Walk, talk, and dress like an Egyptian.
When Louise Lambert tries on a lavender Grecian gown during a visit to the mysterious Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale, she feels a familiar tug and falls back in time, arriving at the dusty base of an enormous pyramid. She has landed in ancient Egypt...or has she?
It turns out that Louise is on the legendary Old Hollywood film set of Cleopatra, but her time there is short-lived. Rummaging through the wardrobe tent, Louise gets her hands on a pearl necklace that dates back to 51 BC, and she suddenly finds herself whisked away once more, this time to the ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt. Gold and jewels shimmer in the Egyptian sunlight, but poisonous snakes and dangerous enemies also roam the palace halls. Louise quickly learns that life as a handmaiden to Queen Cleopatra is much more treacherousand fashionablethan she ever could have imagined.
About the Author
Bianca Turetsky is the author of the stylish Time-Traveling Fashionista series, which has been translated into nine languages. A graduate of Tufts University, Bianca managed the studio of artist/filmmaker Julian Schnabel for the last ten years. She lives in a cozy studio apartment in Brooklyn, New York, that houses her very extensive and much-loved vintage collection.
Read an Excerpt
The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile
By Bianca Turetsky
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2013 Bianca Turetsky
All rights reserved.
"Louise, what are you doing awake at this hour? What was that noise?" Her mother's concerned voice was calling to her from directly outside her bedroom door.
"Nothing, Mom!" Louise replied, startled, dropping the black poodle necklace back into the steamer trunk with a clatter. "I couldn't sleep, so I started reorganizing my clothes. I'll go back to bed now." She ran out of her closet, dove into her canopy bed, buried herself under her grandmother's quilt, and held her breath. She was often switching up her vintage collection by decade, designer, and color, and she hoped for the time being her mother would buy that excuse. She heard the doorknob turn halfway and then stop, as though Mrs. Lambert had changed her mind midthought.
"Very well. Try to sleep, Louise. You've had a long day, and it is a school night, you know."
Louise let out her breath. "I know," she croaked. But it wasn't just an ordinary school night. In the course of the last fifteen minutes, the axis of Louise's world had completely tilted. For some reason, her mom owned a necklace identical to the ones worn by Marla and Glenda, her magical Traveling Fashionista stylists. It was such a unique piece; it couldn't just be a coincidence! Her own mother—the one who constantly gave her a hard time about her vintage collection, who was always trying to drag her along to some boring department store, who almost forbade her from attending the Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale in the first place—was somehow in an old, wrinkled, and yellowing photograph wearing a long, antique white dress layered with scalloped lace trim, with a horse-drawn carriage rolling past in the background. She thought her mother was old, but not that old. Unless the photograph was taken at a state fair or on a movie set, her proper, English, pearl-and-sweater-set-wearing mother was quite possibly a Traveling Fashionista herself!
"Isn't it in your family, too?"
Stella, a thirteen-year-old Traveling Fashionista, had asked Louise that question in the grand halls of the palace of Versailles. It reverberated in her mind like an echo. But Stella's great-great-aunt twice removed was Coco Chanel! Louise's mother was just ... her mom. Or at least that was what she had thought, up until that night. It seemed as though her mother had a much more interesting history than Louise could have imagined. She clutched the worn patchwork quilt to her chest with nervous anticipation, trying to reconcile the familiar image of the posh and formal mom she thought she knew with the smiling, vintage-clad Victoria Lambert in the black-and-white photograph. It was impossible.
Her mind raced back to her own time-traveling experiences—the excitement at receiving the mysterious purple invitation to the first sale, trying on Miss Baxter's enchanted pink gown, waking up on the A deck of the Titanic, hitting the iceberg.... And then her second trip, taking her back to Versailles in a hooped blue dress, living in luxury as part of the royal court of Louis XVI. The tingly, electric feeling of trying on those dresses, their silky fabric charged with memories of the women who wore them before she did. Faces of the people she met on her adventures flashed through her head like credits in a movie: Marla and Glenda; Miss Baxter; Benjamin Guggenheim; the oblivious Marie Antoinette; Louise's gardener crush, Pierre; Stella with her braces and corseted dress; and then, finally, her mother. Louise wasn't quite sure yet how she fit into this story line.
As her memory traced back over her adventures, Louise drifted off and eventually fell into a sleep so deep she didn't even dream.CHAPTER 2
At 7:13 AM, minutes before her alarm, Louise was woken up by the intoxicating smell of frying bacon. Was this actually her house? Quaker Oats had never smelled so good. Despite getting only a few hours of sleep, Louise jumped out of bed and bounded down the creaking main staircase toward the unfamiliarly delicious aroma, half wondering if she was still asleep. Wait, can you even smell in dreams? she pondered as she walked into the spacious old kitchen.
Her father was standing at the stove wearing a white chef's apron over his gray- and-purple NYU T-shirt, holding a spatula and flipping pancakes. His wire-rimmed glasses were a little foggy from the steam rising from the griddle. He thrust a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice into her hands.
"Morning, chicken," Louise's father cheerfully greeted her, using his completely random and embarrassing nickname for his only daughter. "You're up bright and early."
"Dad, it's a school day. It's not like this is a conscious choice. What ... what's going on?" Louise asked, confused to not see her mom stirring a cast-iron pot of bland, lumpy oatmeal as she did every morning. She took a gulp of the sweet, pulpy juice. Yum.
"Well, I figured if I'm not going into the office, I can focus on my other interests and maybe give cooking a try." Mr. Lambert had recently been let go from his law firm, Gladstone, Braden LLP, in a case of corporate downsizing and was currently unemployed, much to her mother's anxiety. On one hand it meant they didn't have enough money to send Louise on her class trip to France, but on the other it also meant she would get to see her dad a lot more because he wasn't working long hours at the office. And with his daily commute from Manhattan to Fairview, their quaint suburban town an hour outside the city, he rarely made it home for supper. Besides, Louise had gotten to experience Paris in her own way, even if the Paris of the seventeen hundreds was a far dirtier and less romantic city than what she had expected. It was probably very different today.
"Awesome!" Louise exclaimed, grabbing the plate of blueberry pancakes and crisp bacon that her dad had just placed on the granite countertop. "Where's Mom?" she asked as she settled into the sunny breakfast nook and dove into her unexpected morning feast. She had some serious questions to ask her mother.
"She went to the market. I'm taking over breakfast duty for the foreseeable future. Dinner as well. I assume you don't have any objections?" her silver- haired dad asked with a smile. Mrs. Lambert was a notoriously horrible cook, and Louise was happy to not have to be tortured with whatever inedible concoction she put on the table. Everything was inevitably doused in malt vinegar, her English mother's favorite condiment.
Louise gave her dad an enthusiastic thumbs-up while her mouth was crammed full of syrupy blueberry deliciousness, but she couldn't help feeling the timing was a little odd. Her mom was always home in the morning, forcing a balanced meal on her and warning her about missing the bus. It was their routine, and this was the one day when Louise really did need that mother-daughter time. She had some majorly important stuff to discuss with her. Like where did she get the black poodle necklace and antique photograph Louise had found last night in the old steamer trunk? Now all her questions would have to wait until tonight after she got home from swim practice.
"What time does the bus come, anyway?" her dad asked offhandedly as he placed another stack of pancakes on her plate. Alarmed, Louise glanced up at the kitchen clock.
"Ummm, about five minutes ago," she answered, having completely lost track of time without her mother, the morning drill sergeant, breathing down her neck.
Momentary concern flashed across her dad's blue-gray eyes. "Oh, well, I can't imagine you've ever been late before. Go hurry up and get ready. I'll give you a ride to school."
"Thanks, Dad," she said, rushing out of the kitchen to get dressed and snap a Polaroid. With everything going on, Louise had almost forgotten her daily routine. She had a feeling that in her haste she had cut off the top part of her head, but she didn't have time to wait for the milky gray film to come into focus. She shoved it into her sock drawer with the rest of the photos. Louise knew she was growing up on the inside, and one day soon she was sure she would see an actual physical difference on the outside, too. She wanted a record of when that moment finally happened.
Before heading back downstairs, Louise ripped a page off her daily Virgo horoscope calendar: "It's not always the most beautiful girl in the room who has the most power; rely on your wits to wow the crowd." Is my horoscope, like, trying to tell me something? she wondered, glancing at her all-too-familiar reflection in her full-length mirror. Louise had come to accept that she was never the most beautiful girl in the room, not that she thought about it a lot, but still, the reminder was a little depressing. She hardly ever attempted to wear her naturally frizzy hair down. Because of daily after-school swim practice, her flyaway curls were wet half the time anyway, so she pulled them back into a tight little bun at the nape of her neck. Her teeth were still masked by ugly metal braces, making her smile resemble more of a tight-lipped grimace. She was boy-skinny, with disproportionately broad swimmer shoulders, and basically felt that her body was doing its best to annoy her in every way.
The only thing she felt she had any control over was what she wore. And Louise took that very seriously. Shopping, researching, and scouring thrift stores for vintage finds was her obsession. Her walk-in closet was filling up with her ever-expanding vintage collection. Since no one else at her school seemed to share her passion, a lot of her quirkier pieces were reserved for dancing around in her bedroom alone. But she felt as if life would catch up with her one day, and she would have just the place to wear a flapper dress from the Roaring Twenties with its matching sequined headband.
Of course, school was not that place, and this morning, Louise opted for a pale green seventies-style dress with little white-and-yellow daisies embroidered on it, swapping in black leather ballet flats for her usual neon pink Converse All Stars. She grabbed her worn purple backpack, tossed a few red and yellow flakes for her goldfish, Marlon, into the round bowl, and sprinted back down the stairs. She was definitely going to be late for homeroom.
Louise and her dad pulled out of the driveway just as Mrs. Lambert's car turned the corner onto their road. Louise felt as if she didn't even know who her own mother was anymore. It was strange to leave without giving her a kiss good-bye.CHAPTER 3
After a mind-numbingly dull school morning—highlighted by a supereasy math quiz and a forty-minute presentation on the life cycle of phytoplankton—Louise met up with her best friend, Brooke Patterson, at their neighboring lockers to switch out their books for end-of-day classes. Louise smiled as she unhooked her combination lock and opened the flimsy door. Glancing into Brooke's organized, uncluttered locker, with its neat stack of textbooks, a ballpoint pen, extra lip gloss, and a large magnetic mirror hanging inside the otherwise undecorated beige metal door, Louise thought how amazing it was that she and Brooke were friends even though they were so different. Louise's locker, by contrast, was like a peek into her cluttered and chaotic brain—images of iconic actors and models from different decades formed an overlapping Scotch-taped collage, and a balled-up Indian print scarf was partially hidden under a lopsided pile of loose-leaf notebooks full of dress designs that she had doodled in class in lieu of actual notes. Luckily, despite her lack of notes and fleeting attention span, she was still a straight-A student and always turned in her assignments on time. Nonetheless, she realized she could probably stand to be a bit more organized. She suddenly felt overwhelmed and slammed her locker shut, vowing to clean it out before the weekend.
"See you at swim practice?" Louise asked Brooke, although it wasn't really a question. Of course she would—that's what they did on Monday afternoons.
"Actually, Kip and I were going to hang out after school today," Brooke said, averting her pale blue eyes. Kip and Louise's best friend had gone to the seventh-grade semiformal dance together, and Brooke had spent a good part of her fancy-dress thirteenth birthday party talking and flirting with him. But it was not as if they were actually together or anything, or that's what Louise had thought up until about a second ago.
"You're skipping swim practice to hang out with ... a boy? Is that what happens when you turn thirteen? You lose your mind?"
"It's just one swim practice," Brooke replied defensively.
"I feel like we're in an after-school special," Louise said sadly. "Called Boy Crazy. And it doesn't end well."
"Don't be so dramatic, Lou," Brooke said, trying to sound casual as she expertly pulled her sun-streaked blonde hair up into a high ponytail. "Our lives are not a Lifetime movie."
"And what exactly should I tell Coach Murphy?" Louise asked, realizing once she'd said it that she was starting to sound a lot less like Brooke's friend and more like her mother.
"Nothing. He won't even notice."
"Okay, now you've officially lost it."
"Tell him I have an after-school study group or something. Be creative. You're good at that."
Louise was the creative one; Brooke was the popular one with the cute lacrosse- playing boyfriend named Kip. The roles were defined, and the feeling that she and her best friend were growing apart was crushing Louise's chest like a lead weight. "Fine, but just this once," Louise conceded.
The warning bell rang, and the clusters of students gathered in the corridor began to disband. The girls spotted Brooke's cousin Peter across the crowded hall with his schedule and a pile of books. He looked lost and was almost knocked over by the wave of kids rushing off to class.
"Go help him," Brooke nudged as she gave her perfect reflection one last signature Brooke Patterson pout and slammed her locker shut. She gave her befuddled cousin a wave over her shoulder and took off for her own class.
Louise had met Peter just the other day at Brooke's thirteenth birthday party. He was an eighth-grade transfer student from Boston and pretty cute. He also bore a striking resemblance to Pierre, the French gardener Louise had befriended and had a major crush on at the palace of Versailles. She swore she'd been transported there for real after trying on a robin's egg blue antique dress at the last Fashionista Sale. It seemed crazy under the harsh fluorescent lights of Fairview Junior High, but Louise couldn't help but wonder if somehow Peter was Pierre. Another Traveling Fashionista in her own school! Peter looked up and smiled sheepishly as he saw Louise approach.
She was only a few steps away from him when she tripped, nearly flinging her armful of books at his face. How is that even possible?! she wondered. I'm wearing ballet flats! She willed her ears to cool down and not totally betray how embarrassed she felt inside.
"Hey, are you okay?" Peter asked, looking genuinely concerned.
"Yup, I think so," Louise said, before starting to laugh hysterically, something she tended to do at inappropriate times.
"In that case, do you know where Gym B is?" he asked. "Looks like I have fitness next."
"Sure, I'll show you. This place is a bit of a maze at first," Louise said with an encouraging smile, happy that he seemed a little insecure, too. "But you should put that map away. You don't want to look like a sixth grader." Sixth grade was only last year, but sometimes it felt like another lifetime.
"Thanks," Peter replied gratefully, shoving the map into his gray canvas messenger bag and pulling an old-fashioned bronze pocket watch from the green army jacket he was wearing. "I guess I'm a little late. Seems to be the theme of my day."
"Where did you get that watch?" Louise asked him curiously, recognizing it from when they first met. "It's amazing." It looked really old, but in a good, vintage way. Like something she would buy.
"Oh, this? It used to be my grandfather's. He lives in France. My parents would love to throw it out, though. They can't stand old stuff."
"I know what you mean," Louise replied. Or I used to, she corrected herself. "Is that where your family's from? I mean, before Boston."
"Originally France. At least my dad's family was. I'm Peter Moreau VII. Well, actually, my grandfather is Pierre, and then my family Americanized it to Peter. I'd love to know more about my family history, but all that's managed to stick around is a name and this old pocket watch."
Excerpted from The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile by Bianca Turetsky. Copyright © 2013 Bianca Turetsky. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an amazing book this is the third book
While I already loved this series- it has a quirky, fun main character (who's on a realistic swim team!) and beautiful illustration of the drool-worthy vintage clothes- but I thought this book was a great example for young girls. While the last 2 books have shown strong women who still loved fashion, this book portrays Cleopatra in a more realistic light than she's normally shown in. Instead of a beauty who is using her body to get what she wants, Cleopatra quite average (as she looks on her coins from the time,) studies hard, and used fashion and make-up to show herself as a powerful, confident, and sexy woman. I think this is a much better message to send tween-teenaged girls (the target audience...I'm 26) than books that tell them to either study and be ugly or be shallow and obsessed with fashion. Why can't they have a balance of both?
She reads A LOT!!!! THE GEEKS ARE FAMOUS!!!!!!! GEEKS: 42, POPULAR PEOPLE: 0!!!!!!!!