8th grade inventor, Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards is the N.I.C.E. girl who finishes last with the kids in school. Sappy inspirational phrases and monochromatic outfits have all but her best friends wrinkling their nose at her. When Natalie’s invention, the Texty-Talky, goes nationwide, she becomes an overnight sensation. Suddenly her days consist of photo shoots and interviews with little time left for her friends. A local reporter shatters her good-girl image by reporting a graffiti incident and the media launches into a smear campaign. It is so bad, even her friends start to believe the stories. Will Natalie be able to overcome the lies being printed about her? And will she be able to SAVE THE LEMMINGS?
Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards bounded up the steps of Carver Middle School with a spring in her step and a welcoming smile on her face. She walked down the hall greeting her fellow eighth grade students.
“Good morning, Cecil. How’s your dog recovering from his surgery?”
“It’s a fine sunny morning, isn’t it Bella?” Natalie said. “Smile at the morning and the whole day smiles back. Did you ever find your sunglasses?”
Bella rolled her eyes.
“Yo! Bryson! Bro! Awwlrite?” That was the only greeting of hers that got a verbal response.
“Don’t be talkin’ like that, girl,” Bryson warned. “It’s just wrong coming from someone like you.”
“Oh, Bryson, I’m only trying to relate,” Natalie said, pointing between herself and him.
Bryson wrinkled his nose at her stick straight, chin length, blond hair. He raised an eyebrow to her perfect posture and preppy coral colored outfit. He growled at the stack of textbooks balanced in her left arm while her right hand perched on her hip. Sweeping his gaze from her head to her toes, he shivered and grimaced. “Yeah, like that’s ever gonna happen.” Bryson flung his arm around his girlfriend’s neck and walked off, dragging her with him.
Natalie shrugged and bounced into her classroom. First period: science.
“Good morning, Mrs. Hemple.”
“And cheery, now that you are here, Natalie,” Mrs. Hemple said.
“I worked on my Texty-Talky last night,” Natalie said, “and I’m close to having it all put together. The mechanism works, I just need to figure out what to make the casing from. I don’t have the ability to mold plastic at home. Yet.”
Natalie and Mrs. Hemple chuckled.
Sandra, Natalie’s grumpy mathlete friend, rolled her eyes. “You are ten times the nerd I am.”
“Awww, thanks, Sandra!” Natalie slid onto a stool at their lab table, directly in front of Mrs. Hemple’s desk.
Science was the only class Natalie had with all three of her lifetime friends. Tamilla and Jayne were already perched on their lab stools.
“Your Texty-Talky works?” Tamilla asked.
“You figured out how to integrate the GPS function?” Tamilla asked, gnawing on her lower lip. “Even I wasn’t able to figure it out.”
“Don’t sound so surprised. It’s thanks to all the help I received from you guys!” Natalie beamed a smile around the table and then grinned at Tamilla again. “Because of your legendary computer skills, I was able to convert speech to type and type to speech. You had all the right code in there. I just kept clicking on things until it worked.”
“This will take cheating to a whole new level, you know?” Jayne said.
When Jayne scowled, her heavy brows reminded Natalie of a full grown caterpillar of the Mourning Cloak Butterfly; all black and fuzzy.
“Text messaging has already done that! And I was careful to build in features to avoid the device being used for dark purposes such as cheating or spying.”
Sandra looked suspicious. “What kind of features?”
“Tones and beeps so the unit can’t be used secretly,” Natalie said. “It would break my heart if my invention was used to deceive.”
Jayne sighed heavily and pushed her thick-framed glasses up her nose. “I suppose I could help you with the casing.”
“Oh, Jaynie, that would mean the world to me! You’re really the only one of us who has any style.” They all nodded.
“We can work on it after school,” Jayne said.
“Friends are the sunshine and water to my vegetable garden!” Natalie jumped up and skipped around the table to wrap Jayne in a hug.
Jayne pushed Natalie away and scratched her armpit.
Sandra smacked Jayne’s arm. “You’re not supposed to scratch.”
“I know,” Jayne sat on her hands. “But this new medication doesn’t work at all.”
“Settle down, everyone. Natalie dear, take your seat, please,” Mrs. Hemple said, flashing a grandmotherly smile at Natalie.
“Right away, Mrs. Hemple.” Natalie skipped back to her stool.
About the Author: Kai Strand writes fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale is set in the same storytelling village as The Weaver. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.
To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: www.kaistrand.com. She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author.
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