Almost Starring Skinnybones

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Text copyright © 1988 by Barbara Park

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eISBN: 978-0-307-79705-6

Reprinted by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

v3.1

To all the fans of Skinnybones
who asked for a sequel … you’ve got it!

Contents
  
1
  

M
other Nature
makes mistakes. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true. One of them sits behind me in English class. Her name is Annabelle Posey. I’d rather think that Annabelle was a mistake than believe Mother Nature made her on purpose.

Annabelle is probably the most stuck-up girl in the entire universe. Her father has his own local TV show. It’s called
The Uncle Happy Show
. It’s one of those little kiddie programs.

Mr. Posey is Uncle Happy. He wears a cowboy hat, a red rubber nose, and a cape. It’s the type of costume you dig up on Halloween when you’re too old for trick or treat, but you still want the candy.

Mostly all he does is show cartoons. Once in a while he has a guest appearance by this policeman
called Uncle Officer. Uncle Officer talks about junk like bike safety and how you shouldn’t yell out dirty stuff to cars when they honk at you or else the driver might come back and kill you. To put it nicely, it’s not the kind of show that cleans up at the Emmy Awards.

But it doesn’t matter to Annabelle. Even though no one in Hollywood has ever even heard of
The Uncle Happy Show
, she still brags about all the famous people she knows.

Like one time in second grade Annabelle actually stood up and told the class that God had come to her house for Sunday supper. I’m not kidding—God. The teacher practically called her a liar, but Annabelle wouldn’t change her story. She said that he had wings, and a golden crown, and flew in her window and ate a chicken dinner.

Besides being a natural-born liar, Annabelle is also very good at making fun of people. Not everyone, exactly. Mostly just me. Like when she’s asked to list her hobbies, Annabelle probably puts “reading, swimming, and making fun of Alex ‘Skinnybones’ Frankovitch.”

Skinnybones. That’s what she usually calls me. Her and about a million other kids at school. A skinny little bag of bones. Nice, huh?

I guess that’s why I’ve got such a big mouth. Just
because I’m small doesn’t mean I’m going to let jerks like Annabelle get the best of me. I get them before they get me. It sounds sort of dramatic, like a gunfight or something, but that’s how it is.

This may seem crazy, but sometimes I think having people like Annabelle Posey around can actually be good for you. They give you a reason to keep trying to make something special out of yourself. To set goals and stuff. Then, when you finally make it, you can go right up to them in a real crowded room like the cafeteria and laugh in their ugly faces. My goal is to wipe out an entire lunch line with one giant “Ha!”

That’s what was so great about my summer. I finally got my chance to make it big. Really big! And I owe it all to Kitty Fritters Cat Food Company.

Last year they sponsored a contest called the National Kitty Fritters Television Contest. You had to write an essay telling them why your cat ate Kitty Fritters. The winner got to go to New York over the summer and make a TV commercial!

I only entered as a joke. My essay was about how the fritters were real cheap and how they tasted like rubber, but who cared, because cats aren’t people anyway. It was pretty insulting if you want to know the truth.

That’s why I was so surprised when it won. I
guess the contest judge must have had a good sense of humor. In the letter the company sent, they said it was the most honest essay they had ever received.

Boy, did my father pick up on that one! For two solid weeks, he walked around saying how it should prove to me that honesty is always the best policy. He said it so much, I made the mistake of believing him. The last week of school I even decided to be honest with our substitute teacher. I went up to his desk and told him that some of us felt his feet were stinking up our room. They were, too. After he came in from playground duty, two kids in the front row keeled right over onto the floor.

He sent me to the office. I had to write a letter of apology.

Anyway, when I told Annabelle that I had won the contest and was going to make a national television commercial, she practically went crazy. She just couldn’t stand the thought of someone else in town being a celebrity like her father.

“Big deal,” she said, pretending to yawn in my face. “My father’s made a million TV commercials.”

I shook my head. “No, no, no, Annabelle. You don’t seem to understand. This isn’t a local commercial like your father does. This is a
national
commercial with a
major
pet food company. It’s not the same thing as honking your nose, jumping off
a chair, and shouting, “Watch
The Uncle Happy Show
!”

Annabelle stuck her snooty nose in the air. “So what? We’re rich, aren’t we? And besides, my father says that being a clown brings joy and laughter into the world.”

“A clown?” I asked, astonished. “You’re kidding. Is that what he’s supposed to be? He’s a clown?”

Annabelle looked annoyed. “Of course he’s a clown, stupid.” Then she paused a second and eyed me with suspicion. “Why? What else could he be?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know. I always thought he was just a lousy dresser.”

Annabelle punched me in the stomach. Hard. I wasn’t expecting it and let a loud “
Oomph!
” Then I doubled up into a little ball and fell over onto the basketball court. Walter Bingham strolled over and dribbled on my head.

When you’re a skinny bag of bones, humiliating stuff like this happens all the time. It sounds funny. But when you’re being dribbled on, you don’t feel that much like laughing. Hardly at all, in fact.

Anyway, I was hoping a lot of that would change after I got to be a star. Being famous could really turn my life around. I dreamed about it all the time. Like about how I would get a fan club, and they would scream and faint and follow me around. And
how I would make a personal appearance on
The Uncle Happy Show
, and Uncle Officer would salute me. And how God might drop by for a meatball sandwich.

One thing was certain. If I was ever going to become a big television star, I had to stop thinking of myself as Skinnybones and start concentrating on being a celebrity.

I began by signing autographs. Just to get the feel of it, I stood outside the market and wrote my name on people’s grocery bags as they got into their cars. You wouldn’t believe how excited some people got over a simple little autograph. One lady rolled her window up on my pen. Another guy started swatting me with his hat.

I just don’t get it. Celebrity autographs are valuable. I’ve got a pretty good collection of my own. I keep them hidden in the bottom of my dresser drawer. I used to have them on my bulletin board, but every time my cousin Leon came over, he’d put his grubby little paws all over them; so now they’re tucked away under my pajamas.

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