Planning the Impossible

Planning the Impossible

by Mavis Jukes


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Ugh! Mrs. Furley wanted the Human Interaction Class to discuss a boy's changes? Twelve-year-old River was having a hard enough time just figuring out how to humanly interact with the real people in her life. Like, she was happy that D.B. was her sort-of boyfriend, but now Kirstin was always flirting with him! And River was happy her friend Margaret had found a boyfriend, but then Noah passed River a note asking her to phone him at home. What was that about? Sure River wanted to keep Kirstin from D.B. and Margaret with Noah, but did it all have to be so confusing?

Notes passed from girls to boys and boys to girls and girls to girls, dating and mating, flirting and posing—River could never have guessed that talking to a boy would be so difficult.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440412304
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 12/12/2000
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.16(w) x 7.64(h) x 0.46(d)
Age Range: 10 - 12 Years

About the Author

Mavis Jukes has written many books for young readers, including Expecting the Unexpected and It's a Girl Thing.  She lives in California with her husband, and she is the mother of two daughters.

Read an Excerpt

WHO'S CLASS COURIER?" Mr. Elmo mumbled. He looked at the job list written on the board.

This is ridiculous, thought River. "I am," she told him.

Mr. Elmo held up a stack of flyers. "I would like you to make sure every upper-grade teacher has one of these to post before the end of the day. And please give Mrs. Bagley one for the office bulletin board."

"Okay," said River.

He put the stack on his desk. "Alrighty, then." He helped himself to the one on top and carefully hung it from a clip above the board. fourth annual powwow at the park was written above a photo of a Native American man in spectacular dance regalia.

"For those of you who are interested in beefing up your social studies grade," said Mr. Elmo, looking straight at Henry, "you can get twenty culture points for attending the powwow. It's this Saturday, in Live Oak Park."

Beefing up? What a distasteful expression—especially for a vegetarian, which River sometimes was. Unless an Indian taco got within snapping distance.

River didn't need to beef any grades up; she was a straight-A student. But she'd gone to every last powwow with her mom, dad and older sister, Megan. She even knew one of the Pomo dancers; they'd gone to preschool together.

Yup. River would be going to the powwow again this year. And scarfin' down an Indian taco. Mmmmm-mmmm. Spiced ground beef and garlic, refried beans, diced tomatoes, lettuce, grated cheese and hot sauce— and onions—on fry bread. Wait a minute! The powwow was this weekend? Well, that sucks, she told herself.

River not only had to miss the All-Stars baseball practice on Friday after school—now she'd also have tomiss the powwow. All because Aunt Colleen was coming to San Francisco from Chicago! Darn it anyway!

"Uh—Mr. Elmo?" said Kirstin. "My guidebook group can't go to that powwow thing." She paused. "We'll all be chillin' at our limo party this Saturday."

Like anybody cares, thought River.

"And there's no way we're rescheduling," said Kirstin. "We're totally psyched about finishing the party guide. The only thing we can't really figure out is, like, whether to call our guidebook Guide to a Sweet Ride or How to Have a Limo Blast." She surveyed the class with a self-satisfied expression.

"Kirstin?" said Mr. Elmo. "Why shouldn't having a limo shindig include attending a powwow for an hour? Any limo driver worth his salt will know his way to Live Oak Park."

"Mr. Elmo?" said a small voice.

"E-e-e-e-yes, Margaret?"

"I have a complaint."

"Well, hang on, Margaret. I haven't even got the schedule up and you're already griping." Mr. Elmo turned his back and began writing the day's schedule on the board. A little tuft of gray hair was poking out of the hole in the back of his Orioles cap, between the plastic strap and the fabric.


River opened up the clasp envelope that held the first draft of her group's Guidebook for Sixth-Grade Parents. She located the sheet of paper that said Unacceptable Expressions for Adults to Use in the Presence of Preadolescents and wrote alrighty, then, beefing up, worth his salt and shindig at the bottom of the list.

Then she quickly flipped to the first draft of the rules section of the guidebook and, in the margin, jotted down No hair poking out of hats. She nibbled on her bottom lip for a minute and added No allowing hat to squash down hair and make it stick to head. Once on, leave hat on.

This rule pertained to River's father, who actually had hair.

Not Elmo. Who had fringe. She glanced up at the schedule Mr. Elmo was writing. So far, so good—except that it was a Furley morning.

During most of the sixth grade, three mornings a week, for one hour per morning, all sixth-graders at Franklin School who had turned in parent permission slips were subjected to the cheerful yapping of Mrs. Gladys B. Furley, R.N.

Mrs. Furley had already taught the students more information than any of them wanted to know about Human Interaction, a.k.a. Sex Ed. And now that the year was almost over, Furley was turning up the heat: The woman was showing up as many as four times a week, to review. As if the information weren't bad enough the first time through!

"Okle dokle," said Mr. Elmo. "Any questions about today's activities?"

"We need more time for guidebooks," said Jules.

River added okle dokle to the Unacceptable Expressions list.

"But I'm always getting squeezed by your group for more guidebook time," said Mr. Elmo. "Use time wisely, Jules; plan, plan, plan—don't always expect extensions. Meet deadlines; you're practically in junior high!"

River added plan, plan, plan and wisely to the list.

"Yeah," said Kirstin. "'Cause, like, no offense, Jules, but your guidebook group should get organized. The limo group's megaorganized. We don't need more time. Why should you?"

The class grew very quiet.

"Twenty more minutes, then," said Mr. Elmo suddenly. "If you really think it's necessary, Jules." He began revising the schedule on the board.

River smiled to herself. One point for Jules, and none for Kirstin. Or: one point for Jules's group, which included River, and a big fat zero for the limo group.

Ha! This was turning out to be quite a good day already.

Just think: twenty extra minutes of working with—mmmmm! mmmmm!—DB. And the rest of the kids in the guidebook group: Jules, the leader; Henry, who liked Jules; Margaret, River's childhood friend; and Noah, Margaret's boyfriend.

River only regretted that her best friend, Candace, hadn't yet returned from her trip to Hawaii. Candace would have been able to provide invaluable insight for a guidebook for sixth-grade parents. Not only had she been able to expand the Take Our Daughters to Work Day concept into an extended outing at a landscaping conference on the island of Oahu, but she had done such an excellent job of modifying her parents' behavior that they could be taken anywhere.

Even to a luau on the beach!

But even without Candace, River loved guidebook time. And the Guidebook for Sixth-Grade Parents was coming along very nicely, if she did say so herself. Each and every student in her group had made at least one valuable contribution. Except Margaret, who was still too immature to understand why a Parent Behavior Modification Plan needed to be put in place.

River admired their long list of carefully drafted rules.

What a masterful document! There should be one on every bookshelf. And maybe there would be. According to Mr. Elmo's plan, each parent, student, friend or family member who came to Franklin School to attend the Sixth-Grade Farewell Event would be given a hundred Book Bucks and a chance to spend them on guidebooks, how-to books or other informational materials that Mr. Elmo's students had written, edited, designed, illustrated and published.

River's group was bound to sell every last copy—if not to the parents of sixth-graders, then to the sixth-grade students themselves.

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