It began with a wish. . . .
Ruby Rivera is a twelve-year-old superstar with millions of followers. Skylar Welshman is a seventh grader who wants to be cooland she's Ruby's biggest fan. When Skylar and Ruby meet on the set of Ruby's hit show, Ruby of the Lamp, and wish they could switch places . . . it happens!
Now Ruby is living Skylar's lifegoing to a normal school, eating fro-yo, sleeping in, texting boys . . . it's amazing. And being Ruby is even better than Skylar imaginedher fancy closet is huge, everyone wants to be her friend, and she gets to spend every day with Ryder Vance, her dreamy costar. Life is a blast!
But when Ruby finds herself dealing with mean girls and Skylar discovers that being a celebrity isn't all red-carpet glamour, the girls start to wonder if being yourself isn't so bad after all. Can they swap bodies again? Or are they stuck being each other forever?
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Blah, Blah, Blah . . . Genie
The magic lamp shimmers in the hot red sand. A diamond in the rough. A jewel in the desert. I wipe the sweat from my browevidence of walking through miles and miles of scalding-hot nothingness. With trembling fingers, I reach for the ancient relic, my breath catching in my throat as soon as I make contact.
“This is it!” I tell Miles, my travel companion and best friend. The violent desert winds have wreaked havoc on his perfect hair.
“Are you sure?” he asks.
I nod. “This is the one from my dream.”
I sink to my knees, my silk caftan immediately filling with rough grains of sand. I rest one shaking hand against the side of the lamp, hold my breath, close my eyes, and rub. And then . . .
I fall back into the sand, hopeless, defeated. Miles sinks down next to me. “I’m sorry, Ruby.”
He puts a hand on my arm and we sit in silence for a moment. Then I tilt my head back and call into the cloudless sky, “Where are you? Why can’t I find you?” The words are cheesy. But I say them anyway. Because I have no choice.
Just then, the golden lamp I’m still clutching begins to shudder. Gently at first, like a shiver on a cool day, then more violently, until I have to squeeze it between my knees to keep it from shaking out of my hands.
I fight not to roll my eyes. It’s a bit much.
Then, in a puff of blue smoke that looks more like glittery pixie dust than genie smoke, a man appears before me. An ancient, powerful genie with blue skin and golden eyes that sparkle in the desert sun. From my seated place in the sand, he looks gigantic. Towering above Miles and me in gold harem pants that flap in the breeze and a red jewel-encrusted turban covering his hair.
He folds his arms over his bare blue chest and glares down at me, his gilded eyes cruel and cold. “Who awakens me from my long and peaceful slumber, and for what purpose?” he says in a deep, booming voice.
I look up at him, eyes wide, mouth agape, struggling to keep a straight face. But I just can’t do it. With the blue-tinted skin, and the yellow contacts, and the BeDazzled turban, it’s too much. I try to speak, but instead of words coming out, I break into uncontrollable laughter.
“Cut!” says a voice from the darkness beyond the desert. “Cut! Cut! Cut!”
The lights come on and the giant warehouse-size building is illuminated around me, making this little patch of fake sand and green background look even more ridiculous than it feels. I know the background won’t really be green. It’s just temporary. In post-production, when the editors splice the episode together, they’ll insert rolling hills of sand dunes behind me so it’ll look like I’m actually outside in the Sahara Desert and not inside a soundstage in Burbank, California, at three o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon. Three hours past schedule, I might add, because Barry Berkowitz, the show’s executive producer and creator, didn’t like the look of the first three batches of sand.
“What was that?” Barry demands, stepping out from behind the bank of cameras and viewing monitors. “We’re one line away from the end of the scene!” I secretly call him Barry Barkowitzor some variation of thatbecause he seems to bark everything he says.
“Nice job, Ruby,” Ryder sneers, pushing himself up from his seated place in the fake sand. The sarcasm is rich in his voice. I stick out my tongue in reply. Ryder Vance, my costar, has played Miles on the show for the past four years. He’s like a brother to me. A very annoying, obnoxious, way-too-obsessed-with-his-hair brother. “Now we have to reset the whole shot.” He stomps off set toward the food table, smoothing his windblown hair with one hand while he grabs a chocolate doughnut with the other and shoves half of it in his mouth. He turns to me and taunts me by chewing dramatically. He knows I can’t have chocolate doughnuts because I’ve basically been on a flavor-free diet since I was eight, and he loves to rub it in my face.
I roll my eyes and turn away from him, my gaze landing once again on the actor playing the ancient genie. And then I lose it all over again, laughing uncontrollably. I feel bad for the guy, I really do. Thisblue skin dye and harem pantsis probably his big break into Hollywood.
Barry Barkhead stalks menacingly toward me, wiping sweat from his bald head. “Do you find my writing humorous?”
No, I think. I find it ridiculous.
But I don’t dare say that aloud. The whole stupid show is over-the-top. I mean, seriously, a school for genies with classes like Wish Granting and Carpet Driver’s Ed and Yoga for Lamp Dwellers? It’s like Barry just sat down one day, made a list of the cheesiest genie-related things, and poof! Here’s a hit TV show for you.
“They have twenty more minutes,” Russ reminds Barry. He’s the show’s production assistant, recognizable by the clipboard that’s practically glued to his hand, and the way he seems to shake in his shoes whenever he’s around Barry.
Barry waves Russ away with a rough hand, nearly swatting him in the face. Fortunately, Russ ducks just in time before running away. Of all the people on set who are afraid of Barrywhich is pretty much everyoneRuss is probably the most terrified. And I can’t blame him. If he’s not getting nearly smacked by Barry’s wild gestures, he’s getting spit on by Barry’s saliva-heavy rants.
But Russ is just doing his job, reminding Barry that Ryder and I have only twenty more minutes until they have to let us go home. It’s California state law. Because we’re only twelve, we can only work for five hours at a time, and can only be on set for nine and a half hours total, including makeup, hair, and meals. Thank goodness for that law, or Barkhead would make me stay here all night.
Frustrated, Barry jams his fingertips into his temples. “Do you know the line, Ruby?” he asks me through gritted teeth.
“ ‘I’m looking for my mother,’ ” I recite dutifully.