How far will Bix go to be popular?
A delightful and humorous diary account from "Bix," a plain Jane from a struggling family trying to outdo and steal the third-grade classroom stage from Valerie, whose mother is a famous author. Miss Popular may be a wheelchair-user, but she knows how to charm the classroom, and her pink bejeweled wheelchair rules. In a pique of frustration, Bix resorts to lies to steal the limelight from Miss Popular. She also announces that she will be having a puppy shower, and everyone except Miss Popular is invited. Can Bix pull it off?
- Learn the importance of honesty
- Discover that being loved and being popular are not the same thing
- Find out how even a small act of kindness pays big dividends
- Learn how to rise above circumstances to be a better person
"Jewel Kats does it again! She has the ability to shine a light on disabilities with characters that empower and inspire! And she does it in way that entertains thoroughly! Her optimism and sense of fun explode on every page!"
--Dan Parent, Archie Comics
"Miss Popular is a testament to young girls everywhere: guiding them through the issues of popularity, honesty and the fun of life! Jewel Kats has created a character that I would have loved to be my friend when I was a third-grader! Spectacular in every way!"
--Robin Marvel, author of Awakening Consciousness: A Girl's Guide!
"Right from the start of the book, it teaches children that it is okay to write out your feelings of things that bother you. Miss Popular has a humorous flow and teaches a lesson about the importance of honesty. Kats will show you that disabilities are a blessing in disguise and kindness is better than lies. If you are a 2nd or 3rd grader, this is a great book! Highly recommend for the easy-to-read story and the quality of Stenton's illustrations."
--Jackie Paulson Reviews
Learn more at www.JewelKats.com
from Marvelous Spirit Press www.MarvelousSpirit.com
Juvenile Fiction: Social Issues - Special Needs
About the Author
Jewel has appeared as an international magazine cover story four times! Recently, her work was featured in an in-depth article published in The Toronto Star. Jewel's work has also appeared as an evening news segment on WKBW-TV and on the pages of The Buffalo News and The Huffington Post. Jewel Kats was the pen name of Michelle Meera Katyal, who passed away in 2016 as the result of complications of surgery. Please visit her site at www.jewelkats.com
Read an Excerpt
Dear Diary, You can call me Bix. My real name is Beatrice. NOBODY calls me that. Well ... my parents do. But that's about it! I promise. Cross my heart. Now, you probably want to know who I am. Grownups say I'm a "plain Jane". Trust me, I had no idea what that meant, either. Now, I know. So I'll tell you. From what I understand, a "plain Jane" is a kind of girl who doesn't like frills on her dresses. Yes! That's me. Don't get me wrong. I have dreams. BIG dreams! I want to work in a newspaper as a writer when I'm old. Well, not that ooooooooooold. But you get the idea.
I got you — dear diary — as an "I love you" gift from my mom today. An "I love you" gift is the best type of present out there. These wonderful gifts come to your life because a thought is involved. Not a birthday, or Christmas, or whatever.
So, you — dear diary — are now in my life because my mom wants you to be. Mom says I will be an excellent reporter, and I will only improve by writing to you every day. She wants this because she loves me. This makes me love YOU.
P.S. I super heart that everything about you is PINK — the paper, the cover, even the special leather pen that came with you. You're a pink feast for the eyes. Thank you very much for being you!
Love, Bix xoxo
Dear Diary, You ... Will ... Not ... Believe ... This! Hold on. Let me first fill you in with some VERY important facts.
Fact #1: I'm in grade three.
Fact #2: The most handsome Principal in the whole wide world works at my school.
Fact #3: Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. (Sorry, I need air before I write this down). I share my classroom with the most popular girl in my small town called St. Submarine.
Fact #4: This girl even calls herself "Miss Popular"!!! Talk about being full of herself!
Fact #5: Miss Popular has glossy, flossy pearly-whites. (Sorry, I always stare at people's teeth).
Fact #6: Miss Popular has a crystal-decorated, real-life artist-painted wheelchair.
Fact #7: Miss Popular even has a glamorous Mom!!! Her mother is a famous author whose kissy-cover romance novels are at every grocery store in the COUNTRY.
Fact #8: I need a break to get air again.
Love, Bix xoxo
Dear Diary, OK. I'm back. I'm feeling a bit better now. I threw cold water all over my red, sweaty face. I made a mess in the bathroom, but I'm sure my mom will understand. She knows already how I feel about Miss Popular.
You see, my problem with Miss Popular has been going on for a loooooonnnnnnngggggg time. I've never liked her. I thought she was a big time show-off even as a stubby toddler. Some things never change. Ever!
This morning is what they call in TV land a "prime time" special. As always, we had a sophisticated version of show-and-tell in our classroom. (We write reports afterwards of what was brought in). Today was my turn. I'd even polished my coin collection beforehand. It was my time to shine. Let's just say that DID NOT happen. Not one person saw my lucky penny.
It started right when I walked into our classroom. Yes, bright and early in the morning. Don't you just love those types of days? NOT. Here's the deal: Everyone in my grade three classroom was circled around Miss Popular. As usual, she was seated on her Princess wheelchair throne. Only this time, she had something very unusual in her hands. As I got closer and closer, my heart sank to my feet. Splat, splat, splat it went!
She was holding a paper mache cast of her pregnant mother's belly! Miss Popular even brought smelly markers with her. From what I heard, these fine-smelling gems were flown in all the way from France! Who in their right mind orders colorful markers from across the world? Only Miss Popular, that's who! Those markers were being passed around like crazy. Everyone was trying to sign the paper mache belly cast. Miss Popular sat there like a proud peacock. That's when our eyes locked — Miss Popular's and mine.
"Would you like to autograph my mom's paper mache belly cast?" she asked me. I stood there dumb-founded for a second. Nobody in my life had ever asked me to "autograph" anything. I mean autographs are usually meant for Hollywood stars. Then my senses came back to me. "No, thank you," I said to her in my fake, pretend-to-be-sweet voice.
Today is my day to shine!, I screamed inside my head. I was, am, and always will be tired of Miss Popular stealing the show! That's when an idea hit me. Just like that. I knew how I'd get the whole class to listen to me. So, I did it. I made my big announcement. "Listen up, everyone!" I said to my whole class.
Right then, I had twenty-seven eyes looking at me. I gulped. I felt a little drop of sweat drip down my neck. There was no turning back now. I went ahead with my plan, and said, "I have important news to share! My mom is expecting a bouncing baby, too!" Everyone started buzzing at once. Some people had no idea what I was talking about. "Yes, you heard that right," I went on. "The one and only Bix will have a baby brother, and his name will be Matthew."
My whole classroom started clapping their hands — everyone, except for Miss Popular. This brought me great joy. The only problem? This whole baby business is a big, fat lie. I don't even know how I came up with the name "Matthew". The only person who knows this is me, though. Now, you too. Thank goodness that you can keep secrets, dear diary! It's great that you can't talk! HA!
Love, Bix xoxo.
Dear Diary, Tonight's dinner was the pits. Dad usually does all the cooking at home. He was late today from work. Dad works at a Meat Deli, and totally hates his boss. Mom is always asking him to quit his job. He says "no" because he really likes the people he works with.
Anyways, back to my story. Mom decided to play the role of a Chef tonight. Between you and me, my mom can't cook for beans. Or sardines. Or anything. Mom burns everything. She can't even make good-tasting toast!
Dad says it's because Mom has no "patience". In other words, she can't just wait around. She's always in such a hurry to do everything. She's what you'd call a busybody. You know, always on the go, go, go. I love her, anyways.
Mom says I'm her "favorite child". It sounds kind of silly because in real life, there are no other kids in our family. There's just me, and that's it. I'm not sure if our tiny apartment could fit another kid in it. But we could always move, right? Maybe this way, I'd finally get away from Miss Popular. The only thing that would haunt me would be Miss Popular's mom's kissy-face book covers at the grocery store. Oh, and at the library. But that's about it. And I could live with that.
As of now, Miss Popular is driving me NUTS! Scratch that. As of ALWAYS, Miss Popular has been driving me NUTS! You already know what happened at school. Since that time, I've had some time to think. I've come up with another plan. This new great plan is designed to unfold at dinner. And, it does.
Now let me tell you all about it ...
Here's tonight's menu:
FINE DINING AT HOME
Beverage: Water – to drink with lemon wedges cut at weird angles Appetizer: Salad (Actually, just washed lettuce leaves thrown in a bowl with too much French dressing) Main Course: Potatoes (Raw to taste, and hard to bite into) Mac and Cheese (Straight from the box; cooked with very little salt) Dessert: Donuts (Premade, and what would have been the dinner saver if I actually sat around long enough to eat them.)
As you know, I'd come to the table with a plan. I tried to forecast the conversation that would happen in my mind one million times. Let's just say things didn't hatch right.
In the beginning, things were A-ok. I put on my manners with all the toppings. I placed a napkin on my lap. I crossed my ankles. I kept my elbows off the table. At first, my parents didn't take note of my sparkling manners. Not getting any sort of praise is frustrating. This, sort of, started driving me nuts. I mean, here I am trying so hard, and these people — my parents — are so lost in their own thoughts. It's like I don't even exist! There was, like, zero conversation going on at the table also. So, I took matters into my own hands. I started asking my parents to pass me things on the table. First, it was the salt. Then, the pepper. Then, the dressing. Then the ...
Eventually, my dad finally said, "Beatrice! What's going on with you tonight?"
Mom nodded. "You are acting awfully funny ..."
I knew this was my green light. If sugar can coat words, then I thought I'd ask ever-so-sweetly for a favor. After all, I am a good kid. Even I know that.
"Mom ... Dad ..." I began. "I'd really appreciate it from the deepest part of my heart if you'd give me a baby brother of my own."
Both of my parents started to choke on their food at the same time. Gag. Cough. Gag. Cough. That's how their orchestra played.
"I'd be willing to settle for a sister, if this problem could be solved more quickly."
(Note: I used every fancy word in my vocabulary to piece together those very proper sounding sentences. I wanted to sound like a mature elementary student, who is above average in intelligence.)
To my shock, it was my mother who slammed down her glass. The lemon wedge in her water even did a little shocked dance.
"Are you kidding me, Beatrice?" she asked. "Do you not realize how much we're struggling financially? Look at the dump we live in!" Mom pointed to our small, messy apartment. "For crying out loud, it's a wonder we still have a roof over our heads. Your father and I, have no job security. We ..."
I jumped out from the table. Forget my manners! It was game over! I wasn't going to stick around to hear about how poor we are. Or, about the tornado that tore through our living room. I never ask these people for anything!!!! AND THIS IS HOW THEY TREAT ME?!?!
My thoughts were all over the place. My feet were not. They ran straight to my bedroom. The floorboard in our apartment creaked an awful sound with each thump of mine. Nobody chased after me.
I fell to the floor outside my bedroom. I didn't even make it inside. Tears were racing down my cheeks. That's when I heard Snowball, scratching at my bedroom door. He began to yelp in worry. I got up right away, and brushed myself off.
This isn't fair to any animal, I thought. Even if he's a dog on "loan", he deserves better than this.
I opened my bedroom door, and his tiny Maltese body jumped up at me. I picked him up, and I swear to you — dear diary — Snowball licked every single salty tear off my face. It felt like a Hallmark moment, but I don't think they have cards that capture shots like these.
Snowball is sitting next to me now. He's panting softly. I swear he smells like a newborn baby. I feel much calmer, too. Mom and Dad have left me alone ever since. My eyes keep looking at my calendar full of dressed-up pooches. Mrs. Garcia — Snowball's true owner — will be returning from her yearly six-month stay in Italy. Even worse, she's coming back in one day. And, as she's done for the past three years, she'll pick up her sweet Maltese upon arrival. That's unless her airplane goes up in fumes or something. But, of course, I wouldn't want that to happen. She's a sweet old lady. I'd want her to give up her pup by choice. It's as plain and simple as that. You never know what tomorrow holds, right?
Love, Bix xoxo
Dear Diary, Sorry for not reporting to you for the past day or so. Things have been crazy on my end. For one thing, Mrs. Garcia did end up returning safe and sound from her trip to Italy. No catastrophe to record. Scratch that thought. Let me rewrite that sentence. Mrs. Garcia came back from her trip with a touch of a happy dance in her step. She picked up her pup in no time flat.
I felt my heart break when Snowball left. He's spent more than half of his life with me. I mean, there should be something called co-dog-ownership. Right? Right? Right? In any case, there's not.
Snowball went to his forever, for-six-month-time home. With one final lick, he was gone and out the door. Yes, yes, yes. I know he just lives down the hall on the same floor as our apartment, but still it's not the same. He was my roommate for half the year.
Well ... Things did take a turn shortly afterwards. To my delight, my parents had a surprise for me. I know! I was equally shocked.
As I later learned, they'd been planning it for quite some time. They decided to go through with it even after the dinner fiasco, which, I must say, is and was nice of them. We've never been the type of family to stop speaking for what seems like forever. We all seem to cool off after some time. Anyways ...
After Snowball left, the three of us went for a little joy ride. Dad purposely drove in circles around our neighborhood. He acted like he was lost — which is impossible, considering how small our town actually is.
In any case, I bought their whole act. I honest to goodness thought he had a brain fart!
We can't afford a GPS and Mom isn't really fantastic at reading maps. (FYI: You might think — dear diary — that Mom is a total bubble brain, but that's not true. She's actually really good at a lot of stuff. Knitting and jewelry-making are really her thing. The last part she does for a living. She sells her beaded jewelry to local shops, and at the flea market. I guess you can call her an artist that's waiting to be discovered; though, I don't think there are jewelry-making talent scouts out there – at least, from what I know).
Now, back to the car ride ... So, eventually our beat-up, noisy car did end up stopping somewhere. No, we didn't get a flat tire! Don't wag your finger at us so quickly. Sheesh! Dad actually stopped in front of our local animal shelter. This is when my stomach went into knots.
I hoped against hope that I was getting a forever pet of my own. It turns out Mom and Dad had already filled out all the paperwork. They'd even picked my new furry friend!!!!!!!
It all happened in a few blinks. I was taken inside the animal shelter. I met with staff. I got a tour. And, then, I was taken to a special adoption room. That's when Hope was brought out. My heart nearly stopped beating. Hope is the most beautiful Labrador Retriever ever. Tan. Strong. Wise.
We bonded in one beat. Her name couldn't be better. Hope fired up my faith in my family again. We've been glued to each other ever since. Just like now.
Love, Bix xoxo
Dear Diary, I returned to school today with a real bounce in my step. Grownups would call it "new zeal". I was happy. Scratch that. I was beyond happy.
I have a new dog in my life! A dog that's mine, mine, mine. I took plenty of photographs of Hope ever since she put her pretty paws into our apartment. I dressed her up. I got her to pose. I clicked away while she slept. I took a whole stack of pictures to school.
They were passed around in our first period class like hot cakes. Everyone was "oohing and ahhing." I felt like a proud Mamma. Well, at least that's how I imagine it feels. I didn't mean to gloat. Rather, I meant to just share my joy with everyone. People know that I'm not a show-off, and nobody said anything like that.
The only person who made a sour puss face was Miss Popular. She sat in her Princess wheelchair throne with her nose high up in the air. I pretended that I didn't care. But inside, I did care. Why can't she just be happy for me once? I thought.
Forget being happy for me. Miss Popular stabbed me right in the back. She started spreading rumors about Hope. Miss Popular went around telling people that my "mutt" is an "unwanted" dog from the "common pound". She went on to say how her poodles come from "private breeders" who provide "pedigree papers". Miss Popular made herself sound so PRIM and PROPER ... like, she's part of some private club.
The nerve of that girl!!!! I overheard her saying this to her Royal subjects (other students in our class). They just sat there, wide-eyed, and listened to her garbage. To make matters worse, I actually heard these comments coming straight from her horsy mouth.
I couldn't believe my ears. It's one thing to talk trash about me. It's a completely different story to badmouth someone from my family — especially someone who can't speak! I went right up to Miss Popular. I was ready to face up to her once and for all. I looked her square in the eye.
Excerpted from "Miss Popular Steals The Show"
Copyright © 2014 Jewel Kats and Murray Stenton.
Excerpted by permission of Loving Healing Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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