Age Level: 8 and up | Grade Level: 3 to 7
"Brimming with honesty and heart."Caroline Starr Rose, award-winning author of MAY B.
"Told in the hyper-chatty, status-obsessed voice of your secretly sweet best friend, Always, Abigail is always adorable."Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever
From the award-winning author of This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, a hilarious and heartwarming story told exclusively through lists and letters.
- Sixth Grade To Do List:
- Make the Pom Pom Squad!
- Be best friends forever with Alli and Cami
- Don't panic when #1 and #2 look like they're totally not going to happen
Abigail and her two best friends are poised for a life of pom-poms and popularity. But not only does Abigail end up in a different homeroom, she doesn't make the squad. Then everyone's least favorite teacher pairs Abigail up with the school's biggest outcast for a year-long Friendly Letter Assignment. Abigail can hardly believe her bad luck! As her so-called best friends and dreams of pom pom fame start to slip away, Abigail has to choose between the little bit of popularity she has left or letting it go to be a true friend.
- Great for parents and educators looking for:
- A story told in a unique format, perfect for readers that love graphic novels and reluctant readers
- A good conversation starter for girls who are having trouble adjusting to a new grade or school
- A realistic story about a girl who struggles to balance social pressures and her own moral compass
A Texas Bluebonnet Nominee
A South Carolina Book Awards Honoree
About the Author
Nancy J. Cavanaugh has a BS in education and an MA in curriculum and instruction with multiple published works. She was a teacher for more than fifteen years and currently works as a Library Media Specialist at an elementary school. Nancy lives in Tarpon Springs, FL with her husband and daughter. Visit www.nancyjcavanaugh.com
Read an Excerpt
By Nancy J. Cavanaugh
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Nancy J. Cavanaugh
All rights reserved.
THE COOLEST THING ABOUT SIXTH GRADE
The pom-pom squad!!!!!
THREE REASONS MAKING POM-POMS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE
1. Alli and Cami, my two best friends, and I saw the Crestdale Heights pom-pom girls for the first time when we were in third grade. It was love at first sight! The sequined outfits, the hats, the pom-poms, and the music. We looked at each other after the first routine and knew why we'd all been born: to be POM-POM GIRLS.
Since then, we've made up exactly seventeen different routines. We've talked our moms into buying us five different matching outfits. And we've downloaded ninety-eight songs we can use for pom-pom routines.
All three of our families, especially our brothers (we each have one), wish we'd never seen those pom-pom girls. But the three of us know that was the day we found our DESTINY.
2. Everyone who's anyone is a pom-pom girl.
At Crestdale Heights Middle School, pom-pom girls are practically celebrities.
(Okay, Crestdale Heights isn't really a middle school; it's really Crestdale Heights K through 8. But the little K through 5 kids are NOT allowed in the middle school hallway, so it's sort of like a real middle school.)
On game days, pom-pom girls get to wear their uniforms to school. It's like Oscar night on the red carpet, and the pom-pom girls are wearing the best designer in town.
Boys notice pom-pom girls. (Even seventh- and eighth-grade boys.) And once they notice them, they talk to them, they hang out with them, and eventually ... (Okay, I'm not really sure what comes next, but who cares?!)
ONE MORE REASON MAKING POMS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE
The pom squad always gets their photo in the yearbook.
THREE REASONS WHY BEING IN THE POM-POM YEARBOOK PHOTO IS ONE OF THE BEST PARTS OF BEING A POM-POM GIRL
1. The pom squad photo is always a full color page in the yearbook.
2. The pom squad photo hangs in the trophy case hallway for everyone to see, and the pom squad photos go all the way back to the 1980s, which means our photo would be there for a REALLY long time.
3. At the end of the season, Ms. Jenson, the pom coach, always gives each girl on the squad a shoulder bag with the pom squad photo printed on it. I can't wait to walk around school every day with that bag hanging over my shoulder.
FIVE REASONS WHY I WRITE LISTS
1. I have the BEST handwriting.
(I'm not bragging here. It's the truth. Up until fourth grade, when we stopped getting a grade for handwriting, I always got A's in penmanship. In fact, it was always my only A.)
2. I love buying cute notebooks and filling them up.
3. Lists are much cooler than, "Dear Diary, Blah, blah, blah ..."
(I mean really, I already did that whole "Dear Diary" thing way back in third grade, and I'm so over it.)
4. People who write lists are more likely to succeed.
(I'm pretty sure that's a proven fact. I just can't remember who proved it.)
5. I LOVE writing lists!
THREE WAYS MY LISTS HELP ME SUCCEED
1. I'm a superorganized person, and my lists help me stay organized.
2. When your grades are just so-so like mine, turning in your work on time helps. My lists help me never miss an assignment. (My neatness helps too. Neat, on-time assignments usually get pretty good grades even when all the answers aren't right.)
3. My lists calm me down. When I'm overwhelmed and anxious and feel like I can't get everything done, I write a list. Some of my teachers have told my parents that if I spent as much time on my schoolwork as I do on my lists, I'd be a much better student. What they don't understand is that without my lists, I wouldn't be able to get anything done.
TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT SIXTH GRADE
1. Alli and Cami (aka AlliCam) are NOT in my homeroom.
ONE REALLY SUPERSWEET THING ALLICAM DID FOR ME
Gave me an AlliCam Withdrawal Survival Kit.
FOUR THINGS INSIDE THE ALLICAM WITHDRAWAL SURVIVAL KIT
1. A photo to hang in my locker of the three of us at camp last summer.
2. A blue, braided friendship bracelet.
(They each have one exactly the same.)
3. A luggage tag for my backpack that says, "SPF — SISTERS, POMS, FRIENDS."
4. A small spiral notebook perfect for writing notes to them.
(The front cover of the notebook has three kittens on it that they labeled Abigail, Alli, and Cami. Then they drew little purple pom-poms in each one of the kittens' paws and wrote at the top, "POMS FOREVER.")
THREE THINGS I'M THANKFUL FOR
1. The orthodontist said I don't have to get my braces until January. So I don't have to start middle school with a mouth full of metal. Yay! Most importantly, I won't have to be happy hardware face at pom-pom tryouts.
2. My hair is finally normal after the perm disaster.
Alli and Cami both have wavy hair, and I love, love, love it! So I begged my mom for a perm. She tried to talk me out of it, but since she's the reason I have such straight, boring, lifeless hair (hers is exactly the same way), she felt bad for me and gave in.
Man, I wished I could've pressed the rewind button that day. I walked out of the salon looking like a bigheaded poodle. Ugh! I told the lady waves notcurls. But adults just don't get it sometimes. At least it was the beginning of the summer, and I didn't have to go to school. Mom took me back to the salon the next day for a haircut, and I got most of it cut off. My hair was supershort. I hated it! But it was better than being POODLE GIRL all summer. My hair was finally back to normal length the week before school started. Whew!
3. AlliCam and I have the coolest clothes for school this year. Shopping was, like, a full-time job for us this summer.
HE LIST I MADE FOR OUR SUMMER SHOPPING SCHEDULE
1. Sundays: collect sale ads from the newspaper.
2. Mondays: circle everything we like.
3. Tuesdays: get my mom to drop us at the mall.
4. Wednesdays: get Cami's mom to drop us at the outlet center.
5. Thursdays: get Alli's mom to drop us at the thrift shop.
6. Fridays and Saturdays: try on everything we bought and decide if we really like it.
We planned to shop like this all summer, but we ran out of birthday and babysitting money after two weeks. So we spent the rest of the summer making up more pom-pom routines and practicing them.
THREE REASONS WE RAN OUT OF BIRTHDAY AND BABYSITTING MONEY SO QUICKLY
1. We all have winter birthdays. AlliCam's birthdays are in January. Mine is February, so none of us had much birthday money left by summertime.
2. AlliCam both got sick of their babysitting jobs. The families they babysat for had only boys, and they were monsters, so they both stopped babysitting.
3. I liked the kids I babysat for, but I didn't like babysitting on Friday and Saturday nights when AlliCam were together doing fun things without me like makeovers, manicures, and workout videos. I hated missing out on all that, so I kept saying I was busy when the moms asked me to babysit, and eventually they stopped asking me. (My mom was not too thrilled once she realized what had happened, but AlliCam were my best friends. What was I supposed to do?)
FEW THINGS I'M NOT SO THANKFUL FOR
1. Even with the poodle-perm incident behind me, my hair is nothing to brag about. Its color: dirty dishwater. (Doesn't that sound attractive?) Its style: nonexistent because it's as limp as a dirty dishrag. (Doesn't that sound fashionable?) Its condition: oily and dull thanks to the hormones of puberty — that's what Mom says. (Doesn't that sound disgusting?)
2. So I do the best I can with what I have, and mostly I wear my dirty, dishrag hair in a ponytail. It's better than the poodle look, but not by much. The worst part is that AlliCam's hair is amazing — not only is it wavy, but it's perfectly conditioned, shiny, shampoo-commercial hair. Alli's is blond, and Cami's is black. Perfect hair colors.
3. The coolest clothes don't hide the fact that I don't have the coolest body. I don't know what it is, but I can be wearing the same exact outfit as AlliCam (even the same size), and somehow it always looks better on them.
4. And then there's the braces thing. I'm glad I'm not getting them on for a while, but it'd be better if I didn't have to get them at all. Why couldn't I have been born with straight teeth like AlliCam? I mean, I've got the bad hair, the so-so body. Would it have been too much to ask to just have good teeth?
SOMETHING REALLY FUN ALLICAM AND I DID OVER THE WEEKEND
Alli's dad let us use his camera, and we did a pom-pom girl photo shoot. We decorated a huge poster with Crestdale Heights Middle School written on it for the background. I did the lettering on the sign, so of course it looked amazing! Then we put on one of our favorite outfits that we bought last summer, and we posed with our pom-poms. We even turned a fan on to blow our hair around, so we'd look like real models.
We took about a million pictures until we each got one that we LOVED. (Well, I got one that I "liked." None of mine were quite as good as AlliCam's.) Then we printed the photos on Alli's brother's computer and used her mom's mini-laminator to make ID cards to carry on our gym bags.
They turned out soooo CUTE!
SOMETHING THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE BEST THING ABOUT SIXTH GRADE IS TURNING OUT TO BE THE WORST THING
In sixth grade, instead of being stuck with the sameboring teacher, talking in the same boring way, ALL day long, each homeroom gets to switch to a different teacher for each subject. But without Alli and Cami in my homeroom, it means I get different boring teachers, but no AlliCam ALL day long — just the SAME boring, geeky classmates ALL day, EVERY day, ALL YEAR LONG.
ANOTHER WORST THING ABOUT SIXTH GRADE
My homeroom doesn't have lunch at the same time as AlliCam's, so I'm stuck eating lunch with Jeannie and Marcy.
It's not that they're so bad — it's just that, well, they're kind of prissy and a little babyish. Like their moms still write little "I love you" notes and put them in their lunches. I'd die if my mom did that!
(My mom still writes me messages in the foggy bathroom mirror when I'm in the shower. "I [love] U! [??]" I do still like that, but nobody knows about that.)
Then there's Jeannie's and Marcy's clothes. Well, let's just say, I saw a second-grader on the bus wearing the same outfit Marcy had on the other day. If that happened to me, I would've faked sick so I could go home. Not Marcy — she kept calling the kid her little twin.
I don't want anyone thinking the three of us are really good friends. That wouldn't do much for my image.
So I sit close enough to them so that it doesn't look like I'm sitting alone, but not too close.
EN MORE THINGS I HATE ABOUT HOMEROOM
1. Miss Hendrick (aka Hendrick-the-Horrible-Hundred-Year-Old Hawk) is my homeroom teacher.
THREE REASONS SHE'S CALLED "HENDRICK-THE-HORRIBLE-HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD HAWK"
1. She's horrible. You just have to know her; no explanation needed.
2. She's got to be at least one hundred years old by now. (My mom had her when she was in sixth grade.)
3. She sees EVERYTHING that goes on — that's why she's called the Hawk. She doesn't just have eyes in the back of her head. She's got eyes in the hallway, in the bathroom (boys and girls), and on the playground. No one knows how she does it.
THREE THINGS MOM TOLD ME ABOUT OLD HAWK
1. She's the strictest teacher in the whole school.
2. She's the toughest teacher in the whole school.
3. Someday you'll appreciate her for that.
ONE QUESTION I ASKED MOM
Are you kidding me?
ONE THING MOM SAID
THE REASON I HATE LANGUAGE ARTS
Old Hawk is my homeroom teacher AND my language arts teacher.
THREE REASONS I HATE HAVING LANGUAGE ARTS WITH OLD HAWK
(There're 181 days left of school. I'm sure there'll be more reasons.)
1. She's so last century with her old lady glasses hanging on a chain around her neck. And her clothes — you should see them. Plaid, polyester skirts, frilly blouses, and neck scarves. She must be in the witness protection program using our school as a hideout from the fashion police. She's a makeover waiting to happen. And you should see her hair. It looks like it's older than she is. Actually, it looks like an old man's beard piled on top of her head.
I'm surprised she doesn't ride to school in a covered wagon.
2. She doesn't like computers. Doesn't think we should use them for our writing assignments. She says, "Young people today have lost the art of language the way it was intended to be written and spoken."
I think she's the one who's losing it because no one even knows what she's talking about half the time.
The first day of school she passed out penmanship paper. You know, the kind kindergarten teachers use. Then she hung up one of those alphabet strips across the top of the chalkboard. She actually made us practice printing our full names in perfect penmanship.
The other kids were going nuts — complaining, whining, and whispering to each other, "Doesn't she know this is sixth grade?" "She's crazier than everyone says she is."
I joined the crowd by doing a few eye rolls and a couple huge sighs, but secretly, I was loving it as I watched my perfect letters fill up the big wide spaces between the lines. My paper looked awesome! Even better than Old Hawk's example on the board.
I wondered if the principal knew she was doing stuff like this. Maybe I should report her. I could write an anonymous letter:
Dear Mr. Buckley,
Do you know that one of your sixth-grade teachers is a kindergarten teacher disguised as a middle school teacher? You must act now. She's teaching penmanship instead of punctuation. Save the sixth-graders in 6H from this cruel and unusual punishment. Remove her from her classroom before it's too late.
Yours truly, Anonymous
3. The biggest reason I hate having Old Hawk for language arts — THE FRIENDLY LETTER assignment!
She gave a twenty-minute speech about how she has an "ax to grind" with the "youth of America." (She's famous for her speeches. Even my mom talks about them.) This one was about how she is "sick as a horse" to see young people using letters and numbers for words when they type e-mails and text messages.
She wrote "BF4EVAH" on the board. "This is not writing, my friends."
(She always calls us "her friends" when she's making one of her speeches.)
Her solution to this horrific writing crime against humanity: THE FRIENDLY LETTER ASSIGNMENT.
"As a way to practice writing the English language as it was intended, each of you will be assigned a partner."
(The key word here: assigned.)
"You will write letters to your partner once a week. You will WRITE these letters. Not type them. Not text message them. Not telepathically transmit them. You will use your best handwriting. You will spell words correctly. You will use proper grammar and punctuation. Am I clear?"
No one said anything, but I knew everyone wished they could write Old Hawk a friendly letter asking ...
AN OMINOUS (ONE OF OLD HAWK'S FIRST VOCAB WORDS) WARNING OLD HAWK GAVE ABOUT OUR FRIENDLY LETTER ASSIGNMENT
"My friends, do you realize that the United States government protects our mail? It is actually a federal offense for anyone to tamper with the U.S. mail. Which means it is an offense punishable by the law; and in our classroom, our friendly letters will be treated with the same utmost respect. No one, except the recipient, may read the friendly letters you write. No one, except you, may read the friendly letters you receive, and even I, the postmaster general of this classroom, am not above this law. So you should rest assured that I will not be reading your letters.
"To summarize," Old Hawk said while writing on the board, "the friendly letters written in this classroom are private property between you and your friendly letter partner," and she underlined private property three times.
"That said, I am certain that no one, not a single one of you, my friends, will abuse this privilege of privacy and/or misuse it to write anything that would not be mature and respectful in nature."
NUMBER ONE REASON I HATE MY LIFE THIS YEAR
Gabby Marco is my friendly letter partner. She's the biggest LOSER in the WHOLE school. Something like this could ruin a person's life.
Excerpted from Always, Abigail by Nancy J. Cavanaugh. Copyright © 2014 Nancy J. Cavanaugh. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Always, Abigail Discussion Questions,
A Sneak Peek at Just Like Me,
A Sneak Peek at This Journal Belongs to Ratchet,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Synopsis- Abigail Walters was entering the sixth grade, and, along with her best friends Alli and Cami, can’t wait to become a Pompom Girl. Then everything goes wrong. Alli and Cami get the same homeroom, and have the same teachers. Abigail has the meanest homeroom teacher in the school. When that teacher assigns a project where you write letters to an assigned person in the class, Abigail gets paired with Gabby – an outcast-y, “weird”-type – and Abigail dreads it. But what if she actually starts to like Gabby? And starts to realize that her friends aren’t as nice as she thought they were? What I liked-This was a great book about choosing what you should do, over what you want to do. At first, I wasn’t sure about the writing style of the book, it started off as list after list after list, but then I figured out that the book was written like a notebook, and I found myself really liking it. Abigail tells her story though lists and small paragraphs (for example: 3 Reasons I Know I Was Born To Be A PomPom Girl, and What I Wanted To Say, But Didn’t). The style really grew on me. Abigail has always wanted to be one of those popular “PomPom Girls” (I am figuring that is a cheerleader), but first, she doesn’t get any classes with her two best friends, and then, in her Language Arts room, she gets partnered with the biggest “loser” in 6th grade and she pretty much thinks her life is over. I didn’t really like how Abigail blatantly calls Gabby (her partner), a “loser” in her notebook. I really disliked her at first, but I guess that is the point of the story. ;) Abigail goes through a natural, yet significant, character change. As a reader, I really enjoy that in a book. *NOTE* I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
I read this journal belongs to ratchet also by nacy and now I read this one and both get five stars.
Hey people it is josh j
My class is getting thruogh Blue Bonnet books.
One of the best books i have ever read! It kind of teaches you not to bully. I recommend this book for all ages above 10 and 11. This is a must read!
I am reading it right now it is so good. She is so like me!!
I thought i would never read this book because it sounded like dork diary books and books like that . But this book really turn out very good and i liked how the book had lists in there that was very cool !!!!! You should read this book !!!