Barnabee Gets Even

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Meet Barnabee Stinsky, a precocious fourth grader who has a knack for magical thinking and flair for the dramatic. If moving wasn’t bad enough, her less than optimal coping methods are put to the test when both home and school life become more than she bargained for. Find out how Barnabee’s cool Aunt Janie, superstitious beliefs and BFFL, Stevie, help her to navigate with dignity, humility and humor, the all too common situation among kids - bullying.

Beth Mund
5.0 1 review
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Chapter 1: My Horoscope

Leo (Born July 23-August 22)

“November 2008-- Home and family are a concern. By the end of December you might sell or buy a house. After November 16th, you shouldn’t make important decisions regarding school. This is the right time for you to be doing your “homework.” Important decisions will come in 2009.”

I throw the Glamour Girls magazine across the room. Nothing too exciting this month for Leos. I only read Glamour Girls for the horoscopes, which my Aunt Janie always says, “Tell you everything that is going to happen in your life.” Horoscopes are Zodiac signs predicted through the science of Astrology. Aunt Janie says if Astrology was a religion, horoscopes would be its bible.

“Barnabee!” Dad yells from downstairs. “You got a package.”

I leap from my bed, forgetting I am wearing toe socks, which is my first big mistake of the day. First thing I do is slip on the hardwood floor and smash my elbow into a wall just outside my bedroom door. I don’t remember reading about Leos hurting themself, but I better be careful the rest of the day, just in case.

Carefully, I make my way downstairs, stopping momentarily halfway to check myself out in the mirror. My braids, thrown messily together by me, are lounging against my t-shirt with pieces of hair sticking out at every twist and turn. Definitely not boring, my hair. I hate boring. I twist around to peek at the back of my head. Perfectly, not perfect. Just the way I like it.

Rule about my hair is, whatever I do, goes. And mom is not supposed to say anything about it, although she is not abiding by this rule; probably because she has not agreed to it yet.

I leave the mirror behind, run down the last few steps and ice skate across the living room floor until I come to the bear skin rug-something we got when we moved from Florida to New Jersey, last August. I look up, and see dad, waiting for me by the front door. He must be talking with Denise, our post lady.

Now I am making the moment last. It is not every day that I get a package, in fact, it is almost never. Getting a package is such good news. Aunt Janie would say it is a sign of good things to come. Maybe the package is candy. Or a new North Face jacket, the kind everyone wears here in the New Jersey, or maybe a birthday present, three months late.

As I saunter past our home office, I see Mom is at the desktop computer, catching up on some work. In front of her is one of her big, fat lawyer books. Her square cut reading glasses rest quietly on the end of her nose, causing her to tilt her head back to see what is on the monitor. Nearby, on the floor is Q, my little sister, playing with some blocks, the kind that are challenging enough for a six year old, but way too easy for me.

“Dad’s calling you, Barnabee,” Mom says, without turning around.

That is twice now you heard my name. This is such bad news. Normally, I don’t share my name with anybody, until I know them a bit better. Now, I might as well spill it and tell you my whole name. Get it over with, like ripping a band aid off all at once. Which I never do, by the way. I take it off slowly, desperately trying to avoid any hairs getting ripped off of me.

Anway, here is my full name: Barnabee Jennifer Stinsky.

I have just enough time before I reach the front door, to tell you the story behind my name, which dates back two generations. Dad’s parents owned a café called Henry’s. It was in Houston, Texas--that’s where he grew up. Dad’s favorite dog, Barnabee, went to Heaven when dad was just eight years old. Soon after, the name of the place was changed to Barnabee’s Café, in memory of their dog. Somehow, dad thought it was “fitting” and “reasonable” to name his first born after Barnabee, the dog. It bears repeating, so you can understand how disturbing it is--I am named after a dog!

I take comfort in knowing I am not alone, though. Most people hate their names. Parents get it all wrong. Take my sister for example, her name is Q. This is short for Quintana, which is neither a people name, nor a pet’s name. She’s named after a state of Mexico. Quintana is where mom and dad went on their honeymoon; and is also their favorite place. Good thing, we call her Q for short. I try to get people to call me Bee for short, but it doesn’t always happen.

“Barnabee!” Dad gives me a second shout out without turning around.

See what I mean?

I walk up behind dad. “I’m right here.”

“Didn’t see you, kiddo.” Dad smiles lovingly, and places his hand on my back. “Looks like Denise brought you something special today.”

Eagerly, I step in front of dad. Suddenly, I can barely control myself. Leos love surprises! The moment is here, and I want my package now!

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