or "What's up, hippo head?" (I always hated that one), then someone else pointed out that maybe it was just my hair making my head look big. And then the first person would argue that it wasn't my hair but my big goofy head that made my head look big.

There would always be a debate about this. No one was ever sure. Listening to people fight about whether or not I had a big head made me feel terrible. Once, it got so bad that I thought about cutting off all my hair and mailing it to my cousin Binna in Colorado. She had always been a huge fan of my hair at family reunions. But I didn't have to do that.

One day, like magic, a new teacher showed up at my school. Ms. Golden. She came from New Jersey. And one of the things she brought with her to Rocky Mountain Elementary School was very large and powerful hair. When she walked down the halls, her hair spilled off her in curls and waves. And because everybody liked Ms. Golden, big hair became very popular. And nobody teased me anymore.

I mean, nobody teased me about my big head anymore. You see, one winter day, right after I kicked my legs back and forth in the air like superpowered scissors, something really bad happened. It was a Friday, the day my mother taught a morning kickboxing class at the gym. She didn't leave to teach it until after I went to school, but she was a very dedicated instructor, and she always practiced her routine several times in the den. So I had to get ready by myself.

That Friday, I got up and put on fresh thermal underwear. And jeans. And a fuzzy blue sweater that didn't itch me. Then I ate a bowl of cereal. And washed my face and brushed my teeth. And most important, like always, I fluffed my hair. For one whole minute. After that, I grabbed my books, pencils, chocolate-milk money, and cooler. I poked my head into the den and told my mother goodbye.

She appeared to be doing jumping jacks.

"See you when you get home," she said, panting.

When I went out to catch the bus, I thought it was going to be a great day. I walked down the front steps and blew a big cloud out into the cold February air in front of me. Then I took a deep breath. It was so cold that my lungs started to sting and my right nostril froze shut.

Of my two nostrils, it was usually the right one that froze shut. Because I was right-handed and my right arm was stronger than my left, I figured I was also right-nostriled. Which meant when I sucked in cold air, my right nostril sucked a lot harder than the left one, and that was why it would freeze shut.

But the awful thing that happened really doesn't have anything to do with my nostril.
I walked to the bus stop and stood in line behind Manny and Danny Hatten. They were identically mean twins and were in the sixth grade, which meant they were pretty tough. Nobody messed with those two, because Manny and Danny had muscles. Mostly in their legs. They were very good at kicking other people's backpacks and lunch boxes. And they were also very good at having greasy blond hair.

I lifted my right hand to my forehead to shade my eyes and look down the long, snowy road. In addition to the bus, I was also looking for my cat Checkers. I hadn't seen her for three years. But I still kept my eyes open just in case. I was what my mother called hopeful. I spotted my bus making its first stop at Coltman Road. It would be here in five minutes.

I lived on County Line Road. It was in the middle of nowhere. Across the street, there was a big hay field that stretched so far that it never stopped. During the winter, cows lived there. To keep them from escaping, a barbed-wire fence surrounded the field. And there was a steep drainage ditch that ran along the bottom of the field, next to the road. That was not a good place to wait for the bus. So we made our line on the side of the road with the driveways.

I checked my cooler to make sure that its lid was on tight; then I set it down in the snow. I didn't say anything to anyone. I wasn't much of a talker.

Meet the Author

Kristen Tracy resides in San Francisco, where she writes young adult novels, middle-grade novels, to-do lists, and poems.

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Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus ... 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Camille McPhee has a lot to deal with - the constant threat of low blood sugar, her health freak, home/self-improvement obsessed mom's mid-life crisis, best friend Sally Zook's relocation to Japan, science classes that are too advanced for fifth grade, and a pair of bullies responsible for her recent fall under the school bus. Thank goodness she has "great, thick, caramel brown, movie star hair" and a plan to fly under the radar like the brilliant dingo she saw at the zoo, 'cause Camille's life is about to get more hectic than she ever imagined. Kristen Tracy's CAMILLE MCPHEE FELL UNDER THE BUS... is a charming story featuring a sarcastic, spunky heroine dealing with the trials and tribulations facing many children today. While not specifically "issue oriented," the book addresses topics like the possibility of divorce, debt, the indifference of a self-centered teacher, alienation from one's peers, bullying, and death. Ms. Tracy shows Camille facing her problems head on with her own unique brand of grit, intelligence, and determination, making this book one for the keeper shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BEST BOOK EVER it is so funny
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love dthis book! Last year i tried reading this book and i was not really into reading it even though i brought it were ever i went i i did not reaed it at all. But then i started reading it the next year and it was the best book in the world i did not want to dtop it.
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How do you get your gift card on here?