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Karens new year, p.1
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       Karen's New Year, p.1

           Ann M. Martin
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Karen's New Year

  For everyone who needs a new beginning


  Title Page


  1 The Day After Christmas

  2 The Two-Twos

  3 New Year’s Eve

  4 Going to the Big House

  5 New Year’s Resolutions

  6 I Will Not Pester Boo-Boo

  7 I Will, I Will Not

  8 Happy New Year!

  9 Caught You!

  10 Breaking the Rules

  11 Emily’s Accident

  12 Back to School

  13 Oops!

  14 Karen, the Spy

  15 Karen, the Tattletale

  16 Karen, the Good

  17 Who’s Watching Me?

  18 Tattling on Karen

  19 Apologies

  20 Will You Marry Me?

  About the Author

  Also Available


  The Day After Christmas

  It was December 26th. It was the day after Christmas. Usually when I wake up on the day after Christmas I feel a little sad. That is because my favorite holiday is over. But then I remember something. I remember the toys and presents I got the day before. That makes me feel better. Sometimes I even feel excited.

  My name is Karen Brewer, and I finally turned seven years old. I have blonde hair and some freckles. I wear glasses — all the time. I have a little brother, too. His name is Andrew. He is almost five. Sometimes he is a pain in the neck, but mostly I like him.

  My mommy and daddy are divorced.

  Here are some of the things I got for Christmas: lots of books, a doll called Baby Grow-a-Tooth, leg warmers that my Nannie knitted for me, a special art kit, some clothes, and a game called Sorry!

  Andrew got a hat that Nannie knitted him, these exploding Dyno-cars, an art kit like mine, and some other stuff.

  When I thought about my presents, I leaped out of bed. I put on all new clothes: a very short skirt, a big sweater that says BE COOL on it, and a pair of knee socks with snowflakes all over them. (I had not gotten new shoes, so I did not put any shoes on.)

  In the morning, Andrew and I sat around the living room. We played with our toys and looked at our books. At eleven o’clock, my friend Nancy Dawes came over. She lives next door. She brought her Baby Grow-a-Tooth with her. She had gotten Baby Grow-a-Tooth for Hanukkah.

  “Cool,” I said. “Our dolls can grow teeth together.”

  Crash, smash! That was Andrew. He had run a car into the wall and it had exploded. (The car, I mean. Not the wall.) Andrew put the car back together and then crashed it and exploded it again.

  Ring, ring! The telephone. “I’ll get it!” I cried.

  I ran into the kitchen and answered the phone.

  “Hi, sweetie. It’s Daddy,” said the voice at the other end of the line.

  “Hi, Daddy! Andrew and Nancy and I are playing with our new toys.”

  “That sounds like fun,” said Daddy. “Listen, is your mom there? I was thinking of having a party on New Year’s Eve. It would be just the family — Nannie and Kristy and your stepbrothers and everyone. Do you think you and Andrew could come?”

  I paused. I was not sure. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy fight over who Andrew and I spend holidays with. “Let me get Mommy,” I said.

  So I did. And I got prepared for an argument. But there was no argument. You know what Mommy said? She said, “That would be fine. Seth” (he’s my stepfather) “and I have been wanting to go skiing. Do you think you could take Karen and Andrew for several days? That way, they could go to the party, and Seth and I could go skiing.”

  Of course Daddy said yes.

  “Hurray!” I shouted.

  “Indoor voice, Karen,” Mommy reminded me. (She was still talking on the phone.)

  “Sorry,” I said. Then I ran into the living room. “Guess what! Guess what!” I said, but not too loudly. “Daddy is having a New Year’s Eve party at the big house, and we get to go, Andrew.”

  “Goody!” he said. He exploded a car.

  Oh, boy. Now I had another holiday to look forward to.

  The Two-Twos

  By now you are probably wondering a lot of things. I bet you are wondering what the big house is. I bet you are wondering why Mommy and Daddy have fights about the holidays. And I bet you are wondering who Nannie is.

  Well, as I said before, Mommy and Daddy are divorced. They used to be married to each other. (That was when they had Andrew and me.) But now they are not married anymore. They both love Andrew and me very much, but they decided that they did not love each other.

  So they got divorced.

  But that was not the end of things. Then they each got married again. Mommy married Seth, and Daddy married Elizabeth. Elizabeth is my stepmother.

  When the divorce happened, Mommy moved Andrew and me out of Daddy’s big house and into a little house. Then she and Seth got married, and Seth moved in. He brought his dog, Midgie, and his cat, Rocky, with him. (Oh, we have another pet — my rat, Emily Junior.) Things around the little house are pretty quiet.

  The big house, where Daddy grew up, is not quiet! That is one reason I like it so much. First of all, Elizabeth has four children. They are Sam and Charlie, who are in high school; David Michael, who is seven like me; and Kristy. Kristy is thirteen and I love her very much. She is a baby-sitter. She even has her own sitting business. She is the president. Kristy is my favorite baby-sitter in the whole world. Guess what. At the big house, I also have an adopted sister. Her name is Emily Michelle. (I named my rat after her.) She came from Vietnam, which is far away. Emily is two and a half. She does not talk much. Another person at the big house is Nannie. I think of her as my grandmother, even though she is Elizabeth’s mother. That makes her my step-grandmother. Nannie moved in to take care of Emily while Daddy and Elizabeth are at work. Plus, there are a cat and a dog at the big house. Boo-Boo is Daddy’s old cat. He spits and scratches. Shannon is David Michael’s puppy.

  You know what? I call my brother Andrew Two-Two. I call myself Karen Two-Two. That is because we have two of so many things. (I got the name from a book that my teacher read us. It is called Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang.) Andrew and I have two houses. We live with Mommy and Seth most of the time. We live at Daddy’s big house every other weekend. We have two mothers, two fathers, two dogs, and two cats. I even have two best friends. Nancy Dawes lives next door to Mommy. Hannie Papadakis lives across the street and one house down from Daddy. Hannie and Nancy and I call ourselves the Three Musketeers.

  Andrew and I have two of lots of other things. We have toys and books and games and clothes at each house. I have a bicycle at each house, and Andrew has a tricycle at each house. Plus I have two stuffed cats that are just the same, except for their names. Moosie stays at the big house, and Goosie stays at the little house. Being two-twos is mostly okay. We do not have to remember to pack much when we go back and forth between houses.

  But some things about being two-twos are not okay. I only had one special blanket, Tickly. I kept leaving Tickly behind at one house or the other. Finally I had to rip Tickly in half so I could have a piece at each house. (I hope that did not hurt Tickly.) Then there is the problem with holidays. Mommy and Daddy both want to celebrate all the holidays with us. Usually we end up having two holidays. But sometimes Mommy and Daddy fight.

  That was why I was so happy when Mommy let Andrew and me go to the big house for New Year’s Eve. No fighting!

  New Year’s Eve

  After Andrew had exploded his car and put it back together again, he looked at me. “What’s New Year’s Eve?” he asked.

  What’s New Year’s Eve? I could not believe that Andrew did not know that, since he is almost five.

  “It’s the last night of the o
ld year, and twelve o’clock is the beginning of a new year. It is very, very important,” I said.

  “Does it always happen right after Christmas?” Andrew wondered.

  I glanced at Nancy. She shrugged. She could not believe that Andrew did not know about New Year’s Eve, either.

  “Yup,” I said to Andrew. “It always happens a week after Christmas.”


  “Because Christmas is near the end of December. And December is the last month of the year. Then comes January. That’s the first month of the next year. Here. I’ll get a calendar and show you.”

  “Well, I think I’ll be going now,” said Nancy. She grabbed Baby Grow-a-Tooth. Then she put on her coat and hat and mittens and boots. I guess she did not want to hear a calendar lesson.

  I ran upstairs to my room and took my calendar off of the wall. I brought it down to Andrew.

  “This,” I said to Andrew, “is a calendar. It keeps track of the days of the year. See these boxes?”

  “Yes,” said Andrew, frowning.

  “Each one stands for a day.”

  “How come you make lines across the boxes?”

  “I do that at the end of each day. Then I can tell which day we’re up to. Anyway, don’t worry about that. Now see how the boxes are all arranged on a page?”


  “Well, each page is a month.”

  “What’s a month?”

  Oh, brother, I thought. Then I said, “When’s your birthday, Andrew?”

  He told me.

  “Good,” I said. “This is the month. And this is the day of the month. It’s your birthday.” I turned the calendar to Andrew’s birthday and showed him where it was. “And your birthday is always the same. Just like Christmas is always the same. December twenty-fifth. See? Here it is on the calendar.”

  “Okay,” said Andrew. “But New Year’s Eve … ?”

  “Last day of the year,” I replied.

  “Last day! We’ve never, ever had a last day. Every day is followed by another one. I don’t want New Year’s Eve if it will be the last day.”

  I sighed.

  “Is it the last day?” Andrew asked.

  “No. It really is not.” I explained New Year’s Eve to Andrew all over again. I was very, very patient with him.

  Then I said, “Guess how we will celebrate New Year’s Eve at Daddy’s.”

  “With calendars?” Andrew suggested.

  “No! With a big party. We will probably get to stay up until midnight. That’s twelve o’clock. And we will blow horns and toss confetti into the air. Maybe we will throw streamers around, too.”

  “Really? Oh, boy!” cried Andrew. “A party. A party at the big house.”

  “And what are we celebrating?” I quizzed him.

  “The last day?”

  I sighed again. “No,” I said. “But we will have a gigundo fun party.”

  Going to the Big House

  December 30th was the day before the very last day of the year. And Mommy and Seth were leaving. They were going on their ski trip. They were going to the state of New Hampshire. That is a little bit far away.

  “You two,” said Mommy to Andrew and me, “will stay with Daddy until January third. That’s four days. That’s also the day school begins again. Karen, that morning, Daddy will take you to school. Andrew, you will stay at the big house with Nannie and Emily. In the afternoon, Seth will pick up Andrew at Daddy’s and I will pick up Karen at school. Do you understand the plans?”

  “Yup!” I said. I was so happy. A New Year’s Eve party, and four days with my big-house family!

  “Andrew, do you understand?” asked Mommy.

  Andrew just nodded. The corners of his mouth turned down. He was trying not to cry. Sometimes four days at the big house is too much for Andrew.

  “Is everybody ready?” called Seth. Seth had been packing our station wagon. He had put his suitcase and Mommy’s suitcase into it. He had put my backpack and Andrew’s backpack into it. And he had put the skis on top of the car.

  “We’re ready!” I cried. “I can’t wait!”

  Seth drove us to the big house. Mommy got out of the car so she could say good-bye to Andrew and me.

  “Have lots of fun,” she said.

  “We will!” I adjusted my backpack. “ ’Bye, Mommy!” I kissed her.

  Then Andrew kissed her.

  “See you later, alligators,” said Mommy.

  “After awhile, crocodile,” I replied as Mommy got into the car.

  Andrew did not say anything. Tears were rolling down his cheeks.

  I walked Andrew into the big house. Everybody came to greet us. But Andrew just stood in the hallway and cried. I put my arm around him.

  “Don’t worry,” I said. “We’re going to have fun. And Mommy will be back in four days. That’s not very long.”

  “I know.” Andrew sniffled. Then Daddy gave him a big hug.

  “Who wants to come with me to buy party stuff?” called Charlie. Charlie can drive, and he has his own car. He is very proud of it, even though it is a wreck. It always looks like it is going to fall apart.

  “I do!” cried David Michael and Kristy and I.

  And Andrew stopped crying. “Party stuff?” he said.

  “Yeah,” replied Charlie. “You know, popcorn and hats and confetti and horns and streamers.”

  “Chocolate candy?” asked Andrew.

  “Sure,” said Charlie.

  “Can I invite Hannie to come with us?” I asked. “I know she’s not coming to the party. But she likes to go shopping.”

  Charlie said, “Sure,” to that, too. (He usually says “Sure.”)

  So I called Hannie, and she ran right over. Then we piled into Charlie’s Junk Bucket. (That is what Sam calls the car.) We drove downtown. We went into a dime store. Almost nothing in the store costs a dime. But we found everything we wanted. Even chocolate for Andrew.

  “This is so, so fun,” I said to Kristy.

  “I know,” she replied, smiling. “The party will be great. Now all we have to do is think up New Year’s resolutions.”

  Huh? I thought. What are they?

  New Year’s Resolutions

  I did not have time to ask Kristy about the resolutions. We were too busy in the store. We had baskets full of things, and we had to pay for them.

  Then David Michael wanted gun from the gumball machine, and Andrew wanted M&Ms from the candy machine, and Hannie and I both wanted rings with spiders on them from the toy machine. So that took awhile.

  But when we were at home again, and Hannie had gone back to her house, I said to Kristy, “What is a New Year’s resolution?”

  Kristy and I were in the kitchen. We were putting away the things we had bought. I was wearing my new spider ring.

  “A resolution,” Kristy began, “is a decision. But a New Year’s resolution is more like a promise. A promise about something you will change.”

  “I don’t understand,” I said.

  “A promise to change something in your life. To make your life better. You might resolve to break a bad habit. Or you might resolve to start exercising every day.”

  “Oh!” I said. “Cool! Do you make just one resolution?”

  “Usually, I guess,” replied Kristy. “But some people make lots of resolutions.”

  “Okay. I better go tell everyone else. We should all decide on resolutions before the party tomorrow night.”

  I told all the people in the big house (even Emily) about resolutions. And everyone (except Emily) said that they would announce their resolutions at the party. (Emily did not understand resolutions.)

  Oh, well. I was excited. This is great! I thought. I like to make lists. I like to make promises and keep them.

  I decided Hannie better make a resolution, too. So I went over to her house.

  I rang her bell.

  Hannie’s older brother answered the door. “Hi, Musketeer,” said Linny. (He knows about the Three Musketeers.)

nbsp; “Hi. Is — ”

  “She’s up in her room,” Linny told me, before I could even finish my question.

  “Okay. Thanks.” I ran upstairs to Hannie’s room. I found her sitting on the floor, playing with Sari, her little sister.

  “Hi!” said Hannie when she saw me. “I’m teaching Sari how to sing ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm.’ ”

  “E-I-E-I-O,” said Sari proudly.

  “That’s great. But listen, Hannie, I just found out something important. We have to make New Year’s resolutions.”

  I explained about resolutions to Hannie. Then I said, “What will your resolution be? This is serious.”

  Hannie thought and thought. Finally she said, “I am going to stop biting my nails.”

  “Oh, that’s a good one!” I exclaimed. “I can’t decide on a resolution. I can think of so many. But Kristy said most people only make one resolution.”

  “That’s most people,” said Hannie. “How come you can’t make a whole list? Like a list of birthday presents.”

  “Maybe I could,” I said slowly. “I better go home. I have to solve this problem. Good luck with your nails, Hannie.”

  “Thanks,” she said. “ ’Bye, Karen.”

  “ ’Bye!”

  “E-I-E-I-O!” sang Sari.

  I Will Not Pester Boo-Boo

  When I got back to the big house, I could not make a decision. Should I make one resolution or a list of resolutions?

  “Why don’t you sleep on it?” suggested Kristy. “Think about it tonight, decide tomorrow.”

  So I did that. And on the next day I decided that I would make a list of resolutions. Since it was New Year’s Day, our party would be that night.

  I better get right to work, I thought.

  I sat down at the table in my bedroom. Pencils and a pad of paper were on the table. I began to write. This is the list I made:

  (Morbidda Destiny is an old lady who lives next door to Daddy. I am pretty sure she is a witch.)

  * * *

  I tried and tried to think of a tenth resolution, but I could not. I really wanted to. Ten resolutions would be a nice round number.

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