Children's Book Author
The Foolproof Valentine Planby Cynthia Reeg
“Hi.” I said, opening the door. She wore a jazzy blue butterfly pin. I collected butterfly pins.
"I'm Kari Kardel," she told our teacher, Mrs. Aznar. All eyes were glued to Kari. Especially Nona Pearson’s.
Nona, self-crowned queen of fifth grade, would totally claim this new girl. But what if Kari wanted to be MBF—my best friend—and not nasty Nona’s?
I stepped into the hallway, knowing I needed something special to befriend Kari. But I was unbuttered bread plain. Not special. Then I thought of it—the perfect V-Day plan. A foolproof way to impress Kari.
I dumped the coins into a plastic zip bag. $5.25. All of my leftover lunch money from the past two months. Surely that was enough to buy a super fancy MBF Valentine card for Kari.
Gran peeked in. “Thought I heard some mysterious jingling in here.”
I held up the money bag. “I’m buying my new friend a Valentine’s card.”
Gran's eyes weighed the coins. “New friend? I haven't heard about her.”
How could I explain to Gran that Kari didn’t exactly know she was MBF yet? She’d only been in class for two weeks. So what if I hadn’t invited her home with me. Or she didn’t exactly hang out with me at recess times.
I plunked the coin bag down on my desk. It suddenly felt like a brick.
"That should buy a pretty fancy card." Gran smiled. "I remember my first special Valentine's card. Trimmed with lace and ribbons. It took my breath away."
"Who was it from?"
"Guess." Now her eyes twinkled.
I giggled. "Gramps!"
"Yep. He thought he needed a fancy card to show me how special I was to him. But I knew that already."
"How?" I eyed the lumpy coin bag.
"By the way he treated me, of course. Always helping me with things and laughing at my jokes."
I poked the heavy coin bag. "That
sounds better than any card," I
said softly. Maybe my V-day plan wasn't
so foolproof after all.
The next day I tucked a note inside Kari's desk.
I like your butterfly pin. I'm here if you need help. Your friend, Marlowe
She opened it later and turned with a puzzled look. From behind my math book, I half-waved. What was I thinking? My scribbled note wasn't as good as a fancy card.
Still moping at lunch time, I sat as far away from Nona as possible. I didn't need anymore bad news.
"Anyone sitting here?"
I looked up. It was Kari. Shaking my head, I shifted my stuff over.
"Thanks for the note," she said.
"Sure," I mumbled through a mouthful of PB&J sandwich.
"You seem pretty good at math." Kari smiled. "Would you help me with those word problems Mrs. Aznar assigned today?"
I nodded, grinning. Math was easy for me—lots easier than making friends.
"Hey! I didn't see you come in." Nasty Nona plopped down beside Kari. "Are you coming home with me again tonight? We can make brownies."
I slumped. Nona was luring Kari away with food. Homework help didn't stand a chance.
Kari shook her head. "Marlowe's helping me with math tonight."
Nona frowned. "If you'd rather do math than chocolate, have at it. Who needs help with those problems? They're a cinch."
Kari turned toward me with a half-smile as Nona jabbered away.
As soon as school let out, I ran to the grocery store. Heading straight to the card aisle, I found an extra fancy one. Lots of ribbons and lace. Perfect! Then I headed for Kari's house.
She wasn't too confused about the math problems, so it didn't take us long to finish them. Kari's mom asked us to help her make heart-shaped Valentine cookies for our class party. I tried to decorate a cookie like a butterfly for Kari, but soon I was more covered with icing than the cookie.
Kari giggled. "Marlowe, you're a mess."
I just grinned. I knew that was the beginning of Kari becoming MBF. When I got home that night, I pulled the fancy card from my bag—all signed and sealed. I couldn't wait. I handed it to Gran.
"Happy early Valentine's Day!" I said, hugging her.
Gran gasped when she opened the card,
and I knew then that my V-Day plan had
worked after all. With a few special
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