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Authors: Louise Leblanc

Maddie's Big Test

BOOK: Maddie's Big Test
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Title Page

Maddie's Big Test

Louise Leblanc

Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Translated by Sarah Cummins

Formac Publishing Company Limited


To Pascale and Lorenzo,

my special advisors

No Need to Study

I am on pins and needles! I'm a contestant on Road to Stardom and the host is about to announce the results of the final vote.

“And the grand prize winner is … Maddie!”

The crowd leaps to their feet and cheers. What a triumph!

In the middle of all the screams and bravos, I hear a little beep-beep. What is that?

Grrr, it was my alarm clock. I turned it off and listened to the awful silence. Real life filled up all the space. My problems suddenly took over.

For the last two days, I'd been shaking in my boots. Our report cards were due to arrive any day now, and my grades were rotten. My parents would die when they saw them. But wait! Maybe they hadn't picked up today's mail yet.

I jumped out of bed, pulled on my clothes, and rushed to the mailbox. It was full — hooray! I took out the package of stuff and rifled through it. No report card. What was going on? I wandered to the kitchen, perplexed.

“Well, if it isn't our new letter carrier!” said my mom.

What an idiot I am! I'd brought the mail with me.

“Is this what you were looking for?” asked my dad, tossing my report card onto my plate.

I wished I could disappear under the table.

“I guess you've decided to repeat your grade,” he said sternly.

“We'll be in the same class!” my brother Alexander snickered.

“Unless you have to repeat your grade!” My mom put him in his place.

“Neither one of you has any excuse,” my dad said. “You're just lazy. You don't work hard enough.”

“I study every night in my room!” I protested.

“You don't have good work habits,” said my brother Julian.

What was he going on about, the little genius?

“You study in bed, listening to music. So you're lost in space — ”

“With the stars!” my mother added.

“Tars!” screamed Angelbaby, splatting her pablum in the shape of a star.

She gurgled, proud of her new word. She won't be laughing when she has to study to learn new things!

“All you think about is that star show,” my dad continued. “You're not being responsible, Maddie.”

“I am so! I intend to win on Road to Stardom one day.”

“In the meantime, you'd better put yourself on the road to school. You too, Alexander. Both of you!”

“All three,” said my mom, with a funny look.

“All three?” My dad was puzzled. “Julian's doing fine!”

“I was referring to myself,” said my mother. “I'm going to finish my degree. I've already registered.”

My dad was floored. And so were the rest of us. Was Mom going to leave us in the lurch, now when our marks were so bad? It was shocking.

“The bus is here!” cried Julian, jumping from his chair.

“Maddie! Alexander! Quick, hurry!”

Dad practically threw us out the door. I think he was in a hurry to talk to Mom. He didn't seem too happy that she was going back to school.

On the school bus, I complained to my friends.

“No more fun and games, if my mom goes back to school.”

“Not so!” Tough guy Patrick tried to cheer me up. “She'll have less time to get on your case.”

“That'll just leave more room for my dad.”

Then Little Miss Perfect Clementine had to add her bossy two cents' worth.

“You really do have to study, Maddie.”

“No, I don't, if I'm going to be a singer.”

“Same for me,” said Nicholas. “I'm going to inherit the family store.”

“Then you'd better learn to add at least,” sneered Patrick.

“Ever hear of a calculator, Smart Man?”

“You'd look pretty stupid if it broke down,” said Clementine. “You really need to finish school if you want to get ahead.”

Nicholas knew how to shut her up.

“You are so out of it, Clementine. These days, you can buy anything. To get ahead, you need to know how to bargain for what you want. And I don't need anybody to show me how to bargain.”

Wow, I was impressed. You could tell Nicholas knew what he was talking about. I asked him if he knew a way I could bargain with my father.

“Just do what you have to — make promises, tell lies…”

“I was going to hide my report card from them,” I said.

Clementine was shocked, but Patrick was curious. Nicholas went on explaining how to bargain.

It was really interesting!

Maddie Starts Bargaining

It was the last period. Ms. Spiegel's lips were moving, but I didn't hear what she was saying. I was reviewing Nicholas's notes. Finally the bell rang! I hurriedly gathered my things up.

“Maddie! You're forgetting your math assignment,” Clementine reminded me. “It's due tomorrow.”

She is such a pain! Who does she think she is — my mother? All of a sudden, I wondered if Mom would be at home when I got there. My uncertainty grew as the bus got closer to our house.

I think Alexander and Julian were wondering the same thing. They didn't run to the door when we got off the bus, but just followed me slowly in silence.

I opened the door. No sign of life. A heavy weight seemed to fall onto my shoulders. I was the oldest, so now I had to be responsible for my brothers. Grrr! I took them into the kitchen to get a snack.

“Hi, kids!”

Mom was there! Alexander and Julian threw themselves into her arms, as if she had just come back from a trip to the moon. I held back. I was mad. How could she have given me such a scare?

She finally noticed I was angry and realized she had done something wrong.

“I'm sorry,” she said. “I should have explained this morning how things would work, so you wouldn't worry.”

She had arranged her schedule so that she would be home before we got back from school. Otherwise, Gran would be there, because she was going to look after Angelbaby.

“I even had time to bake a pie!” my mother exclaimed joyfully.

“I don't want any,” I said. “I have to study.”

And I turned my back and walked out. If she thinks she can butter me up by baking a pie …! Exactly! My mother was trying to buy me off! Incredible! Nicholas was right. You can buy anything. You just need to know how to bargain.

I stretched out on my bed to think things over.

If I stayed mad, my mom would be nice to me. And Gran can never say no. As for my dad, I knew how to bargain with him. First I would have to show him that I was responsible….

At dinner, I brought a book down and pretended to study as I ate.

“That's not the right way to study,” Julian started up again.

I felt like strangling the little genius. I figured his comment would set off an avalanche of reactions.

But no. Nobody said anything. The meal went on calmly, as if we had all gone through a frightening experience. I snuck a peek at my watch. Only five minutes until Road to Stardom came on.

I slipped out of the kitchen and went downstairs, hoping my father wouldn't…. Grrr, I could already hear him clumping down the stairs like a dinosaur.

“What did I tell you, Maddie?”

“That I need to work harder,” I said innocently. “And I've already started, Dad! I'm going to get better marks. For sure!”

“We'll see when the next report card comes. In the meantime, you can forget about this program. Understand?”

“That's unfair!” I cried dramatically. “If my marks improve, I will have been punished unnecessarily for weeks!”

My father stood there with his mouth hanging open, looking confused. Then he recovered. But he had to get the last word in.

“The first bad mark, then, and no more show.”

He went back upstairs. How about that? I had figured out how to bargain with my father!

I happily watched my show, but a terrible thought hit me as I turned off the TV. My math assignment! I had forgotten all about it. I was too tired now. I knew I would get a lousy mark on it.

Only Clementine could save me!

I called her up and began telling her a pack of lies. She agreed to give me a copy of her answers. I was amazed at how good I had become at bargaining.

A few days later, I saw how well it worked. My mark on the math assignment was the best in the class. And I had never had more free time.

In the evening after dinner, my mother went upstairs to study. My dad had to clean up in the kitchen and take care of Angelbaby. He was too exhausted to bug me.

Gran took pity on him. Sometimes she would stay on to help him out. That gave me someone to talk to. She really listened when I told her about my career plans.

“A singer, Maddie?” she exclaimed. “That's not an easy job. Success is never guaranteed.”

“Things have changed, Gran! All I have to do is win a contest. Then you become a star right away.”

Gran was not convinced. I told her I would give her a demonstration of my talent. She thought that was funny and suggested we invite the rest of the family.

“They need something to cheer them up,” she said.

Mom said no, because she had a test the next day. But everyone else trooped downstairs to watch Road to Stardom. Even my dad. Unbelievable.

I put on quite a show for them. I sang and danced along with all the contestants. Angelbaby went wild. She shook her bottom and screamed at the top of her lungs. The others all clapped their hands. It was a fabulous party.

Which suddenly ended when my mother burst into the room like a volcano erupting.

“Will you please stop this racket? I can hear you from all the way upstairs. And it's Angelbaby's bedtime,” she told my dad.

Then she stormed out.

My dad sighed and picked up Angelbaby. He was beginning to understand that going to school is not always great for everybody.

BOOK: Maddie's Big Test
3.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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