50 cents from each book bought between 7-8 PST
today is being given to the ASPCA.
“Scene one. Take one.” Sabrina Robinson adjusted the zoom and focus on her digi-cam. “Ready.” Squinting, she surveyed the scene.
A colorful picnic blanket was laid out in the center of a wide grassy area. A wicker basket, neatly packed with food, sat nearby. Her friends, Caylie Jiang-Kahn and Lauren Blindell, were both carefully positioned, resting on the blanket, soaking in the Sunday afternoon sunshine.
Sabrina was very excited and at the same time very nervous. She never had time to do what she wanted and more than anything, Sabrina wanted to make this movie. It had taken her months to squeeze out enough time to write the script. And now, finally, she had a free hour to start filming. Sixty minutes. Not a minute more. Sabrina needed everything to go perfectly.
The title was VBFs and the movie was about what it meant to really, truly be “Very Best Friends.”
“Act natural,” Sabrina directed Caylie and Lauren, her VBFs.
“How could I be more natural than this?” Caylie was lying on her stomach, flipping through a pile of fashion magazines, tearing out the pages she liked and stacking them to the side.
Lauren was acting natural, too. She was sitting cross-legged on the blanket, head down, quietly doodling on the back of Sabrina’s script.
“Ready. Action...” In the corner of the camera’s frame, not very far behind the girls, there was a dog. “No. No―” There was no dog in Sabrina’s script. “CUT!”
“Ewww.” Sabrina groaned as the mutt lifted his leg and peed on a tree.
She peered through the camera lens and zoomed in on the stray, ratty-looking thing. Under a thick, disgusting layer of mud-coated and hopelessly matted fur, Sabrina saw glimpses of yellowish fur peeking out. There was a touch of gray around his greasy-looking mouth. He didn’t look like any breed she’d ever seen. The dog was about knee high with weird ears; one stood up, the other flopped down.
“Leave!” Sabrina shouted across the park, waving her arms. The dog finished doing his business, but instead of moving out of her shot, the mutt lay down in the grass and proceeded to get cozy.
“Go away!” she told him. The dog looked up at her and cocked his one perky ear quizzically.
“Get out of my movie,” Sabrina said, feeling certain he was listening.
The dog nodded. Or at least she imagined that he did. And a few seconds later, he hopped up and trotted off, out of the camera’s view.
“Here we go again.” Sabrina readjusted her purple beret over her super short, jet-black hair.
The camera had been a present for her twelfth birthday. Sabrina always loved seeing movies, so her mom thought she might like to make one. The very moment she opened that box, she began to dream about becoming a director.
She imagined that she would be the first tween-aged African-American female director to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Sabrina had already cleared an open spot on her bedroom bookcase. That’s where she’d put her golden statuette.
“Ready.” Sabrina eagerly peered at her friends through the eyepiece.
Caylie was wearing a patchwork skirt with a lacy blouse and bright turquoise cowboy boots. Her long, straight dark hair hung to her shoulders. Because Caylie’s mom was Chinese, she always added an Asian touch to her outfits; today it was jade dragon earrings that glinted in the sunlight.
Lauren was dressed like, well, like Lauren: plain, simple, and boring.
Usually, Sabrina didn’t care what Lauren wore. Sabrina herself was almost always decked out in warm up suits and tennies. But still, she secretly wished that Lauren had worn one thing, anything, that wasn’t beige. Even the brightly colored picnic blanket couldn’t make Lauren pop in the frame of the shot.
Perhaps for another scene, Lauren would let Caylie pick out her outfit.
Shoving the thought aside, Sabrina pressed the button and began recording.
“Action!” she called.
“It’s a fabulous day for a picnic!” Caylie recited the film’s very first line. Her flowing sleeve draped low as she reached for the picnic basket and pulled it forwards.
“We are so lucky to have such a nice park in the neighborhood,” Caylie continued, pointing just like Sabrina had instructed, to the nearby playground. Sabrina slowly rotated the camera to capture a few kids giggling as they came down a large silver slide. “This is our numero uno place to hang out on weekends, right Lauren?”
Moving the camera in a smooth arc, Sabrina focused on Lauren, all set to record Lauren’s cheerful expression as she recited the next line of the script.
A beat passed, but Lauren didn’t speak or smile. Instead, Lauren sat there frozen. Her pencil hovered above one of the doodles she’d been drawing.
Suddenly, Lauren put her hand over her mouth and burped. Loudly.
That wasn’t in the script.
“Um…” Caylie peeked up at Sabrina and shrugged. Sabrina motioned in a big circle with her hand, the director’s signal to stay the course. Keep acting. So, with a nod, Caylie turned back to Lauren. “We LOVE it here. Right, Lauren?” She improvised, working to save the take.
Suddenly, in one super-speedy movement, Lauren popped up from the blanket, waving her hands around and saying, “Wait! Wait! Wait!” Her face was pasty and green.
Sabrina paused her camera. “Cut!”
“I’m sorry, Sabby,” Lauren apologized. “I...I can’t be in your movie.” Lauren put her head in her hands and let her long, curly blonde hair fall forward. She was completely hidden under the mass. “Seriously, Sabby. I can’t do it.” Lauren grunted. “I thought I could, but I can’t.” She shook her head sadly. “I feel the same way I did just before the disaster on book report day.”
Caylie quickly popped up and scooted back, away from Lauren. “Are you going to do the projectile barfing, head spinning thing again?”
“Maybe.” Lauren wrinkled her nose. “I’ve got a terminal case of stage fright.” She corrected herself. “Camera fright, too.” Lauren exhaled sharply. “I’ll never be a public kind of person.”
“But it’s just the three of us,” Sabrina said. “Pretend we are hanging out and I’m not filming.”
“No can do. Every time I look up at your camera, my stomach flips.” Lauren crossed her arms and hugged herself tightly. “I know how badly you want to make a movie starring the three of us, Sabrina, but it won’t be pretty if I’m heaving my guts out in every scene.”
“It could be a horror movie,” Caylie suggested with a mischievous giggle, getting up off the blanket.
Sabrina tagged Caylie on the arm. “You’re not helping!”
“Wait a second,” Caylie cheered. “I have an idea.” Caylie had a lot of ideas. Sometimes they were good, sometimes not so much.
“I know you weren’t planning to be in the movie till scene three, Sabby, but how-a-bout you put yourself in the movie now.” Caylie explained, “You don’t have to re-write the script. If you say all Lauren’s lines, all she has to do is smile. Or nod. Or shake her head.”
“I think it might work…” Lauren breathed heavy. “I’ll keep my mouth closed. That seems safe.” She practiced by giving a nod “Yes.” Then, Lauren shook her head, “No.”
“I’m good,” Lauren said confidently. “Let’s get this over with.”
Before Lauren could change her mind, Sabrina grabbed the camera remote out of her bag and reset the scene. “VBFs. Scene one. Take two.” Sabrina began recording. “Action.”
“It’s a fabulous day for a picnic!” Caylie recited her line again. “We’re so lucky to have such a nice park in the neighborhood.” Caylie continued. “This is our numero uno place to hang out on weekends, right Sabrina?”
Sabrina glanced over at the tri-pod and smiled into the camera. “Yeah. It’s awesome. The park is so pretty,” she said.
When Sabrina said “pretty” that was Lauren’s cue to nod.
But she didn’t.
“The park is so pretty,” Sabrina repeated. Still no response from Lauren.
Lauren’s face was ghostly white and she was swaying. Sabrina wondered which Lauren was more likely to do first: puke or maybe faint. She was about to call “Cut!” and try to come up with another plan when, Lauren suddenly nodded.
“Ace!” Sabrina was thrilled. Caylie’s idea had worked!
A few more pages through the script and today’s filming would be a wrap. With time to spare, even.
Everything was going perfectly—
Until that mangy stray dog started barking
Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon
Genre: Children’s Mid Grade (ages 7-11)
Publisher: Imajin Books
Date of Publication: August 1, 2013
Number of pages: 109
Word Count: 43,000
Cover Artist: Ryan Doan
Seventh grade best friends, Caylie Jiang-Kahn, Lauren Blindell, and Sabrina Robinson have busy middle school lives.
Sabrina wants to make a movie about their friendship, but a stray dog shows up and ruins the day. In frustration, Lauren curses, “Oh Phooey.” The name sticks. The crazy mutt will forever be named Phoo.
Sabrina pieces together bits of the footage she shot. She highlights Phoo’s silly antics and puts the video up on a movie contest website.
The video goes viral and suddenly, Lauren, Caylie, and Sabrina are celebrities at school. When a volunteer at the dog shelter sees the film, she assumes the dog belongs to the girls and calls them to come collect Phoo.
The girls arrange to take turns caring for Phoo until he can be adopted.
While sharing Phoo, Caylie, Sabrina and Lauren begin to notice that if the dog is around, lucky things seem to happen. The moment he’s gone…the luck disappears.
When they all need the dog’s magic at the same time, it’s up to the girls to decide once and for all: Is Phoo truly a lucky dog?
Review blurbs for LUCKY PHOO
“With punchy dialogue and a fast moving pace, LUCKY PHOO takes readers on a wild adventure as three friends try to share fostering duties of a lovable stray dog.” —Marianne Mitchell, author of FIREBUG
“Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon are two very best friends who write books together, which is very lucky for their readers. You’ll want to share LUCKY PHOO with all your friends, too!” —Jennifer J. Stewart, author of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF A THIRD WORLD KIND, Connecticut Nutmeg Book Award List; Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award List; Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award List
"LUCKY PHOO is a great story about friendship, love and responsibility--Phoo, the lucky dog who wanders into Sabrina's, Caylie's and Lauren's world is indeed lucky--although maybe not as lucky as these girls whose life he changes." —Terry Trueman, Printz Honor Author of STUCK IN NEUTRAL
"Okay, full disclosure: I LOVE good, strong, dog stories--Lucky Phoo is precisely one of those!" —Terry Trueman, Printz Honor Author of STUCK IN NEUTRAL
About the New York Times Best Selling Authors:
Rhody Cohon wishes she could adopt a million pets! Until her house is big enough she'll pamper the few she has and help others find the perfect home.
Find Rhody at www.rhodycohon.com.
Stacia Deutsch sits at the keyboard crafting stories all day and then, plays with her own crazy, lucky, dog at night. She and her three kids live in Southern California. You can visit Stacia at www.staciadeutsch.com or on twitter at @staciadeutsch.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/staciadeutsch or www.facebook.com/luckyphoo to post your own pet photos and videos