Excerpted from Melanie in Manhattan by Carol Weston Copyright © 2006 by Carol Weston. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Dear Brand-New Diary,
Whoa! I can't believe my eyes!!!
I am about to be face to face (or girl to statue) with the Statue of Liberty!!
I love the Statue of Liberty!!! She is green from her spiky crown to her big flip-flops, and she's draped in a toga dress that makes her look like a Roman goddess--an American Roman goddess.
We're on a boat because Dad's boss invited us to a party. The invitation said, "Don't be late--the boat won't wait!"
The bad thing is that there are no kids my age. The worse thing is that my brother, Matt the Brat, is acting his age--seven.
He keeps waving at other boats and shouting "Ahoy!" He's even ahoying seagulls. And there are lots of seagulls.
I told him to quit it, but he said, "Ahoy!"
I said, "I hope a seagull poops on you!"
He said, "Ahoy!" again.
There's nothing more annoying than a brother who's ahoying!
Seriously! You'd think Matt would look up at the Statue of Liberty. She is getting closer and bigger
and bigger and
How can he be so clueless? How can he not see what's right in front of him??
twenty minutes later
I couldn't take it anymore, so finally I said, "Hey, Ahoy Boy! Look over there!"
He looked, and instead of saying, "Ahoy!" he said, "Awesome!"
The Statue of Liberty is pretty, but not pretty-pretty. More like: proud. But not show-offy proud. Dignified proud. As though she knows she's done the exact right thing, welcoming new people to America.
It feels like she is even welcoming us back home from our trip to Spain.
Dad came over and took pictures of me sticking up one hand and holding my diary (you) in the other: The Statue of Melanie!
Matt asked, "Can we have a party on a boat someday?"
Dad said, "Don't hold your breath!" So of course Matt started holding his breath--and making a big deal of it. Dad told us that the Statue of Liberty was built by two French guys: Eiffel (who designed the Eiffel Tower) and Bartholdi (who made her look like his mom). Dad also said that her nose is four-and-a-half feet long. I doubt mine is even two inches!
We were getting really close to the Statue of Liberty, and I couldn't stop staring. It was like I was under a spell--a spell Moron Matt kept trying to break! His freckly cheeks were puffed out and his blue eyes were wide open and he kept shifting from one foot to the other. Finally he exhaled and asked, "Think she could catch a fly ball?"
I said, "No! She would never put her torch down."
"Think she's ticklish under her arm?"
"Ha ha. You're hilarious."
"Think she has B.O. and needs a de-ODOR-ant?"
"Matt, you immature idiot, stop trying to be funny."
"I'm funny without trying."
"No, you are so not funny, it's not even funny. Besides, there are some things you just don't joke about."
"Like the Statue of Liberty. Duh! Leave her alone!"
Matt shrugged, then he and Dad left me alone. Alone with the most famous statue in America!
Seagulls are squawking and grown-ups are talking, but Lady Liberty is serious, strong, and still. (That's an alliteration.)
And sure of herself. She is the opposite of moody!
What would it feel like to be the Statue of Liberty: to be so solid and so permanent?
She is now getting farther and farther and smaller and smaller.
We passed by Ellis Island (where immigrants used to arrive) and are heading toward Lower Manhattan (where the twin towers used to be). Mom came to check on me, but since I was writing, she just put her hands on the railing. I can always tell when she is thinking about the towers because she gets extra quiet.
A long time ago, before security people started looking at everyone's shoes at airports, America tried to put out a great big welcome mat for anyone who wanted to come here.
Then things got more complicated.
I'm lucky. I've traveled pretty much and I'm learning about the world. For some reason, though, I don't usually think about being American.
Right now, what I'm thinking is that if I had a flaming torch, I would hold it high and shine it back at the Statue of Liberty. But I really wish I had a magic torch--a torch that could stop time in its tracks! Why? Because I like being in fifth grade and having a best friend (Cecily) and a boy I like (Miguel). I like things exactly the way they are. Life feels . . .
Melanie in Manhattan
P.S. It's a good thing I put you in my backpack. Normally I keep travel diaries--which I did in Italy, Holland, and Spain. This will be my very first Melanie At Home diary!
April Fool's Day
It's April Fool's, but I swear I'm not making this up.
Over spring break, while I was off in Spain having my first kiss with Miguel, our mice, Milkshake and Pancake, were here having a whole entire family!
We didn't even know they were pregnant!
We didn't even know they were a boy and a girl.
Now instead of two, there are ten!
The babies are red, blind, bald, teeny tiny, and somewhere in between cute and disgusting. (To be honest, they are more on the disgusting side.)
They keep hanging on to the mother to nurse. Poor Milkshake! She must be exhausted. You know the song "Three Blind Mice"? Well, she has eight blind mice.
Pancake is already trying to make more babies (if you know what I mean). It's like a TV nature show.
In the world, mice get eaten up by cats and owls and other predators, so Mother Nature has to make sure that each mouse pair makes tons of babies so that a few can survive to make tons more babies. In Matt's room, however, there are no predators. (Matt can be an Annoying Little Brother, or A.L.B., but at least he doesn't eat mice.)
What are baby mice called anyway? Baby dogs are puppies; baby cats are kittens; baby owls are owlets; baby ducks are ducklings. But baby mice aren't micies or micetens or micelets or mouselings.
Whatever they're called, Matt is excited about them. He said:
It's kind of nice to have 10 mice.
Mom and Dad are not excited. They are the opposite.
Me, I'm . . .
Mouse owner Mel