Read an Excerpt
"I can't decide. Should I wear this sweater for the Winter Festival, or this sweater?"
Twelve-year-old Mary-Kate Burke glanced up from her desk. Her twin sister Ashley was standing in the doorway of her dorm room. She held a fluffy pink cardigan in one hand and a black cashmere turtleneck in the other.
"I do look totally awesome in pink." Ashley held the cardigan up to her chest and struck a super.model pose. Then she did the same thing with the turtleneck. "But I look totally awesome in black, too. Hmm, major dilemma!"'
Mary-Kate hit the SAVE key on her laptop and sighed. "Ashley, I know you're having a fashion emergency but I'm in the middle of my own emergency, okay?" Mary-Kate had an English paper due in a day and she hadn't written a sentence!
Ashley frowned at Mary-Kate's outfit. "Well, now that you mention it, that Chicago Bulls T-shirt totally doesn't go with those pants."
"Hel-lo? That's not what I meant," Mary-Kate said. "Besides, why are you stressing out about what to wear for the Winter Festival? It's not for twelve more days!"
"It's never too early to start thinking outfits," Ashley replied. "Ashley's law. So have you decided which Winter Festival event you're going to sign up for?"
For a moment, Mary-Kate forgot about her homework troubles and got all excited thinking about the Winter Festival. The Festival was a competitive event between the White Oak Academy for Girls, where she and Ashley were students, and the Harrington School for Boys, which was right down the road.
"Skating, I think," Mary-Kate said. "I've never done cross-country skiing, so that's totally out. I likedownhill skiing and snowboarding a lot. But skating is my absolutely favorite winter sport. Campbell is signing me up right now."
Campbell was Mary-Kate's roommate in Porter House the coolest dorm at White Oak, in Mary-Kate's opinion.
"Why didn't you just go to the sign-up meeting yourself?" Ashley asked her.
Mary-Kate took a deep breath. "You know that English paper that's due tomorrow?"
Ashley nodded. "Sure. On war themes in literature. I finished mine last night."
"Well, I kind of haven't," Mary-Kate admitted. "Finished mine, that is. That's the emergency was talking about."
Mary-Kate hit a key on her computer, making her smiley-face screensaver vanish. Her English paper instantly appeared. All thirteen, incredibly brilliant words of it:
ACCORDING TO HOMER'S ILIAD
BY MARY-KATE BURKE
Ashley walked over to Mary-Kate's desk and peered at the screen. "Huh. That's all you've got? Ms. Bloomberg's going to have a total fit," she said.
I didn't really need to hear that, Mary-Kate thought.
"Ms. Bloomberg is not going to have a total fit," she told her sister. "Because 'm going to get this paper done. Even if I have to stay up all night and skip dinner and breakfast and stuff."
Ashley leaned back on the bed. "Okay. Let's be practical here. We have to think of a good excuse for you to tell Ms. Bloomberg."
Mary-Kate perked up. "A good excuse? Like what?"
"Like ... hmm ... you had an allergic reaction to your new Peaches 'N Honey Shampoo, and you broke out in these gross, painful hives, and you couldn't write because you were in total agony," Ashley suggested..
Mary-Kate shook her head. "'Ms. Bloomberg wouldn't believe me. I just saw her in the hallway about an hour ago, and I didn't have any gross, painful hives then." She sighed. "I think I'm just going to have to finish this paper by tomorrow morning."
"You can do it, Mary-Kate," Ashley said encouragingly, "I have faith in you!" She glanced at her watch, then jumped up from the bed. "Wow, it's almost three! The School Spirit Committee is starting in five minutes!"
"The who-what committee?" Mary-Kate asked her.
"The School Spirit Committee for the Winter Festival. You know, to boost school spirit! I decided to sign up for that instead of one of the sports events." Ashley scooped up her pink and black sweaters and headed for the door. "See you later! I'll bring you some nachos from the vending machine!"
Mary-Kate waved good-bye to her sister. Then she turned back to her laptop.
Trojan War, Trojan War, Trojan War.
Mary-Kate knew the subject, no problem.. She was just having a hard time putting pen to paper. Or, in this case, fingers to keyboard.
Just do it, she told herself. Just type something ... anything.
The door opened and Campbell strolled in. She was wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey and faded jeans.
"Hey, Campbell," Mary-Kate called out.
"Hey, MK," Campbell replied. She sat down at her desk without looking at Mary-Kate.
"So. How did the meeting go?" Mary-Kate asked her.
Campbell shuffled through some papers, still not turning around. "Meeting?" she said blankly.
"The sign-up meeting for the Winter Festival," Mary-Kate reminded her. "You know! You were supposed to sign me up for the skating team." She frowned. "You did sign me upfor the skating team, right?"
"W-ell..." Campbell hesitated.
Mary-Kate was getting a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach. "Campbell? What happened?"
"Um. Well. The skating team was full," Campbell explained. "And the cross-country-skiing team really needed some quality athletes. So I kind of signed you up for that instead."
"What?" Mary-Kate gasped. "You can't! I mean, I don't know how to cross-country ski! You have to go back and un-sign me immediately!"
"It's kind of too late," Campbell told her. "We really need you there."
Mary-Kate's heart sank. Cross-country skiing was the one winter sport she knew nothing about.
I don't want to let Campbell down, she thought. but I know if I join the croo-country team I'll make a total fool of myselfin front of the entire school!