Until a new person enters her life. Second grader Noah Zullo might seem strange to some people, but Calli can't help liking him, and they become partners in their school's Peer Helper Program. When they create a booth for the Friendship Fair, they fill it with secrets and surprises. And as Calli and Noah work and learn together, they even surprise themselves.
Michele Weber Hurwitz's debut is an endearing and gently humorous story about the true meaning of achievement and the important things an "ordinary" kid has to offer.
Maud Hart Lovelace Award (Minnesota)
Bluestem Readers’ Choice Award (Illinois)
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
C'mon, Calli, Chop-chop
The way I look at it, you can divide all the people in the world into two categories: the loud ones who shout about who they are and what they do, and the quiet ones who just are and do.
I suppose one kind balances out the other kind, like black letters on white paper, or frozen teeth from a Popsicle on a ninety-five-degree summer day.
Except for this: if you're a quiet person randomly and hopelessly born into a family of louds, then it isn't a balance at all. It's downright lopsided.
Unfortunately, that would be me. Calli Gold, number three kid in the Gold family. One quiet. Four louds. Lopsided. Not to mention exasperating.
I am sitting at the kitchen table, sucking the salt from a sourdough pretzel nugget while my mom arranges pink and blue Post-it notes on the Calendar. Most of the salt is gone and the pretzel has turned to mush when I hear two bangs, several bumps, and one loud crash. My sister, Becca, has tumbled down the stairs.
I'm not surprised, and neither is Mom, because Becca trips on the stairs all the time. It's never anything serious, because she somehow grabs hold of the banister at the last second. I can't see her or the stairs from the kitchen, but I hear her groan and moan.
"You all right, Becca?" Mom calls out, still intently examining the dizzying pattern of pink and blue Post-its. She tugs at the back edge of her sweater, straightening the places where it's gotten bunched up.
I can picture Becca, sprawled at the bottom of the carpeted staircase, the stuff from her skating bag in a messy pile around her on the wood floor. Skates and towels and tights, and her sweatshirt proclaiming to the world that ice girls are sizzlin' hot. And in the middle of it, with her lips pulled into a snarl, is my thirteen-year-old sister, mad at everyone who dares to look her way.
If Becca would ever listen to me (and she won't, because I'm only eleven), there are three things I would tell her: (1) Zip up the skating bag. Then everything won't fall out. (2) Socks can be awful slippery on carpeted stairs. And (3) It's probably not smart to look out the window by our front door to see if the cute boy across the street is shooting baskets in his driveway and walk down the stairs at the same time.
"Becca?" Mom calls again.
"I'm fine," she snaps.
Mom taps a pen on the enormous monthly write-on, wipe-off calendar taped to our kitchen wall. Better known as the Calendar. "It's going to be tight today," she says, peeling off one blue Post-it note and then a pink one. Pink are Becca's Post-its, and my brother Alex's are blue. These tiny squares contain their activity schedules down to the minute. My mother, who calls herself the Gold CFO (Chief Family Organizer), says that without her planning, our life as we know it would fall apart.
Mom used to be a project manager for a big food company, but for the time being, she says we are her projects. She says that managing this family is more work than her job ever was.
Light yellow is the color of my Post-its. There are only two of them on the Calendar for this month. One is for a dentist appointment and the other is for a haircut.
My dad says he'd like to see lots more yellow Post-its filling up the Calendar, because the Golds are busy people, and after all, I am a Gold too. Trouble is, in the past two years, I tried gymnastics, ballet, soccer, baton twirling, violin, and even origami, but I was a big disappointment in everything. Or everything was a big disappointment to me. I can't remember which. So as of right now, I haven't yet made my mark on the Calendar. But Dad says I will. He says I have to, because I am a Gold.
Mom clicks the cap onto the pen and adjusts her glasses. "It's going to be really tight today," she repeats. Not only does Becca fall a lot, Mom often says things are going to be really tight. When she says this, the up-and-down crease between her eyebrows becomes deeper.
"Get yourself together, Becca," Mom shouts. She scans the pink Post-it in her hand. "We have eight minutes to get you to skating." She turns to me. "Do you have homework, Calli?"
"I finished it."
She raises her eyebrows. "All of it?"
"Yep." I pop another pretzel into my mouth. "At school."
"Don't you have a math test coming up?"
"We reviewed in class."
"Well then," she says, "bring a book along. Or go over a few more problems for the test. I know you get a little bored at the rink, and I can't entertain you today. I have a meeting with the other skating moms. You know I'm chairing the costume committee this year. We have a lot of crucial information to go over. Crucial," she repeats, like I hadn't heard the first time.
She grabs her purse from the counter and pulls her keys from one of the pockets. Her purse isn't a regular purse; it's more like a miniature suitcase, with all kinds of compartments and pockets and zippers and pouches. Metallic silver, the thing weighs a ton. I know. I've tried to pick it up.
She isn't one of those mothers who can never find anything in their purses, like my friend Wanda's mom, who's always searching for Kleenex, money, or Chap Stick. Dad brags that Mom can locate something in her purse with the accuracy of a global satellite.
"Mom?" I say, crossing my legs importantly like she does. "Do I have to go to the rink? Can't I stay home? I think I'm old enough to stay by myself now." I take a deep breath. "Wanda's mom has started to let her stay by herself."
She puts a hand on her hip and gives me one of those unblinking mom stares, the kind that signals the asking of an outrageously dumb question.
"No," she says, "you cannot stay home by yourself. I don't care what Wanda does. You know that the rule in this family is eleven and a half, no more, no less. Don't start with me today, Calli, I don't have time for this." She snaps her purse closed and turns away. Discussion over.