Such a Baby Book
My name is Dory but everyone calls me Rascal. I am six. I have a lot of freckles. My hair is just messy. This is my nightgown that I try to wear as much as I can.
But the most important thing about me is that I have two worlds. One is real and one is imaginary.
This is my real world: Mom and Dad, big brother Luke, big sister Violet, brand-new best friend Rosabelle, and old friend George.
This is my imaginary world: My fairy godmother Mr. Nuggy, my best friend Mary who sleeps under my bed, and my enemy Mrs. Gobble Gracker.
My two worlds swirl together like a chocolate and vanilla ice-cream cone. Real and unreal get all mixed up into one crazy flavor. And things are always happening to me! But my brother and sister just say I’m annoying. And they say I eat gross.
Every morning, Luke and Violet build a wall of cereal boxes around me so they can’t see me eat.
“I just can’t watch her slurping up her soggy cereal,” says Luke.
“I just can’t look at the milk dripping down her chin,” says Violet. “Augck!”
But I’m not listening to them. Because Mrs. Gobble Gracker is on the back of my cereal box. I don’t know what it says, but I can tell it’s bad news.
Then my mom comes in the kitchen and starts screaming her head off. “RASCAL! YOU AREN’T DRESSED YET?"
But before I get dressed, I have to wake up Mary. Lately, I’ve had to wake her up with a pan in my hand so she knowsI really mean it. She’s gotten super lazy now that she stays home when I’m at school.
I try to think of things that Mary can do while I’m gone. “Can you make 150 wet toilet-paper balls and put them under Violet’s bed?” I ask Mary.
I don’t want her to feel left out.
At least she’s happy when I brush her fur. “Don’t stop,” she says.
On the walk to school, I invent a new game. It’s called “Don’t Step on the Sticky Poij.” The Poij is poisonous gum. And if you step on it, it drains the blood out of your heart.
“It’s everywhere! It’s moving! It’s alive!” I shout. “And Luke stepped on it!”
“No, I didn’t,” yells Luke.
“It’s on your shoe!”
“There’s nothing there.”
“Help! Help!” I scream. “My brother is losing blood.” I jump on Violet.
“We need a doctor!” I yell. “Are you a doctor?” I ask the little boy ahead of us.
But as soon as I see Rosabelle in the schoolyard, I forget all about the Poij.
Rosabelle has a big thick chapter book in her lap. She looks up and sees me running toward her.
We take turns picking each other up. It’s like hugging, but more dangerous.
It’s fun to pick up Rosabelle because she is so poufy. She wears six skirts under her dress! She also wears a sparkly headband on her forehead, which she says is her crown. She has little tiny heels on her shoes that goclickety-click on the playground. Today she has flowers stuck in her headband that look like she made them out of tissues.
“I love pretending to read chapter books, too!” I say as I grab her book and open it. “Now,this book is great for kids but totally inappropriate for grown-ups. Kids, listen! Grown-ups, cover your ears!”
Rosabelle thinks I’m funny.
Then it’s time to go inside.
I love my classroom because Rosabelle sits right next to me. On the other side of me is George.
While Rosabelle is busy drawing, George says, “Raise your hand if you ever found a Lego in your underwear!”
Then George whispers, “Raise your hand if your mom ever told you to shut up!”
George and I raise our hands.
“Raise your hand if you ever hurt your thumb dancing,” says George.
Just George raises his hand.
“Raise your hand if . . .” but our teacher interrupts because it’s time for morning meeting.
After we do all the boring stuff (count the days we’ve been in school with straws, make tally marks for the weather, and put a sticker on today’s date on the calendar) our teacher tells us, “Today is an exciting day in our class. Everyone is going to get a reading partner. You and your partner are going to be reading the same books together every day during reading time! And you’ll have wonderful conversations about what you read!”
I raise my hand right away. “Can Rosabelle be my partner?”
“Well, you don’t get to choose your partner,” she says. “Your partner is going to be someone who is reading at the same level as you.”
“Great!” I say. “Rosabelle and I are on the same level about everything. We are even the same height, we sit at the same table, we play the same games . . . let me think, I’m sure there’s more . . .”
“Dory,” my teacher interrupts. “Not now.”
“Oh,” I say.
When it’s time for reading partners, I show Rosabelle that I’m crossing my fingers, legs, and arms for good luck. AND TONGUE!
The teacher calls our names. “When you hear your name, go find your partner.”
But when I hear her say “Dory and George,” I uncross all my wishes and sink down into my chair.
George hears our names just as he returns to the classroom from the bathroom. With ahuge grin on his face, he runs up to me, but on his way he trips on a chair. Just as he crashes into me, hekisses my arm!
“Gross!” I say. “Don’t kiss me!”
“Sorry,” he says. “It was an accident.”
“You can’t kiss someone by accident!” I say.
“I did! I fell down just when my lips were already smooched up like this! Like I wasabout to kiss someone!”
“Don’t do that again,” I say in my grumpiest voice.
“Okay, partner,” he says.
“I wanted Rosabelle to be my partner,” I say quietly.
“But then you’d have to read big, thick, boring old books,” he says.
I look over at Rosabelle. She has the same chapter book that she had this morning. And Clara, her reading partner, has the exact same book!
I walk over to them. “Can you read that book for real?” I ask Rosabelle. “By yourself?”
“Uh-huh,” she says. “I read in my head.”
I’m so surprised I just stand there, with my mouth open. No sound comes out.
“It’s really easy,” says Clara, and then turns to Rosabelle. “What chapter are you up to?”
“Chapter six,” says Rosabelle.
“Oh my goodness! Me too!” says Clara.
I go back to my reading spot with a lump in my throat like I’m about to cry.
George and I have a red basket of Easy Reader books. I take them out of the bin one by one. “This one is about farm animals . . . this one is about farm animals . . . farm animals . . . farm animals. . . . Every single one of these books is about farm animals! These books are terrible!” I say.
“Yeah, and I can’t even read them!” says George.
Our teacher comes over. “I think you two are going to love this new series I chose for you. It’s called Happy Little Farm.”
We pretend we are reading until she leaves.
“If I was the farmer, I would just eat all the animals,” whispers George.
“If I was the farmer, I would move to the city, and get an apartment with an elevator,” I say.
“If I was the farmer, I would run around naked and put mud all over my body and then stick things to it,” says George.
“But you would do that anyway,” I say.
“Yeah . . .” he says.
I flip through the pages of the book. “This is such a baby book!” I say. “But look, this little black sheep is kind of cute.” I show George the picture.
“And he’s looking at you,” George says.
“What do you mean?” I say, and hold the book up closer.
“I think his name is Goblin,” I say.
“Does it say that?” George asks.
“I don’t know,” I say. “I can’t read.”
“Raise your hand if you hate reading!” says George.
And we both raise our hands high in the air.