In the days before the big Sweetheart Stomp Valentine's Day dance, B.J. Green finds her thoughts turning to her own love life and those of her fellow students at Cutter's Forge High School. Here are nine romantic, interwoven stories that make readers laugh, cry, and maybe even fall in love.
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Ellen Conford is a well-known young adult novelist whose many books have won numerous awards. She lives in Great Neck, NY.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"Tickets for the Sweetheart Stomp are still available at the student government office, Room 114, during lunch hours or half an hour before and after school. Celebrate Valentine's Day in our elegant gym. Fumigated specially for the occasion. Dance the night away to the romantic strains of Yellow Fever, everyone's favorite really loud band.
Enjoy the lavish buffet of bologna roll-ups, Kool-Aid, and gourmet potato chips -- the kind with ridges. Tickets are only seven dollars apiece, or the special bargain price of fourteen dollars a pair."
B.J. Green only half listened to the announcement. She didn't expect to go to the dance. No one had asked her, and she certainly wasn't bold enough to ask someone herself. The closest contact she'd had with a boy was when she'd bumped -- literally -- into Doug Meyers at the mall just before Christmas.
A girl with more social skills or a quicker wit might have used the collision to strike up a conversation. But Doug had seemed more concerned with retrieving his spilled packages than with getting to know B.J.
She thought, not for the first time, what a dumb name Sweetheart Stomp was for a Valentine's Day dance. Not that she wouldn't want to go to it, but it sounded like an event where you stomped your sweetheart unconscious.
But the social bigwigs at Cutter's Forge High were heavy into alliteration this year. They'd called the Halloween dance the Halloween Hoedown, even though there was no country music and it wasn't a square dance. The Thanksgiving dance was the Turkey Trot, which almost made sense, since B.J. knew that back in the 1920s or so the turkey trot had actually been a dance step.
For Christmas they'd had the Holiday Hop. And now the dance committee had come up with the Sweetheart Stomp.
B.J. sighed and looked around at her classmates. Mr. Tortola's homeroom was buzzing with the excited whispers of predance planning. The event was eight days away. B.J. was sure that everyone else had already found their dates, bought their outfits, arranged their evening.
There would be get-togethers before the dance and parties afterward, which would prolong the Valentine's Day festivities into the early hours of February 15th.
B.J. wouldn't be attending any of them.
She looked across the aisle at Amy Porter. Amy was drawing hearts on the back cover of her notebook: "AP + HB" The B stood for Batso, Amy's boyfriend. His real name was Henry Batkowski.
Amy and Henry probably wouldn't be going to any of the parties either. But Amy wouldn't care. She never seemed to worry about whether people liked her or not.
The PA announcements droned on. B.J. looked across two rows at Linda Sherman. She'd be going with Will Moffet. B.J. wouldn't trust the girl to baby-sit a pet ferret, but Will was so smitten with her that he dropped forty IQ points whenever she was around.
Di Callahan was examining her eyelashes in a tiny eye-shadow compact. Her only problem would be deciding which boy to go with. She'd probably have to choose among seventeen ardent candidates. Her Royal Blondness used up boys like Kleenex.
Jamie Farrentino, chin in her hand, was gazing dreamily at Alexei Grigorov. Alexei was a Russian exchange student who was staying with Teddy Klein for the semester. Alexei was a mystery wrapped in an enigma. He didn't say much, but he smiled a lot.
And he was very conscientious. His head was always buried in a book, he took notes compulsively, and his eyes were intent on whoever was speaking to him, as if he were trying to lip-read English. Slim, dark, handsome . . . Forget about it! B.J. ordered herself. If she couldn't talk to a boy in English, how in the world would she communicate with one in Russian?
Robert La Motte. Not. Not going to the dance, not going to be anyone's Valentine, even more out of the dating loop than B.J. He'd always been a nerd. He'd never called himself anything but Robert. Not Bob, Bobby, or Rob. Always Robert. And he wasn't even a smart nerd. When called on in class, he turned red and mumbled, or just shook his head and stared down at his desk.
You wouldn't expect a boy like Robert to be well-dressed -- not that decent clothes would make much difference. His build was slim to none, and he had trouble walking and talking at the same time. Actually, he had trouble talking at all.
He won't be stomping his sweetheart, B.J. thought. And then felt immediately guilty for making fun of him -- even if only to herself.
Laurel Baker. She was going to the dance with Teddy. They were just friends, but B.J. had seen them buying their tickets two days ago.
The bell rang. "Okay, settle down," Mr. Tortola said. He pulled out his roll book.
"Here." "Henry Batkowski?"
Amy Porter grinned. B.J. watched enviously as Amy drew two more entwined hearts on her notebook.
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Book Description Harpercollins. Library Binding. Book Condition: GOOD. Good: Gently used may contain ex-library markings, possibly has some minor highlighting, textual notations, and or underlining. Text is still easily readable. Bookseller Inventory # 2572892996
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Book Description HarperCollins Canada / Other. Library Binding. Book Condition: Good. Only lightly used. Book has minimal wear to cover and binding. A few pages may have small creases and minimal underlining. Bookseller Inventory # G0060254157I3N00
Book Description Harpercollins, 1998. Library Binding. Book Condition: Good. This is a former library book with library stickers and stamps. Bookseller Inventory # mon0001223446
Book Description Harpercollins, 1998. Library Binding. Book Condition: Used: Very Good. Bookseller Inventory # SONG0060254157
Book Description Book Condition: Good. Book Condition: Good. Bookseller Inventory # 97800602541554.0
Book Description Book Condition: Very Good. Book Condition: Very Good. Bookseller Inventory # 97800602541553.0
Book Description Harpercollins, 1998. Library Binding. Book Condition: Used: Good. Bookseller Inventory # 9077276