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  • Thank You, Lucky Stars
  • Written by Beverly Donofrio
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375849633
  • Our Price: $9.99
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Thank You, Lucky Stars

Written by Beverly DonofrioAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Beverly Donofrio


List Price: $9.99


On Sale: January 08, 2008
Pages: 240 | ISBN: 978-0-375-84963-3
Published by : Schwartz & Wade RH Childrens Books
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It’s the first day of fifth grade, and Ally is psyched. She and her best friend, Betsy, are in the same class, and have already planned on singing in the annual talent show together. But it’s not long before she sees that Betsy has made a new best friend, and Ally is no longer on her radar screen. Not to mention that the weird new kid, Tina, has glommed on to Ally. In this phenomenally accurate and readable portrayal of the trials and tribulations of fifth grade, readers will watch a quirky, sensitive, and extraordinarily likeable girl try to survive. Narrated in Ally’s distinctive first person voice, Thank You, Lucky Stars beautifully illustrates that it is possible to be unpopular, individualistic, nice, and still have fun.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter One

I could hardly believe it was here: the First Day of Fifth Grade. The sun was shining through my window, birds sang a hallelujah chorus, and I could feel a case of the heebie-jeebies coming on. That’s when my whole body tickles and I jerk around like I’ve just heard the funniest joke in the world. I even made up a poem.

The fifth grade is Too great To even contemplate.

Thank you, Lucky Stars, my best friend, Betsy, and I would be in the same class—for the first time ever. And the event I’d been looking forward to since kindergarten would finally happen—Betsy Jane O’Malley and me, Ally Theresa Miller, would star in the Annual Fifth-Grade Talent Show. We were going to sing “Bridge over Troubled Water,” and I was counting on getting a standing ovation.

I leapt onto my bed and heebie-jeebied, careful not to bounce too loudly because if my mother caught me she’d act like I’d just set fire to the whole state of New Jersey.

Just then my mom called, “Hurry up, Ally! You don’t want to be late,” so I jumped down and put on my new pink leggings and butterfly jersey. Betsy had the exact same outfit, and we were wearing them together for the first day. First days are the best. Everything is new. Besides your clothes, there’s the new teacher, your books, the classroom and where you sit. Everything begins all over, fresh—nothing is ruined yet.

Before I ran to breakfast, I brushed my hair into a ponytail and fastened it with my new rhinestone clip. The clip was identical to Betsy’s, of course. Both Betsy and I have honey-brown hair and blue eyes. My hair is thicker and wavy, kind of like a horse’s tail, plus I’m taller and skinnier than Betsy. But we’re so alike that I figured as soon as our teacher, Mrs. Joy, saw us, she’d probably say, “Are you two twins?” I had a feeling I’d be Mrs. Joy’s pet. I’d collect everyone’s homework and be the one chosen to answer the principal’s phone during lunch on the days her secretary went home early.

I hoped I’d like Mrs. Joy as much as I’d liked Ms. Brady, my favorite teacher, from the third grade. Ms. Brady moved to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where she said deer walk right up to your porch.

We live in New Jersey. There is such a thing as Jersey cows, which I think are supposed to come from here. But if a cow walked up to somebody’s porch on my block, Mr. Winters would probably just shoot it like he shoots those poor pigeons for sitting on his drainpipe.

I gobbled down my breakfast, called out, “Bye, guys!” to my parents, and ran all the way to the bus stop.

As soon as I got there, that pest Artie Kaminsky, who has annoyed me since the first grade, called out, “Here comes Ally-oop, the Poop.”

When Artie acts like a two-year-old and chases me with worms, I run away. When he calls me dumb names, I ignore him. So instead of shouting, “Shut up, you turd ball!” I pretended I’d just had an operation on my eardrums and couldn’t hear a word he’d said. I stared up the hill at Betsy’s house, wishing she’d hurry up.

When I saw her walk over in a jeans skirt instead of our outfit, my jaw dropped to the sidewalk. “Why are you wearing that?” I practically yelled. I didn’t even say hi.

“Wanted to.” She shrugged, then smiled at someone behind me.

I heard “Hey, Bets,” and turned to see Mona Montagne, our sworn enemy, wearing the same skirt.

“I can’t believe you!” My heart was hammering so hard you could probably have seen it through my shirt. “You promised.”

“I didn’t promise. You’re such an exaggerator.” Betsy rolled her eyes at Mona, who rolled her eyes back.

Betsy and I had been enemies with Mona since she’d moved onto our road in kindergarten. But this summer, coincidentally, their families had rented beach houses just three doors away from each other. When Betsy got back, I’d called and invited her to walk to Lala’s Market with me, and on the way I’d asked her about the beach. “Did you guys hang out?”

Betsy had shrugged. “A little.”

“What’d you do?”

“Nothing. Forget about it.”

“Are you going to be friends with her now?”

“I told you, forget it.”

“So you like her?” I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, but Betsy kept on walking.

“Don’t make such a big deal about it,” she said.

“So why won’t you answer my question?” I caught up to her.

“You never know when to give up. You exaggerate everything.”

We’d bought Jolly Ranchers, and on our way home, I tried to stop being mad by telling her about the awesome thunderstorm we’d had while she was gone. Lightning had struck a telephone pole on our road and electri- cal wires had whipped in the wind like sparklers. The electricity had gone out, and all along the street we could see houses flickering inside, all lit up from candles. At her door, Betsy had said, “Wow, I wish I’d been here,” and I thought everything was back to normal.

But now everything was the opposite of normal. Betsy was friends with Mona.

I pictured them at the beach, walking to the end of a long jetty, then sitting on a rock above the waves, their families in a circle toasting marshmallows around a bonfire, singing “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.” My family never went on vacations. My parents only liked cruises by themselves. Mona’s and Betsy’s parents were young. Mine were as old as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I know you’re not supposed to wish bad things on people, but if Mona Montagne had tripped at the bus stop and then fallen off the earth, I would have done an Irish jig.

When she and Betsy started whispering, I lost it. I pretended to sneeze and covered my face with my hands. I would have died if they caught me crying.

From the Hardcover edition.
Beverly Donofrio

About Beverly Donofrio

Beverly Donofrio - Thank You, Lucky Stars

Photo © Will O'Leary

I am new to writing books for children, but I am not new to writing books. The big difference between the books I wrote before–for adults–and the books I am writing now–for children–is that the books I wrote for adults are memoirs and everything that happens in them really happened, while the books I am writing for kids are completely made up from my imagination. I had always wanted to make stories up for adults, too, but I never seemed to be able to do it. Every time I’d start a story, by the second paragraph I’d be putting things in that really had happened to me. I couldn’t help myself. My life seemed more interesting than anything I could make up. Still, I got pretty sick of not being able to invent anything, because I knew I had a good imagination. In high school I was a terrible student and a very good liar. Instead of reading real books and writing book reports about them, I’d make all the stories up, including the name of the author, but not the publisher, which I would copy from other books. I was so good at making up stories, my friends would ask me to make up books for their reports, too.

I wrote two memoirs, and after I’d finished my second one, I had run out of interesting events to tell about, and I really didn’t have much more to stay about my life. But I didn’t know how to write anything but memoir, so I started another one that began with a touching story about a duck that had appeared in my yard one day. That was a fine beginning, but I couldn’t think of much else to write after that. I complained to a friend that I wished I could write fiction, and she said, “Why don’t you try writing for children. You might not be so afraid of the audience.” I wasn’t aware that I was afraid of the audience, but all the same, I thought writing for children was a very good idea. And so one day I sat at my desk, wondering what to write for children, and the first two lines of a book just came to me, like a gift. They were: “Mary lived in a big house with a very little Mouse. The Mouse lived in a little house inside a very big house, with Mary.” I thought that was a pretty good situation for a kid’s book, a girl and a mouse who live parallel lives and one day discover each other. I continued writing about Mary and the Mouse, and by the end of the day, I’d finished the book. It took me another week to polish it and make sure every word was perfect in its place, and then my agent immediately sold it to Anne Schwartz at Random House. The book is called Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary.

Anne had read my first book, Riding in Cars with Boys, which I’d written for adults. It was made into a movie starring Drew Barrymore, as me, which was thrilling and strange and many things. Anyway, it turned out that even though I wrote Riding in Cars with Boys for adults, a lot of teenagers had read it and continue to read it. My editor, Anne, said to me, “You’re a natural. Why don’t you write a book for young adults?” I responded that I’d always wanted to write about the worst year of my life, which had been the fifth grade. She told me to write a few chapters and show them to her, and maybe she’d give me a contract to finish the book. Which is exactly what happened. The book is Thank You, Lucky Stars. In this book, I began with something that had really happened to me: my best friend dropped me for my archrival, Joannie Fontaine, who I renamed Mona Montagne in the book. So the starting point was something that had really happened, but then I was able to make the rest of it up. And to put in a lot of things I love: all the old rock and roll dances such as the Swim, the Monkey, the Hitchhike, and Jerk, plus disco dancing and scenes from two of my favorite movies, Saturday Night Fever and Dirty Dancing.

After the main character’s, Ally’s, best friend dumps her, she basically has no choice but to be friends with the weird new girl in school, whose name is Tina. I decided to fashion Tina on my friend Jacki Lyden. Jacki is enthusiastic about everything, never seems to get tired, and never thinks that anything is impossible. She doesn’t have a shy bone in her body and would march up to talk to the president if he were in the same room. I, on the other hand, can be very shy, easily discouraged, and afraid to try new things. I wondered, if Jacki and I knew each other when we were in the fifth grade, what our friendship would be like? It’s the friendship between Ally and Tina that drives the plot.

I have always wished I could be a little more like Jacki, and I think in the writing of the book, in having to become Tina to write about her, a little of Tina and Jacki did rub off on me. Now, if that’s going to happen with all of my characters, I think I’d better be very careful about the characters I invent.

I hope I invent a whole slew of them, learn more about my world in the process, and pass the knowledge on to my readers. I consider it one of the greatest honors of my life that I am able to write books for young people, whom I find ever so much more alive and curious and fun than nearly all the adults I know, including–and especially–myself.

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