My name is Phoebe G. Green, and I have a new nickname! My dad made it up. Get ready for it: Phoebe Green, The List Queen. Pretty cool, huh? It’s an extra-special nickname because it’s actually longer than my regular name. Usually nicknames are shorter, like Pheebs. I’m always making lists, so that’s why my dad calls me The List Queen. Mostly I make lists about why I’m so lucky, but this week I had to make an unlucky list. It was just that kind of week. Here’s why:
1. I didn’t do well on my spelling test last week, so my parents made me do very boring spelling flash cards.
2. For some reason, the more I do very boring spelling flash cards, the more I think about what to make for lunch. Once I thought about how artichokes and tomatoes and melty mozzarella cheese would taste in a toasty wrap. (By the way, I’m a foodie, which means I like eating and cooking delicious things . . . a lot.)
3. Then I got a bad cold and didn’t go to school for two days. My nose was so stuffed that food tasted like paper, which was the saddest thing ever.
4. Because I was sick, I missed Charlotte Hempler’s birthday party, so I didn’t get to eat the homemade cupcakes her mom brought us. They might have tasted like paper because of my cold, but still. Then I finally felt better. So I made a wrap and brought it to school, but it opened up while I was eating it, and I got tomato juice all over my favorite purple T-shirt.
But then, everything changed at dinner one night. We ate yummy salmon (which is my favorite fish because it tastes very buttery even though there’s no butter in it), baked potatoes, and sautéed spinach (that’s a fancy way of saying spinach cooked in a pan). I helped Dad make all of it because we are the official family chefs now. One of my best friends, Camille, is the reason why I like food so much. She moved to my town all the way from France and brought these beautiful French lunches to school. I loved them, even though lots of people thought they were weird. Then I became a foodie, Camille and I became best friends, and Dad and I became the family chefs. My mom never liked cooking that much, so it worked out.
During dinner, I started thinking about my boring spelling cards again.
“Mom, I don’t understand why I have spelling tests,” I said. “When I use the computer, it always fixes my wrong words.”
“Phoebe,” my mom said, “knowing how to spell is part of learning English.”
“But, Mom, things are different in the digital age,” I said because I heard someone saying “digital age” on TV yesterday, and I thought it sounded cool, even though I didn’t really know what it meant. Mom, Dad, and my older sister, Molly, stopped chewing their salmon and blinked at me. I guess they didn’t know what it meant, either. Then Mom told us something very interesting.
“I spoke to Isabelle Durand today,” she said as she took a bite of spinach.
Isabelle Durand is Camille’s mom.
I also have another best friend, named Sage, who is not French at all, but he does like french fries a lot.
“Did Camille invite me for another playdate?” I started bouncing up and down.
“This is even better,” Mom said. “February break is coming up, and you know how we normally visit Grandma Green in Miami?”
“Yeah, yeah?” I said, almost yelling.
I loved going to Miami. The pool there was really warm, and everyone was so old and nice and let me play cards with them.
“This year, I think we might go somewhere else,” she said, grinning, and now looking at Dad.
“Where?” Molly asked. “London?” Molly’s best friend, Maya, went to London last year, and Molly hasn’t stopped talking about it.
“Close. The Durands invited us to France for Camille’s birthday!” Mom said excitedly. “Camille’s grandmother has a house right outside Paris where we could all stay.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Dad said, smiling extra big.
“Paris?” Molly said, and clapped her hands together. “That’s even better than London!”
“Wow,” I said, letting it sink in. “Does Camille’s grandmother live in a really fancy French place like a castle?” I asked.
“I’m sure it’s very nice, Phoebe, but I don’t think it’s a castle,” Dad said.
“I can’t wait to tell Maya!” Molly exclaimed.
Dad started to clean up the plates. “So what do you think, Phoebe?”
At first I felt sad about not going to Miami, but then I thought about walking on French streets and eating all the foods I’ve had at Camille’s house, like goat cheese, duck, and ratatouille (it’s a delicious vegetable stew that Camille’s dad made for us once that doesn’t even have rats in it).
“I want to go!” I said, smiling.
So that’s when my week started to get lucky again. Pretty cool, huh?
The next day, I was walking to school with Sage and wanted to tell him about going to France with Camille. But I wasn’t sure if he’d be jealous. I also didn’t want to talk to Camille about France until I told Sage. So I decided to stay away from both of them in the morning and look for things in my cubby until my teacher, Mrs. B, called morning meeting. That’s when everyone sits crisscross applesauce on the rug, and she tells us the plan for the day. We have to be very quiet, which I normally don’t like, but today I didn’t mind.
Lunch was trickier, since Sage, Camille, and I usually sit together. So I decided to fall off the monkey bars at recess and pretend to bump my knee. Then I could eat lunch in the nurse’s office with an ice pack. The only problem was that when I pretended to fall off the monkey bars and hurt my knee, I actually hurt my knee. After being at the nurse’s office, I tried to walk back to my classroom without Camille and Sage seeing me, but just as I was going around the corner, our whole class came in from recess. I tried to rush ahead, but I was limping because my knee still hurt. Camille and Sage caught up with me.
“Phoebe, is something wrong?” Camille asked, blinking her long eyelashes.
“Yeah, all morning you’ve acted like you don’t want to talk to us,” Sage said, and looked me right in the eye, which makes me very nervous.
“Guys, nothing’s wrong. I just—” Then I put my hand over my mouth.
“What?” they both said at the same time. Sage nicely took my hand away from my mouth.
“Sage, I’m going to France with Camille’s family in February. Camille, I didn’t want to talk about it with you until I told Sage,” I said loudly. Then I swallowed. “That’s all.”
“You are?” Sage said.
“Oh!” Camille said, clasping her hands together. “So that means you’re definitely coming?”
“Yeah! My dad said it’s a wonderful opportunity!” I stood up tall.
“Why didn’t you want to tell me?” Sage asked.
I thought for a second. “Because I was afraid you’d be jealous. Aren’t you?”
Sage looked up and thought for a moment. “I guess a little,” he said.
“Not a lot?” I asked, starting to feel a bit mad.
“But I don’t want anyone to be jealous,” Camille interrupted in her worried way. “Maybe you could come, too, Sage.”
I jumped up and down and clapped my hands. Going to a whole other country with Sage and Camille would be the best thing that’s ever happened in the whole history of everything!
“Yeah!” Sage said, and started jumping, too. “Oh, but wait,” he said.
We stopped jumping.
“We always visit my cousins and go skiing over the winter break.” He looked down.
“Oh, too bad,” Camille said with her head down.
“Now I am really jealous,” Sage said.
“Maybe we could be jealous of your ski trip, too,” Camille suggested, looking more cheerful.
“That’s a perfect idea!” I said.
I didn’t even know Camille could have perfect ideas like that. So we all agreed to be jealous and that way no one got left out. I’m lucky to have such great best friends.