Authors: Betsy Haynes
FABULOUS FIVE #21
JANA TO THE RESCUE
A BANTAM SKYLARK BOOK
NEW YORK • TORONTO •
LONDON • SYDNEY • AUCKLAND
RL 5, 009-012
JANA TO THE RESCUE
A Bantam Skylark
Book / November 1990
Skylark Books is a
registered trademark of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell
, Inc. Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
1990 by Betsy Haynes and James Haynes.
© 1990 by Andrew Bacha.
No part of this
book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
address: Bantam Books.
simultaneously in the United States and Canada
Bantam Books are
published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing
Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words "Bantam Books" and
the portrayal of a rooster
, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 666 Fifth
Avenue, New York, New York 10103.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA
OPM 0 9 8 7 6 5
4 3 2 1
Jana Morgan hurried down the hall, clutching the note in her
hand. It had been delivered to her just moments ago from the principal's
office, and she couldn't imagine what it meant.
The note was printed on a slip of yellow paper, and it
looked like a multiple-choice test.
Please see the principal
Please see the counselor, Mrs. Brenner.
Please see the office secretary, Miss Simone.
Please see the nurse
After your next class.
Jana wondered why Mr. Bell wanted to see her. Usually he
used the yellow slip to summon troublemakers, but she certainly was not a
troublemaker. In fact, she was a good student, and her teachers seemed to like
her a lot.
Miss Simone, the school secretary, was sitting at her desk,
talking on the phone, when Jana walked into the office.
"Hi, Jana. You got a yellow slip, too?"
Jana glanced to the left and saw Whitney Larkin and four
other students sitting in a row of chairs along the wall. Whitney was also a
seventh-grader. Tim Riggs and Shelly Bramlett were eighth-graders, and Kyle
Zimmerman and Pam Wolthoff were in ninth. All of them were good students and
definitely not troublemakers, which made her feel a little better.
"I sure did," answered Jana. She motioned toward
the others. "Did everybody get the same slip?"
Whitney nodded. "No one can figure it out."
"I wondered if I was in trouble for a minute,"
"Oh, so did I," Whitney said. "Or if they'd
changed the rules about skipping grades and that I would have to go back to the
sixth." She rolled her eyes as if to say that would be the pits.
Jana smiled. Whitney was not only one of the smartest
seventh-graders in Wacko, she was probably a genius. That was why she had
gotten to move from fifth grade directly into seventh this year. She was
smaller than most seventh-graders, and for a while some kids had resented her
and treated her like a baby.
Just then the door to the principal's office opened, and Mr.
Bell stepped out with the counselor, Mrs. Brenner. They were both smiling.
"Come with us, everybody," Mr. Bell said
cheerfully. "There's no one in the cafeteria now. We can talk there."
The students shuffled down the hall behind Mr. Bell and Mrs.
Brenner, shrugging and looking quizzically at one another. Jana was as puzzled
as everyone else, but at least she wasn't worried anymore.
When they reached the cafeteria, Mr. Bell pointed to one of
the long picnic-style tables. "Have a seat, folks," he said. When
they were settled, he went on. "You're probably curious about why I called
all of you in today."
"Yeah, Mr. Bell," piped up Tim Riggs. He grinned. "We
thought we were in
Mr. Bell smiled. "Oh, just the opposite. In fact, you
were chosen to come in here today because you are good students, you get along
well with other kids, and your teachers think you are sensitive to the needs of
"Boy," said Tim, talking to the kids around the
table, "I guess we fooled
Everyone laughed at Tim, then turned back to the principal.
"I think you are all familiar with our buddy system for
new students," Mr. Bell said. "Whenever a student comes in during the
school year, we pair that person up with another student who can, in general,
be a friend while the new girl or boy is getting acclimated."
"Right," said Kyle Zimmerman. "I was paired
with two different kids last year. It was fun, and both of them turned out to
be good friends."
Mr. Bell nodded. "Well, we're going to start a new
program that is nearly identical to that," he said, "but the students
will be from Phoenix House."
"The shelter for the homeless?" Pam asked, and a
low murmur went through the room.
"Yes," said Mr. Bell. "You probably have
heard about the number of homeless people we have in this town."
The kids nodded. Jana remembered about a month ago when the
local TV station aired a report on the plight of the homeless in their area.
The reporter had been Marge Whitworth, her friend Jon Smith's mother, and the
program had startled Jana. She had been shocked that there were so many people
right around her own home who didn't have a place to live or enough food. Marge
Whitworth had pointed out that the homeless were all colors, sizes, and ages.
But the most surprising thing she said was that half of the people who lived in
homeless shelters were children. Jana had thought for a long time about that.
She had always supposed that most of the people who wound up in shelters were
winos or drug addicts or people with mental problems, not kids.
Mr. Bell nodded toward the counselor. "Mrs. Brenner
will tell you about the experimental program we're going to start here at
Wakeman to mainstream the junior high age kids of these families. Some of the
younger children will go into similar programs at two of the local elementary
"Hey, that's a great idea," said Tim Riggs. Jana
agreed with him.
Mrs. Brenner stood at the end of the table and looked at
each of the students. "If any of you have ever moved to a new school, you
know how difficult it is to fit in when you don't know anyone."
"That's sure true," Kyle said. "I moved here
in fifth grade, and I was totally miserable for the first six months."
Mrs. Brenner nodded sympathetically. "Well, just
imagine how you would feel if you were also homeless."
Again, the image of drunk old men and druggies flashed in
Jana's mind. But what would it be like if
were homeless? It could
have happened. The thought shocked her. But it was true. Her father had
deserted her mother and her when she was only three. He had almost never sent
support checks, and her mother had had to support them as best she could by
herself until a few months ago when she remarried. What if she hadn't been able
to get a job? What if . . .
Mr. Bell's voice interrupted her thoughts. "We'd like
to pair up each homeless student with one of you people if you like the idea,
and you'll all be part of this new buddy system. The new students will be
scheduled into most—but not all—of your classes. You will have the opportunity
to show them around, help them with class work if they need it, eat lunch with
them, and just generally be a friend and assist them in any way you can."
The room was silent for a moment.
Jana felt emotion welling up inside. If things had worked
out differently, I could have been one of them, she thought. "I think it's
idea," she said more loudly than she had meant to. In a
softer voice she added, "It'll be fun, and we'll make some new friends."
Suddenly all around the table the kids started nodding and
buzzing with conversation about the project.
"Now, this won't be easy," Mrs. Brenner warned. "Most
of these kids will be behind in their subjects. In fact, a lot of them will
have missed weeks or even months of school because of their situation. When you
don't have a home, it's pretty tough to go to school or to get schoolwork done."
"Well, what do you think?" asked Mr. Bell. "Do
the rest of you like the idea?"
"I like it," piped up Tim.
"Me, too," said Whitney.
"Yeah, it's gonna be cool," said Kyle.
"Is there anyone here who would prefer not to
participate?" asked Mrs. Brenner.
The chatter at the table stopped abruptly, and the boys and
girls looked around questioningly at one another, but no one spoke.
"Okay, great," Mr. Bell said, smiling.
"Will guys be paired with guys and girls with girls?"
Mr. Bell chuckled. "I'm afraid so, Kyle."
"Rats," said Kyle, snapping his fingers in make-believe
disappointment. The others laughed.
"When do the new kids get here?" asked Whitney.
"Right away," Mr. Bell replied. "In fact,
some of them will be here tomorrow. The rest will arrive by the end of the
"Keep in mind, though, that homeless people often don't
stay in one place very long," interjected Mrs. Brenner. "There may be
students who start school at Wakeman and then leave in a few months or weeks—or
in some cases, even days. But others will come in to take their places."
"How will we know when our student has arrived?"
"The office will send you a note to come down and meet
your partner," Mr. Bell said. "Any more questions?"
Heads shook around the table.
"Okay," he said. "If you need help, don't
hesitate to come in and see me or Mrs. Brenner."
Jana left the cafeteria with the rest of the students. She
felt good about the buddy system and was flattered that her teachers thought
enough of her to suggest her for the program.
But one thing nagged at her a little. How would the rest of
The Fabulous Five feel about her spending most of her time with the new
student? They were super friends and would surely understand, but Mr. Bell had
said that most of her classes would include the new girl. She would have to
walk to classes with her, eat lunch with her, do all kinds of things with her.
That wouldn't leave much time for anyone else. Would her friends really
"But that's crazy!" Katie Shannon said. "We
don't mind. In fact, this sounds like a great program. Here's a chance for us
kids to really
something to help the homeless."
"That's right," said Beth Barry, nodding. She
turned to Jana. "Of course, we don't mind."
"Right," Christie Winchell echoed.
"You're sure?" Jana said. "You know, the new
girl will need an awful lot of my time."
"Of course we don't want to be without you,"
Christie said, "so why not just invite her to join all of us at lunch? And
if we're going the same direction to classes, we'll all walk together."
Jana sighed with relief and sagged against the chain-link
fence that surrounded the school property. She should have known her friends
wouldn't mind. The Fabulous Five stuck together, no matter what.
"You don't know how good this makes me feel," she
"Oh, Jana, you shouldn't have worried about us,"
said Beth. "But what about Randy? Do you think he'll be jealous?"
"He'd better not be," interrupted Katie. "He
has no more claim to your time than anyone else."
"I know," Jana admitted. "And he's really a
sensitive and caring person, so I hope he likes the idea. It would make it a
lot easier for me." She stopped and glanced around. "Say, has anyone
"Gosh, no," said Beth. "I wonder where she
This spot by the fence was the usual meeting place for The
Fabulous Five before school.
"Maybe she's sick," offered Katie.
Beth squinted off into the distance. "Isn't that her
Jana followed Beth's gaze and saw Melanie Edwards running—her
arms and legs pumping hard—in their direction along the sidewalk.
"She sure is in a hurry," Beth said. "I
wonder what's up?"
It took Melanie another minute to reach them. Gasping for
breath, she staggered up to her four friends and collapsed against the fence,
causing the chain-link to thwang against the framing pole.
"Melanie, are you okay?" Jana asked.
Melanie nodded while she tried to catch her breath.
"Hey, you weren't late or anything," Beth assured
her. "What's the rush?"
"Test," Melanie said between breaths. "I have
"You have a test today?" asked Jana. "You
were studying and left for school late?" It was beginning to be like a
game trying to find out what Melanie's problem was.
Melanie shook her head. "I had to make copies before I
left," she said.
of a school test?" Katie
asked, her voice rising in alarm. "I thought you knew better—"
"No," Melanie interrupted, her breathing beginning
to return to normal. "It's not a school test. I swear. I got it in the
mail yesterday from my cousin in California."
"What kind of test?" asked Jana.
"It's totally awesome," Melanie said, her eyes
wide. "Here, let me show you."
Melanie dug through her book bag for a full minute.
"Oh, rats, where are they?" she mumbled. "I
worked all through breakfast . . . Oh, here they are!" She pulled out a
handful of papers. "It's about getting your
Katie groaned. "Are you kidding?"
"No, I'm completely serious about this," Melanie
said, shuffling through the papers. Then she stopped and looked up at Katie. "This
is not a joking matter, Katie. My cousin tried the test, and it
Katie rolled her eyes.
"Let me see it, Mel," said Jana.
Melanie handed the papers to Jana, who glanced quickly over
the six sheets.
"These are all the same," said Jana. "I don't
"I know," Melanie said. "You're supposed to
send out these tests to six girls within six days—"
"You mean like a chain letter?" asked Beth.
Melanie shrugged. "Sort of. What you do is send out
these tests to six girls in six days. Then on the fourth day after that, you
drink a glass of water, then say your favorite guy's name. Within another four
days, he'll ask you out or tell you he likes you. If you get the letter and
do what it says, your love life during the next
will be a
Katie, Christie, and Beth burst out laughing. Jana wanted
to, but she was able to control herself.
"That's the silliest thing I ever heard," said
Beth stopped giggling long enough to ask, "Does it work
if you drink Pepsi instead of water?"
Melanie frowned and stomped her foot. "I'm perfectly
serious! I know it sounds a little crazy, but can you imagine if it works?
Wouldn't that be super?"
"So, what's in the test?" asked Christie.
"It's all about the things you should think about
before you drink the water and say the name," Melanie said. "Like"—she
began reading—"'What qualities do you want your boyfriend to have?' Now
that makes sense! I'll bet a psychologist or somebody who really knows about
relationships wrote this test."
Katie laughed again, but Christie gave her a nudge with her
elbow, so she covered her mouth with her hand and tried to keep a straight
"And, 'How important are his looks?'" Melanie
read. She stopped and stared off into the distance, thinking. "Got a pen
Jana handed her a ballpoint pen.
"Ve-ry im-por-tant," Melanie said as she wrote.
"Oh, brother," said Katie.
"These are all important," Melanie said
defensively. "Here, you four take a test."
"No way," said Katie, shaking her head.
"Us, either," the others said in unison.
Melanie shrugged. "Suit yourself," she said. Then
she grinned slyly. "But you may never find your true love."
Katie grinned back. "I'll take my chances," she
"Okay, but I've got to give these tests to six girls before
the end of the six days," Melanie said.
"I'm sure you'll find some kids who'll think it's fun,"
Jana assured her, "even if they don't quite believe it."
"Yeah," Melanie said. "I should quit
worrying. I'll find some girls who'll take it seriously." She directed the
last comment to Katie, who just smiled.
"So when does your new student show up?" Beth
asked, turning back to Jana.
"Anytime," Jana said. "Maybe even today."
"New student?" asked Melanie, wrinkling her nose. "What's
that all about?"
"Wacko is hosting some homeless kids," Jana
explained. "I'm getting paired up with one of them."
"Wow. Do you think it might be a
Melanie asked, her eyes getting wide.
Jana shook her head. "Girls are paired with girls."
"Have you ever noticed," said Beth, "that
when Melanie talks about boys, the pupils of her eyes dilate?"
Melanie burst into fits of giggles. "Really?"
"Really," Beth answered, grinning.
Just then the first bell rang, and students began heading
toward the building.
"Come on," Jana said. "If my student is here,
I want to be available whenever the office sends for me."
"Oh, and I've got to find some girls to take the test,"
Melanie said. "It would be
if I had to go through four
years of a disastrous love life."
Jana shook her head as they hurried into the school building
and scattered to their classes.
For the next two days, Jana could hardly think of anything
else but the new girl she would be paired with. She kept waiting to be called
to the office to meet her, but the call hadn't come.
Several of the new students had arrived already. She had
seen Whitney Larkin escorting a new girl between classes, but she hadn't had a
chance to speak to Whitney about how it was going.
Sitting in her first period history class on Thursday, Jana
made a mental note to call Whitney that night. Then she started daydreaming
about the girl who would be assigned to her. Jana wondered what her name would
be, whether she would be nice, and whether they would have things in common.
But most of all, Jana was excited about the idea of helping this new girl. She
knew that it wouldn't be easy at times, but she expected good things to happen.
After all, she reasoned, she really wanted to help.
Jana sat at her desk and doodled on her notebook. Then she
started making a list of things she could do for the girl on her first day. She'd
already decided that she wouldn't overwhelm the girl by introducing her to The
Fabulous Five right away. Jana knew that she and the new girl would want to
have a little time alone first to get to know each other.
Jana began her list.
1. Show her to locker.
2. Introduce her to teachers.
3. Eat lunch alone with her.
Jana paused and tapped her pencil against her cheek. That
all seemed so obvious. What else could she do? She couldn't think of anything.
The classroom door opening caught her eye, and a student
messenger from the office strode across the front of the room and handed Mr.
Naset a note.
Jana's stomach fluttered and she sat up straight. Was the
office sending for her?
"Jana," said Mr. Naset, looking up from the note. "Your
presence is requested in the office."
Jana gasped, leaped to her feet, and headed for the door.
Oh, she thought, maybe I should bring my books and stuff in case I don't have
time to come back—
She whirled around and headed back for her desk, then
stopped. She'll be in most of my classes anyway, she thought. I'll be coming
back to history.
She turned for the door and stopped again. But if I'm gone
for the rest of the period, I'll need my books to go on to second period, she reasoned.
She sighed and whirled around for the third time, causing
the kids around her to laugh. Rushing back to her desk, she grabbed her book
bag and pencils.
"You look like a duck in a shooting gallery! Calm down,"
Beth whispered loudly behind her hand. "You'll be fine."
Jana's cheeks turned red, but she managed to flash a weak
smile at Beth and then ran out the door.