Sara Thurman suffers a string of humiliations that begins when her mother sends her roses at school-not to celebrate Valentine's Day, but because the eighth-grader has finally gotten her period. Then someone gets wind of Sara's entrance to womanhood and decorates her locker with tampons and napkins, and soon it seems that the whole school pegs her as a magnet for disaster. Sara wrongly accuses her best friend of blabbing her secrets and quickly accepts consolation from the all-too-obvious culprit, also embarking on an improbable scheme to be voted Class Favorite for the yearbook. Morris (Original Divas) hammers lessons about loyalty and forgiveness a little too noisily, and some of Sara's catastrophes feel more manufactured than comic. Nonetheless, the author creates a funny twist to the tried-and-true theme of adolescent angst in the unexpectedly composed way Sara handles each cringe-inducing crisis, and girls will like this character. As lagniappe, Morris opens each chapter with a thematically related, magazine-style quiz question ("Are You the Keeper of Secrets or the Disher of Gossip?"); answers can be scored at the end to discover "Which Yearbook Award Will You Receive?" Ages 9-13. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Class Favoriteby Taylor Morris
It all started three days after I officially became a woman -- the message of mass destruction arrived. It was February 14, to be exact. Happy Valentine's Day.
Sara Thurman has never considered herself part of the popular crowd - she's got her best friend Arlene and that seems like enough. But when Sara's mom sends a special Valentine's Day/big>/b>… See more details below
It all started three days after I officially became a woman -- the message of mass destruction arrived. It was February 14, to be exact. Happy Valentine's Day.
Sara Thurman has never considered herself part of the popular crowd - she's got her best friend Arlene and that seems like enough. But when Sara's mom sends a special Valentine's Day delivery (PERIOD FLOWERS!) to her class, all of a sudden Sara is very famous - only for a horribly embarrassing reason! It seems everyone at Bowie Junior High knows something about Sara that she'd rather keep to herself and the harder Sara tries to blend in the more she ends up sticking out.
Not only that, but it suddenly seems that Arlene doesn't have time for her anymore, and she has an unbearable crush on Jason who doesn't have any idea who she is (until now, that is). Worst of all, nothing's felt the same since Sara's dad left home. It all has Sara wondering if things will ever return to normal -- especially if she can't even remember what normal feels like. Sara can't figure out why it seems that everyone else has it easier than she does - would things be better if she were popular? Sara decides that if she can't beat 'em then she'll join 'em -- and she hatches a top secret mission to become....Class Favorite.
Gr 5-8- When eighth-grader Sara Thurman finally gets her first period, her mother sends her "period flowers" on Valentine's Day. Despite Sar's efforts to keep it quiet, the entire student body soon knows that she's "entered womanhood" and the jokes are endless. But who spilled her secret? Was it her friend Arlene, the only person Sara told about the flowers' origins, or Kirstie, the new girl who is suddenly smothering Sara with attention? This incident sets off a string of mishaps that includes Sara wearing an outfit identical to her teacher's and exploding The Ball, a cherished winning basketball from the Bandits' only state championship in 1989. Also, Sara is adjusting to her parents' separation, her friendship with Arlene is in a shambles, and she has a crush on a boy who seems way out of her league. Despite everything, Sara keeps her cool and carries on with her plan to become popular. When it's yearbook time, she isn't voted Class Favorite as she'd hoped, but she does earn the Courage award for her ability to overcome circumstances that would cause most teenagers to enter the Witness Protection Program. This fun, fast-paced book is full of realistic dialogue and laugh-out-loud passages. Sar's sticky situations will make readers cringe while simultaneously breathing a sigh of relief that these things aren't happening to them.-Robyn Zaneski, New York Public LibraryCopyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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Does Your Crush Know You Exist?
a) nothing, just accepts the pen and keeps walking.The message of mass destruction arrived three days after I supposedly became a woman. It was Friday, February 14, to be exact. Happy Valentine's Day. The day started off bad enough. I woke up with lingering cramps that no amount of Aleve could ease. I huddled in bed until I was almost late for school-I didn't have time to shower, even though my hair looked a little greasy. I put just a touch of baby powder on the shiniest parts, a tricky trick I learned in Up! magazine. The Bowie Junior High office followed standard operating procedure by sending me a note during first-period English. It was a major coup to get one of these notes on Valentine's Day, since it was effectively rubbing your present in the faces of girls who were unloved by any boys. The office would receive the gift, and you could check it out between classes, but you couldn't pick it up until the final bell. The student office assistant quietly handed the note to Ms. Galarza, whose eyes were gleaming with teacherly excitement. We were just beginning Jack London's The Call of the Wild, which some kids complained they'd already read in, like, fourth grade, but Ms. Galarza reasoned that we may have not fully understood it the first time. Up until that day, my thirteen-year-old life was more like The Call of the Mild, and there was no misunderstanding that fact. I eagerly unfolded the note, which read simply, "You have a delivery in the office. You may come by after first period." To get my attention, Arlene craned her neck over the row that separated us. Her winter-pale skin was already turning a warm brown now that softball season had started. I had tried to be an athlete with her, trying out for every sport from basketball to track-including, of course, softball. I not only never made the team, but something horrific usually happened during the tryouts. During volleyball tryouts last year, for example, I found it absolutely impossible to serve overhand-to the point that Coach Swathmore actually stopped the entire tryouts to ask, in front of everyone, "Kid, are you joking?" After claiming I wanted to concentrate on my B-average grades rather than sports, I gave up trying for good, and now watched from the sidelines as Arlene became better and better, and made more friends with each passing game. Danielle Martin, who sat in the row between us, handed me a note from Arlene. What is it? A package? After answering, I handed the paper to Danielle low and quick across the aisle. From who? Doesn't say. "What do you think, Sara?" Ms. Galarza asked. Arlene and I quickly turned to the front as others turned to stare at us. Even Jason Andersen glanced back at me-just a glimpse, though, like he thought he heard something but only mildly cared to investigate. "Uh," I began, trying to think of the most generic answer that would cover whatever she was asking. "I think so." I nodded, like Yes, absolutely so. Ms. Galarza eyed me for a moment before saying, "I agree with you. The dynamic between Buck and Spitz could easily be related to human interaction." Letting out a quiet sigh of relief, I let my attention turn back to Jason. I gazed at the back of his head longingly. I'd known him since elementary, but he turned super-hot this year-at least to me. He'd held reign as a nice, quiet guy since elementary school, neither nerdy nor great, although always very sweet, like the time he totally paid for Leslie Lasa's entire lunch even though she was only ten cents short. But something had changed in him over the summer. He seemed different now, like he sat up a little straighter, had a bit more confidence. Like he was more mature or something. "I also want everyone to consider the relationship between man and dog," Ms. Galarza rambled. As if I could concentrate on anything, with Jason in front of me and that note in my hand. Adults can be so dense-they wouldn't let me go see what was waiting in the office because they didn't want me to miss class. But they gave me this tease of a note, torturing me into sitting for another twenty-seven minutes wondering who, what, why? Had a secret admirer sent me a huge white teddy bear and a box of Russell Stover chocolates? Maybe it was that scrawny guy in my health class. I mean, I thought he just had a lazy eye, but maybe he'd really been gawking at me all this time. More likely, Dad had sent me something age-inappropriate from the road, like a Dora the Explorer sand bucket from Georgia. My dad took over his father's office-speaker business a couple of years ago and now travels around the southern states and North Texas installing these things that offices need for their intercom systems. He moved out in December when he and Mom officially separated, and even though he was always traveling for work and was rarely home, having him totally out of the house was weird. I still see him when he's in town, and we occasionally talk on the phone. But I missed the way he ruffled my hair in the morning when I was too cranky to talk, and the Saturday mornings he picked up doughnuts for us, always getting two of my favorite-Boston cream-in case someone got to it before I did. Even though he seemed to have forgotten that I am now a teenager and don't get as excited about Build-A-Bear as I used to, I still missed him more than I wanted to admit. When the bell rang, Arlene bulldozed over people to get to my desk. "Do you think it's flowers?" she shrieked, her blue eyes staring down at the pink office slip. "I don't know," I said. I watched over her shoulder as beautiful, gorgeous, lovely Jason left. "I have no idea who would have sent them." "Well, come on. Let's find out." Arlene pushed her way through the crowded halls, dragging me through the herd of students like a little sister being marched to Mom for punishment. " 'Scuse us," she said, pulling at my wrist as we came to the main hall, filled with trophy display cases and the 1989 Ball that won us our one and only state basketball championship. "Sorry, excuse me. Hi, Lindsay. Watch it, Shiner! Jerk! Excuse us, please. Oh, hey, Gerald." I could smell the roses before we had even rounded the corner to the office. The front office literally looked like a florist's shop-it was absolutely stuffed with red and pink roses, and one lone bouquet of white roses with red tips. "Oh, my God, look at all these." Arlene gasped. "Dang. Think they're all from your mom's shop?" I asked as we pushed through the glass door. "They sure don't look like they're from Kroger's," she said. I quickly scanned the office, trying to pick out which bouquet might be mine. I tried real hard not to let myself think for even a second that they might be from some guy besides my dad-tried, but failed. I had a quick, unbelievable thought that this was Jason's way of telling me he's loved me since that day in third-grade recess when I accidentally stepped on his fingers on the jungle gym. After that, I knew I was only in for disappointment. What could top declaration-of-love flowers from Jason Andersen? As Arlene scrambled around me to get a whiff, Mrs. Nicholson looked around her monitor, her chin jiggling in rhythm to the chains on her half-moon eyeglasses. "Yes, girls?" "She got a note," Arlene said, jerking her thumb in my direction. Mrs. Nicholson, totally unimpressed, pointed her pen to the white f?lowers with red tips behind us. "Take the card, leave the f?lowers. You can pick them up after school." "Oh, my God, you're so lucky!" Arlene sighed. "Look at these! They're so pretty. Who do you think they're from? Quick, here's the card." She plucked the little white, blank envelope from the baby's breath and quickly reached inside for the card. "Here, give it to me." I snatched it away from her. "Who's it from?" Arlene panted. I turned away as I pulled out the tiny card, because I had this really strong feeling that whatever was written there was going to change my little world. I rarely spoke to guys-I was hardly a master of seduction-but now I was getting a dozen white roses with gorgeous red tips. How could that not be something big? When I turned my back to Arlene, I noticed someone sitting in the chair by the door, just across from my roses. She had ink-black hair set in a high ponytail, like a geyser of oil bursting out of the rubber band; she sat up straight, her hands gripping the sides of her chair and her crossed leg swinging nervously. I didn't know every kid at school, but I at least recognized them all; we rarely get any new kids in Ladel, and not in the middle of the school year, especially on a Friday, so I automatically wondered what her story was. "Well?" Arlene shook my arm. She looked like she was about to bounce out of her well-worn Reeboks. "What does it say?" The girl looked at me, and a soft smile spread across her shiny peach-colored lips. "Doesn't it feel good to be noticed?" Arlene gave her a little, "Uh," her mouth dropping open. Arlene packs a lot into her one-syllable responses, and I knew this one meant, Do you mind? We're in the middle of something important and totally private. Besides, I wasn't so sure I agreed with the girl. I definitely hadn't wanted to be noticed that day last week when I slipped down the stairs on my way to class, landing so hard on my tailbone, I was afraid I'd broken it. I had wanted to rub my bum, but I bounced right back up, scooped up my books, and hollered to no one in particular, "See y'all next fall!" I looked back at the card. As I read the few words, I felt the blood rush to my cheeks-and not in that girly, excited sort of way. "So?" Arlene begged. "Who's it from?" I shoved the card into the front pocket of my jeans, my hands already sweating as my mind raced on how to make this go away and wondering why, why, was this happening to me. Right then it absolutely did not feel good to be noticed. Nu-uh. Not at all. "Nobody," I stumbled, "just . . . somebody." I glanced up at Mrs. Nicholson, and I swore she was looking at me funny-a bit of a smirk on her face. God, I thought. The envelope hadn't been sealed. She read it . . . she knows. "What does that mean?" Arlene demanded as she followed me out of the office. "Did you have to be rude to that girl?" I asked, wondering if I could transfer schools this late in the year. "That's such crap, Sara. Why won't you tell me? I swear I won't tell anyone." "Right," I said, twisting the combination on my locker. "Kind of like how you swore you wouldn't tell my sister what happened during basketball tryouts?" I had tried to go big by chucking the ball from the three-point line. I ended up decking Coach Swathmore in the face, breaking her nose. I was asked to leave the gym as quickly as her blood spilled to the court. "Please! It was funny, and she would have found out, anyway. Elisabeth knows all the coaches here, and you said she talks to Coach Eckels, like, weekly. I saw her stop by just last week." It was true. Coach Eckels had coached Elisabeth in cross-country when she was here at Bowie-he was the junior high's head coach and took a big interest in running. Since Elisabeth was such a star, he had given her extra coaching when she was here two years ago. "Like I wanted everyone to know about that, much less her," I continued, trying to push the horror of the tiny card out of my mind. "Besides, I don't have to tell you everything, you know." Lately, I'd been getting agitated with Arlene. We've been best friends since elementary school, but even though I still considered her my best friend, sometimes I wondered if I was still her best friend. To keep us connected after she started playing softball, we started a Golden Raspberry-movie tradition because we both secretly love movies that get horrible reviews, so we decided to embrace them. The Razzies are like the anti-Oscars-they're awards that movies and actors get for being the absolute worst. We watch them the first Saturday night of every month, except for that time in October that Arlene's softball team had some big team-bonding sleepover. I was mad about it, but I never told her. I didn't want to seem like a crybaby, but she had sacrificed our friendship bonding for her teammates. That stung. I slapped my locker shut and started down the hall, trying to act normal when really I was dying of anger and embarrassment. "You know, I could just ask my mom who sent them. I'm sure they came from her shop," Arlene called out in a halfhearted threat. "Yeah," I said, trying to sound casual as I rounded the corner. "But you won't." I really, truly, sincerely hoped I was right.
b) "Thanks," and smiles at you before moving on.
c) "Thanks. How'd you do on that geometry quiz last week?"
I was patient for this day to arrive-at first. When Becca Miller got her period in fifth grade, some girls teased her about it even though we were completely curious about what it felt like. In sixth grade I looked enviously at girls wearing kitten heels and showing off new belly button piercings-signs of womanhood, in my mind, not to mention things my mother would never let me wear. When Arlene discreetly got her period that year, I felt betrayed. Until then, we had done everything together-shaving our legs for the first time and flirting with boys at the same party (different guys!). I found out three months later, when she casually said, "I have the worst cramps." When I asked why she hadn't told me, she said, "Gross, Sara. It's not the kind of thing you discuss," even though she just had.
Suddenly we were entering junior high, where the girls wore makeup, shorter skirts, and kissed boys. Then there was me. I wasn't allowed to wear makeup yet, my legs were too scrawny to wear short skirts, I'd never had a boyfriend, plus I hadn't gotten my period yet. I felt like a fraud. It was not the image I had of starting junior high. Then, in October of our seventh-grade year, everyone had a date to the Fall Ball-including Arlene, even though we had sworn we'd turn up our noses at the event to stay home and watch Razzies. When some random guy from the baseball team asked her to go, she acted all giddy about it, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting home alone watching From Justin to Kelly with no one to make sarcastic comments to.
It wasn't until this year, in eighth grade, that I finally got my period. Call it an early Valentine's gift. There was no joy in the big moment, only a feeling of God, it's about freaking time. I realized I looked no different from the day before, but I did feel different-as in yuckier.
I always thought that getting my period would herald my arrival as a woman. Along with the inconvenience of that monthly visitor, I'd also be rewarded with the perks: My boobs and hips would suddenly fill out, my hair would be shinier, my voice would have a coquettish lilt, and all the guys would want me.
At the front of the lunch line, I pulled a five-dollar bill from my front pocket and felt the soft bits of the now-torn card. I had peeked at it in second period, just to make sure I had read it correctly.
YOU'VE FINALLY ENTERED WOMANHOOD,
"I can't believe you still won't tell me. What's the big secret?" Arlene started in on me when we met outside the cafeteria. All the girls were talking excitedly about who had gotten flowers, who had sent them, and the bigger scandal of who hadn't received any. (Word was that Kayla Cane, who normally made sure she had a boyfriend around Valentine's Day, hadn't received any.) I had come up with a brilliant plan to handle the situation: I would ignore it and hope that it went away.
AND I COULDN'T BE PROUDER.
CONGRATULATIONS . . . PERIOD!
LOVE, MOM It was written in another woman's handwriting-Arlene's mom? She owned It's About Bloomin' Time, the one florist in Ladel, Texas. It proved that someone else, other than myself and my mother, knew about the flowers and my period. This was all my sister's fault-she was the one who had told on me. Just as we were running out the door that morning, late already, Elisabeth had said, right in front of Mom, "Sara, did you tell Mom you finally got your period?" "Elisabeth!" "What? God, grow up already," she said, like it was no big deal after all. Mom had inhaled a little gasp and flashed a proud smile. "Sara, honey!" she said. "You finally got it!" I grabbed a carton of nonfat milk at the front of the lunch line, took the change for my cheese enchilada lunch from Lunchlady Campbell, who, sorry, looks like a linebacker, and walked with Arlene to a table. Sometimes we sat by ourselves, and sometimes a few of her softball friends joined us. When they sat with us, all they talked about softball: the teams they were playing, who was hitting what average that season-in other words, boring stuff. When they tried to include me in the conversation, it was, "Are you going to try out next season?" They were just making conversation, but it stunk because, as I had thoroughly demonstrated at more than one tryout, I had zero athletic coordination. Arlene and I sat down, alone for now, thank God, until . . . "Sara! I just saw my roses in the office and saw your name on the white ones. Who sent them? They're awesome." Ellen Spitz had barely said a word to me until now. She plopped her beige lunch tray on our table and sat down across from me. She was the shortstop on Arlene's team, a member of FFA-the Future Farmers of America-and wore extra-heinous boots, jeans, and Garth Brooks-esque shirts. Every single day. That day, it was green Rocky Mountain jeans with purple Justin Ropers. I kid you not. And I thought my Old Navy clothes made me fashionably challenged. I lifted my fork to my mouth, cheese and grease dripping from it, and delicately blew on the enchilada. My stomach was all cramped up-I couldn't tell if it was from period misery or the massive dread of my flower secret being revealed. "She won't even tell me," Arlene assured Ellen. "What's the big deal?" she asked, turning on me. "Why won't you tell us?" "Hey, Sara," said Shiner. He stood in the aisle next to our table, carrying two Cokes on his enchilada tray. He wore a Dallas Cowboys puffy jacket with shorts and a coral choker he got in Tampa three summers ago and hadn't taken off since. "Nice flowers, mamacita." He laughed his squawking laugh. "Ha-ha-haaa!" I fumed at Shiner for getting a thrill out of my pain and for mentioning anything mother related. To think that I had actually worried that it was just a "Hi! Miss you and love you" gift from the road from my dad. I wondered if he'd call to wish me a happy Valentine's Day. Shiner got his nickname from the sixth-grade baseball guys. He had taken a baseball to his left eye three times throughout the season, leaving him with a black eye for two months. Nobody called him Jimmy-his real name-except the teachers, and I didn't even like looking at him since that night at the Fall Ball earlier this year. I flicked my wrist as dismissively as I could, even though I was cringing with embarrassment inside. "Just walk away." Shiner snorted, and looked like he was about to say something, but he didn't. It's strange how people end up. Shiner and I actually used to play together every now and then at recess when we were kids. Then, at this year's Fall Ball, everyone, including Arlene, who went stag with me slow-danced at the end of the night while I stood sheepishly in the corner, trying not to be noticed. To my surprise, Shiner came over and asked me to dance. We hadn't talked much since the days of recess had ended, and I was mostly glad that someone had asked me to dance. As we shuffled across the floor of the cafeteria, which served as our dance hall, Kayla Cane and her boyfriend of the night glided by us. Kayla looked me up and down, then looked at Shiner and threw her head back and laughed. I felt like an instant loser. When I looked at Shiner, whose jaw was clenched, I saw the pimples on his cheeks and the way his nostrils flared as he breathed. I felt how bony his shoulders were, and how sweaty his palms. Before the song even ended, I muttered a thanks and went back to my corner. We hardly made eye contact after that, and lately we've resorted to smart-aleck remarks. "Lovely," I said, turning back to my grease and cheese as Shiner did, in fact, walk away. "He is such a loser." "I saw him outside in the courtyard blowing his nose," Arlene said, "without a tissue. Just plugged one nostril and blew out the other." "Disgusting." I cringed. "I don't know," Ellen said. "He seems okay. I mean, he never did anything to me. Anyway, the flowers are gorgeous, Sara. You have to tell us who sent them." She stood and picked up her tray. "I'm sitting with the girls," she said to Arlene. "We heard that the Crawford pitcher is at least sixteen. See you at practice." And off she bounced. "Did she have to take Shiner's side?" I asked. "He made fun of me first." Arlene stared over at the girls softball table and I realized, with another punch in the gut, that she'd probably rather be with them than with me. "If you want to go sit with them, you can," I said, even though I didn't want her to. "No, no," she said, shaking her head. She tucked her hay-colored hair behind her ear. "Don't worry about Shiner. Or Ellen. She was just saying." "Whatever. Cramps make you moody, right?" I asked as I rubbed my hand across my stomach. "God, yes. Still, if someone had sent me flowers, I don't know how I could let anything put me in a bad mood." I sighed. Maybe I needed an ally in this. Maybe I'd feel better if I told Arlene, who was, after all, my official best friend. Maybe it was her duty to know things like this about me, even if we weren't as close as we used to be. So I took a deep breath and said, "Okay, I'll tell you who sent them, but you have to swear on your softball glove that you won't tell anyone. Not a single soul." Arlene's eyes widened with anticipation, and she nodded furiously. "I swear, I swear, I swear I will not tell another single living soul for as long as I live. Cross my heart." So I told her. I trusted her. Because what had she ever done to betray me?
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