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It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and her book:
Authentic (March 1, 2008)
Pam Davis is an author and motivational speaker who views her charge as bringing the timeworn truths of Scripture to life. Pams candid teaching style not only enlightens but also entertains, leaving her audiences with a refreshed desire for the living Word of God. She lives with her husband, Steven, and three children in Fort Worth, Texas.
Visit her at her website.
Reading level: Ages 4-8
List Price: $7.99
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Authentic (March 1, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
But she could already hear Penny moving about the room they shared, packing last-minute items and singing to herself. Sydney Clair pulled the pillow over her head.
It sounded like she was taking everything.
“Not the dancing clowns!” Sydney Clair removed the pillow when she heard the music box.
Penny smiled. “Don’t worry. I’m not taking the dancing clowns.”
Sydney Clair thought her sister was the prettiest girl ever. She blinked back tears, but Penny still saw them.
“I’m only a twenty-minute bus ride away, Clair-Bear. You can come visit anytime.”
Clair-Bear. It was a nickname her sister had given her when she was just a baby. She’d loved it when she was little.
Sydney wasn’t a very common name amongst her friends’ Susies, Vickys, and Lucys. Mother had named her Sydney in honor of her grandfather who passed away shortly before Sydney Clair was born. Now Sydney Clair appreciated the name more—and liked the uniqueness of it—but “Clair-Bear” still had a special place in her heart. Though, with Penny leaving, who would call her that now? And who would braid her hair for school? Who could she talk to about what was happening in her favorite book series? Who would walk down to the Dairy Queen with her for Dilly Bars?
Who would be her sister?
The family’s Plymouth station wagon meandered its way onto the University of Texas campus. Sydney Clair could tell Penny was practically bursting with excitement. She stared out the window, pointing to every statue and building on campus. “That’s Hogg Memorial Auditorium. That’s Austin Tower. You can see the whole campus from the top of it.”
Sydney Clair didn’t even pretend to be interested. But her dad slowed down the car and stretched to see the Tower. “Can you read the inscription?” he asked.
“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” quoted Penny. “Isn’t that a Bible verse?”
Mother nodded. “John 8:32, I believe.”
“Ding, ding, ding,” Mr. Wilcox chimed. “Your mother wins the prize.”
“And what might that prize be?” Mother asked teasingly.
“Uh . . . I’ll make dinner tonight,” Mr. Wilcox said.
“That means we’re having peanut butter and jelly,” Sydney Clair interjected from the back seat.
“Or corn chips and soda pop,” said her mother, laughing.
Mr. Wilcox pretended to pout. “You have no confidence at all in my cooking abilities.”
“I’m just remembering when you made me that birthday cake while we were dating.”
“Uh, oh. Don’t bring that up . . . ” Mr. Wilcox said.
“What was wrong with it, Mother?” Penny asked.
Mother turned her head to look at the girls. “He decided to frost it before he put it in the oven.” She began to laugh. “When he took it out, the whole top was charred black.”
“I didn’t know you were supposed to bake the cake first and then decorate it,” Dad said with a grin on his face. “And, bless her heart, your mother ate it anyway.”
“What you lacked in culinary skills, you more than made up for in charm,” Mother told him.
“I’m voting that Mother keeps her job of doing the cooking,” said Sydney Clair.
Sydney Clair tried to imagine her mother and dad before they were married. She knew they must have laughed a lot—because even now they were always joking about something.
Her dad pulled into a parking spot and shut off the engine in front of Penny’s dormitory.
“Here we are,” said Mr. Wilcox. “Bradshaw Hall.”
“Isn’t it beautiful?” said Penny.
“It’s very stately,” Mrs. Wilcox agreed, opening her car door.
All Sydney Clair saw was a boring brick building. She stepped out into the hot, dusty Austin summer, already feeling the start of sweat on her temples. Not only was her sister abandoning her to go to college, but she’d have to spend the next few hours carrying boxes up and down stairs.
“What’s going on over there?” Mrs. Wilcox asked. Sydney Clair looked in the direction she was pointing toward and saw a swarm of college students marching around in a circle waving signs. Some seemed to have relinquished themselves to the heat and sat lounging in small circles on the grass.
“They’re protesting bleached toilet paper,” said Penny. “Leah told me all about it. Companies whiten toilet paper with chemicals that can ruin our environment. It needs to be stopped.”
Leah was Penny’s best friend and an expert in everything.
“We should get started,” Mr. Wilcox said. He lifted a large box out of the back of the station wagon.
Sydney Clair kept watching the protesters. A young man, whose hair hung down to his waist and wore a colorful headband, seemed to be in charge. He shouted from the steps of a building, waving his sign high in the air. Like the others, he wore frayed blue jeans, and his feet were bare. “The land has taken good care of us—we need to take good care of it!”
The other protesters shouted back in agreement. “Right on, man!” “That’s right!” “Protect our planet!”
Sydney Clair’s dad broke into her thoughts. “If I’d have worn my hair like that, your grandmother would’ve never let me out of the house.”
Sydney Clair lost count of the number of times she climbed the three flights of stairs to Penny’s new room.
She still didn’t understand why Penny was so excited about college. The room they shared at home was twice the size of this one. She felt her eyes moisten thinking about sleeping in the room all by herself.
As Sydney Clair reached the third floor for the umpteenth time, Penny’s squealing voice caught her attention. “It’s so great to finally meet you!”
Sydney Clair turned into Penny’s dorm room and plopped down the avocado green beanbag she’d been carrying.
A red-haired girl. who wore a peasant blouse and a denim skirt, sat cross-legged on the bed next to her sister.
“Sydney Clair, this is Moonbeam,” Penny said. “My roommate.”
Sydney Clair quickly shoved aside the thought that she used to be Penny’s roommate. “Hi,” she mustered. She wondered what Moonbeam’s parents had named her brothers and sisters. Star? Planet? Galaxy? Were they astronomers?
“Peace,” Moonbeam said, holding up two fingers in a V-shape.
“What are your sisters and brothers named?” asked Sydney Clair.
“What kind of question is that?” Penny said.
“It’s cool,” said Moonbeam. “I have two brothers, named Jack and Harry.”
“Those names are pretty normal,” said Sydney Clair. “Why isn’t yours?”
Penny glared at her. “Sydney Clair!” she scolded.
“No sweat. Little Daisy here is curious,” said Moonbeam. “My parents named me Shirley. But I chose Moonbeam. It seemed to fit my personality better—y’know, who I really am. I shine in the midst of dark ideas.”
Penny nodded in agreement, but Sydney Clair thought it was just plain weird. Why was Moonbeam calling her Daisy? She liked the names Shirley and Sydney Clair better but thought it best not to say.
“You have to listen to this record,” Moonbeam was saying. “Have you heard of Jefferson Airplane?”
“No, but I really like the Beatles. And Peter, Paul, and Mary,” Penny said. Moonbeam nodded approvingly. “Their song ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ is far-out.”
Sydney Clair noticed a guitar case in the corner. “Do you play the guitar?”
“I’m learning,” said Moonbeam. “Maybe someday it’ll be the group Peter, Paul, and Moonbeam.”
Sydney Clair didn’t think so, but she kept her mouth shut.
Another girl burst into the room. “Guess what, Moonbeam! We have a colored girl on the floor.”
Moonbeam quickly introduced Sydney Clair and Penny to Beth. “What room is she in?”
“Two doors down.”
“Didn’t the University of Texas open up to colored students several years ago?” asked Penny.
“Sure,” said Beth. “But this is my third year here, and I’ve never lived on the same floor as one before.”
Sydney Clair wondered what was taking her parents so long. She didn’t really like college life. But she knew she felt bad for the colored girl living two doors down. She hadn’t been exposed to a lot of colored people in her life. There weren’t any Negro families in her neighborhood. Only a handful of colored kids went to her school and they pretty much stuck to themselves.
“Well, I don’t have a problem with it,” stated Moonbeam.
“I do. And my mother certainly will when she finds out. She’s from Alabama, and things are different there,” said Beth. She started talking about some town named Birmingham and how the town residents set buses on fire that Freedom Riders were riding.
Sydney Clair wondered who Freedom Riders were. The whole thing sounded scary.
A knocking sound came from the hallway.
“Come in,” called Moonbeam.
A petite colored girl swung open the door. She wore a white blouse and plaid skirt. “Sorry to bother you. Can you tell me how to get to the library?”
Moonbeam started giving directions, but Sydney Clair noticed that Beth turned away and stared out the window.
Outside her car window, Sydney Clair watched the pink sunset fade into the Texas plain. It had been a long day, and she was tired.
“I hear some larger companies are coming into town. There will be some good-paying jobs opening up,” Mother was telling Dad.
Mother often talked about “larger corporations” these days, but Dad never seemed as interested. “And all those good-paying jobs will require a suit and tie,” he said.
“I think you’d look very handsome in a tie,” Mrs. Wilcox said.
Sydney Clair was still thinking about the university they’d
just left. The whole place seemed crazy and loud and chaotic.
Even as they’d pulled out of the parking lot, girls wearing flower wreaths in their hair waved signs saying, “Bring our GIs home!” She remembered the young man with the long hair. Yep . . . college was a far cry from the white picket fences of their quiet neighborhood, where walking to the Piggly Wiggly for candy was enough for excitement.
“Don’t you like the name Shirley better than Moonbeam?” she asked her parents.
Mr. Wilcox chuckled as he drove. “College students have their own way of doing things.”
“Especially in this day and age,” said Mrs. Wilcox. “I hope Penny does okay there.”
“She’ll be fine.” Mr. Wilcox patted his wife’s hand. “We’ve raised her well.”
“Do you think she’ll change?” Sydney Clair wondered aloud.
“In some ways,” her dad said. “She’s growing up. She’ll be learning new things, meeting new people.”
“I mean really change. Will she still be our Penny?”
“She’ll always be our Penny,” her mother said.
Sydney Clair was still missing her sister as she and her mother washed the dishes that evening. The sounds of The Dick Van Dyke Show wafted in from the next room where her dad sat in his easy chair with the newspaper. Her mother had made Sydney Clair’s favorite dinner—roast beef with mashed potatoes—but it hadn’t cheered her up much. She kept thinking of Penny at college.
“There’s only three of everything,” she said. “Three plates, three forks.” She handed her mother a sudsy glass to rinse. “Three glasses.”
“I guess things change,” Mrs. Wilcox said. “They’ll always change. Someday you’ll go off to college and move away from home.”
“Maybe I’ll just move into the playhouse,” said Sydney Clair. Her dad had built her a new playhouse over the summer. It was better than any playhouse she’d ever seen, and her friends Vicky and Ann had agreed. It had shutters that opened and closed, a little kitchen with a sink that held water, and even electricity for the light that hung over the table. Mrs. Wilcox often brought cookies or snacks to Sydney Clair and her friends, who regularly hosted tea parties from the playhouse. Inside the playhouse or out on the lawn in front—it didn’t matter. Mrs. Wilcox would often say, “You need to eat more than just tea and crumpets,” which were usually Kool-Aid and corn chips. But with Sydney Clair’s imagination, they were never just tea and crumpets. They were exotic concoctions from far off lands. Sydney Clair cherished her playhouse. Because it never changed, she thought.
Her mother chuckled. “Someday you’ll even outgrow the playhouse.”
Sydney Clair couldn’t imagine that.
Mr. Wilcox walked into the kitchen, carrying the newspaper. “Did you see this article, dear?” He handed Mrs. Wilcox the newspaper, and they started talking about some race riots that had taken place in California.
“Do you know there’s a colored girl that lives on Penny’s floor?” Sydney Clair said.
Mrs. Wilcox nodded. “Yes, and I hope your sister will make sure she feels welcome.”
“Knowing Penny, she’ll do just that,” said Mr. Wilcox. “Can I help you finish the dishes?”
“As always, your timing is perfect,” said Mother. “We just finished.”
“And I missed it,” Mr. Wilcox feigned disappointment.
“Someday we’ll have to get one of those new automatic dishwashers they have out now. We’d be done doing dishes in no time,” said Sydney Clair.
“I thought you were my automatic dishwasher, Sydney Clair.” Her mother smiled.
“I think she might need a tune-up,” Dad said. “She’s slowing down a little.”
“Maybe she needs some chocolate cake to get her going again,” Mother suggested.
Sydney Clair’s spirits lifted a bit. “We have chocolate cake for dessert?”
“We do,” Mrs. Wilcox said, her eyes twinkling. “And because I love you so much, I baked the cake before I frosted it.”
“Wow, what an interesting idea,” said Sydney Clair.
“I can tell when I’m being made fun of,” Mr. Wilcox said. “But I’m still sticking around for chocolate cake.”
Sydney Clair chewed on the end of her pencil while she stared at her calendar. Bo, the family’s golden retriever, brushed past Sydney Clair’s bare legs and curled up on a rug in the middle of the floor. Every day, Sydney Clair would write either “good day” or “bad day” to describe how the day had gone. All day, she’d planned that this would be a “bad day.” She mindlessly scratched behind Bo’s ears.
Boy, I’m really going to miss Penny,” she said. Penny’s bare bed, now stripped of its pink sheets, made the room look so empty.
Bo looked up at her with big brown eyes, as if he understood Sydney Clair’s sadness.
“At least I still have you to keep me company,” Sydney Clair told him.
Bo answered by putting his head on his paws.
Sydney Clair penciled “bad day” on the calendar. But then she thought about joking around with her parents, having chocolate cake, and talking to her mom about going shopping for school. I guess it wasn’t all bad, she thought. Sydney Clair jotted “mostly” in front of “bad day.”
“What do you think, Bo?” she asked.
The dog perked up and seemed to smile back in agreement.