The girls of the Double Dutch Club have an opportunity of a lifetime: they've earned the right to compete in the state competition! What begins as a desire in their hearts to win a coveted trophy becomes the foundation for relationships that last a lifetime.
About the Author
MABEL E. SINGLETARY (B.A., Douglass College; M.A., Rutgers) has worked as an educator for more than 28 years. Mabel is author of five books entitled Coming Across Jordan, Run Jeremiah Run!, Something to Jump About, A Promise and A Rainbow, and Just Jump! She and her husband, Charles, have two children and reside in Somerset, New Jersey.
Read an Excerpt
Just Jump!The Double Dutch Club Series
By Mabel Elizabeth Singletary
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2007 Mabel Elizabeth Singletary
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJust Jump In!
True friendships are like jewels and should be treasured. But not just any jewels. They are like diamonds that can cut through the darkness and illuminate the sky. To obtain them, you must look deep and even be willing to sacrifice, preserve, and care for that which is rare and so often very hard to find."
Eleven-year-old Nancy Adjei listened intently as Mrs. Richards read from the last page of Constance Howell's book A Song of Friendship. The best part about being in Mrs. Richards' class was listening to her read stories. Stories that had meaning and that Nancy understood and could relate to. Reading in English was so much harder than speaking it. She had learned to speak the language in her homeland of Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The school she attended there was small, but every student was taught to speak, read, and write in English. Nancy could read, but she did so very slowly, carefully sounding out each and every word. So, hearing her teacher read aloud to the class was a welcomed activity. Listening to interesting stories allowed Nancy to rest in a place that gave her security andpeace. No running, no tears, no memories. No longer did she have to be afraid. She had come to America, and everything was different. Now she had a new life and hopes for a good future.
She lived days that were highlighted with stories that had wonderful endings centered around the kind of people she longed to meet. Maybe, she thought, one day I will read as well as Mrs. Richards, and I will read one of these stories on my own. With her head resting comfortably in the palms of her hands, she nodded yes as Mrs. Richards read those last words.
Nancy knew exactly what the author meant. It was as if this particular story had been written especially for her. Like the main character in the book, making new friends was not easy for Nancy. But it had never been as hard as it was since she came to her new American school. In Sierra Leone, she had lots of friends. Many of them were first, and second, cousins, and even some were third cousins. She was never lonely back home, but her life was full of fear, pain, and poverty. Here in America, she was able to wear nice clothes, and the fear was gone. However, the pain of her former life still held on to her ever so tightly.
Mrs. Richards closed the book only seconds before the start of recess. When the bell rang, everyone quickly filed out onto the playground-everyone except Nancy. She dreaded recess time because she didn't belong to any group. There were the boys who raced around playing tag or joined in a makeshift game of flag football. Then there were the girls who seemed more guarded with their space. One group sat on the grass and talked every day, while some played on the swings and sang songs. But the group that interested Nancy the most were the girls who jumped a rope game called Double Dutch. Oh, how she desired an invitation to join them -even if only for one recess period.
She stood off to the side watching the girls from homeroom 511 taking part in what had become a recess and lunchtime ritual. There was no doubt in Nancy's mind-they were the best jumpers in the school, and they always drew a crowd. Her eyes studied the turning ropes as she thought to herself, If only I had the courage to jump in. But how could she do that? She'd never jumped Double Dutch before and hadn't a clue about how to do such fancy rope jumping. Over and over she could hear the words of encouragement coming from a brave place, deeply embedded somewhere inside.
JUST JUMP IN! Her mind commanded. Unfortunately, her feet weren't able to follow the order coming from her brain. There was one thing, however, everyone knew for sure. If you were anybody at Grover Cleveland Elementary School, and especially one of the girls from Mrs. Richards' sixth-grade class, you had to know how to jump Double Dutch. You just had to.
Nancy longed to be bold and courageous enough to walk up and introduce herself, but she couldn't. She had been at the school for more than three weeks and still felt as if she didn't fit in.
Hoping no one saw her, she shielded herself quietly behind a tall oak tree near the blacktop. It was the widest one on the playground, but close enough to the pavement to give an almost perfect view of the daily jumping action. Silently, she counted how many times Tanya Gordon's left foot touched the ground without missing a beat. The moves she made looked impossible. Yet, Nancy witnessed her do them over and over again. And Tanya did them with ease. She had to be one of the best jumpers in the whole school. No one would ever try and challenge that. Tanya was the tallest girl in class and probably the strongest too. She also had to be the meanest girl at Grover Cleveland as well. The "old Tanya" had a reputation for settling disputes on the playground with her fists. If you looked at her the wrong way, it was "on." But one special day after a regular trip to the principal's office, a "new Tanya" emerged. Principal Redshaw was quick to tell Tanya that she needed to find another way to control her anger. At Mrs. Richards' suggestion, he asked her what she liked to do. "Jump Double Dutch," she said.
"Maybe you can show some of the other girls how to jump too," he proposed.
Tanya thought about his suggestion. "Don't have any ropes."
"I'm sure we can find ropes for you. I must tell you, though," he said sternly, "if you're sent to my office again because you've been fighting, the consequences will be severe."
Tanya didn't bother to ask what Principal Redshaw meant by "severe." She didn't want to risk losing those ropes. Since that time almost a year ago, not only had she become one of the best jumpers, but she also had become leader of the group. The "new Tanya" didn't fight and had a new passion, jumping Double Dutch. However, being mean still came very natural to her.
Whenever the girls got together, it was Tanya who would take charge. In fact, she was the one who would make up many of the Double Dutch routines. To Nancy's eye, it was as beautiful as some kind of dance. The rhythms were exact, and the steps were executed ever so smoothly. She was amazed at how Tanya made the whole thing look so easy.
Nancy convinced herself that there had to be something wonderful and mysterious inside those ropes. In a moment, Nancy closed her eyes and imagined herself jumping inside the ropes with the same kind of confidence she'd seen on Tanya's face. Inside the swirling ropes, she could lose herself just like she did when she listened to Mrs. Richards read those great stories. She could let go of the haunting thoughts from her past. Thoughts that followed her everywhere she went. Thoughts that wouldn't let go no matter how hard she tried to escape them. She remembered how her mother, so thin and frail, kept shouting for her to run and not look back. Her weakened voice was like fuel to Nancy. It enabled her to keep going. As long as she could hear her, she knew she could keep running. "God will keep you safe." Those were the last words she ever heard her mother speak. She wondered if that same God who her mother said would keep her safe had come with her to America.
Nancy was so caught up in reflecting that she didn't realize that the ropes had suddenly stopped turning.
"Hey you ...!" one of the girls called out. "You there standing behind the tree!"
It was Rachel Carter. She rarely jumped Double Dutch herself, but no one could turn like she could. She made turning the ropes look like a work of art. "Wanna turn for a while?"
Nancy turned around to see if anyone else was standing behind her. "Me?"
"Yeah, you wanna turn or not?"
Without thinking, Nancy rushed over and quickly picked up the ends of the ropes. Lindsey Russo stood at the other end still holding the rope ends in her hands. Her expression displayed her amazement. "Quit playing, Rachel. That girl doesn't know anything about turning these ropes. Look at how she's holding them," she said, pointing. "When did we get that desperate?"
In spite of the conversation going on between Rachel and Lindsey, Nancy still couldn't help but feel important. Two of the jumpers were having a disagreement about her. How could she not feel a certain sense of value? But in an instant, she asked herself a very critical question: What do I do now? She hadn't been at Grover Cleveland long, but she'd been there long enough to know that the girls who jumped Double Dutch didn't ask just anyone to join them. Maybe they just wanted to get a good laugh at her expense.
Nancy wrapped the ends of the ropes around her hands just the way she'd seen Rachel do it. Maybe the ground will open up and just swallow me whole, she thought. Surely that was better than having the other girls see her at what could be her worst moment.
"Wait a minute!" a voice racing toward them yelled. It was Carla Rodriquez, and everyone knew she was the person who had the idea to jump rope during recess in the first place. If Carla didn't want you touching those ropes, you didn't touch them. Nancy had seen her in class. Like Tanya, she wasn't very friendly either. If there were a prize for the moodiest girl in class, Carla would be the winner. There wasn't much you could say to her without running the risk of getting your feelings hurt.
"Who's this?" she demanded, pointing at Nancy.
"She's the new girl in our classroom," Rachel told her.
Nancy kept quiet, although amazed that after almost a month in Mrs. Richards' class, they still considered her to be "the new girl."
"What's she doing with the ropes." Carla asked.
"We needed somebody to turn for us, and you weren't here. And Ming's not in school today. Besides, we needed another person to help us out."
Nancy wished Ming Li had been there instead of Carla. Ming was nice to everyone, and she always had a smile. She had come to Grover Cleveland three years ago from Beijing, China. In that short time, she had mastered the English language. She too was one of the best jumpers in the group, and she didn't mind telling the others that the art of jumping Double Dutch began in China many years ago. Lindsey had said it was the Dutch who started it. The other girls didn't really care who had started the game; they were just glad that someone had.
There was an ongoing rivalry between Ming and Tanya. But it was a rivalry that only seemed to make each of them better jumpers. If Ming came up with a new routine, you could bet that Tanya would soon have a new routine to share as well.
"I'm here now!" Carla said, snatching the ropes away from Nancy. "Probably can't turn no way," she grumbled.
Nancy couldn't believe she found the courage to respond. With all the voice she could muster, she yelled, "I can too!"
Why she had even bothered to say anything was a wonder. Every eye on the playground was fixed on her. Even the girls who played on the swings and the group who only sat and talked had come over to see what was going on. Surely they knew if this new girl had the guts to speak up like she did to Carla, she had to know her stuff. Unfortunately, she had played right into Carla's hands.
Carla picked up the ropes and walked back toward Nancy. A peculiar grin covered her entire face. "Well, turn then," she said, handing the ropes back to Nancy.
Nancy slowly began to wrap the ropes around her wrists. First she did the right, and then the left. She'd seen it done so many times. She wanted to at least feel confident about that.
"So here's your big chance!" Carla bellowed.
"She'll do okay," Rachel said. "Go ahead, Nancy-turn the ropes."
Nancy felt a little better knowing that at least one person believed she could do what she said. Silently, she said a prayer. She remembered how the Christian missionaries had taught her mother to pray, and in turn, her mother had shared that teaching with her. They had told her mother of God's great power, and how He had the ability to hear prayers no matter where a person might be. They said if she believed she could experience joy in times when there was none. She could be at peace in any situation. Oh, how Nancy needed this God of her mother and the missionaries to hear her prayers now.
She hadn't even begun to turn, but could feel her palms sweating. Her wrists stiffened as though frozen. Fear had overtaken her. Everyone was laughing and pointing at the girl who wanted so badly to be part of a group that didn't seem to want her. Without looking at anyone, she dropped the ropes and ran back to class. Only seconds later, the bell rang signaling the end of recess. Nancy felt she had missed the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only had she let Rachel down; she felt as if she had let God down as well. Maybe if she had believed a little harder, something special would have happened. All she could do was pray that one day they both might give her another chance.
Chapter TwoThe Tutor
Two weeks passed quickly, and everything was right back where it started. No one said anything to Nancy about joining the group during recess, and she continued to stand behind the tree and watch from afar. Her grades in reading continued to suffer. From where Nancy stood, nothing was getting any better. She felt like she was never going to improve, and maybe now would be a good time to give up.
Mrs. Richards must have sensed the deep frustration Nancy was feeling, because she had an interesting idea. She told Ming and Nancy to sit at a table in the back of the room and take turns reading parts of that day's story to each other. Without any disagreement or delay, Ming stood up with her book in hand and headed for the table. Even though every head was down and the other students appeared totally engaged in the assignment, Nancy could feel every eye in the room watching them. In spite of the scrutiny she felt, Nancy likewise stood up and followed Ming to the table in the back of the room. The girls sat down and opened their books to the selection Mrs. Richards had written on the board.
Nancy didn't want to read first. She was extremely nervous and didn't want to explain. She hoped somehow that Ming would understand.
"You go first," Nancy suggested.
Ming looked at her with her usual cheery smile. "Okay!" She began to read, and Nancy found herself again slipping into that peaceful place she'd created when she listened to Mrs. Richards. She obviously wasn't keeping her place, because when Ming came to a stop at the end of the first page, Nancy was surprised.
"Your turn," Ming said sweetly.
"Oh, yeah," Nancy replied, as she struggled to find her place.
Ming pointed her finger to the top of the next page. "Right here," she said.
"Thank you." Nancy put her finger under the first word on the page and began moving her lips to sound out the words. Not one single word came out of her mouth.
"How about I say the words and you say them after me?" Ming suggested.
Nancy nodded her head yes, saying each word after Ming.
The rest of the class had finished when the girls brought their books up to Mrs. Richards. "Thank you, Ming, for helping Nancy, and thank you, Nancy, for helping Ming. You may take your seats."
What an interesting thing for Mrs. Richards to say, Nancy thought. She thanked her for helping Ming. How had she done that? she wondered. Everyone knew Ming was an excellent reader. Nevertheless, it made Nancy feel good to know she may have done something to help someone else, even if she didn't know what it was.
When it was time for recess, as usual, Nancy was the last person to leave the room. As she stepped outside the door, she was surprised to see Ming standing there.
"Do you want to learn to jump?" she asked.
Nancy couldn't believe what she was hearing. Had Ming read her thoughts and seen what was in her heart?
"Yes!" she said. The excitement she felt showed all over her face. "Will you teach me?"
"We'll help each other. Just like the reading."
Again, Nancy didn't know how she was helping the situation, but the offer was too good to pass up. "But what about the others? Will it be okay if I ..."
Excerpted from Just Jump! by Mabel Elizabeth Singletary Copyright © 2007 by Mabel Elizabeth Singletary . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Just Jump In!
2. The Tutor
3. The Notice
4. Good News
5. The Sponsor
6. Getting Ready
8. Surprise Package
9. Meet Edith Hughes
10. Let's Get Ready
11. Ready or Not, Here We Come
12. This Is the Day!
13. Look Up and Look Out!
14. Make It Count!
15. Best of the Show
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love this book it isso good ad I would get it if I were you