This time it's a Sagittarius! Ever since Sagittarius Danu was sent off to live with her boring aunt, she's been getting in to trouble at school. Bored and lonely, Danu thinks that the whole world is against her. When she discovers she's a Zodiac Girl Danu is sceptical, but her zodiac guardians keep her busy - learning how to cook, taking a self-defence class and redecorating her aunt's flat. Can she learn to love her new life?
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Cathy Hopkins is author of the best-selling MATES, DATES series, which has sold over a million copies in the UK and the USA and has been translated into fourteen languages. She has also written the hugely successful TRUTH, DARE, KISS OR PROMISE and DEAD DUDES series. Cathy lives in North London with her husband and five mad cats.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"Danu Harvey Jones. Can you read us the poem you've written about family?"
asked Mr. Beecham, peering over his glasses at the front of the
classroom. "And sit up straight."
"It's Dee, not Danu," I said.
"I think not, Miss Harvey Jones. We call ourselves by our proper names at
this school. We don't use nicknames, and your given name is Danu. Now,
stand up and read us your poem."
I stood up and took a deep breath.
"My aunt is full of bat poop,
My brother is a twit,
My parents have deserted me,
I don't know where I fit."
A few girls at the back of the class snickered as Mr. Beecham's mouth
shrunk to look like a cat's bottom.
"That's enough, Danu," he said. "Sit down. I don't think we need to hear any
more of that. See me after class."
I sat down. I'd probably get detention again. I didn't care. At least there would
be a few people around in there, and it would be better than going back to the
empty apartment. Again.
Joele Morrison was next up reading her poem. I rolled my eyes. It was about
a cute kitten playing on the grass and her ickle, lickle baby brother rolling
into a flower bed. Blah. Vomitous and a half. My poem had at least told the
truth about my situation, and what else was I supposed to write? About
kittens and babies? Yeah, right. A kitten would die of malnutrition where I
was living now, and as for an ickle, lickle baby brother, there was just no
space for anyone else. In fact, there was hardly a flower bed to roll into and
not a tree to be seen.
For the rest of the lesson, as my fellow classmates droned on with their
pathetic poems, I gazed out the window and thought about my old life. What
were my old friends doing at this moment as I sat here having to endure
Death by Bad Poetry? I hated my life. I hated my new school. I hated
everyone in it. My world was rotten.
It hadn't always been like this. I didn't always live in the rat hole that I do
now. No. Once I had a life. A life I was very happy with, thank you very much.
I lived in a town in Maine with my dad, who's an archaeologist. He's famous
in some circles. My mom died when I was three, and my dad had a lady from
town come in to do our housekeeping. Mrs. Wilkins. She was lovely. Kind
and happy and the most fantastic cook. There was always the smell of
something wonderful baking in the oven when I got home. I attended the local
school, and in fact I was able to walk there from our old house. It took ten
minutes, through the back field, five minutes along the coast road, and there I
was. I had lots of friends. Bernie, Fran, Annie, and Jane. I had a dog, Snowy
(he was jet-black). I had a cat, Blackie (he was pure white), and I used to be
able to ride our neighbor's horse. They let me name him, so I called him Spot
(he was a chestnut). There were birds and squirrels in our yard. I had a huge
bedroom with a bay window looking out over rolling fields and woods.
I was happy.
One day, Dad was waiting for me when I came home from school. I could tell
the moment I set eyes on him that something was wrong. At first I thought
someone had died or something had happened to Snowy or Blackie. But no.
Nothing like that. Dad had been offered a year's contract working on some
ancient site in South America digging up old bones and stuff. Chance of a
lifetime. The one he'd been waiting for. Etc., etc. Blah-de-blah-de-blah. And
that was the end of life as I knew it. Why couldn't he go and leave me with
Mrs. Wilkins, as that's what usually happened when there was a dig? I
asked. But he wouldn't hear of it. Other digs had been for a weekend, two
weeks at the longest. This was the big one and would take him away for a
whole year. I begged to be able to stay at the house, but he'd already
arranged for it to be rented out for the year. Nothing I could say or do would
persuade him to let me stay. I tried to organize it so that I could live with one
of my friends, but no one had any room. I'd be "just fine," said Dad. He'd
arranged for me to attend a boarding school close to where his sister lived.
He'd be back to see me during school vacations, and my aunt would keep an
eye on me in the meantime. I was a grown-up girl. I'd soon adjust. That was
the time I realized that he cared more about a bunch of old dead bones than
he did about me, his living daughter.
"Danu, Danu," said a stern voice in my ear. It was old Beecham again. What
did he want now?
"Have you been listening to anything that is going on in this lesson?"
"Yes, sir. Kittens. Ickle babies."
Mr. Beecham sighed and then went back to the front of the room. "Class
dismissed," he said.
I got up to go with the others.
"Not you, Harvey Jones. I want a word."
I slumped back down into my chair. I was very popular with the teachers at
this school. They were always keeping me back for "a word."
Mr. Beecham waited as the rest of the class filed out. A few of the girls
turned and stared at me and then whispered to each other. I stuck out my
tongue at them.
When the others had left, Mr. Beecham came and sat at the desk across
from me and looked at me with concern.
"So, Danu. How are you settling in?"
I shrugged. "Okay."
He sighed again. "And how's life at home?"
"Not at home . . ."
"Ah, yes, I meant your home now. I believe you're living with your aunt?"
I shrugged again. "Yeah."
"And are things all right there?"
"Yeah." I wasn't going to tell him the truth. There was no point. Nobody could
do anything to get me out of there.
Mr. Beecham coughed. "Well, Danu . . . I'm afraid we're going to have to do
something, aren't we? About your attitude."
I shifted my feet and looked out the window.
"Have you got any suggestions?" Mr. Beecham persisted. "And please look
at me when I'm talking to you."
I turned back to him. "Whatever."
" 'Whatever' is not an answer. I have your records from your past school,
Danu, so you don't fool me. You were a straight-A student, and now your
highest grade is a D. What are you going to do about it?"
"Work harder," I muttered. I had no intention of working harder. My plan was
to get expelled, and then with a bit of luck, I could go back to my old school.
Even if it meant living in the dog kennel with Snowy, I wouldn't mind.
Mr. Beecham stood up. "I hope so, Danu. I hope so. We're here to help, you
know, not hinder, so I'd appreciate a bit of effort on your part. And . . . I also
need to talk to you about . . . well, about your hair . . ."
"What about it?" I asked. It had taken me months to get it into decent
dreadlocks. Since my hair is fine and reddish blonde, it had taken weeks and
weeks of twirling and twirling before the coils stayed, but at last I was starting
to look the part. I'd even wound some green and pink yarn through some of
them. My dreadlocks were part of my plan. I had to look like a rebel as well
as act like one.
"Well . . . don't you ever comb it?"
"But that can't be hygienic."
I shrugged. "Is there a rule that says I can't wear my hair like this?"
"So what's the problem?"
"It makes you look, well, how can I put this . . . rather unkempt."
"Do you tell other girls how to wear their hair?"
"No. I don't make a habit of it."
"Okay, then. Can I go now?"
Mr. Beecham sighed. "I suppose so."
I made my way out of the school and through the playground to the bus stop.
Girls were still hanging around, chatting and laughing. I kept my head down. I
wished that I had a friend here. I wished that I had someone's house where I
could go to and hang out in, gossiping about the day, about other kids. But
no, the only place I had to go back to was the prison of an apartment where I
lived with my aunt, the warden.
She lives in a small apartment on the fifteenth floor of a tall building in a new
development area. No grass, no trees, no animals, and no outside space
except for a tiny balcony with one dead plant on it. Aunt Esme earns good
money at her job, but she chooses to live in this no man's land because it's
close to her office. Okay for her since she's never home. I felt like I was
suffocating there. There's nothing to do. Nowhere to go; it's not safe out after
dark because of its proximity to a rough neighborhood.
I was going to end up like that poor geranium on the balcony. Dead.
I caught the bus and sat looking out at the gloomy winter's night. We'd
turned the clocks back last week, so it was dark early. On the street, people
were huddled in their coats, rushing to get home out of the cold. I got off at
the square where Aunt Esme lives and sloped over to her building. Up the
steps, through the door, into the elevator that smelled damp, like boiled <...
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Book Description Macmillan Children's Books, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0330510258