Vin and the Dorky Duet
(a chapter book for middle-graders and tweens)
The moment he walks through the door and sees the sharky grin on his older sister’s face, Vin suspects Meg’s hatching a plot. He’s right. Worse still, she needs him to make her plot work.
Meg tells him that their music teachers, parents—everyone—expect him to play her duet for trumpet and piano at the upcoming student concert. Vin is horrified.
Meg insists that his only escape route is to persuade another trumpet player to take his place. She has the hunky Brad Stewart in mind, and she challenges Vin to introduce her to him.
Vin doesn’t know Brad any better than Meg does, but Meg points out that Vin takes a couple of classes at school with Brad’s nerdy brother. Eyeballs Stewart is the last person Vin wants to make friends with until Meg’s promise of a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey changes the seventh-grader’s mind. He has five days to accomplish his mission—Operation BS—before the concert practice schedule kicks in.
Vin's game plan, thwarted by exploding fish tanks, magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths, and other disasters, doesn’t work out exactly as he expects.
During break I went to the library, a favorite nerd hangout I avoided as much as possible. I walked slowly around the stacks, pretending to look for a book until I spotted Eyeballs sitting by himself in a corner. You couldn't miss him. His feet stuck out from the desk and his red and purple plaid socks glowed so much they made my eyes bug out.
As he read a book, two inches away from his nose, he made notes with one hand and held down the pages with his other hand, because a ceiling fan was flipping them. That gave me my brilliant idea.
"I've got the perfect paper weight." I sat next to him and fished Uncle Jack's key chain out of my pocket. I slapped it on Eyeballs's book. The grey whales bobbed crazily around in their mini-ocean.
"Eeuw! What's that?" Eyeballs squinted at the page through the glass bricks on his nose.
I wanted to say, "A key chain, you moron," but that wouldn't have been a good idea, especially because Eyeballs wasn't looking at the key chain. He was staring at a gob of green goo that inched across the page. The ball had cracked, spilling whales' ocean.
Eyeballs picked up the key chain with a paper napkin, dropped it on the floor, and dabbed away at the page with another clean napkin. Who else but Eyeballs would have had paper napkins in his pocket?
"You've stained my library book," Eyeballs said.
I was surprised a nerdy person like Eyeballs could say anything so obvious. He looked at me as if I'd totally destroyed a sacred object, blown up a statue of Einstein or something.
You could try using bleach," I said. "My mom swears by it." I knew as soon as I'd spoken I shouldn't have said that.
"First, perhaps you haven't noticed, but I don't have any bleach." Eyeballs's voice hit me colder than the gym shower. "Second, you can't use it on paper. When I get home, I can try to get it out with French chalk and an iron."
"I'm sorry, Eye ... er ... Binkley. You can keep the key chain." The heat in my face had reached melt-down, dangerous enough to clear the entire library, which I sprinted out of, leaving Eyeballs staring at the beached whales.
Vin and the Dorky Duet won Honorable Mention in the New England Book Festival 2012 awards.