The dazzle disaster dinn.., p.1

The Dazzle Disaster Dinner Party, page 1


The Dazzle Disaster Dinner Party
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The Dazzle Disaster Dinner Party


  Title Page


  CHAPTER ONE: The Mystery Limousine

  CHAPTER TWO: The New Girl

  CHAPTER THREE: Experience and Explore

  CHAPTER FOUR: Computers and Creations

  CHAPTER FIVE: Dreaming of a Dinner Party

  CHAPTER SIX: Lima Beans and a Boom Box

  CHAPTER SEVEN: Creating Invitations

  CHAPTER EIGHT: A Surprise from the Sassy Sack

  CHAPTER NINE: Zooming with a Shopping Cart

  CHAPTER TEN: Cooking in a Thunderstorm

  CHAPTER ELEVEN: What Should I Wear to My Party?

  CHAPTER TWELVE: The Party Is Tomorrow!

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Almost Disaster

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN: The Kitchen Is Purple!

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Lillian’s Surprise

  Sassy’s Delicious and Delightful Recipes

  About the Author

  Books by Sharon M. Draper


  “Wow! Take a look at that!” I exclaim.

  “I can’t believe it!” Jasmine whispers.

  “Slick, man!” Travis says. He looks really impressed.

  “Awesome!” Carmelita echoes.

  “I’ve honestly never seen anything like it!” I tell my friends. I don’t think they have, either.

  “Not at an ordinary school like ours,” Holly adds.

  What we are looking at is a long, black, shiny limousine. It is pulling up to the front door of our school. It gleams in the morning sunlight. Most kids arrive in dusty, plain cars. The limo looks like a bright black diamond next to the crayon-yellow school bus that pulls up behind it.

  The bus unloads noisy students. All of them are dressed in our school’s blue-and-white uniforms. But they get real quiet as they look and point at the sleek black car waiting in the school’s driveway. We wait for the bell to ring so we can go inside to class. But no one wants that to happen yet. We are all really, really curious about the mysterious car.

  The limousine just sits there. No doors open.

  We wait impatiently to see who might step out of such a glorious car.

  “You think it’s a princess?” Holly asks hopefully.

  “What kind of princess would want to go to our plain old school?” I ask.

  “Maybe it’s a sultan!” Basima suggests.

  “Princes and sultans and royalty like that are only in fairy tales,” Rusty says.

  “Not true. There are two real live princes who live in England,” Jasmine tells him with authority. “And one day one of them will be the king of England! For real!”

  We all nod in agreement. The car still does not move. The doors still do not open.

  “Why don’t you go over there and peek in the window, Princess?” Josephina suggests. “After all, your real name is Princess!”

  Princess shakes her head. “My mother named me that because she thought it was a pretty name. But neither my mom or me has ever even touched a limo!”

  “Maybe it’s the president’s daughters!” Holly says hopefully. “Maybe the limo is full of Secret Service people!”

  “And why would the president’s kids want to visit our school?” I ask them.

  Nobody has a good answer.

  Carmelita scrunches up her face in thought. “It could be a movie star or a famous singer hiding in there,” she says finally. “Maybe we’re going to have a surprise concert that the teachers didn’t tell us about.”

  “Maybe,” Jasmine says slowly. “Remember when your grandmother came to our school, Sassy? She is a famous storyteller and she did a surprise presentation for all the kids.”

  I laugh a little. “Yes, but my grammy arrived in our dirty old brown car. She’s really cool, but she’s no rock star. I’m not sure if she ever rode in a limo, either.”

  “I wish they’d just open the door so we can quit guessing,” Carmelita says with a sigh.

  “I wonder what she looks like,” Misty says.

  “Who says it’s a girl?” Travis responds. “It could be a rich boy inside.”

  “You think the kid inside is rich?” I ask.

  “I guess you’d have to have some cash to drive to school in a limousine,” Holly tells her.

  “If it’s a girl, I bet she won’t have anything as cool as your Sassy Sack,” Jasmine tells me. All the girls around me nod in agreement.

  I laugh. “She probably has a golden leather designer purse instead!”

  I carry what I call my Sassy Sack every single day — my wonderful, beautifully shiny shoulder bag. It’s purple and silver and pink and magenta. It has a long strap, several outside compartments with buttons and zippers, and lots of little hidden pockets inside.

  It has diamond-looking sparkly things all over it, and when I’m outside and the sunlight hits it just right, it really shines.

  Even I’m not sure what’s in there, but I know when I reach down into it, I always seem to find exactly what I need.

  I dig into my Sassy Sack and pull out a small bag of jelly beans and a pair of mini binoculars.

  I offer the candy to my friends, and I put the binoculars up to my eyes. But the limo has tinted glass all around. All I can see through the lenses is a limo that looks bigger and shinier up close.

  “Love those cherry Jelly Bellies, Sassy,” Travis says as he gobbles a handful of candy. “Thanks.” He takes a few more jelly beans, then asks, “Can you see behind the tinted glass?”

  “I’d need X-ray vision for that, Travis!” I tell him with a laugh. I offer him the binoculars, but he says he can’t see anything, either.

  The front door of the school opens then, and our principal, Mrs. Bell, hurries out. She’s touching her hair, I guess to make sure it looks okay. She goes to the driver’s side of the limousine.

  The tinted window slides down, but we can see nothing from where we are standing. We can’t even hear what is being said, only a deep male voice. Then we hear a faint, high-pitched laugh from Mrs. Bell. She has a squeaky voice. When she speaks, it’s almost like listening to fingernails on a blackboard. But this morning we can’t even hear that very clearly.

  It’s driving me crazy!

  The window slides back up, and Mrs. Bell hurries back into the building. I check my watch, which has a band covered with purple sparkles. The bell is late. All the students still wait outside, whispering about the mystery limousine at our front door.

  But no doors open. No bell rings.

  “What was that all about?” I whisper to Jasmine.

  She shrugs. “This is big, Sassy. I think we’re about to be famous or something.”

  “You think?” Holly adds.

  “Maybe they’re waiting for the news crew to arrive so when the princess gets out, they will be on hand to take her picture,” Travis suggests.

  But no news reporters and photographers come screeching around the corner. Everything is unusually quiet.

  Finally, Rusty calls out, “Hey, look! I think the driver’s door is opening!”

  Slowly, from the darkness of the car, a tall, slim man in a gray uniform slides from the front seat. He walks to one of the back doors and then waits there. He does not look at us at all.

  I hold my breath. I think all the rest of the kids are inhaling as well.

  The driver then speaks into a cell phone. We cannot make out most of what he says, but finally we hear him say clearly, “Yes, sir!” in a real loud voice. A couple of us jump back in surprise.

  We strain to see who’s in the backseat of the limo, but the driver blocks our view as he opens the door.

  He offers his hand to the person who slowly emerges. She takes his hand for just a second, then pushes it away, as
if to say, “I can do this by myself!”

  She is petite and dainty, and she looks like she’s probably in third or fourth grade — just like us!

  She has straight black hair that’s almost as glossy as the wax on the car. She’s dressed not in a blue-and-white uniform but in a really pretty pink dress and matching pink shoes.

  She does not turn her head to look at any of us as she walks next to the driver. She just looks straight ahead. She does not smile.

  I think she looks a little scared.

  Mrs. Bell meets them at the school entrance and whisks the new girl and the driver inside.

  We are left outside with even more questions.

  “She’s pretty,” Carmelita says.

  “I wonder where she’s from,” Holly wonders.

  “That guy who brought her here is clearly not her father. Where are her parents, I wonder,” Misty muses.

  “How do you know he’s not her dad?” I ask.

  “A daddy would have held her hand or whispered something to make her laugh,” Jasmine says.

  “Yeah. That guy was following orders from somebody at the other end of that cell phone,” says Holly.

  “She’s about our age,” Carmelita observes.

  “Do rich kids have to wear uniforms like the rest of us? Or will she get to wear cute outfits every day?” I ask the others.

  “And will she arrive in a limo every day?” Jasmine asks.

  “I wonder what class they will put her in,” Rusty says.

  “We don’t even know for sure if she is enrolling at our school yet,” I tell them.

  The driver emerges then, without the new girl, and swiftly gets back into the big black car. He drives away with a whoosh. The school driveway looks really empty all of a sudden.

  The morning bell finally rings, and we troop inside to find out more about the mysterious new student.

  Even though our school is not fancy enough for kids to show up in limousines every day, I really like it. My classes are fun and my teachers make me feel special.

  My English teacher’s name is Miss Armstrong. She’s also our homeroom teacher, and every morning she reminds us, “Fourth grade is the best!” Of course, every teacher says that every year. I think it’s something they learn in teacher school.

  When Miss Armstrong reads to us, her voice reminds me of saxophone music. It’s deep and rich and pretty. Her voice makes words sound like they’re dancing on fluttering leaves, all magical and mysterious. I don’t tell my friends stuff like that, however. I think they just hear ordinary words when Miss Armstrong speaks.

  Miss Armstrong kinda looks like a saxophone, too. She’s thin at the top and curved at the bottom. She smells like tangerines. I’ve seen the citrus lotion in her top desk drawer.

  “Good morning, Sassy and Jasmine!” she says as the two of us walk into the classroom.

  “Hi, Miss Armstrong,” we reply.

  But we are not paying much attention to our teacher. Because sitting in the second row, right next to my desk, is the new girl! She is reading a book. Her head is down and she does not look up as the rest of the class noisily enters the room. Strange.

  The class gets unusually quiet very quickly — even before the final sit-down bell rings. I can hear the whispers of a few kids.

  “How come she doesn’t have to wear a uniform like we do?”

  “How old is she?”

  “What’s up with the limousine and driver?”

  No one seems to have any answers. Only lots of questions. So we all find our seats and wait.

  The bell rings.

  Miss Armstrong stands in front of the room near her desk. She smiles like she’s really excited and says, “Good morning, class! I know that many of you were outside this morning and wondered about the arrival of our newest student.”

  I want to ask a million questions, but I wait for her to continue.

  “Please let me introduce Miss Lillian Ling!”

  All eyes turn to the girl in pink. She looks at the teacher. Then, very slowly, she turns her head and looks around. She gives me a teeny, tiny smile, then looks down again.

  Miss Armstrong continues. “It might not be easy for Lillian to adjust to our school, so please give her some time. I’m sure she will welcome your friendship. Now, open your spelling books to page eighty-seven.”

  “Can’t we ask any questions about the new girl?” Travis blurts out.

  “No, you can’t, Travis. Not unless information about her is contained on page eighty-seven of your spelling book!”

  Travis frowns but says nothing else. The spelling lesson continues.

  Lillian continues to read her book as if none of us exist. Not even the teacher.

  By lunchtime I’ve observed several things about Lillian. I make a list of the most noticeable.

  1. Her backpack looks brand-new. It’s got pink sparkles on it. I like it.

  2. Her pencils are freshly sharpened. They are also pink.

  3. She writes down most of what Miss Armstrong says in a shiny rose-colored notebook.

  4. She doesn’t raise her hand even one time to answer a question.

  5. She never looks at any of us.

  6. She stays in the room while the rest of us go on a bathroom break.

  7. She looks like she would rather be anyplace else than here with us.

  Her desk is next to mine, so I notice lots of things close up.

  8. Even though her fingernails are painted with pale pink gloss, it looks like she bites them.

  9. Her hands shake when she digs into her book bag for paper or pens.

  10. She looks like she’s very close to crying.

  The bell rings for lunchtime. Usually, my friends and I hurry into the hot, crowded cafeteria together. We pick up our disposable trays, get a cheeseburger, a little cup of fruit, a juice box, and head to a table where mostly fourth graders are squeezed together.

  I like when Travis sits with us. He makes us laugh. He slurps spaghetti and sucks Jell-O cubes into his mouth from the plate. He is the best milk gargler in the fourth grade.

  Today when everyone jumps up to run to the cafeteria, I hesitate. I walk to the door and tell Jasmine, “Go on without me today. I’m going to stay and talk to Lillian.”

  “You want me to stay with you?” Jasmine asks. “Lillian looks like she could use some friends.”

  “No, let’s try one person at a time for now,” I tell her. “My mom packed my lunch today, so I’m cool.”

  “Okay. I’ll bring you one of those warm chocolate chip cookies if they have them.”

  “Bring a bunch of them!” I tell her with a grin.

  Jasmine and the other students leave for the cafeteria. Lillian still has not left her seat. Miss Armstrong gives her a worried look.

  “Can I stay here with Lillian?” I ask the teacher.

  Miss Armstrong seems relieved. “What a great idea, Sassy,” she says. “I’ll run by the cafeteria and get you both some fruit.”

  “Teachers bring healthy stuff. Best friends bring chocolate chip cookies,” I say, loud enough for Lillian to hear me. She gives me another small smile.

  Miss Armstrong leaves and hurries down the hall. It’s just me and Lillian. I walk back to my desk and plop down next to her. “Hi,” I say. “My name is Sassy.”

  “That’s a pretty name,” Lillian whispers.

  “I guess it’s sorta scary starting a new school,” I tell her.

  “There’s nothing worse,” she replies.

  “I’ve known the kids in my class since kindergarten. I’d hate to start over where I don’t know anybody,” I admit.

  “This is my fourth school this year. Four schools for fourth grade. It’s pretty awful.”

  “It must be hard to make friends,” I say.

  “I have no friends,” she answers quietly.

  “Yes, you do. You have at least one friend. Her name is Sassy!”

  Lillian actually grins. “Is that your real name or a nickname?”

I tell her, “My name is Sassy Simone Sanford. It’s not short for Sassafras or Sasquatch or something strange like that. It’s just Sassy.”

  “Your name seems to fit you,” Lillian says.

  “Yeah, it’s so me! My mom says she gave me that name right after I was born, when I stuck out my tongue at her.”

  Lillian giggles a little.

  “I’m glad I didn’t spit up or something gross like that when she first saw me. No telling what she would have called me! If I had laughed, I guess she might have called me Chuckles.”

  Lillian is almost giggling.

  “And what if I had cried?” I say dramatically. “You might be talking to somebody named Sniffles or Booger!”

  Lillian giggles some more. That makes me glad.

  “So I guess Sassy isn’t so bad. Actually, I really like it because it’s just so me!”

  I offer Lillian half of my chicken-and-cheese sandwich. Surprisingly, she takes it and nibbles a little of it.

  “My mother is very proper,” Lillian tells me. “She looked my name up in a book and found it means ‘strong, beautiful flower’ or something like that.”

  “I think it fits you,” I tell her honestly.

  “I’m not very strong,” she admits. “Mom should have named me Petunia, which probably means ‘scared to death at another new school’!”

  We both laugh.

  “I looked up my last name on the Internet, and I think Ling means ‘sound of water flowing.’”

  “Wow, how pretty.”

  “I guess. But mostly the water that seems to flow around me lately is just a bunch of tears.”

  “Where are you from?” I ask her as I finish my half of the sandwich.

  “I’m from no place,” she says, sadness in her voice.

  “Well, where were you born?” I ask.

  “Someplace in China is all that I know. My parents brought me to the United States when I was just a baby.”

  “I’ve never been out of the country — not even to Canada,” I tell her.

  “I’ve lived in ten different states and four different countries.”

  “Really? Can you speak any languages other than English?”

  “Chinese. French. Spanish. A little German — we didn’t stay in Germany very long.”

  I shake my head. “And I complain about my Spanish homework! You rock, Lillian.”

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