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Martina Rivera has a remarkable imagination. But with two extroverted brothers at home, she’s always struggled to make a big impression on those around her. Life soon takes an exciting turn when Martina discovers the secret power of her sticker collection: They come to life! Among her magical sticker friends are Craig, a rambunctious talking cupcake; Nora, a karaoke-singing ladybug; and Lucinda, a very sleepy fairy. Will her new sticker friends help her overcome her shyness? Or will they get Martina in lots of trouble? Or both?! It’s time to meet Sticker Girl!
Bonus feature: sticker sheet featuring all the magic stickers from Book 1 packaged with the book!
A Christy Ottaviano Book
This title has Common Core connections.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Janet Tashjian, Inga Wilmink
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2016 Janet Tashjian
All rights reserved.
A Little About Me
Here's the thing about being shy: just because you're not bowling people over with your giant personality, they might think there's not a lot going on inside.
But they'd be wrong.
Quiet types have rich inner worlds — we just don't let everyone see them. At least that's how my mother explains my shyness to her friends when she thinks I'm not listening. (I usually am.)
Kids in my class may think there's no reason to sit with me at lunch or hang out during recess because I have nothing to add to their conversations about the latest app or a favorite band. They don't understand that I know every word to the newest songs, that I kill at Candy Crush, or that I've memorized chunks of dialogue from most Disney movies. No one would guess I'm a good singer like my mom or that I make up crazy stories like my abuelita.
My inner world is exciting and fun.
My outer world?
Not so much.CHAPTER 2
What I Love Most
I live with my family in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles. I'm the middle child, sandwiched between my older brother, Eric, and my younger brother, James. Their boy energy pretty much sucks the life out of the house, so I spend a lot of time in my room by myself.
Being alone is great once you get used to it, although I wouldn't mind having a best friend one of these days. I'm giving it some time since we moved here from San Diego last year. It's coming up on my twelve-month deadline soon, but I'm not worried. Yet.
I have a great imagination — sometimes I pretend my Chihuahua, Lily, is an injured soldier I have to save on the battlefield. Sometimes I make short videos of her talking in an Italian accent. My abuelita tells me I need to make more of an effort to find new friends who aren't Chihuahuas. I tell her I am happy to entertain myself, that I like keeping busy.
And my favorite way to keep busy is playing with stickers.
I don't just like stickers ...
Animal stickers, ballerina stickers, dragon stickers, voice bubble stickers — I have thousands of them.
I put stickers on notebooks, on clothes, on my bureau and my mirror and the shelves in my room. I put them on my mom's computer; I put them on my dad's bowling ball and my abuelita's gardening tools.
You could say that stickers keep me company when Eric is blasting music with his friends or James is dumping a box of cereal down the toilet. In the world of stickers, I'M the one in charge. Stickers don't judge you; they don't care if you're quiet or shy. My stickers keep me company while I'm eating lunch by myself at school.
I'm not sure where my life would be without them.CHAPTER 3
When Dad comes back from the restaurant convention, he has presents for all of us. Yay!
My dad has a beard and is kind of short; my brother Eric is already two inches taller. Dad's metabolism is fast, which is good because he needs a lot of energy to run his diner. Buying the diner was the reason we moved here from San Diego. My parents insist it's a great opportunity; they're probably right, but so far it has just been a lot of work.
Dad gives Eric a new case for his phone — his old one is worn, so you can barely see the Kings logo. Eric is fifteen, and I'm still not used to his skimpy new mustache. It's weird to see hair on the face of someone who drinks milk from the carton and whose feet smell like a moldy cheese factory.
James's eyes light up when Dad hands him a bright red plastic toolbox. James has mischievous eyes that always look like he's about to run into the street. He laughs a lot and has my father's turbo energy. He can crawl faster than any land mammal recorded in The Guinness Book of World Records.
I don't have to ask what Dad brought back for me — he gets me the same thing every time he goes away: a new sheet of stickers.
"It was strange," Dad says. "I stopped at this roadside store on a back road near Pomona. This old woman with long gray hair gave me directions to the highway. She had a tattoo of a peacock on her hand and a mysterious smile. She handed me this sheet of stickers and said, 'Your daughter will love these.'"
"How did she know you had a daughter?"
Dad holds up his phone with the screenshot of all of us at the beach. "I guess she noticed my phone when I was picking out James's toolbox. She wouldn't let me pay for either of them."
FREE stickers and toys? Even better. The stickers are faded, as if they've been sitting in the store window for years.
Mom comes in with an armload of groceries. "William, you spoil these kids!"
It's a running joke between them — anyone looking inside our house with its second-hand furniture and homemade curtains would know we're hardly spoiled. But there's no one better than my mom at stretching two paychecks as far as possible. Some people might say Mom is cheap, but I've always looked at her as creative. Not everyone can weave together plastic strawberry baskets into a sturdy end table or upholster dining room chairs with burlap from bags of rice. Sometimes she goes too far — disassembling James's toys to save the life of the batteries — but most of the time I'm in awe of her imagination.
A lot of other moms wear their shirts untucked or wear yoga pants in the pickup line at school, but my mom always wears a freshly ironed shirt tucked into a nice pair of "slacks." (Her word, not mine.) Both my parents speak fluent Spanish, but Mom also speaks Portuguese because the insurance company she's worked at for years is based in Brazil. Even when she's overworked, Mom rarely gets angry or impatient. My father's personality is more fiery, like my abuelita. Mom is super organized. People say I take after her, and I guess I do.
"And this is for you, mi amor." My father hands Mom a box of individually wrapped dark chocolates. She knows he probably got them as a giveaway at the restaurant convention, but she loves chocolate and loves my dad, so she kisses him and makes a fuss over how fantastic they are.
I help Mom unpack the groceries until she shoos me away to do my homework.
But homework is the last thing on my mind.CHAPTER 4
It takes several minutes to decide which sticker to use first. I finally choose the rainbow to put on my keychain. (Rainbow is my favorite color!)
But something about this sheet feels different. As soon as I start peeling, the sticker begins to rumble. There's a swooshing sound, and a puff of confetti explodes from the sticker sheet.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
The sticker transforms into a
(Yes — the sticker becomes real, in the middle of my room.)
I stare at the multicolored arch spanning from the window to the door, then let out a blood-curdling scream. "DAD! A rainbow!"
"That's funny — it wasn't supposed to rain." My dad comes down the hall, sorting through the mail without looking up.
"THE RAINBOW STICKER IS REAL!"
"I thought the images were lifelike too."
I gaze at the blue, green, and yellow stripes covering my room. "Dad, LOOK!"
My father picks up his ringing cell and goes to the kitchen to take the call.
I suddenly wonder if other stickers will come to life now too. I pull out my roll of horse stickers, my sheets of farmyard animals and candy stickers. Is there going to be a horse in my room? Because that would be AWESOME! But the horses, barns, and jelly beans lie limp in my hands after I peel them. I open my eyes wide. The rainbow still glistens over my bed.
The next sticker on the new sheet is a skateboard.
I remove it from the backing, slowly. Gently.
I clench my eyes, almost afraid.
As soon as the sticker leaves the page, it transforms into a real in my hands.
THIS IS INSANE!
My mother runs into the room chasing my brother James, who carries an armload of her shoes. "Martina, stop screaming. You're scaring your brother." James is drooling on the rug and throwing shoes; he doesn't seem too scared to me.
Mom glances at the skateboard in my hands. "I'm so glad you're going to get some exercise! Make sure you wear a helmet and pads." My brother drops the shoes and tries to grab the skateboard.
"Mom, this skateboard was a sticker — it just came to life!"
She barely pays attention as she wipes my brother's chin. "Lots of people decorate skateboards with stickers, and given how much you love them, I wouldn't expect anything else." She's so busy trying to grab James that she doesn't notice she's standing underneath a rainbow.
Mom races down the hall after my brother and I realize my parents are never going to believe I have magical stickers. It looks like I'll be keeping the power of these amazing stickers to myself — which is perfectly fine with me.CHAPTER 5
My New Best Friends
I'm as thrifty as my mom, so nothing makes me feel worse than waste. And with only eight magic stickers left on the sheet, I have to use each one CAREFULLY.
It takes me a while to fade the rainbow so my parents don't discover it. I finally succeed with my hair dryer. (Thank you, last year's science fair!)
I kick off my sneakers and jump on my bed to examine the rest of the stickers.
These stickers look like they're just itching for me to peel them off.
But I can't.
I wrap the sheet inside several tissues, then slip it into a gift bag and hide it in an empty shoebox in my closet. I need to savor the stickers, make them last — at least until I get Dad to take me back to that store with the mysterious old lady.
I'm too excited to do homework, so I make sure Eric's not home before sneaking into the garage to grab my bike helmet and his knee pads. I've only skateboarded a few times and never successfully. But this is my own skateboard, so I'll have lots of time to practice.
I make sure no cars are coming, then jump on.
The craziest part isn't that I'm riding on a skateboard that used to be a sticker. The crazy part is, I'm good. I skate around the parked cars, down the hill, and expertly turn at the bottom of the street.
A guy wearing earbuds walking his dog gives me a thumbs-up as I whiz by.
I can skateboard!
I have magic stickers!
I have a PEGASUS!!
I'm a nine-year-old with superpowers! I am magic! I am special!CHAPTER 6
Even Sticker Girl Can Have a Bad Day
I suppose some kids couldn't wait to bring magical stickers into show-and-tell, but not me — I'm definitely going to keep my secret identity hidden. The last thing I want to do is attract attention and having supernatural stickers doesn't change that one bit.
On the bus, I open my pack several times to make sure my stickers are safe. (Of COURSE I decided to bring them to school — wouldn't you?) Even with magic in my backpack, I still sit by myself and observe the other kids as if it's just a regular day.
It's not like I'm trying to eavesdrop on my classmate Bev as we ride, but she talks with so much energy, it's difficult not to listen. She entertains two rows of kids with a story about a skunk trapped in her garage. It's hard not to laugh when she acts out her panic-stricken mother, the frightened skunk, and her father running around the yard after being sprayed. I almost want to applaud when she's finished, not just because the story's funny but because Bev is so confident. I'd give anything to be like that in the world.
I've never talked to Bev, but she seems nice. She's taller than I am, which maybe accounts for all that confidence. Her hair's blond and long, but the back of it never seems brushed as if she's got a million more important things to do in the morning. And she totally exaggerates. Once I heard her make up a story about one of the most popular boys in our class — Mike Belmont — knocking her over in the hall. I was there when it happened — he barely grazed her — but the story made it sound like the opening scene of a funny new reality show. If my inner world is exciting like Mom says, Bev's outer world is.
* * *
At school, Ms. Graham starts by talking about things going on in the news. Ms. Graham has the deepest dimples I've ever seen, on both cheeks. Her hair is salt-and-pepper gray, but sometimes she gets it highlighted. This week it's black and white and kind of orange too.
"There's some national news happening in Los Angeles this week — does anybody know what it is?" she asks.
I'm sure she's talking about the Olympic tryouts, but I don't raise my hand. In fact, I've never raised my hand in Ms. Graham's or any teacher's class since I've been at this school.
"Somebody must know," Ms. Graham continues. "There are signs up everywhere."
Even though Tommy and Lisa are now waving their arms in the air, Ms. Graham zeroes in on me. "Any ideas, Martina?"
I've been wondering how long it will take for Ms. Graham to figure out that I know the answers to a lot of her questions but don't have the courage to speak in front of the class. I smile and shrug as if I don't have a clue.
Ms. Graham continues to ignore Tommy and Lisa and returns my smile. "How about if I give you a hint?"
I don't need a hint. I need you to call on someone else! I feel my cheeks burn, and when I look around the room, several of my classmates are staring.
Ms. Graham looks at me with kindness and tells me to take my time.
I know she spoke to my mother last month about me "coming out of my shell," but why do I have to do it now? I've done a good job of keeping a low profile, and I'd like it to stay that way. When I look around at my classmates' faces, I realize if I don't answer, they might think I'm a dope.
The Olympic tryouts, I want to say. Athletes from all over the world are here.
But I don't say that. I doodle in my notebook, not meeting my teacher's eyes.
Ms. Graham nods, then calls on Tommy.
"Olympic tryouts!" Tommy answers.
I focus on my paper as if I'm writing the most important sentence in the world. What if my answer was wrong? What if someone made a joke? Without looking up, I glance to the next row, where Lisa and Bev are still looking at me. Their expressions aren't mean, just curious. They probably wonder why I can't answer the simplest of questions. They probably wonder what I'm afraid of.
I wonder about those things too.CHAPTER 7
The Day Gets Worse
We're doing a dinosaur project this afternoon and I pray we don't have to work in pairs; I always get more done when I don't have the stress of talking to a classmate. But the day continues to go downhill when Ms. Graham hands out assignments. Last time, she paired me with Tommy, who told jokes while I did all the work.
Ms. Graham shoots me a little smile as if she's presenting me with a gift. "Martina and Bev, you're together on this."
Pairing me with the most popular girl in our class isn't going to make me more talkative. Even with magic stickers tucked into my bag, this is the worst school day ever.
Bev waits at her desk, so I drag my chair over. I take out my notebook and pen, ready to write down anything she has to say.
"I don't know much about dinosaurs." Bev speaks so loudly, Lisa three seats over yells out, "Neither do I!"
I rummage through my pack and take out a roll of dinosaur stickers I got for my birthday. (Yes, I always carry several packs of stickers with me. How else would I get through lunch and recess?)
Bev scans the roll and points to the pterodactyl. "That one's cute."
Technically pterodactyls aren't dinosaurs — they're pterosaurs — but I don't have the nerve to correct her.
"Well, are we going to do this or what?"
I peel a pterodactyl and stick it on a blank page in my notebook. Bev spots the rest of the stickers peeking out of my pack. "Hey, can I have that one?" She motions to the happy cupcake on my magic sheet.
Sharing is something I'm actually good at and sharing with someone fun like Bev would be a real step forward in the friendship department. But suppose the cupcake comes to life in the middle of class?
"We should probably get to work," I finally say.
"So you can talk!" Bev says. "We all thought you just played with stickers."
My classmates have talked about me — my worst nightmare.
Bev points to my bag again. "How about that cupcake?"
I can't believe she's not letting this go. "I'm sorry, I can't give you that one," I say softly.
Bev points to the many sheets of stickers in my pack. "You have tons!" she says. "What's one lousy sticker?"
I peel off a triceratops and hand it to her. Bev looks at me closely, and I can almost see her deciding that I'm not worth the effort of getting to know. After a moment, she gets up and switches places with Tommy so she can sit with Lisa to do the report.
"Knock-knock," Tommy says, slipping into the desk beside me.
"Who's there?" I answer quietly.
"Avenue heard this joke before?" Tommy elbows me as if it's the funniest joke on the planet. But I'm looking over at Bev and Lisa laughing and hoping it isn't about me.
Excerpted from Sticker Girl by Janet Tashjian, Inga Wilmink. Copyright © 2016 Janet Tashjian. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
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
A Little About Me,
What I Love Most,
My New Best Friends,
Even Sticker Girl Can Have a Bad Day,
The Day Gets Worse,
A Snotty Pastry,
Mi Gran Familia,
My Cupcake Is a Ventriloquist,
A Bright Idea,
A Soggy Mess,
A Ruff Afternoon,
A Crazy Astronomer,
An Unexpected Visit,
A Sweet Idea,
The Big Night,
A Starry Surprise,
Now the Bad News,
A Certain Tattoo,
Unlocking Something Special,
Other books by Janet Tashjian,
About the Author,