As if being 12 3/4 isn't bad enough, Vanessa Rothrock's mother is running for president and it's ruining her life. Isn't it enough that her enormous feet trip her up all the time, even on stage during the school spelling bee? Isn't it enough that Reginald Trumball, love of Vanessa's pathetic life, read her personal and private list of deficiencies to some boy she doesn't even know? And that the Boob Fairy hasn't visited her even once?! Doesn't Mom realize that Vanessa needs her more than the rest of the country? More importantly, doesn't she realize that she may be in grave danger? Vanessa's receiving threatening notes at school-notes that imply some psycho has it out for her mother at the Democratic National Convention. Vanessa might be the only person who can save her. But does she have the courage to do what that requires?
Even though her breasts are "the size of cherry pits" and her widowed mother-the governor of Florida and a frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primaries-is rarely around, wonderful things are happening for seventh-grader Vanessa Rothrock. She wins the school spelling bee, and love notes from a secret admirer appear in her locker. Vanessa is proud of her mother's political success, but she grows weary of receiving motherly advice via telephone, e-mail and hastily scribbled notes. First-novelist Gephart adds a good degree of tension as Vanessa accidentally finds hate mail addressed to her mother; Vanessa is sure her mother is in imminent danger, but her mother-who happens to be meeting with Governor Schwarzenegger-explains that she receives dozens a day ("You should have seen the ones I got during the budget crunch," says Gephart's Schwarzenegger. "Half the state wanted to pummel me to death with oranges"). Soon afterward, Vanessa begins receiving threatening letters at school from someone who wants her to pressure her mother into dropping out of the race. Gephart maintains the humor even as the stakes rise; she also successfully captures life in the public eye. She delivers a diverting story that also gives readers an intelligent look at primaries, caucuses and nominating conventions. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Delacorte Books for Young Readers
February 11, 2008
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Excerpt from As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! by Donna Gephart
I'm sitting on a wooden folding chair, hoping I don't get a splinter in my derriere, as Chester Fields tries to spell "thoroughly." Chester Fields is an idiot. "Thoroughly" is an easy word. But somehow he manages to muck it up, spelling, "T-h-u-r-u-h, I don't know, w-l-y." Cowbell for that boy! How did he even get to the schoolwide bee? I'll bet his teacher felt sorry for him. Or maybe it's because his mother is on the board of directors at Lawndale Academy.
I, Vanessa Rothrock, am sweating like a pig--do pigs sweat?--and wishing I could smell my pits, but the whole audience is looking at me. I pump my left leg up and down like crazy and hear Mom's voice in my head: Don't fidget, Vanessa; it's unbecoming. Still yourself. Still yourself? Easy for her to say. She's all poise and grace, forever saying and doing the perfect thing. Maybe I'm not really Mom's daughter. Maybe I was adopted, or switched at birth. But when I think of Mom's enormous feet, I know I'm all hers. I rest my hand on my leg to stop fidgeting and crane my neck. Is Mom even--?
"Vanessa Rothrock, please come up."
I gasp and choke on my own saliva. Then I stand and grab the back of my chair. Unfortunately, I do not die of asphyxiation (Asphyxiation. A-S-P-H-Y-X-I-A-T-I-O-N. Asphyxiation.) and I maneuver around students' feet and chair legs. The microphone is in sight. I'm sighing with relief at having passed through the minefield of legs without tripping when my gigantic feet tangle in the principal's microphone cord.
I lurch forward, grab for the podium, and end up with a handful of papers before crashing to the stage. I say something charming, like "Ooomph!" The audience lets out a collective gasp.
Unfortunately, I do not crack my head and die instantly. Why am I such a klutz?
As I lift my cheek from the dusty floor, I see camera lights flash like lightning. I put my head down and imagine tomorrow's headline: governor's daughter takes spill during school spelling bee. entire state of florida humiliated.
"No photographs, please," Mrs. Foster begs. "You were informed."
I look up again and see Mr. Martinez marching toward me from backstage. That's all I need to complete the humiliation package--my six-foot-tall security guard scooping me up from the stage and brushing me off.
I hold up a few fingers and he stops. I mouth the words "I'm okay." Mr. Martinez backs up so that he's offstage again. And against my better judgment, I stand and face the audience, who, by the way, have their mouths hanging open. My cheeks grow so hot I'm sure my head will spontaneously (Spontaneously. S-P-O-N-T-A-N-E-O-U-S-L-Y. Spontaneously.) combust. I look at Mrs. Foster and silently plead: Give me a word already and put me out of my misery.
Mrs. Foster clears her throat and motions toward my feet. I realize that her papers are scattered there. I gather them up and give them to her with trembling hands. I hear Mom's words again: Still yourself, Vanessa. Still yourself!
After adjusting her glasses and clearing her throat, Mrs. Foster says, "Your word is 'resuscitate.' "
I snort. I can't help it. I imagine a cute emergency tech resuscitating me on the floor of the stage. Unfortunately, when I snort, it makes a screeching noise in the microphone, and the people in the audience (even Mrs. Foster) cover their ears as though a supersonic jet has flown overhead. I see Mr. Martinez wince.
Why, I wonder, do I suffer such humiliation? What was God thinking when She made me?
Someone clears her throat. For a moment I think it's God, but then I look over and see Mrs. Foster tapping her watch.
My nostrils flare in a less-than-flattering way. I hate when someone taps a watch. I shake my head. What is my word again? OHMYGOD! I've completely forgotten. Sweat begins to pool under my arms. Did I remember to apply deodorant this morning or did I just spray perfume and hope for the best? "Could I have the origin of the word, please?"
"Resuscitate," Mrs. Foster snaps. "It comes from--"
"Resuscitate." I cut the principal off midsentence. "R-e-s-u-s-c-i-t-a-t-e. Resuscitate."
"That is correct." I imagine the "thank goodness and sit down" she doesn't say.