- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Autumn Is Awesome!
What do you guys think?" Jo Sanchez asked.
She had just finished drawing and coloring in a bunch of maple and oak leaves. Now she held up the paper so her three best friends — Emily McDougal, Kara Wyatt, and Taylor Kent — could see it. The four of them were sharing one of the big, wooden-topped tables in the sunny art room at Oak Tree Elementary School. Today's class project was to create pictures of autumn leaves like the ones decorating the trees outside.
Emily was the first one to look up. "That looks really good, Jo," she said in her soft voice. "Your maple leaves are the same shade of red as the real ones on the tree outside my bedroom window."
"Thanks, Emily." Jo smiled at her friend. Emily was good at art. She also knew a lot about trees, since she and her parents lived on a small farm with lots of trees on it. Besides that, she was super honest. If she said that Jo's leaf picture looked realistic, she meant it.
That made Jo happy. She wasn't as good at art as Emily, but she liked to get things right — especially when it came to school. She was one of the best students in the third grade.
Jo looked over at her other two best friends. It looked as though neither of them had heard her question. Kara's springy red hair was falling over her freckled face as she bent over her own leaf picture. She was concentrating so hard that her tongue was sticking out of the corner of her mouth.
"Rats!" Kara cried out suddenly. She tossed away the orange crayon she had been using. "I went outside the lines again!"
"Never mind, Kara," Emily said, tucking her long, pale blond hair behind her ear. "That just makes it moreartistic. Lots of famous artists do stuff like go outside the lines."
Jo smiled. Emily was good at coming up with the nicest possible way to tell the truth.
Just then Jessica Polk skipped past on her way to the pencil sharpener. She glanced down at everyone's drawings as she passed their table. That was no surprise. Jessica was the class busybody. She liked to know everything that was going on with everyone all the time.
"Hey, Taylor!" Jessica blurted out in her loud voice. "You're supposed to be drawing leaves, not soccer balls!"
Jo grinned and leaned over to look at Taylor's picture. There was part of a leaf drawn in the middle of the paper. But all around the edges were sketches of soccer balls, soccer goals, and even a pair of soccer cleats. The drawings were kind of sloppy. Taylor was very smart and got pretty good grades in most subjects as long as she remembered to pay attention. But she was a little too impatient to be good at drawing.
Taylor finally looked up from her paper. "Oops," she said. "I guess I got distracted thinking about my soccer tournament. I can hardly believe it's less than a week away!"
The boys sitting at the next art table had heard Jessica's loud comment. Randy Blevins jumped out of his seat and ran over to peek at Taylor's drawing.
"Check it out," he called back to his friends. "I think Taylor must've got brain damage from heading her stupid soccer balls too hard. She thinks soccer balls grow on trees!"
His friend Max Wolfe laughed loudly. He ran over to look for himself. "No way, that's not it, you dummy!" he cried. "Taylor's just obsessed with sports, that's all. She probably forgot she's supposed to be a girl." He pointed to Taylor's short, curly black hair. "See? She even has a boy's haircut!"
Jo rolled her eyes. "Is that your idea of a joke, Max?" she asked. "Because it's not funny. It doesn't even make sense. A lot of girls have short hair, and a lot like sports just as much as boys do."
Taylor grinned. "You tell them, Jo-Jo," she said. "I definitely know I'm not a boy. See, I know how to use my brain for something other than keeping my ears apart."
"Yeah!" Kara exclaimed loudly. "So shut up, you brainless boys!"
Jo noticed that Emily was shooting nervous looks toward the art teacher, Mr. Lutz, who was bent over his desk at the front of the room. Emily always got nervous when people argued or were too loud. She also hated getting in trouble, and most teachers didn't like it when students talked too loudly or got out of their seats. Jo didn't like getting in trouble either, but she wasn't too worried.
Mr. Lutz wasn't like most teachers.
Finally Mr. Lutz looked up from his work. "What's all the commotion over there, kiddos?" he asked.
Mr. Lutz was big and tall, with bright blue eyes, little, round, wire-rimmed glasses, and a reddish-brown beard that covered most of his face. His voice was sort of rumbly and he had a Southern accent. Emily said when Mr. Lutz talked it sounded like a tree singing. That was the kind of thing only Emily would say. Jo thought it sounded kind of cool, even though it didn't really make sense.
"I told you guys you could talk while you created," the art teacher went on. "But I didn't say that you could hold philosophical debates at the top of your lungs while running around the room." He winked and smiled. "What do you all think this is, gym class?"
"Sorry, Mr. Lutz." Randy waited until the teacher looked down again. Then he stuck out his tongue at the girls and scurried back to his own table.
"Never mind those stupid boys, Taylor." Kara shot Randy and his friends one last glare. Then she looked at Taylor's picture, and her face brightened. "Hey, that reminds me. Did you guys ask your parents about the sleepover?"
Jo nodded eagerly along with the others. She and her three best friends had their own special club called the Sleepover Squad. They held sleepovers as often as they could. It was time for another one, and Kara wanted to have it at her house. They had decided to hold it on the day after Thanksgiving, which was less than two weeks away.
"My parents said yes," Jo said. "But, wait — why did Taylor's picture remind you of the sleepover, Kara?"
Jo was a very logical person. It bugged her when things didn't make sense. And it didn't make much sense that Taylor's drawing had reminded Kara of the sleepover. Then again, Jo knew that Kara's mind wasn't as logical as her own. Sometimes she didn't seem to make any sense at all!
"Well, it was going to be a surprise. But you guys know I'm terrible at surprises." Kara giggled. "So I'll just tell you now. I thought this sleepover would be a great time to celebrate Taylor's awesome soccer season. That can be our party theme!"
"Wow, that's so cool, K!" Taylor's greenish-gold eyes shone. "But I thought since the sleepover is the day after Thanksgiving, that would be the theme."
"Why can't we do both?" Emily asked. "Nobody ever said a sleepover can only have one theme."
Kara giggled again. "Yeah," she agreed. "Besides, if Taylor's team wins the big game, she'll definitely be thankful for that, right?"
Jo smiled. "That makes perfect sense to me."
Jo was still thinking about the sleepover when she got off the bus that afternoon. She hurried into her house, shivering in her light jacket. It was getting dark earlier every day. As soon as the sun started to go down, the air got crisp and chilly.
Inside, she found her mother sitting at the computer in her home office. "Guess what, Mom," Jo said. "We have a double theme for our next sleepover. It's going to be Thanksgiving and Taylor's soccer tournament."
"That's nice, Jo." Mrs. Sanchez looked up from the computer. "I have some news for you, too."
Jo was very observant, even when she was excited about something. Now she noticed that her mother looked kind of excited, too.
"What is it?" she asked curiously.
Her mother smiled. "Your cousin Ceci is coming to visit," she said. "She'll be arriving on Saturday afternoon, and staying right through Thanksgiving weekend!"
Text copyright © 2008 by Catherine Hapka
Posted September 11, 2013
Posted January 3, 2014
No text was provided for this review.