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Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom Copyright © 2016 by Vissra Vivatnamongkon All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007. www.harpercollinschildrens.com Library of Congress Control Number: 2016936039 ISBN 978-0-06-239879-6 Typography by Carla Weise 16 17 18 19 20 CG/RRDH 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

❖ First Edition

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To all my readers who are facing the Middles in one form or another— survival is all about staying true.

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Now that I ’m going into middle school, my whole life is about to begin.

That ’s what Mom told me yesterday. But I didn ’ t know what she meant and I ’m pretty sure she didn ’ t either. 1

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Sometimes parents say things because they sound good, even if they aren ’ t true. Like whenever we talk about school, Mom always tells me the same thing over and over again—

—as as if saying it will somehow make it more true.

Adults are not helpful at all. 2

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They just don ’ t get it. I guess for most of them, middle school was about a MIL L ION years ago.

Maybe they forgot all the bad stuff— and there is definitely a LOT of bad stuff. If you ask me, the worst part about middle school is the fact that it is

SCHOOL. 3

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Nothing good ever happens in the Middles. Consider:

ars, y, lot s of w it c ri t c le e o N hing. le plague t o h w t a h t an d

Good-bye, personal space.

Trust me. I know from experience— — it ’s TERRIBL E.

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The middle is the worst place you could possibly be, and since middle school is the middle of all Middles . . .

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I ’ ve probably warned everyone I know about the Middles, but no one takes me seriously— not even my own family!

We are NOTHING alike.

Sometimes it feels like we are living in two VERY different worlds.

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At the head of the family, there ’s

Everyone says we look exactly the same, but I don ’ t see the resemblance at all.

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is the youngest— fun, bubbly, and annoyingly adorable.

Clara smiles all the time and says cute things at exactly the right moment. Adults LOVE her, so she can pretty much get away with anything.

She is constantly using this to her advantage.

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is the oldest. He ’s kind of a legend. THE Peter Wu— good at everything, and I mean E V E RY T HING.

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My archnemeses,

from next door.

, treasurer of the

homeowners ’ association and neighborhood snitch. •

Even the demon squirrel

,

that terrorizes 10

Canyon Vista Park.

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It ’s like they are all part of the same club. Between Clara and Peter, I ’m always just that kid left in the middle. I guess that ’s why I ’m keeping a record of my life. Someday, after I ’ ve done lots of ultraimpressive and exceptional things, people will look back and think,

For now, I just have to figure out exactly what those ultra-impressive, exceptional things will be. 11

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Oh, but first I have to survive middle school and my crazy dreams.

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My dream was an obvious sign of things to come, but when I told everybody about it at dinner the other night, they acted like it was no big deal!

Well, except Clara, who was too busy making a mountain out of her rice to pay attention.

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Peter thought I was being dramatic and Mom just blamed it on late-night snacking.

My family doesn ’ t get me at all.

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When we were younger and Peter wanted to be extra mean, he would tell me that I was actually an AL IE N, and one day, they would send me back to outer space.

The first time he said it, I cried hysterically for an hour.

Mom was so mad that she grounded him for a week! It was great.

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For the most part, though, Peter never gets into trouble. He practically parents himself. Clara is starting kindergarten, so there isn ’ t much to worry about there. I guess you can only do so much to prepare a six-year-old for finger painting and naptime.

Mom is so used to not having to worry about them that she doesn ’ t worry about me either! She just isn ’ t a worrier. She always thinks things will work out for the best.

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Worrying just doesn ’ t seem to run in the Wu family. Maybe I really AM an alien. I worry more than anyone I know and maybe more than anyone in the

Now that I ’m going into the Middles, how can I not? 19

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As if to rub in the fact that summer was

basically over, I got a package from my new school.

The mailman had to deliver it personally because it didn ’ t even fit in the mailbox. 20

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When he handed it to me, I could ’ ve sworn he gave me a look that said:

( If only that was an option.)

It was the official Pointdexter Middle School Welcome Packet.

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Inside, there were long lists of school supplies and never-ending instructions on how to prepare for class and a million rules and expectations and WAY too much information.

It was more reading than I ’ d done all summer!

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Seeing that welcome packet sent Mom into crazy back-to-school mode. The smell of new erasers and sharpened pencils must have gotten to her. When we were out shopping, she started prancing down the aisles and gushing over backpacks. Backpacks, of all things! We left the store with at least three years ’ worth of wide-ruled paper, every kind of notebook you could possibly imagine, and an assortment of embarrassing cartoon animal folders that I would never ever use in public.

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It wasn ’ t just my mom either. When I talked to my best friends, Maxine and Logan, they said their parents were acting really weird too. Logan ’s mom made him pose and take pictures in front of the house in his first-day-ofschool outfit. The first day of school wasn ’ t even for another week! Maxine ’s dad brought out his yearbooks from the seventies and made her look through embarrassing old pictures of him with bellbottoms and big hair.

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I didn ’ t know how any of that was supposed to make us feel better about starting school.

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At least we were in it together. With Maxine and Logan around, the Middles wouldn ’ t be as bad. The three of us have known each other for a long, long time—since kindergarten, which was basically forever ago.

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It all started when Miss Wilson separated us from the class at lunch.

We were forced to sit at a special peanut allergy table for the whole year.

We ’ ve been best friends ever since.

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Logan Sinclair is the smartest person I know and probably the smartest kid in our grade, but he doesn ’t care about stuff like that. He thinks class is boring, so he only pays attention when he feels like it. He usually does his homework, but he always forgets to turn it in. I don ’ t understand how his mind works most of the time, but I know for a fact that Logan Sinclair is a He ’s the kind of genius that no one knows about until the day he wakes up, decides he wants to take over the world, and then does it. I guess when that happens, being his best friend won ’ t hurt.

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Maxine Barry could probably take over the world one day too. She has this amazing superpower: when she wants something to happen, she makes it happen. Maxine knows everything. According to her, choosing what to wear on the first day of school is the most important thing.

She knows stuff like this because her mom gets her subscriptions to Seventeen and Teen

Vogue. My mom just brings home old copies of

The Economist. No wonder I ’m

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Besides Logan and Maxine, the ONL Y good thing about Pointdexter Middle School is that it ’s right around the corner from my favorite place in the whole world—

You can smell the freshly baked pastries from the school parking lot! There is no one there named Antonia. I don ’ t think Antonia even exists. The bakery is owned by this old Hungarian man named Istvan who reminds me of a walrus but is nice and doesn ’ t smell like dead fish.

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My friends and I go to Antonia ’s so much that Istvan considers us his “ regulars. ” Plus, if we ’re there around closing time, he lets us take home as many leftover pastries as we can carry. Istvan is the best. When I told him I was starting middle school soon, he made a face and just said, He doesn ’ t usually say much, but when he does, he always speaks the truth. Sometimes I think he is the only truly honest adult. Like one time I wanted a double fudge chocolate chip cookie, but Istvan wrinkled his nose and shook his head a little, so I chose a buttered pretzel covered in homemade cinnamon sugar instead—it was amazing. 31

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Not all adults are that honest. On the way home from back-to-school shopping, Mom made a surprise stop at Antonia ’s and offered to buy me a pastry.

But, turns out, the pastry was a TR AP!

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She buttered me up with baked goods and then ambushed me with SCHOOL TAL K!

Specifically, E L EC T IVE S. In middle school, everyone has to choose an elective class. There are a zillion different classes to choose from, which sounds like a good thing but is actually just another trap.

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THIS IS DE F INITE L Y A TR AP.

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The worst part is that choosing your elective feels like a declaration, a way of saying to everyone—

That ’s fine for most people, but I don ’ t HAVE a Thing. I didn ’ t know I needed one until now!

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Maxine has known her Thing for years. She ’s wanted to be an actress since third grade.

When the boy playing James in our class play got stage fright, Maxine swooped in to claim the lead. No surprise— surprise—she surprise —she was a hit! I, on the other hand, was cast as Mrs. Ladybug, a role I conveniently won by being the only kid in class with a red shirt and a pair of antennae. I wasn ’ t very good. It was the end of my stage career, but for Maxine, it was the moment she found her Thing. Choosing drama as her elective was a no-brainer. 36

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Even Logan has a Thing. He has always been good at games—so good that he doesn ’ t bother just playing to win anymore. That ’s not interesting enough. Instead, he ’s started figuring out the games themselves, picking them apart and understanding how it all comes together. Card games, board games, strategy games, you name it. Lately, it ’s been computer games. When he tries to explain them, he uses words that sound like they belong in some distant, high-tech future world. If I didn ’t know Logan was a genius, I might think he was a

The second he heard there was a coding elective class that taught you how to program your own computer game, he was sold. I won ’ t be surprised if, by the end of the year, Logan has gained control of the whole internet and all of cyberspace. 37

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School was starting in a few days and I was the only one without an elective!

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Logan and Maxine came over to help me choose, but none of them seemed like a good idea.

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We went around in circles for HOUR S and couldn ’ t agree on a single one! Luckily, Mom brought out a plate of mini pizza bagels fresh from the oven. Nothing helps you forget your worries like pizza sauce and melted cheese on toasted teeny-tiny bagels. The truth is, choosing an elective kind of reminded me of the time Mom bought a piñata for my fifth birthday party. People say it ’s easy because you can cheat and see through the blindfold, but they must be lying because I couldn ’ t see a thing!

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Everyone just sat there, watching and waiting. Talk about pressure! I stood there swinging and swinging and swinging, but couldn ’ t hit it! They all just laughed until finally one kid jumped up, grabbed the stick, and smashed the piñata open . . . just like that! I didn ’ t even get any candy because I was still blindfolded! It was the worst feeling EVER, and facing the Middles without a Thing of my own seemed just as bad.

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The night before school started, I couldn ’ t sleep! In a few hours, I would officially be in MIDDL E SCHOOL and there ’ d be

My body was physically refusing to accept it!

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Things got even worse when Peter came into my room to tell me I should go to sleep—as if I didn ’ t know that already. Peter has a way of always getting into my business. He likes to point out things I ’m doing wrong or tell me what to do or make me feel crazy.

Sometimes it feels like we will never understand each other. We ’re just TOO different.

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Peter lives in a world where everything always works out for the best.

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That night, all I could think about were the potential disasters waiting for me in middle school.

I bet if Peter had this problem, he wouldn ’ t be able to sleep either.

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Frazzled by Booki Vivat  

Meet Abbie Wu. Abbie is in crisis—and not just because she’s starting middle school or because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite ge...

Frazzled by Booki Vivat  

Meet Abbie Wu. Abbie is in crisis—and not just because she’s starting middle school or because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite ge...