Authors: Diana Lopez
Copyright © 2009 by Diana López
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced,
distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written
permission of the publisher.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hachette Book Group
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Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks
of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
First eBook Edition: June 2009
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental
and not intended by the author.
To Mom and Dad
Festive, hollow eggshells, filled with confetti, that are cracked on people’s heads, scattering confetti all over the place
and bringing everyone good luck!
How to Make
|Step 1:||Buy a dozen eggs.|
|Step 2:||Carefully crack eggs at narrow tip, keeping most of the egg intact, and pour out the yolks and egg whites.|
|Step 3:||Gently wash the eggshells.|
|Step 4:||Soak eggshells in a bowl with 1 tablespoon white vinegar, ¾ cup hot water, and 4–5 drops food coloring.|
|Step 5:||Buy confetti or make your own by hole-punching used magazines or newspapers.|
|Step 6:||After the eggshells have dried, pour confetti into the eggshell.|
|Step 7:||Cut out circles of tissue paper and glue over the hole.|
|Step 8:||Quietly sneak up to people and… crack the confetti eggs on their heads!|
Los amigos mejores son libros –
Books are your best friends
ome people collect coins or stamps, but I collect socks. I have a dresser with drawers labeled
DAILY SOCKS, LONELY SOCKS, HOLEY SOCKS
The daily drawer helps me get dressed every morning. When I’m bored, I reorganize it. I group the socks by color. Then I group
them by style—dressy, casual, or athletic. Then by length—ankle, crew, or knee-high.
The lonely sock drawer is for those who have lost their partners. Most of the partners disappear in the washing machine or
dryer. I can’t explain it. Somewhere between the tossing and soaking and wringing, one gets lost. I don’t know where it goes.
Maybe aliens abduct it.
Holey socks aren’t for angels. They actually have holes, so I don’t wear them anymore. Sometimes, these socks become puppets
and sometimes they go to sock heaven where they can rest in peace with the socks I’ve outgrown.
But mostly, I use the holey socks for experiments. People who think socks are just for feet have no imagination. For example,
you can cover your ears with socks. Ankle socks make good earmuffs. Knee-highs are great for people who want to be rabbits
or donkeys for Halloween. Then there’s the sock rock. I’ve got a pile of these in a shoe box by my bed. I roll the sock and
make a ball by folding the open end over the roll. Socks are also great as coasters, bookmarks, wallets, and dusters. There’s
no end to what they can do.
I admit that spending so much energy on socks is weird and a little immature, but it’s hard to be normal when you live in
a house with no TV. The reason I don’t have a TV is because my dad’s a high-school English teacher, which means he’d rather
read. And because he’s always reading, I got stuck with a stupid name, Apolonia Flores. The Flores part isn’t so bad since
it means “flowers” in Spanish. But Apolonia?
“What kind of name is that?” I ask my dad.
“It’s the girl form of Apollo,” he says. “He was the god of the sun. Get it? It’s my way of calling you a sunflower.”
“I’d rather be called Sun Flores. That’s close enough, don’t you think?”
But my dad doesn’t hear me.
“According to the Greeks,” he says, “the sun was the golden wheel of a chariot that Apollo drove across the sky. He was also
the god of music, poetry, medicine, and fortune-telling.”
Whenever my dad speaks, I can’t help thinking that he looks like the teachers on Disney Channel specials—graying hair, lean
body, wire-rimmed glasses. He always acts the part, even at home. It makes asking questions dangerous because something that
takes most fathers five minutes to explain, takes mine an hour.
Thank goodness my name is too long, even for my father. Everybody calls me Lina instead. My dad says Lina sounds a lot like
Leda, a girlfriend of Zeus, king of the gods. He disguised himself as a swan when he visited her, so now I’m named after someone
who dated a bird.
Having an English teacher for a dad also means that instead of a dining room, we have a library, and instead of bedrooms,
we have libraries, and we can probably call the kitchen a library too—even the pantry!—because next to my Pop-Tarts and Dad’s
And they aren’t in any order! The school librarian has the Dewey Decimal system, which makes finding books easy. But at my
house, Dad’s got
Be Your Own Handyman
100 Favorite Love Poems
Birds of North America
So if I’m looking for a book on cats, I’ve got to read every title. This can take hours because Dad doesn’t have a pattern
when he stacks the books. Some titles read top to bottom while others read bottom up, and the titles of horizontal books are
upside down as often as they’re right side up.
Anyone can see the books are used. All the paperback spines are creased, and the hardback jackets, torn. The pages are yellowed,
dog-eared, underlined, highlighted, and tagged with pink or lime green Post-its. Other than that, the books are clean, which
is weird because my dad will forget to dust the coffee table long before he forgets to dust his books. He stands before a
shelf with a rag, pulls out the books one by one, and wipes the dust off. This eats up hours.
“Why don’t you get rid of them?” I ask.
“Remember,” he says,
“los amigos mejores son libros.”
This means that books are your best friends. In addition to quoting poetry, Dad likes to say
Spanish proverbs. I’m not really bilingual, but I know that
el gato dormido no caza ratón
means “the sleeping cat doesn’t catch the rat” and that
una acción buena enseña más que mil palabras
means “actions speak louder than words.”
“Besides,” Dad says, “I’m a bibliophile.
remember, is the Latin word for ‘book,’ and
is the Greek word for ‘lover.’ Put them together and what do you have?”
“So does that make me a sockio-phile?” I ask.
One day, I tried counting my dad’s books but gave up around 600. I tried again, giving up at 923. I thought I could get my
dad’s name into the book of
Guinness World Records.
I’d been reading it in the car every time Dad drove me to school or to volleyball games. I learned that the farthest human
cannonball flight is 185 feet. If a football field is 300 feet, then imagine a guy flying over two-thirds of it. Wow! I also
learned that the heaviest egg ever found was 27 pounds. More than two ten-pound bowling balls! It came from an elephant bird
that went extinct a long time ago. I don’t know who has the most books, but I did learn that the most books typed backward
is 58. Now that’s weird!
How can I
read when I live in a house with so many books? Sometimes I trip over one, pick it up, and before I can stop myself, I’m
skimming the pages.
We have plenty of fairy tales and poems and big, fat books Dad calls epics, but I’m a facts-and-figures kind of girl. My favorite
It’s all about the human body. With my middle-school vocabulary, I can’t really understand all the words, but the pictures
are great, especially the transparencies, clear pages that show the layers of the body starting with the bones, then the heart
and lungs, then the stomach and intestines, then the muscles. I can look at those pictures for hours.
is a good book. It shows me how the body works. The only thing it can’t tell me is how the body
work. Believe me, I’ve looked. I’ve looked long and hard. Because I want to understand how my mom died last year. She was
healthy, perfectly healthy, until she fell, cut her leg, and got a blood infection from something called staphylococcus. I
didn’t understand it, any of it, but I sure tried.
A few months after the funeral, I asked my dad, “What’s a staphylococcus infection?”
” he said with his teacher’s voice, “
comes from the Greek word
which means ‘a bunch of grapes.’”
“But that doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “Are you telling me a bunch of grapes hurt Mom?”
He didn’t answer. For the first time, my dad didn’t answer. He just put down his head and cried.
Un amigo es el mejor espejo –
A friend is the best mirror
y dad started reading a lot more when my mom died. Sometimes when I dream about him, I see a body, a neck, and a book where
his face should be.
“Are you okay?” I ask, peeking through his bedroom door.
“‘O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,’” he says.
Sometimes I can’t stand being in the house with my father so sad. Thank goodness Vanessa lives across the street. She’s been
my best friend since forever. We play volleyball together. We do our homework. We talk about clothes, global warming, and
is our hero. Our rule at restaurants is to eat the one thing we’ve never tried even if it’s
a Tex-Mex dish made out of cow intestines.
We should be twins after all the time we spend together, and maybe we are twins, personality-wise. But in looks? Except for
our brown hair and eyes, Vanessa and I are as different as a swan and an ostrich. She’s the swan, and I’m the ostrich. I’m
really the ostrich—the tallest girl in class, all legs. Too tall and skinny for my jeans no matter what size I buy. Everything
is high water. That’s why I’m a sockio-phile. I need something to hide my knobby ankles. Today my socks remind me of whitecaps
on the ocean because they’re aqua with white lace around the cuff.
Vanessa doesn’t need a zillion socks. Everything fits perfectly—never too long or too short, too tight or too loose. And she
never has a bad hair day. She could spend thirty minutes in front of a high-speed fan without getting tangles. If she wanted,
she could make a paper sack look like something a model would wear.
I should be jealous, but I’m not. I don’t care about my looks. I care more about volleyball, geometry, and how toasters and
lawn mowers work. But, I admit, when Jason Quintanilla called me Daddy Longlegs, I went to the girls’ restroom to cry. Not
because I care what Jason thinks, even if he
the most popular boy in school, but because he called me Daddy Longlegs in front of Luís Mendoza, someone I
care about. Luís didn’t laugh at the joke, but he didn’t defend me either. He just stared at the sundial he wears on his
wrist. I have such a big crush on him. How can I
like someone with a sundial instead of a normal watch? And he really can tell time when it’s not rainy and cloudy, and that’s
almost always in Corpus Christi, Texas.