About the Book:
There’s nothing worse than being a tattletale…
That’s what 10-year-old Sophie Washington thinks until she runs into Lanie Mitchell, a new girl at school. Lanie pushes Sophie and her friends around at their lockers, and even takes their lunch money.
If they tell, they are scared the other kids in their class will call them snitches, and won’t be their friends. And when you’re in the fifth grade, nothing seems worse than that.
Excitement at home keeps Sophie’s mind off the trouble with Lanie.
She takes a fishing trip to the Gulf of Mexico with her parents and little brother, Cole, and discovers a mysterious creature in the attic above her room. For a while, Sophie is able to keep her parents from knowing what is going on at school. But Lanie’s bullying goes too far, and a classmate gets seriously hurt. Sophie needs to make a decision. Should she stand up to the bully, or become a snitch?
Targeted Age Group: 8-12
I’ve got a secret. Want to hear it?
Secrets are usually nice. Like when my dad surprised me with a new goldfish last year. Or the time Granny Washington unexpectedly visited us in Houston from her house in Corpus Christi.
I used to love secrets. But this one’s not so great.
No one knows it, except my best friend Chloe. It’s her secret, too. We don’t talk about it, ‘cause if we do people won’t like us. And in the fifth grade being liked is as important as having a fun birthday party, or staying up as late as possible, or…Christmas.
For now, I’m not telling. Chloe’s not either.
“Hey Sophie, wait up!” Chloe yells as I make my way down the hall to our first period math class. “How was your weekend?”
“The same old, same old,” I reply, hoisting my math book and binder up in my arms. “Cole whined about having nothing to do, so Mom and Dad took us to the zoo and then out for ice cream. On Sunday I caught up on all my homework after church.”
Cole is my seven-year-old brother. My mom thinks he’s an angel, but I think he was sent here to drive me crazy. Just this morning at breakfast, for example, he pulled my ponytail while she wasn’t looking, and then started crying loudly after I whacked him with an empty Cheerios box. Of course, I’m the one who got in trouble. My dad is nicer to Cole than he deserves, but I think he’s figured out his game a little bit better than Mom.
“Nothing much exciting happened at our house, either,” says Chloe, “but I did get this cute new purse.” Chloe is what you’d call a Fashionista. I admire the pretty, powder blue bag and notice the red, glittery, slide-on shoes she wears on her feet. She always manages to make our boring, private school uniforms look stylish.
“That’s nice,” I say.
As we near the classroom I see someone in the shadows and my heart starts to beat fast.
“Just great,” I mutter.
Lanie Mitchell, the class bully, heads our way from the opposite direction.
She sees us, grins, and blocks our path. Most of our classmates are 10, like me, but Lanie is already 12 years old. She’s the second tallest girl in 5B, behind Chloe, and a little bit on the chubby side.
“Hey girls, what’s up?” Lanie smiles so we see her crooked front tooth and smell her sour breath.
Neither of us answers.
“Whatsamatter? You can’t speak?” she snarls, moving in closer. “I know you hear me talking to you!”
“We’re going to class, Lanie,” says Chloe wearily, “and you’re in our way.”
“No, you’re in my way,” says Lanie, “and I’m not moving until you give me the five dollars you owe me.”
“I don’t owe you anything,” Chloe retorts, hands on hips.
“If you don’t pay up now, your little friend here will pay later,” she says, pointing her pudgy finger at me.
Lanie joined our class two months ago. The school year has gone downhill ever since. When she first came to Xavier from another school here in Houston, most of the people in our class liked her. She was friendly and talkative, and shared the bubble gum her grandma packed in her lunch every day. But after a couple of weeks, the happy times ended.
Lanie started kicking and hitting kids who didn’t do what she wanted. Since I didn’t follow her orders, I became her favorite punching bag. Chloe is caught in the middle, because she’s my best friend.
I’m scared to fight Lanie because I’m much smaller. Chloe is scared to fight her because she doesn’t want to get in trouble. Everyone knows Chloe has a bad temper. It started after she found out she has dyslexia when we were in kindergarten. Dyslexia makes you see letters differently, so you have trouble reading. Chloe has a special tutor to help with her reading. Whenever anyone teases her about it, she fights them, so she’s got a reputation with the teachers. If she is caught fighting Lanie, she might get detention, or worse.
If we tell on Lanie, we’ll be called snitches, and at our school there’s nothing worse than that. Two years ago, Brantley Wilson tattled on another boy who was taking his money, and the other kids still think of him as a snitch. They call him a baby who runs to Mommy every time something goes wrong. He barely has any friends.
Even though she is terrible to me, Chloe, and a few other kids, Lanie is nice to all our other friends. They like her. Because of that, we don’t tell. Who wants to be called a snitch or tattle-tale?
Chloe reaches into her bag and pulls out a five-dollar bill. I know that is her allowance for the week.
I would offer some money myself, but Lanie has already drained my piggy bank. She snatches up the money and moves down the hall to bother someone else.
Chloe and I look at each other and quietly head into class.
I’ve got to make sure I stay away from that bully, I think, moving to my seat. What’s going to happen the next time I see her?
The week has just started and we’re already both broke. If Lanie asks for more money, I’m done. This is one of the worst secrets ever!