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  • Fat Cat
  • Written by Robin Brande
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  • Fat Cat
  • Written by Robin Brande
    Read by Kirsten Potter
  • Format: Unabridged Audiobook Download | ISBN: 9780307579911
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Written by Robin BrandeAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Robin Brande



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On Sale: October 13, 2009
Pages: 336 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89357-5
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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Read by Kirsten Potter
On Sale: October 13, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-307-57991-1
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ya (18) science (17) young adult (16) friendship (14)
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Cat's smart, sassy and funny, but thin she's not.  Until her class science project. That's when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have their benefits.

As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren't too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. . . .

This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves.

The paperback edition includes fun, tasty recipes and an interview with the author about her own experiences as an overweight teen.

Excerpt

1
"You're all good little machines," Mr. Fizer told us. He sat there this afternoon in his tweed jacket and his white shirt and plaid bow tie and glared at us over the top of his half-glasses. Which was a seriously scary sight.

"You know how to take tests," he said. "You know how to memorize facts and mimic everything your teachers have taught you--but do any of you really know how to think? We're about to find out."

I know I should have been concentrating. I should have kept my eyes locked on Mr. Fizer, practically reading his lips to make sure I caught every word. His class is going to be the hardest thing I've ever taken in my life.

But sometimes my body parts have a mind of their own. And there my eyes were, straying off to the right, seeking out that one particular face in the crowd the way they always do, no matter how many times I've told them to stop. And since this was a crowd of only nine, he was way too easy to find.

Unfortunately, right at that moment Matt McKinney was looking back at me, and our eyes met for just that one split second, and even though I instantly looked away, it was too late. I had to see that subtle little smirk of his, and it made me wish more than anything I had something sharp and heavy to throw at his head.

"Here are the rules," Mr. Fizer said.

As if he needed to tell us. Every one of us understood the deal long before today--Fizer's Special Topics in Research Science class is legendary, not the least because every few years someone has to run out of there on the first day and vomit because of the stress.

I had a light lunch.

"When I call your name," Mr. Fizer said, "you will come up, close your eyes, and choose a picture. You will then have one hour in which to devise your topic. You may not use the Internet or any other resources. You may not discuss it with your classmates. You will have only your own creativity to rely upon.

"We do it this way," he continued, "because true scientific progress comes through innovative thinking, not merely reciting what other scientists have taught us. Albert Einstein believed that imagination is more important than knowledge, and I agree. We must always push ourselves to discover more. Understood?"

No one bothered answering. We were all too busy staring at the folder he'd just opened on his desk, revealing this year's Stack.

The Stack. It's your whole future resting on a pick of the cards. Only in Mr. Fizer's case, the deck of cards is actually a stack of pictures he's gathered throughout the year--pages torn out of magazines like National Geographic and Nature and Science.
If you luck out, you can end up with a picture that applies to a field you're already interested in--like for me, insects and their co-evolution with plants. It's what I spent the whole summer helping -research in one of the biology labs at the university. I figured if I ended up with a picture even remotely dealing with either plants or bugs, I'd be able to use everything I just learned about fig wasps.

On the other hand, you can also end up with something completely outside your subject field, which is why people like George Garmine had to flee the room last year to puke.

Because if you bomb, you might as well plan a career as a drone in some laboratory at some obscure college in a town nobody's heard of, because you're never going to get the premium offers. But if you do well--I mean really well--you can not only get Mr. Fizer's recommendation for college applications, but you might also win your category at the science fair and then go on to internationals. Some of Mr. Fizer's students have done just that. And then you have a great shot at winning scholarships and impressing college recruiters, so that even people like me can end up at places like MIT or Duke or Harvard or wherever. So yeah, it's a big deal.
We all just wanted to get on with it already, but Mr. Fizer still had one more rule to tell us about.

"This is not a time for teamwork," he said. "This is a competition. This is your chance to show bold thinking and a true commitment to your science. For the next seven months you will work independently and in secret. I am the only person you will share any details with until it is time to reveal your project at the science fair in March. Is that clear? Good. Miss Chang, we will begin with you."

Lindsay wiped her palms against her pants and walked so slowly to the front of the room it was like she'd just been told to come up there and drink poison. She stood in front of Mr. Fizer's desk, did the palm swipe one more time, then reached into the Stack.

You could tell Mr. Fizer was watching to make sure she kept her eyes closed. Lindsay pulled out a picture, pressed it against her chest, and went back to her seat without even looking at what she'd chosen. That seemed like a good strategy--no point in freaking out in front of everyone if it turned out to be really bad.

Next he called up Farah, Alexandra, Margo, and Nick. Then me.

I eased between the lab tables and walked to the front, and that's when I started to think about my butt. And about how Matt McKinney was no doubt looking at it right at that moment and noticing how much larger it was than the last time he saw it. Seven more pounds over the summer, thank you very much. When you're working in a lab as intense as the one where I was, all you really have time for every day is the vending machines and the Dairy Queen on the corner. Everyone at that lab was a pudgeball.

So I stood in front of Mr. Fizer's desk, my hand shaking, thinking about my future and how it was about to change, but really thinking more about my thighs and gigabutt and trying to pull my shirt down a little lower to cover them, and finally I closed my eyes and reached into the Stack. That's when I heard Matt clear his throat, which sounded like he was suppressing a laugh, and my hand jerked from where it was, and I suppose that makes it fate that I chose the picture I did.

I couldn't look. I clutched the paper against my chest and went back to my seat and did my best to control my breathing.


From the Hardcover edition.
Robin Brande

About Robin Brande

Robin Brande - Fat Cat

Photo © Courtesy of the Author

In Her Own Words

Not being a science girl myself, I knew if I were going to write a novel like Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, I’d better spend a proper amount of time doing research. So I’m sorry to say I gave up many lazy summer days (okay, maybe weeks) to plow through Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, highlighting and underlining and giving myself some massive headaches, before I realized there was a much easier way to go about it.

So that fall I went back to high school. I sat in on freshman biology classes for a month. And not only did I pick up the science I needed, but I also had the glorious experience of being back in high school and not caring whether I impressed anyone. Do you know how liberating that is? Who knew it was possible to walk those halls without worrying about your skin, your hair, your clothes, your braces, that stupid thing you just blurted out in chemistry, that boy you just totally humiliated yourself in front of–I mean I had no idea it was possible to actually walk upright and look people in the eye. Fascinating.

I just finished writing another novel that again “required” me to go back to high school. I hope nobody notices I’m making a habit of this.

The other element to Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature–the religious part–came more naturally. I grew up fundamentalist Baptist, and I have enough stories from that to last me quite a while. I loved, loved, loved my religious upbringing, but there were definitely some odd times, including the one that ultimately led to me being banished from my church. But that’s a whole other story.

The thing that I enjoyed most about writing this novel was articulating for myself what it is I believe about God and evolution. It’s something I never really threw light on until I had to put it in the mouths and the heads of the various characters in this book. I understand why the debate exists, and why people get so exercised about it, but I hope that the resolution Mena comes to in the end is one that will be helpful to other people in sorting through the issue themselves.

If not, then I hope I’ve at least added something useful to the dialogue. And given people a few laughs and a little romance to enjoy along the way.

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