Read an Excerpt
Maeve on the Red Carpet
Fortune Cookie Fabulous
My personal stretch limo, very pink of course, and decked out in plushy velvet seats, is pulling up to the crowd of fans and photographers outside the theater. Lights, camera, action! The red carpet is rolled out before me … little moi! Be still my heart! A white-gloved hand taps on my window—it’s my cue. Someone very handsome opens the door. I step out to the “click, click, click” of cameras. The fans are screaming. They hope for a smile, a wave, or an autograph. Naturally, I oblige. Are you kidding? I LIVE for this moment! “Maeve, who are you wearing?” “Are the rumors true? Is Maevonardo finally tying the knot?” “Maeve, are you really selling your mansion in Malibu?” “Smile, Maeve!” “Maeve, is it true you’ve been asked to play the role of Eliza Doolittle in the remake of My Fair Lady?”
“Maeve, why are you drawing a gigantic pink marshmallow?” asked my brainiac little brother, Sam. I was sitting at the kitchen table, right in the middle of my all-time fave movie star fantasy … until Sam’s rude question popped it.
I threw my arms over my notebook. “It’s NOT a marshmallow, Sam. I’m trying to design the perfect dress for my future movie premiere. If I’m going to be a famous star, I have to totally look the part … helloooo?”
Sam leaned in again. “Well you sorta look more like a pink s’more than a famous star. Sorry.” He smiled sweetly. How could someone so adorable be so annoying?
Obviously, the picture was supposed to be me. I mean, the girl in it had long red curls like me. I thought my dress looked just faaaaabulous. It was a flapper dress, vintage style. (The flappers were the “it girls” of the 1920s who wore lots of pearls with short, loose dresses—awesome for dancing in!) Classic vintage is so timeless! I sighed dreamily.
But when I looked down, I saw the terrible, terrible truth—Sam was right. My design was definitely coming out more like a pink s’more than a red carpet–worthy outfit. I chewed the end of my pen. “Okay, Sam, I know. How about when I’m famous, I’ll just make Katani my personal stylist!” I clapped my hands together. “Voilà. Problem solved.” Katani is the fashionista of the BSG. The BSG stands for the Beacon Street Girls. It’s kind of like a best friends club. There are five of us in all—Avery, Charlotte, Isabel, Katani, and moi—Maeve Kaplan-Taylor.
“I told you it looked funny.” Sam pretended to start walking away and then dropped to the floor. “Stealth mission!” he shouted and slithered toward me on his elbows. He reminded me of a pygmy copperhead snake. (I saw a picture of one in my science book once.)
“Eeew! Sam!” I shrieked. “Get off the kitchen floor! That’s so gross.”
Sam’s life goal—so far—was to be an Army dude. In fact, he was pretty much obsessed. I thought it was kind of weird for a seven-year-old, but it seemed like adults thought it was cute or something. Whenever Sam wore his Army camouflage and crawled behind the furniture, my mom would say, “Don’t you just love that little cutie?” Of course I loved that little cutie, but seriously, I’d had about all the Army stuff I could handle.
Just then, I heard a “bonk” from underneath the table. A tiny hand shot up and snatched my notebook. “Mission accomplished!” Sam cried. “Headquarters, alert! Headquarters, alert! The eagle has landed! Repeat, the eagle has landed!”
“Sam! That’s mine! Give it back!” My little brother was really good at school and pretending to be an Army guy, but his best talent was definitely being a major tease. I grabbed my notebook and pulled it as hard as I could. Sam pulled too. “I said give it back …” We were both yanking with all our might, when suddenly the front door burst open.
“Mom!” Sam exclaimed, letting go of the notebook. “Saaaaam!” I went flying backward and landed flat on the kitchen floor, hugging the notebook to my chest. “Ooof. Thanks for that.”
“Maeve, Sam, what is going on here?” Mom’s hood was over her head and her tan coat was soaked with slushy snow. She was holding a huge brown bag with a tinier plastic bag of dressings and soy sauce stapled to the top. That could only mean one thing.
“Chinese food!” I cried. “Wow, Mom, thanks!”
“Whoa, Mom. You rock.” Sam beamed at Mom and she beamed right back. Takeout Chinese was an instant hit, as everyone in the Kaplan-Taylor household loved Chinese food. Mom was a chicken lo mein person, the scallion pancakes were my personal fave, and Sam liked the moo shu pork. It was perfect. I just loved it when everyone agreed!
Mom plopped the bag down and pulled down her hood. I blinked. For a split second, I barely recognized her. “Oh my gosh! Mom, your hair!” I gasped.
Mom had gotten her shoulder-length brown hair cut into a wispy chin-length bob. And … it had blond streaks in it! Mom looked at me with worried eyes and glanced at her reflection in the hallway mirror.
“I know. I went a little crazy today at the salon. I just needed a change. Does it look terrible?”
I almost laughed out loud. I’d never seen my mom nervous about her hair before. In fact, as the redheaded, curly-haired drama queen of the family, I was always the one asking for hair feedback. (Believe me, one wrong move and it was frizz city.) But now that Mom’s new look was sinking in, I had to admit—I really did like it.
“Terrible? Are you kidding me? It’s totally stunning! Très retro, Mom!” I wasn’t sure what “très retro” meant exactly, but I knew it was a compliment. I think. I picked it up from a fashion article in my latest Teen Beat magazine.
Mom laughed and ruffled her new short ’do as she primped in the mirror.
“I think you look beautiful all the time, Mom,” Sam added, probably trying to out-compliment me. Typical! I opened my mouth to say something not-so-nice to Sam, but then I decided it was a much better idea to fill it with something delish instead.
“Scallion pancakes, please!” I reached into the bag, grabbed the carton, took a deep breath, and then—a giant bite. Mmm, mmm. Crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, and crunchy all around. Perfecto!
“Ah, ah, ah, young lady. Plate, please … and chopsticks?” Mom pointed at me and Sam.
“Mom … there’s no time for chopsticks. Please pass the forks!” Sam declared between bites. He was totally right. Both of us were already munching away. We were waaaay past the point of chopsticks.
“Yikes,” Mom shook her head and her newly cropped hair. “You’d think you two were raised in a barn.”
“Actually, I was raised right above a very famous theater. Hello? Does the Movie House ring a bell? And I happen to have fabulous manners, thank you. I mean, I’ll need them for the Oscars some day.”
“Oh, is that a fact?” Mom hurried us along to the table. “Well then, when you’re at the Oscars I suggest you chew with your mouth closed. And will you say hi to George Clooney for me?”
I giggled. “Okay.” George Clooney was my mom’s favorite actor.
As much as I loved the scallion pancakes and everything, the part of Chinese takeout I really looked forward to was dessert. It was the most exciting, because dessert meant fortune cookies, and fortune cookies meant reading FORTUNES. I saved my favorite fortune ever in my jewelry box. I had to. It said, “You are destined to see your name in lights.” Then—you won’t believe this—the next day I got the lead role in the school play! Totally weird, right?
I grabbed a cookie and squeezed my eyes shut. “Dear goddess of fabulousness, please let my fortune be fabulous,” I whispered to myself. Maybe it would have to do with romance … or something about becoming a huge movie star. Either one was fine by me. I cracked the cookie in two and pulled out the strip of paper inside.
“AHEM,” I coughed. I loved reading out loud and performing, but I had to make sure I got all the words right first. I have this thing called dyslexia—it’s a learning disability—oops, I mean learning challenge—and can be a little annoying. Even though I know I’m pretty smart, reading, writing, and spelling can be hard for me. It especially doesn’t help that Sam is a like a mini-genius in school. I concentrated very hard on the fortune, hoping that I’d get the words perfect on the first try.
I took a deep breath. “New and exciting things will be happening in your future.” I groaned. “Oh no. That could mean anything. I wanted to hear real news, like: ‘You are most definitely going to be a major star.’”
“Now, Maeve, new and exciting things … that’s a fun one!” Mom was trying to be supportive, but I still felt tragically disappointed.
“Mom, puhleeease. What do I have to look forward to—a long school vacation stuck at home doing nothing. I have one word for you: BORING.” I was still feeling sorry for myself because I was the only one of the BSG not doing something fun over winter break. In two weeks, all my friends would be off on their special vacations. Avery was going snowboarding in Colorado, Katani was staying with her cousin in New York City and taking fashion design classes, Charlotte was going on a trip to Montreal with her dad, and Isabel was visiting her father in Detroit. I would officially be the only BSG left here in boring, old Boston. Not exactly the life of a future movie star.
Even my little brother had cool plans … at least, cool for him. Grandpa was taking Sam on a tour of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where this big Civil War battle was fought. Sam was beyond excited. All week he’d been running around the house yelling, “Four score and seven years ago … CHARGE!” Whatever that was supposed to mean.
My fortune probably should’ve said “Danger, Maeve Kaplan-Taylor! Outlook B-O-R-I-N-G, boring!” Why, oh why, was life so unfair?
I turned to Sam. “What does your fortune say?”
Sam rubbed his tummy. “Don’t know. I think I ate the paper.” I made a face at him. “Just kidding!” He grinned. Sam opened his mouth—full of half-eaten cookie. Ugh. Boys were soooo rude. “My fortune said I will be famous beyond my wildest dreams. Score!” Sam pumped his fist in the air and ran out of the room.
“Soooo unfair,” I moaned, burying my head on the kitchen table.
Just then, a gust of wind blasted into the kitchen. Who was standing like an icicle in the doorway but … Dad, with a huge grin on his face.
“Ross!” Mom leapt up from the table immediately. “What are you doing here?” She twirled her new short, blond hair. My parents separated a few months ago and they still acted kind of funny when they were around each other. Right now, Mom was trying to look annoyed that Dad had dropped in unexpectedly but I could tell she secretly was happy about it. She was using her fake-angry voice—the same one she used on me when I sang show tunes too loudly in my room.
“Carol, I have the most exciting news.” My dad threw his arms in the air. “You’re going to have to sit down. You too, Maeve.”
I laughed. “But I’m already sitting!” Dad could be way over-dramatic about good news … just like me.
“Okay. I have two words for you,” Dad paused for dramatic effect. “Film camp.”
“Film camp?” Mom and I repeated at the same time.
Dad nodded, looking even more goofy and excited. “A film camp! At the Movie House!”
“Oh!” I cried and sprang out of my chair to give Dad a hug. “It’s brilliant!” I didn’t know what film camp meant exactly, but I knew it had to do with making movies. And if it had to do with making movies, I would definitely love it.
But Mom didn’t look as excited. “Ross …” She shook her head and said in a quiet voice, “We can’t afford—I mean, you can’t afford—I mean … film camp?”
“Carol, you are absolutely right.” Dad smiled. “We can’t afford to run a film camp. But the New York Film Academy can!”
“A film camp! At the Movie House! It’s brilliant!”
For a second my heart nearly stopped in my chest. What was going on? Why was Dad still smiling?
“A film camp! At the Movie House! It’s brilliant!”
Then his smile got even wider. “And … there’s more. Carol, have you ever heard of Walter Von Krupcake? As in Krupcake’s Pies and Cakes Incorporated? As in … the Krupcake King himself?”
“Wait a minute, Ross. You know the Krupcake King?” Mom gasped.
“Mom! Everybody knows the Krupcake King!” I exclaimed. “He’s on TV, like, all the time.” I cleared my throat, pretended to put on a giant whipped cream crown—like the Krupcake King wore in his commercials —and recited in a proper voice, “It’s the krup that makes a cake for a king.”
Dad grinned and his eyes widened. “Exactly! Wow, Maeve, very good.”
“Thanks.” I shrugged. I had to admit, I was pretty famous for my impressions.
Dad went on, “Carol, I don’t just know the Krupcake King … you’re looking at his new business partner! The New York Film Academy wanted to run a film camp here in Boston, but they needed a top-notch facility. Walter Von Krupcake—who has Hollywood connections and still lives in Boston—has offered to make the Movie House a little … you know …”
“Cooler?” Sam piped.
Dad patted Sam on the head. “Thanks for that, son. The theater just needs a little sprucing up to accommodate a real film camp. And Mr. Von Krupcake is going to make the facility more accessible for people with disabilities … something I’ve been saving to do for the Movie House for a while now.”
Mom looked suspicious. She was always very careful not to get her hopes up. She liked to get all the facts straight first. “Spruce up the Movie House? In two weeks? Ross, don’t you think that’s a little … unrealistic?”
Dad shrugged. “That’s what I thought too. But Walter Von Krupcake assured me that it could be done. He’s bringing in his crew tomorrow to get started.” Dad’s eyes were wide. “You know, sometimes you just get lucky.”
“But that’s … that’s … huge …” I could see Mom’s mouth start to turn into a smile, then stop. “Wait. How are you going to get the equipment, Ross?”
“All provided courtesy of the New York Film Academy.” Dad grinned.
“And who’s going to sign up for this film camp on such short notice?”
“Ah-ha, Carol, I’m glad you asked. Mr. Von Krupcake says he already has a list of kids from all over Massachusetts. Apparently our wonderful city of Brookline has been crying out for a film camp for a long time!” Dad’s voice was full of excitement.
Sam and I giggled. My drama genes definitely came from my dad.
“Ross, that’s just wonderful!” Mom said, sounding a little surprised to hear the words coming out of her mouth.
“It’s absolutely fantabulous!” I agreed. “Wait, this does mean I get to go to film camp … right?”
Dad glanced at Mom. “Well, I don’t know … you already have so much on your plate, Maeve. Carol, what do you think?”
Before Mom had a chance to answer, the words started spilling out of my mouth. “Dad, are you kidding me? Movies are my life—my DREAM! And now there’s going to be a film camp downstairs in our very own Movie House and you’re—”
“Relax, Maeve, I was kidding. Of course you can go.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “Hey, no kidding about movies, remember?”
Dad laughed. “I’m sorry. How could I forget?”
I gave Mom and Dad a hug. “Listen, Dad, do you think I can be the star of the film? No, don’t tell me. I know I have to audition like everybody else. But maybe if you could put in a good word for me …”
Dad made a stressed-out face.
“Completely kidding! Oops!” I covered my mouth, realizing that I just broke my own rule.
“Well, kidding aside, the Film Academy is going to be in charge of casting decisions,” Dad said. “Which is a good thing.” He looked at Mom. “Turns out, the Krupcake King has a princess.”
“Ross …” Mom began.
“Hey! I know who you mean!” I exclaimed. “That’s that little blond girl who plays Princess Maddiecake in the commercial with the Krupcake King! She’s sooooo cute. At the end of the commercial she always says, ‘Remember Maddiecakes are chock full of Vitamin L … for Love!’ Oh, I adore her!”
“Well that Pastry Princess is coming to camp. She’s your age, Maeve, and apparently she wants to break into the world of film now.”
“Ross, I hope this doesn’t mean what I think it does …” Mom warned. “No special treatment …”
I looked back and forth between Mom and Dad.
Dad laughed, getting rid of any nervousness I was starting to feel. “No, Carol. I told you … the New York Film Academy is completely in charge of the camp, and they’re probably going to have an ensemble cast.” I knew what ensemble was—a group of stars instead of one big lead. Dad continued, “Maeve, you’re a very talented actress. I’m sure you’ll have nothing to worry about.”
“I’m sure too.” I laughed. It was very important to have confidence if you were going to be an actress. Dream big was what I always reminded myself.
“We’re going to have a lot of work to do these next few weeks, kiddo,” Dad told me. I kinda sorta had a feeling I was going to be his number-one helper. “I hope you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty,” he added.
I looked at my hands and faked a terrified face. Last night I painted my nails and they looked truly smashing. It was called “Sparkly Seashell Pink.” (I know—redheads are supposed to avoid pink like the plague, but I was born loving pink. I mean, it’s just what happened to me.) Plus, I had just bought some new pink bracelets from Think Pink—my main pink shopping headquarters—last weekend. I bit my lip and glanced at Dad. “Do I have to get my hands dirty?”
Dad and Mom looked at each other and at the same time answered, “YES.”
“Look at it this way,” Mom said. “Maybe your fortune cookie was right … there are new and exciting things happening in your future.”
“Starting with cleaning the Movie House bright and early tomorrow,” Dad chimed in. “The camp will be bringing in their equipment and I’d like the place to look spic and span.”
I smiled. There was simply no use pretending. I knew I wouldn’t mind the cleaning one bit if it meant FILM CAMP! Besides, with Sam off visiting Grandpa, I didn’t have to worry about any little brother annoyingness getting between me and the stage! Plus, the thought of having the camp at our very own Movie House, was, well … “UNBELIEVABLE!” I shouted out loud.
Dad winked at Mom. “I told you so.”
Mom shook her head but even she couldn’t keep a wide grin off her face.
“Hey, Carol …” Dad said, giving Mom a funny look. “Did you do something to your hair?”