- Helen Dunmore - Orange Prize winner - Childrens books - The Allie Books - Extract
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The Allie Books / Extract

In this extract, Mrs Button has something to tell the class:

Someone new is coming into our class tomorrow,’ said Mrs Button. ‘Her name is Misha. Allie! Will you stop talking to Lin and listen to me!’
It was Lin talking to Allie, not Allie talking to Lin, but Allie didn’t say anything.
‘I want you especially to listen very carefully, Allie, because I’m choosing you to be Misha’s class friend.’

‘Oh,’ said Allie. Every time a new child came into Allie’s class Mrs Button chose a class friend for her, to show the new one where to go at dinner-time, and look after her in the playground.
‘Oh!’ said Allie again. Mrs Button had never chosen her to be a class friend before.

‘Well, you don’t sound very pleased, Allie,’ said Mrs Button. ‘I hope you’re going to make Misha feel welcome in our class.’ Her long dangly earrings spun and flashed.

‘Yes, Mrs Button,’ said Allie.

Lin poked Allie’s arm and whispered, ‘You can’t do juggling with me tomorrow. You’ve got to look after little baby Misha!’ Lin was teaching Allie how to juggle.

‘ I didn’t want to be Misha’s class friend,’ said Allie. ‘Mrs Button made me.’
But Lin shrugged. ‘Anyway, Jackie-Louise and Bina both want to have juggling lessons, so you’ll have to go down to the bottom of the waiting-list.’
Next morning Allie got to school early. Mrs Button was in the classroom, putting pictures on the wall with a staple-gun.
‘Oh good, Allie. Nice and early,’ said Mrs Button. ‘Come and say hello to Misha. Misha! Oh, dear. She was in the book corner a minute ago.’

‘Maybe she’s run away,’ said Allie.
‘I don’t think so. Oh, here she is!’
Misha was at the drawing table, behind the easel. She was drawing some catkins Mrs Button had arranged in a glass jar. All Allie could see was Misha’s short, shiny hair and her hand moving as she drew. She walked quietly up behind Misha and looked over her shoulder at the drawing. It was really good. Misha’s drawing looked just like the real glass jar. There were even little reflections in it. And Misha’s catkins hung down in shivery tassels just like real catkins.
‘Wow!’ said Allie. ‘I wish I could draw like that.’
Misha was going to be the best in the class at drawing, even better than Lin. But Misha put down her pencil and scrunched the paper into a ball.
‘Why did you do that?’ asked Allie.

‘It was all wrong,’ said Misha, and she took another piece of paper and started another drawing. Allie watched the way the shape of the jar grew out of the end of Misha’s pencil.

‘I’m your class friend,’ said Allie.
‘I know,’ said Misha, drawing.
After break it was time for gym, but Misha hadn’t got any shorts. Lin giggled to Jackie-Louise, ‘Mrs Button’ll make her do it in her knickers!’ but Mrs Button told the class to wait, and then she took a carrier bag out from behind her desk and gave it to Allie.
‘These are plants for the new wildlife garden. Allie, you remember the bed we dug over by the pond last week? These plants can go in there. They need to be near water.’ She gave a trowel to Misha. ‘You carry this, Misha.’

‘It’s not fair!’ hissed Lin as Misha and Allie went past. ‘I’ve got a proper garden at home. I bet you muck it up!’ But Misha just smiled as if she thought Lin was funny.

The wildlife garden was all new. Class 6 had dug the pond, and a bit of its plastic liner poked up through the soil. There was bare earth all around, and a few plants with labels on them. Mrs Button said that soon there’d be pond-skaters and butterflies and maybe even a dragonfly on their pond.
‘Not much wildlife here,’ said Misha, looking round.

‘I think it’s nice,’ said Allie.
‘Do you?’ Misha gave Allie a big, sparkly smile. ‘I bet it’s nicer than Lin’s garden, anyway! She thinks she’s so big, doesn’t she?’
Allie stared at Misha. How did she dare say that about Lin? Lin was the boss of the whole class. Everyone wanted to be Lin’s friend.

(from Allie, Misha and the Secret Frog)

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