Claudia and the perfect.., p.1
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       Claudia and the Perfect Boy, p.1

           Ann M. Martin
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Claudia and the Perfect Boy


  Title Page

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Letter from Ann M. Martin


  About the Author


  Also Available


  I would have died if anyone had seen what I was doing! I mean, it was so embarrassing.

  But, embarrassing or not, there I was sitting at the end of my bed, hugging myself. Why? Because I wanted to know how it would feel to be locked in a dreamy, romantic embrace with the boy of my dreams.

  It was seeing Logan and Mary Anne together that made me think about it. That afternoon when I was walking home from school with my friend Mary Anne Spier and her steady boyfriend, Logan Bruno, they seemed so happy. You can tell they are really crazy about each other. One minute they’re laughing, teasing, and using all their little private code names and jokes. The next, their heads are together, all serious, as if they’re talking about something special that’s just between the two of them. (Sigh.) Mary Anne is so lucky to feel that way about a boy who feels the same way about her.

  Logan and Mary Anne walked me as far as my house on Bradford Court. I stood on my front steps for a minute before going in, and I watched them as they playfully bumped into one another on their way down the street.

  After that, I went straight upstairs and began hugging myself.

  Who was this boy of my dreams I was pretending to hug? Good question. I hadn’t met him yet. I’ve gone out on dates, but it’s never been anything serious. That super-special, tingly, in-love thing has never happened to me. (By the way, “me” is Claudia. Claudia Kishi.)

  Well, I’d thought I’d had the in-love feeling before. When I went on a vacation to California, I met a boy I really liked a lot. And before that I’d liked a couple of other boys. But nothing has come of any of it. I mean, none of those boys ever became my steady boyfriend or anything like that. And I wasn’t particularly missing or thinking about those boys, either. So I probably hadn’t been feeling the real, true in-love feeling.

  Still, I remembered how nice spending time with Terry in California had been. And seeing Mary Anne and Logan together that afternoon really made me want a steady boyfriend of my own. I wasn’t about to settle for just anybody, though. I wanted the perfect boy, one who was everything I dreamed of. I believed he was out there, too. He had to be.

  I stretched out on my bed (hugging yourself gets boring very fast) and lay there wondering what my perfect boy would look like. I didn’t care if he was Japanese-American, like I am. He would have to be cute, though. And tall. At least taller than me, and I’m about medium height for my age (which is thirteen).

  Besides basic cuteness and tallness, I didn’t have any specific looks requirements. Except muscles. He did have to have some muscles. But not too many muscles. I don’t like those big weight-lifter muscles but I don’t like skinny arms on a guy, either. Something right in the middle would be fine.

  Trying to picture this perfect guy made me wonder what exactly I was looking for. After all, if you weren’t sure what you wanted, you might not recognize it when you found it. It would be sort of tragic if Mr. Perfect walked right by me and I didn’t even realize it.

  That’s when I decided I better make a list. A list of all the important qualities I was looking for in Mr. Perfect.

  Bending upside down, with one hand holding my long black hair up so it wouldn’t touch the floor, I searched under my bed for a pad of paper which I remembered had gotten kicked under there. (Although my room is on the messy side, I usually have a very good idea of where everything is.)

  Here’s what I came back up with: a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos; the Nancy Drew book I was reading; and a box of stationery with a red, green, and gold Mexican print border. I couldn’t reach the pad, but that was all right. The Mexican print stationery would do. I was glad to have found these things.

  I ripped open the Doritos. I’m just wild about junk food. It’s stashed all over my room. I hide it because my parents don’t approve of my eating junk food. Technically, I suppose they’re right. Junk food is not healthy. But I’m slim and I have good skin — so what’s the harm?

  As I munched away, I flipped open the Nancy Drew book to the place where I’d left off reading the night before. Just like my junk food, I also have to keep my collection of Nancy Drew books hidden because they’re another thing my parents disapprove of. They don’t think Nancy Drew mysteries are intellectual enough. I don’t understand how they can say that, though. You use your brain plenty when you read a mystery. After all, throughout the book you’re trying to figure out who committed the crime. A good mystery is totally brain-engaging. But Mom and Dad want me to be a scholar like my sixteen-year-old sister, Janine.

  Janine is a true-to-life genius who already takes college classes. That’s fine for Janine, but not for me. School just isn’t that interesting to me. I do enough school work to get by, but academics is not my strong point.

  Anyway, looking down at my Nancy Drew book reminded me of Nancy’s steady boyfriend, Ned Nickerson. Now Ned is a nearly perfect guy. He’s athletic, smart, nice, and totally devoted to Nancy. He’s always there for her, but he doesn’t get in her way or try to boss her around. He lets Nancy be her own person. Nancy and Ned have a very independent relationship.

  Maybe it was too independent. It worked for Nancy since she was always off solving crimes, but I wanted a guy who was around a bit more often than Ned. Come to think of it, Ned didn’t have much sense of humor, either. I was definitely looking for someone who could make me laugh. That was very important.

  I put the book aside and took out a piece of stationery. It was time for my list. I started with what I already knew.

  Chewing the eraser of my pencil, I stopped to think about what else I expected of Mr. Perfect. A few more things came to mind right away, so I wrote them down.

  Did I want him to be artistic, like me? I love art of any kind and I’m pretty good at it. (I’m not being conceited, it’s just true.) Pottery, sculpture, drawing, painting, print-making — you name it — I love to do anything artistic.

  My perfect guy would have to appreciate art and it would be even better if he was a good artist himself. (I closed my eyes and envisioned the two of us in an artists’ studio painting side by side. Heaven!) I began writing again.

  After a moment’s thought, I almost crossed out good dresser since it sounded a little shallow. Was it really important?

  Maybe it wouldn’t be to another person, but we were talking about my Mr. Perfect and fashion is important to me. I think it’s linked to my love of art. The way I dress is an expression of who I am, and who I am is artistic. I don’t like to look like everyone else around me because I’m not like everyone else around me. So I put things together the way I like. For instance, that could mean wearing clay jewelry I’ve made myself and matching it with a belt I’ve added clay pieces to. I also like to experiment with the way colors look and I combine them in ways that please me. (You’d be amazed by the colors that go together. Take pink and gold. You might not think to wear pink socks with gold stretch pants, and then add a gold turtleneck under a pink sweater. But that’s what I did yesterday, and then I added blue jewelry. It was great! I looked like a human sunset. The outfit made me very happy.)

p; No, there was no way I could see myself with a slobby dresser. That was out. He had to have some sense of fashion. Good dresser stayed on the list.

  What else was important to me? It would be nice if Mr. Perfect was a good speller, since I can’t spell for anything. In my opinion, words should be spelled the way they sound. For example, the word enough should be spelled enuf. The way it’s really spelled makes it look as if it should be pronounced ee-now-guh. I don’t know who decided how words should be spelled but I think that person went out of his or her way to be difficult. But, if Mr. Perfect were around to correct my spelling, it would be a big help. So, I made another addition to my list.

  That worried me, though. I didn’t want him correcting everything I did, just my spelling. Being criticized all the time would be horrible. So I made another addition to my list.

  Then I added the most important thing about Mr. Perfect.

  He had to think I was great. It would be fair because I would think the same of him. (Of course I would, since he’d be perfect.) That was the part which would make everything so wonderful. I’d be loved by a boy who was perfect for me.

  At that moment, my best friend, Stacey McGill, appeared at my bedroom door. “Hi,” she said, tossing a flowered overnight bag onto my bed. She was planning to stay over at my house that night since it was Friday and we didn’t have school the next day.

  “What are you doing?” she asked, eyeing my paper.

  Feeling a little embarrassed, I shoved the paper back in the stationery box. “Nothing. Just writing some thoughts, that’s all.”

  Stacey’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You? Writing? And no one is forcing you to do it?”

  I understood her confusion. I’m not much for writing. I’d rather express myself with a picture or even a sculpture. “Well, you know,” I said. “I was just trying to work out some things I’ve been thinking about. I wanted to see how they’d look written down.”

  “Anything in particular?” she asked, brushing a strand of her permed, blonde hair off her face.

  “No, just some stuff.”

  Stacey glanced at the digital clock on my desk. “I hope you don’t mind my getting here before the meeting,” she said. “I just thought we could hang out.”

  “Sure,” I replied. The meeting she was talking about was a meeting of our baby-sitting business, The Baby-sitters Club. We members call it the BSC, for short.

  Besides art and fashion, the BSC is the other most important thing in my life. I really like taking care of the kids I sit for. I like earning money, too. (Between buying junk food treats, Nancy Drew books, and art supplies, money just flies out of my hands. It’s a good thing I have a way to earn more.) But, for me, the most important thing about the BSC is the people in it. We are very close. Stacey may be my best friend, but I love all the members of the club.

  Let me tell you about them….

  By five-thirty that day my room was filled with laughter and happily chatting voices. “Okay, everybody,” Kristy Thomas said over the noise. She shifted in my director’s chair (her usual spot) and took her pencil out from over her ear. “This meeting of the Baby-sitters Club is about to start.”

  That’s all it took to quiet everybody down. Kristy is the president of the BSC and everyone respects (and likes) her a lot. The club was her idea in the first place. She thought of it one day when her mom was making a million phone calls trying to find a sitter for Kristy’s little brother, David Michael. It occurred to Kristy that it would be a great idea if her mother could call one number and reach a whole bunch of sitters at one time. That was the beginning of Kristy’s simple, but brilliant, money-making brainstorm — to form the Baby-sitters Club.

  She told her idea to Mary Anne (who is Kristy’s best friend) and they told me. Luckily, I have my own phone and my own phone number. That’s why the meetings are held in my room. Parents can call here without tying up anyone’s family phone.

  We worried that three members might not be enough for a club. I suggested Stacey, whom I’d met not long before. (She’d just moved to Stoneybrook.) Stacey joined and we began our new business.

  Stacey, Kristy, Mary Anne, and I put up fliers around town and placed an ad in the paper telling parents to call my number every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from five-thirty to six if they wanted to reach four reliable sitters.

  Talk about instant success! We got so many calls that our four-sitter version of the BSC didn’t last long. We needed another sitter as soon as parents started telling each other about our great service. We had more business than we could handle. Luckily, Mary Anne had just met Dawn Schafer. She was new to Stoneybrook, but Mary Anne had gotten to know her pretty well. We asked Dawn to become a BSC member and she joined.

  At that point everything was pretty much under control and calm. But with us, nothing seems to stay calm for long. Because then Stacey had to move away. (I’ll tell you why later.) While Stacey was gone, we took on two junior members, Jessi Ramsey and Mallory (Mal) Pike, to fill in for Stacey. (They’re called junior because they’re eleven and can only sit in the daytime.) Then Stacey returned (hurray!) and the BSC was up to seven members.

  By then our business was booming. We were so busy that we took on two associate members — Logan, and a friend of Kristy’s named Shannon Kilbourne. They don’t usually attend meetings, but we call them if we’re offered a job none of us is available to take.

  Not long ago, Dawn went back to California to visit with her father. (Her parents are divorced.) She’ll be gone for several months. (We’re hoping and praying she doesn’t decide to stay permanently.) While she’s gone, Shannon has taken her place and now comes to regular meetings.

  Now that I’ve told you a little about our history, here’s a quick rundown of the members. I’ll start with Kristy since you already know a bit about her. As I said, she’s president and founder of the BSC. Kristy also loves sports and couldn’t care less about fashion. Give her a sweatshirt, jeans, and a baseball cap and she’s happy. Kristy is short and petite, but has a big personality (and an even bigger mouth). She is the most take-charge person I’ve ever met. She runs the BSC more professionally than some businesses are run. She also runs a kids softball team called Kristy’s Krushers. (Their biggest rivals are a team called Bart’s Bashers run by Kristy’s sort-of boyfriend Bart Taylor.)

  Not long ago, Kristy’s family life underwent a dramatic change. You see, Kristy’s mother had been raising Kristy and her three brothers (she has two older ones named Charlie and Sam) ever since her father walked out on them. That was right after David Michael was born. I’m sure it was tough for Kristy’s mom, but she was managing to keep everything together. Mrs. Thomas had a good job at a big company in Stamford (the closest city to Stoneybrook). Then she started dating a guy named Watson Brewer whom she’d met at work. They fell in love and got married.

  That alone would be dramatic enough. But, get this. Although Watson looks like your average, quiet guy, he’s actually a millionaire. Suddenly Kristy and her family were rich. They packed up and moved to Watson’s gorgeous mansion on another side of town. (Kristy used to live in an average kind of house across from my average kind of house here on Bradford Court.)

  The dramatic changes didn’t stop there, either. Kristy had to get used to her new younger stepbrother and sister, Andrew and Karen. They’re Watson’s kids from his former marriage. Even though most of the time they live with their mother and her new husband, they still spend every other weekend and some holidays and vacations with Kristy’s family. That’s fine by Kristy. She’s crazy about Karen and Andrew and they feel the same way about her.

  As if this weren’t enough change, Watson and Kristy’s mother adopted a baby who was born in Vietnam. Emily Michelle is two-and-a-half and totally cute. Since Watson and Kristy’s mom both work, Nannie (Kristy’s grandmother) came to live with them to help care for Emily Michelle.

  With all those people (as well as assorted pets), Kristy’s house is always hopping. But if anyone can handle
it, it’s Kristy.

  Speaking of dramatic family changes brings me to Mary Anne and Dawn. Their story is even more interesting than Kristy’s. Mary Anne and Dawn are not only friends, they’re stepsisters. But they started out as just friends. I’ll begin their story by telling you about Mary Anne. She lived with her father next door to Kristy in another average kind of house. Her mother had died when Mary Anne was a baby and her father was very strict with her, always treating her like a little kid.

  Mary Anne and Kristy were best friends almost from the time they were born. They even look a little alike, both petite with brown hair and eyes. (Only now Mary Anne’s hair is short, so they don’t look quite so much alike.) However, unlike Kristy who lets you know exactly what she’s thinking at the exact moment she thinks it, Mary Anne is quite and shy. She’s a good listener and very sensitive. She cries easily over anything sad.

  Anyway, one day in the seventh grade, Mary Anne befriended a girl who had just moved to Stoneybrook from California. That was Dawn. Mrs. Schafer, Dawn, and her brother, Jeff, had moved here because Mr. and Mrs. Schafer had gotten divorced. Mrs. Schafer was originally from Stoneybrook so she came back after the divorce to be closer to her parents. But the move was hard on Dawn and even harder on Jeff. He missed California and his dad so much that he went back to live with his father. That left Dawn with half her family on one coast and half on the other.

  Dawn and Mary Anne hit if off right away despite their differences. (They’re pretty different, too.) Dawn is tall and slender with long, white-blonde hair and blue eyes. She has her own casual style of dressing. Dawn is very independent, a real individual who does what she thinks is right no matter what anyone else thinks.

  Anyway, Mary Anne and Dawn were looking through Mrs. Schafer’s old high school yearbooks when they discovered that Mary Anne’s father and Dawn’s mother had been boyfriend and girlfriend in high school. Mary Anne and Dawn came up with the bright idea of getting their parents back together, and it worked! After an eternity of dating they finally got married.

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