Table of Contents
My special thanks to
Sally Walstrom, advanced-practice nurse, for answering my questions about neonatal nurseries and the babies who start their stories there. And my forever thanks to my editor, Kathy Dawson; my agent, Steven Chudney; and illustrator Jana Christy.
DIAL BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
A division of Penguin Young Readers Group
Published by The Penguin Group
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Copyright Â© 2011 by Julie Bowe
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Text set in ITC Esprit
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bowe, Julie, date.
My forever friends / by Julie Bowe.
p. cm.â(Friends for keeps ; )
Summary: Former best friends Brooke and Jenna are feuding, and soon all the girls
in the fourth-grade class are split into two groups, with Ida May right in the middle
trying to put things back the way they used to be.
ISBN : 978-1-101-51695-9
[1. Best friendsâFiction. 2. FriendshipâFiction. 3. SchoolsâFiction.
4. Interpersonal relationsâFiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.B671943Mx 2011 [Fic]âdc22 2010038151
This book, including the spiders (especially the spiders!) is for my son, Eli
I'm Ida May and I'm feeling a little squished. That's because I'm sitting on a piano bench between Jenna Drews and Brooke Morgan. I was saving half of the bench for my best friend, Stacey Merriweather, but Jenna budged in before Stacey could. Jenna is my sometimes friend. Then Brooke budged in on the other side of me. Brooke is my sometimes-not friend.
We're all here, at Jenna's house, for a shower. Not the wet kind. The party kind. Jenna's mom is having a baby, so Brooke's mom decided the PTA should give her a baby shower. Mrs. Drews is the PTA president. Mrs. Morgan is vice president, which means she and Mrs. Drews are supposed to get along.
“Piano benches aren't really made for
people, ” I say, looking at Brooke. “Maybe you could sit on the floor?” There are no empty chairs left.
floors,” Brooke says, flicking back her long, shiny hair and nudging her butt another notch onto the bench.
I sigh and pull in my shoulders.
Jenna glances past me at Brooke. “Just
?” She squints. “I didn't think you could do
. Except dance around like a horse. And act like you're the boss of the world.”
Brooke leans across me and squints back at Jenna. “It takes one to know one,” she says. “And it's better to dance like a horse than to look like one.”
“Ouch,” I say, squeezing my knees.
Jenna shoots dagger eyes at Brooke.
Brooke shoots dagger eyes at Jenna.
“Hold your fire,” I say, raising my hand. I slide off the bench, onto the floor, and scoot in next to Stacey.
“What's the score?” Stacey asks, glancing up at Brooke and Jenna and the empty space between them.
“Still tied,” I reply. “Zero to zero.”
Jenna and Brooke have been best friends since kindergarten, so they've fought over lots of things before. Kickball scores. Bus seats. Lunch line positions. But this fight is different. No one knows what started it. I'm not even sure if Jenna and Brooke know, it's been going on for so long.
“Do you think they'll ever be friends again?” Stacey whispers.
I shrug. “Maybe. If one of them apologizes for whatever she did to make the other one mad.”
Stacey does a snort. “Like that will ever happen.”
I nod. When it comes to
being sorry, Jenna and Brooke are tied for first place.
Stacey gives Jenna a sparkly smile. She's an expert at doing them. Especially when she wants to change the mood or get her way. I've seen her use her sparkly smile on her mom a million times. And on our teacher, Mr. Crow. And on the boys in our class when they threaten to chase us with daddy longlegs spiders. “You're going to need a rake to clean up after
party!” she says brightly to Jenna. Baby clothes, toys, diapers, bottles, ribbons, and crumpled-up wrapping paper branch out around Mrs. Drews's chair.
Jenna lifts her chin. “Not my party,” she snips. “Not my problem.”
Even though Jenna says that, I know she doesn't mean it. She helps out a lot around here. Cleaning. Washing dishes. Taking care of her little sister, Rachel. And not just because her mom can't right now. Her parents have rules about pitching in. My parents have rules too, but sometimes they let them slip.
Nothing is slippery at Jenna's house.
“This one next, Mommy!” Rachel picks up a big box wrapped in yellow duckie paper. She rips it open and pulls back the tissue inside. Rachel is only in kindergarten, so everyone thinks it's cute that she's helping her mom with the presents. I wouldn't mind tearing open a few presents too, but when you're in fourth grade it's not so cute anymore.
Rachel pulls out a quilt that's the size of a pan of school pizza. Green and yellow with silky white trim.
“How nice,” Mrs. Drews says, holding up the baby quilt for everyone to see.
All the moms coo.
Me and Stacey sigh.
“How much longer until dessert?” Stacey whispers to me.
I look at my watch. “I'd say another fifteen coos or so,” I whisper back.
Brooke's foot nudges Stacey. Stacey looks up. Brooke does a fake yawn and rolls her eyes. She's an expert at making eye comments. And at dipping into other people's conversations.
Stacey does a fake yawn and rolls her eyes back. They both giggle.
“Thank you, Francine,” Mrs. Drews says to an older woman sitting across the crowded room. “My sewing projects never turn out as lovely yours.”
“Well,” Mrs. Eddy says, her wrinkled cheeks glowing pink, “I've had sixty years of practice!”
Mrs. Drews passes the green and yellow quilt to Brooke's mom, who takes it and rubs it against her red cheek.
red. I see a smudge rub off onto the silky white trim. “It's yummy, Francine! Simply
! Honestly, I could just
eat it up
!” She laughs loudly and passes the quilt along.
All the moms do friendly chuckles.
Mrs. Drews zeroes in on the red smudge and makes her mouth do a smile.
Me and Stacey do nose giggles. Partly because of the
and partly because of the
. That's because
to us. She used to be a real teacher at our school, Purdee Elementary, but now she's just a substitute. I never even knew she had a first name. But I did know that she makes nice quilts, because she's helping our class make one for the school auction in a few weeks. We're having a carnival too. If we're lucky, we'll raise enough money to buy new playground equipment. Jenna keeps reminding us that her mom is in charge of the whole thing, so of course it will be perfect.
“Pink is for girl babies and blue is for boy babies,” Stacey says as she passes the little green and yellow quilt to me. “So what are green and yellow for?”
Brooke pokes in. “Those are the colors you choose when you don't know what kind of baby it will be.”
What kind of baby it will be,
I think to myself. Then I do a little snort. It's the kind of snort Randi Peterson would do if she were about to say something clever. Randi is another girl in our class. So are Meeka and Jolene. I guess their moms aren't on the PTA, or they'd be here too.
“Green must be for frog babies,” I say, and do the snort again.
Jenna crinkles her eyebrows. “Of course,” she says, taking the quilt from Brooke and passing it along. “My mother is having a frog.”
Stacey does the snort too. “And yellow is for . . . chicken babies!” She flaps her wings.
“Or monkey babies,” I say. “Because of the bananas.”
Me and Stacey do a snort duet.
Jenna flicks back her blond braids and lifts her chin. “Stop making jokes about my mother and her baby.” Even though she says it to me and Stacey, she shoots a look at Brooke.
“We're not making jokes about them,” I say. “We're just exercising our imaginations, like Mr. Crow is always telling us to do.” Our teacher is a big fan of imagination.
Stacey scratches her armpits like a monkey. “Ooo-ooo-ooo!” she grunts.
I scratch my armpits and grunt back even though Jenna is poking me with her toe.
But I ignore her toe pokes because it feels so good to be goofing around with Stacey again.
Lately, Stacey and Brooke have been busy practicing their dance for the spring recital. They did a duet called “The Pony Dance.” But now the recital is over, so Stacey isn't as busy with all the other things she likes besides me.
I hear a monkey grunt and look up. Brooke is scratching her armpits and crossing her eyes at Stacey.
Stacey giggles and crosses her eyes back. Stacey is Brooke's best friend too, so sometimes I have to share her.
I try to cross my eyes, but I'm not very good at it. Besides, Brooke and Stacey have already moved on to tongue rolling, which is even harder for me.
I'm a tiny bit glad when Mrs. Morgan sees what's going on and shoots dagger eyes at Brooke.
Brooke and Stacey uncurl their tongues and fold their hands.
No more monkey business.
When all the presents are finally unwrapped, my mom and Brooke's mom hand out cake and ice cream and punch to everyone.
Me and the other girls take our desserts outside. It's the first really warm Saturday we've had all spring. The kind that makes you feel like summer vacation is just a block or two away.
I help Rachel carry her punch. Jenna, Brooke, and Stacey speed walk past us to the picnic table that sits near the little woods behind Jenna's house. Jenna gets there first and hogs up the shade. “Ha-ha,” she says, giving Brooke a smirk. “I win.”
Brooke sets down her dessert and adjusts the sparkly headband that's holding her hair perfectly in place. “I'm your guest,” she says to Jenna. “You're supposed to give
the best spot.”