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December 18, 2017

BEAUTY, BRIANNA AND THE BEAST!

I was NOT the one who begged to go see Beauty And The Beast. That was ALL Brianna. Her ballet teacher was dancing in this production and she begged to go see it. That was fine with me—a bonding night for Brianna and Mom, right? But nooooo, Mom thought it would be a fun cultural event for the WHOLE FAMILY.

So we got all dressed up (which, for Brianna, meant she wore her Princess Sugarplum costume), picked up Grandma Maxwell at the retirement home, and headed to the ballet.

I have nothing against seeing plays—I mean, I’m totally impressed by the discipline it takes to dance in one. But, to be honest, I just wasn’t that excited about seeing Beauty And The Beast. Ever since I was a little kid, the half-man-half-buffalo-looking beast kind of freaked me out. I actually had a nightmare about the beast after my mom took me to see the movie for my sixth birthday!

Everything was going fine until Belle stumbled into what she thought was an abandoned castle. Then the hideous Beast stepped out of the shadows to confront her.

I took several deep breaths. It’s possible I even closed my eyes for a few seconds. But they flew open when I heard a scream. (For a second I thought I was the one screaming, so if I’m honest, it was kind of a relief to see that it was Brianna. But only for like a second. I’m not a monster!)

One second she was screaming, and the next second, she was out of her seat and racing toward the exit (still screaming, though. That girl’s got some LUNGS on her!).

My mom started to get up, but I was closer to the aisle—plus, I was NOT going to miss this opportunity to escape the beast too!!  So I said to my mom, “Don’t worry.  I’ll go after her!”

The usher glared at me as I burst through the doors into the lobby and blinked in the bright light. Whatever, usher! I’m pretty sure Brianna is NOT the first kid in the history of mankind to be afraid of the beast.  After me, maybe she was the SECOND kid!

I didn’t see her. It was dark and snowy outside, and I didn’t think she would go running out into the street. That girl is koo-koo, but she’s not dumb.

“Brianna?!” I looked behind a table full of Beauty And The Beast stuff for sale.

I heard a sniffle. It was coming from the giant Christmas tree in the corner of the lobby. Had she gotten behind the tree or something?

I still couldn’t see her, even standing right next to the tree. But I sat down among the presents.

“Listen, Brianna.” I said. “I was a little nervous about coming tonight. I’ve been afraid of the beast since I was a little kid. So I don’t blame you for being scared.”

There was a rustling sound. And then right next to me, the lid of a GIANT gift box popped off and Brianna stuck her head out.

“Why didn’t you tell me the beast was so scary?!” she whimpered.

It was a good question. But actually, I didn’t think Brianna would be afraid!

“You’re really brave, Brianna,” I said. “And you’re still brave, even if the beast freaked you out. I just didn’t think you would be scared. Or maybe I was just too busy worrying about him myself, and I didn’t do a good job of being your big sister.”

Brianna climbed out of the box and into my lap. “That’s okay, Nikki! You’re not as brave as I am. I understand!”

“How about this Brianna?  Let’s go back in to see the rest of the show.  And you can hold my hand during the scary parts so that I’ll feel better!” I teased.

“It’s a deal,” Brianna chirped.  “Let’s pinky promise!”

So, we went back in to see the rest of the play, and it was actually pretty exciting! Brianna would reach over and squeeze my hand whenever the beast appeared on stage, and I would squeeze her hand back.

Being a big sister is A LOT of hard work, but I love it! 🙂

What’s your favorite play or movie to see during the holiday season, and why do you love it?  Tell us all about it in the comments!
December 16, 2017

HOW DO I TALK TO A SHY GUY?

Hey Brandon! There’s this boy I sit next to in class, but he seems really shy and he’s always alone. I want to talk to him but my best friend thinks he’s weird and that I shouldn’t embarrass myself by talking to him. I still really want to talk to him and wonder how to start a conversation with him. Thanks in advance for any advice!

Chatty Chick

Hey Chatty Chick,

I think you sound like a really nice person. And honestly, your friend sounds a little bit mean. Why does she think he’s weird? What matters is that YOU think he’s worth talking to. But like, even if he’s always alone and on the shy side, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to him.

Let’s agree not to listen to your friend about this, okay?

So, the question is, how do you approach him? It’s great that he sits next to you in class. Even if he doesn’t know your name, you’ll look familiar to him.

If you don’t know his name, that’s a simple way to start the conversation. You sit down next to him and say, “Hi. You sit next to me during class but I don’t know your name. I’m Megan.” (But like, use your real name. Not Megan. Unless your name IS Megan. 🙂 )

If he cringes in horrified fear and looks like he’d rather jump out of the window than talk to you, then you say, “Well anyway, just wanted to introduce myself. I’ll leave you alone now.”

BUT, I doubt that will happen. He’ll probably just tell you his name. If he was doing his schoolwork or reading a book when you sat down, ask him about it. Try to ask him open questions that require more than a yes or no answer. As long as he doesn’t look annoyed, you should be fine. Just be your cool, friendly self.

You could also go into the library and introduce yourself to him there. Maybe you’ll both feel like fewer people are watching your conversation. You can ask him what he’s reading, or ask a question about the class that both of you are in. And then when you see him later, you’ll have a little more of a connection to smile and wave or maybe sit with him and chat some more.

There’s a chance he’s not sad or lonely. He might not know anybody that well. Or he might be shy. Either way, I really think he’ll appreciate your friendliness. (Please don’t get upset if he doesn’t have a lot to say. The important thing here is that you tried to be nice.)

I hope that helps. If anyone makes you feel bad about being kind to someone, then that’s their problem, not yours.

What do you do when you see someone who looks like they don’t have anyone to talk to or sit with? How do you strike up a conversation with someone you want to be friends with? Tell us in the comments!
December 13, 2017

HOW DO I GET OVER MY OBSESSION??

Dear Nikki,

I’m totally OBSESSED with my crush! He’s the wallpaper for my phone and I could doodle pictures of him ALL DAY LONG. He’s the first person I look for in a room, and I like to copy EVERYTHING he does. I ALWAYS want to know what he’s doing on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve also even Googled his name a few times. This obsession is driving me NUTS. How do get over it?!

Obviously Obsessed

Hi Obviously Obsessed,

Okay. So, the good news is that you realize this is an unhealthy obsession. It would be a lot harder to help you if you thought this was a normal crush. But this is having a negative impact on your LIFE and that’s not okay.

Good for you for recognizing that!

I think your first step is cutting down on the obsessing when you’re not even with him. You obviously need to change the wallpaper on your phone. Maybe create a penalty where you have to do ten pushups every time you draw him, Google him, or look at his social media accounts. Or you have to put a dollar in a jar every time, and then that money is given  to charity or a family member. Make sure it’s something that will make you think twice before you do those things!

If you can get a friend or family member to check in with you on this – check your sketchbook, your Google search history, etc. – that might help, since there are ways around those things. You could just draw in a different notebook, or clear your search history. So the point is, you have to WANT to stop, and the accountability might be enough to help you cut down.

I think you really need to find other things to occupy your time and thoughts! And, make sure that it’s NOT another guy. Here are a few options:

  1. BE A HELPER – Think about how you can help other people in your community or at your school. Is there a new kid who needs to be shown around? Is there an old person in your neighborhood who needs their dog walked? Could the local animal shelter, library or food bank use a volunteer? Helping people is a great distraction.
  2. GET A HOBBY – Sounds as if you like to draw (just like yours truly ☺). There are cool challenges on Instagram for artists where every day for a month you’re supposed to draw something different and share it. That could be a good way to get your artistic focus on something different. Or set another goal for yourself – train to run a 5K, do a Goodreads reading challenge or learn to play an instrument. A new hobby will distract you from this guy.  Plus you’ll meet new people AND you’ll learn something new/have fun!
  3. BE THERE FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY – While you’ve been obsessed with this guy, there’s a good chance you’ve been neglecting your friends and family. That’s just reality, because if all your time has been spent focused on him, you haven’t been focused on THEM. So, now might be a good time to make up for that. Check in with friends you haven’t talked to in a while. Spend some quality time with parents and siblings. Do things you know THEY like to do and ask them about how things have been going for them lately.

Hopefully by taking these steps to distract yourself and occupy your mind with other things, the obsession will go away, and then when you’re in the same room with him, it won’t be as intense. Eventually it WILL pass. I promise. But it might take some work.

And, maybe our readers can give you some more ideas. How do you guys handle it when a crush turns into an obsession? What’s your best distraction tip? Tell us in the comments!
December 12, 2017

TWELVE DANCING GRANNIES (OKAY, SEVEN)

When Grandma Maxwell called and asked if she could use our oven for the afternoon, I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into.

She’s been coming over to visit a lot more often since she learned how to use Uber. So I was expecting her to be dropped off by some random car. I was NOT expecting a van from her retirement home to park in our driveway, and SEVEN old ladies to pile out!

When I opened the front door, Grandma hugged me and said, “The cookie divas have arrived! Would you help unload our supplies, sweetie?”

The back of the van was FILLED with baking supplies—huge bags of sugar, flour, chocolate chips and sprinkles. Plus baking sheets, mixers, cookie cutters and stuff I didn’t even recognize.

I was just hauling the first load of stuff into the kitchen when some lady I don’t even know said, “Where do you keep your candy thermometer, young lady?”

I don’t even know what a candy thermometer is! Like, is that what you use when candy gets sick and runs a fever or something?!

“Grandma, what’s going on?” I asked, a little confused.

Grandma turned around as she tied on her apron. It said, “I’M ALL ABOUT THAT BAKE.”

“Oh honey, we’re trying to get ready for a our big holiday bash! The one all the families come to, with all the grandchildren. But the kitchen at our retirement home is undergoing renovation, so we can’t bake there!”

I’ve seen that kitchen. It’s big – big enough to feed aaaaaallll the old people who live there. And they think our kitchen is a good replacement?!

“Grandma, I don’t know—”

But then one of the ladies turned Christmas music on LOUD and Grandma just pointed at her ears, all I CAN’T HEAR YOU and started cracking eggs into a bowl!

I went back out to the van and texted my mom to let her know what was happening in our kitchen.

That’s fine. Whatever makes Grandma Maxwell happy! is what she texted back. Well, we’d see how she felt when she got home and saw the messy kitchen!

When I got back inside with another box of supplies, all the ladies were belting Santa Baby. Every bit of counter space was filled with bowls, cookie sheets and ingredients. The music was still blasting.

“Okay, Grandma!” I shouted. “I’m just going to be in my roo—”

“Oh!” she shrieked. “Nikki can answer your question, Gladys!”

I froze. Someone turned down the music. Gladys turned around and pointed to her apron. “Nikki, dear, my grandchildren gave this to me and they laugh every time I wear it, but I just don’t understand what’s so funny.”

There was a picture of an egg beater, and it said, “NOW WATCH ME WHIP.”

I tried not to laugh, but I couldn’t help letting out a giggle-snort.

“You see? All the young people think it’s funny!”

I explained that it was a song lyric, and then they wanted to hear the song, but there’s kind of no point to that song without the dance moves, so I showed them a video on my phone. And before I knew it, all these baking grandmas were doing the whip and the nae-nae in the kitchen.

It was definitely one of the weirdest things to happen in that kitchen, and BRIANNA lives here!

That’s when I heard it. MacKenzie Hollister’s voice!

“OMG. WHAT is going on here?!!”

I looked over to see Brianna, with Mackenzie and her little sister Amanda. Mom told me the Hollisters would be bringing Brianna home from a playdate, but I didn’t think that meant they would come INSIDE our home!! ☹

“More young people!” one of the grandmas hooted. “Do you know how to nae-nae too?”

Amanda and Brianna jumped right in. They weren’t going to turn down dancing grannies! Mackenzie was horrified. I had to act fast! So, I took a chance.

“Come on, Mackenzie!” I called. “It’s super fun! Gladys will show you how to whip and how to nae-nae, just like the viral video on YouTube!”

I started to dance just as Mackenzie turned and RAN out the door like her designer jeans were on fire!!

I mean, really, what’s she going to do? Tell the whole school I had a houseful of grannies doing the whip and nae-nae? LOL!  Who would ever believe THAT?!! 🙂

What’s the wackiest thing that’s ever happened at your house during the holiday season?
December 6, 2017

MY COUSIN KEEPS STEALING MY DORK DIARIES BOOKS!!

Dear Nikki,

My cousin loves reading Dork Diaries just like I do. But, every month when she comes to visit, she reads MY books and writes in MY OMG Dork Diaries! She also tried to take them back to her house. I am FED UP. What should I do?!

Burdened By Bothersome Book Thief

Hi Burdened By Bothersome Book Thief,

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!! 🙁

At least, the part where she writes in YOUR diary! That is NOT COOL and we WILL deal with that. But first…

It’s hard for me to be upset that your cousin loves Dork Diaries. 🙂 It seems like it could be a fun way for you guys to connect. BUT you don’t want to have to lock up your books every time she comes over. I get that.

I think there are a few things you can do.

First of all, have you TALKED to her about this? I mean…that seems kind of obvious, but a LOT of the letters I get are about problems that could be solved if people just TALKED to other people. So…maybe talk to her about how much you love your Dork Diaries books and it’s important to you to keep them at your house, and that your diary is private, etc etc.

But I also wonder if maybe she’s quite a bit younger than you are? Because writing in someone else’s diary seems like SUCH an immature thing to do. (Or like exactly the kind of thing Brianna would do.) So if she’s a lot younger, could you talk to your aunt or uncle? Or whatever older family member comes along with her on these visits? Not to tattle, but to explain to them that you love these books and want her to be able to enjoy them when she visits, but you’re feeling upset about how she writes in them and tries to take them home.

Second, either get some bookplates or just straight-up write your name inside the books that belong to you. (Bookplates are really just stickers that go inside books that say “This book belongs to ________.”) She might be more hesitant to steal your books if your name is clearly in them, and it might help sort things out if she tries to claim the book doesn’t belong to you or something.

Third, can you work with her parents/your parents to get her own OMG Dork Diary, and maybe some of the other books? Like for holidays or her birthday? I love sharing books, but this girl clearly needs some to call her own. Then maybe she’ll lay off yours!

Finally, I really don’t want you to have to hide all your Dork Diaries books when she comes over. Assuming she’s not a toddler, you should be able to get this worked out. And maybe there’s some reason she doesn’t have access to cool books at her house. I dunno. But, I do think it’s fair that when she’s visiting, you take your OMG Diary with you to school or hide it somewhere secure. Because that is YOUR private place to share your feelings, and she shouldn’t be writing in it or even LOOKING at it!

I hope that helps! 🙂

Are you protective of your books? How do you feel when other people want to borrow them? Have you ever had someone try to write in YOUR diary? Tell us in the comments!
December 4, 2017

Rachel Renee Russell on the Megyn Kelly Today Show

Rachel Renée Russell and Simon & Schuster featured on the Today Show with Megyn Kelly.

BRIANNA’S CHRISTMAS REVOLUTION

I should have known better than to take Brianna to the mall during the holiday season. But she came to my room and dumped her piggy bank out on my bed and told me she wanted to get Mom  “BEE-YOOO-TEE-FUL JEWELS” for Christmas.

I mean, she may be a brat, but I’m not THAT heartless!

I was pretty sure we wouldn’t find much for $7.62, which is how much money she had saved up. But I figured that store where everyone gets their ears pierced would have something Brianna would think was BEE-YOOO-TEE-FUL anyway.

Which is why Dad dropped Brianna and me off in the slushy mall parking lot and told us he’d be back in an hour. I purposely told him to drop us at the end of the mall that’s NOWHERE NEAR the Santa’s Workshop area. I had agreed to help Brianna get a present for Mom. I had NOT signed up for waiting in line to see Santa.

Which is why I was shocked when Brianna squealed, “SANTA!!”

We weren’t even inside the mall yet!

I looked where she was pointing, and there was Santa, leaning against the side of the building, texting!!

“Nikki, come on!” Brianna tugged me toward Santa. “I can tell him what I want without waiting in line!”

Obviously Santa was on his break. Then, right before our eyes, he pulled a candy bar from his pocket, reached up, and PULLED HIS BEARD OFF.

Brianna gasped.

I tried to shield her eyes, but it was too late. The damage was done.

“THAT GUY’S NOT SANTA!” she shrieked.

He looked over, realized MAYBE he should take his break somewhere more PRIVATE (you think?!) and hurried away.

TOO LATE, BUDDY!!

Brianna was having a major meltdown. I tried to convince her to go look for Mom’s beautiful jewels, but she was having NONE of it!

“He’s a FAKE SANTA!” she shrieked. “The other kids NEED TO KNOW!!”

Just GREAT. All I needed was Brianna trying to start a kiddie revolution at Westchester Mall. But my dad had left to run his own errands and my mom wasn’t supposed to know where we were. I had to handle this on my own.

“Brianna, look. I’m sorry you had to see that. That man was one of Santa’s helpers, because Santa is really busy this time of year at the North Pole and doesn’t have time to be at all the malls all over the world. It doesn’t mean Santa isn’t real…”

She looked at me like I had lost ALL my marbles. “Of COURSE Santa is REAL! But that guy’s trying to steal his identity!!”

And THEN you will NOT believe what the little brat did next! She reached out, grabbed my phone, and hurled it toward the parking lot! I went scrambling to grab my phone from the slush before it got run over by a car, and when I turned around, Brianna was already disappearing through the doors into the mall!!

The next time Brianna comes to me for help with something, she is on her OWN!!! 🙁

The mall was packed (OBVIOUSLY!) so by the time I pushed through the crowds and got inside, Brianna was nowhere to be seen. Of course, I figured she was headed for Santa’s Workshop, and that’s been in the same place since I was Brianna’s age.

For a munchkin with such short legs, Brianna moves FAST! When I reached Santa’s Workshop, she was already up on the little stage with Santa. The kid on his lap was just a toddler, so she didn’t seem to care that Brianna was barging in on her time, but the elves around Santa were all totally freaking out.

“This Santa is a PHONY!” Brianna announced to everyone waiting in line. “He is NOT Santa and I’ll PROVE it!!”

Little kids started to cry.

Then Brianna lunged forward, grabbed the guy’s beard, and PULLED!!!

Santa shouted out in pain, the toddler’s mom lunged forward to get her kid out of the chaos, and the beard didn’t budge!

That’s when I realized it wasn’t the same Santa we saw outside. This guy’s beard was…REAL?!!

Then Brianna started to cry. “I made a BIG mistake! You’re the REAL Santa!” she sobbed. “I’m SO sorry! I promise I’m not a naughty girl!!”

Fortunately, Santa was cool. He motioned for the elves to calm down, and he welcomed Brianna onto his lap. They spoke quietly for a few minutes, and she even got extra candy canes when she left.

“That was the real Santa,” she told me as we walked to the accessories store. “Only the real Santa would have been so nice!”

“You’re probably right,” I said. And then we went to buy some BEE-YOOO-TEE-FUL jewels.  But now, whenever I see Santa Claus, I break into a cold sweat and hope it’s the REAL one!

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  What’s on your list?
December 2, 2017

December Calendar -TALES FROM A NOT-SO-GRACEFUL ICE PRINCESS

Right click the download button to save the calendar of your choice on your computer.

1 vertical page – 8½ x 11in
Download
November 29, 2017

I Broke My Leg! Now I’m BORED!!

Hey Nikki,

A few days ago I broke my leg. I know, ouch! But the real problem is, I really LOVE playing sports! But I obviously can’t right now, so could you please give me ideas for other fun activities?

Thanks!
Bored With A Broken Leg

Dear Bored With A Broken Leg,

Sorry to hear about your leg! 🙁

I’m not too athletic myself, so I definitely have some suggestions for you! And I thought they might also come in handy now that the weather’s getting colder and you might not want to hang outside as much.

So, I’ll share some ideas for low-key things you can do with a broken leg, or in crummy weather, or if you’re home sick and bored. And then you guys share your ideas in the comments. We’ll make a master anti-boredom list together! 🙂

Art/Photography – Art is my FAV hobby and my crush, Brandon, is totally into photography.  The cool thing about photography is you don’t even need a fancy camera. You can get into it with just a cell phone! If you’re into Instagram, there are all kinds of cool photo challenges, where you can get ideas and share your photos.  And if you’re into drawing, you don’t need a fancy sketchbook just to get started.  A notepad and pencil would work just as well until you have an opportunity to buy art supplies!

Reading/writing – Okay, so reading and writing might sound like school, but they’re a zillion times more fun when you’re reading or writing because YOU want to! There’s so much cool stuff out there. Some of my fav reads lately have ‘been Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Whatever After, A Wrinkle In Time and The Spiderwick Chronicles.  Or if you’re into graphic novels, I’d totally recommend Amulet, Invisible Emmy, Hi Low and The Baby-Sitters Club. You could also write your own stories or comics!

Board games – This might seem kinda old school, but if you’ve got someone around who’ll play with you, board games are awesome! And there’s more out there than just Monopoly and Clue. There’s Jenga, Sorry, Perfection, Connect 4 and Outburst. I’ve also played Operation and Candy Land with Brianna before, and they’re a lot of fun too!

Video Games – If you’ve got access to video games, being sick or having an injury seems like the perfect time to convince your parents that a little more screen time isn’t so bad.  You could also download game apps on your phone or tablet!

Volunteer – Think of a place in your community where you would enjoy pitching in – maybe tutoring younger kids at the library, reading aloud to old folks at a retirement home, or working at an animal shelter (like yours truly ☺). There are lots of volunteer activities that wouldn’t require athletic ability. (Or even the ability to walk, if you happen to be in crutches.)

Non-sports School Activities – Maybe you want something to do that will still let you interact with other kids from school. There are probably plenty of other activities you could get involved in, depending on the size of your school. Like debate, the school newspaper, drama club, choir, or band.

Okay, readers, it’s your turn to add on to our anti-boredom list!  What are your favorite boredom-busters? What do you do when you’re home sick? What activities do you do that don’t require much physical activity? Tell us in the comments!
November 27, 2017

OPERATION SMOOSHPET

We were on a MISSION. Chloe, Zoey, and I were going to Westchester’s biggest mall on Black Friday, and we were going to get a SmooshPet or DIE trying!!

Okay, nobody was going to die.

I should also explain what a SmooshPet is. SmooshPets are the hot new thing, in case you DON’T have a six-year-old in your life who gets on one topic and NEVER. STOPS. TALKING! Brianna HAS to have one for Christmas, and my parents want her to stop talking about it, but they also don’t want to go to the mall on Black Friday. However, the thing is if you DON’T get your SmooshPet on Black Friday, they’ll be sold out for the rest of the holiday shopping season.

Zoey was over one day and heard my mom on the phone, calling stores and trying to track down a SmooshPet before Black Friday, to avoid the madness. But Mom wasn’t having any luck. So Zoey—probably because she doesn’t have any annoying siblings of her own—told Mom that WE would take care of it.  Just great! 🙁

So that’s how we ended up at the mall at SIX A.M. I am SO not kidding!  Zoey had borrowed these Bluetooth thingies from her dad’s work, so we could stay in constant communication with each other while or hands were free to the snatch a SmooshPet and get the HECK out of there!

Zoey’s research told her our best bets to find a SmooshPet at the mall were Cool Toys Inc, Madeline’s Collectibles, or Gadget Shack.

Gadget Shack was at the far end of the mall, and I was skeptical they would even have them, so Zoey volunteered to go. She even wore her roller shoes to get there faster. I was going to Cool Toys Inc, because it was going to be the most bonkers, and we were doing this for MY sister, after all. Which left Chloe at Madeline’s Collectibles.

As soon as the mall doors opened, the madness began!

“Let’s do this, girls,” Zoey said into her Bluetooth thingie, and it screeched a little in our ears, because we were all still standing together.

Zoey took off on her wheels toward Gadget Shack.

Chloe grabbed my hand. “I love Brianna,” she said. “And I’m going to try really hard. But I hope you can forgive me if I don’t return with a SmooshPet.”

I grabbed her by the shoulders and looked her in the eye. “Just make it out alive, my friend!”

I’d taken three steps toward Cool Toys Inc when Zoey’s voice crackled in my ear. “Status update? I’m almost at Gadget Shack, but there’s a huge crowd of shoppers in the way. Over.”

“Oh, um…excuse me! Sorry! Oh, I didn’t see you there, ma’am…” We listened to Chloe apologizing her way toward Madeline’s Collectibles for a minute before she said, “Hey guys, I’m good. Almost there. Oh, over and out!”

“Over and out’s for when you’re all done on the call. Just over,” Zoey corrected.

“Oh sorry, just over then! Oh geez, excuse me, mister! Sorry!”

I had reached Cool Toys Inc. The mall had JUST opened but somehow the massive store was still FULL of people. And I realized I had no idea what section SmooshPets would be in. They were tiny stuffed animals with screens in their bellies and you had to play games online to earn points to “feed” them or they’d die. (It sounded stressful to me!)

“Nikki?” Zoey said. “Status? Over.”

“I’m here! But what department?! Stuffed animals? Electronics? Games?”

“You guys?” Chloe interrupted. “Madeline’s Collectibles is closed. It looks like maybe it went out of business.”

“Argh! HOW did I miss that in my research?” Zoey said. “Nikki, try Electronics first. Chloe, scope out the kiosks down the middle of the mall, just in case. Over.”

Electronics was the biggest madhouse in the whole toy store! People were pushing and shoving for game systems, tablets and phone accessories. I didn’t see anything that looked fuzzy or cute. Of course, it was hard to see ANYTHING at all with all the people!

I decided to try Games next, but that was like, board games and video games. Nothing. So finally I went to Stuffed Animals. And not a single one of those stuffed animals had a belly screen! How did the biggest toy store in the mall NOT have a SmooshPet?

I headed toward the front of the store, figuring I’d meet up with Chloe and search the kiosks. But on my way out, I saw it! At the front, up by the registers, a SmooshPet display! With…ONLY ONE SMOOSHPET LEFT!!

I’m not gonna lie. I shoved my way past one person. But it was this super-rude teenage dude who was TOTALLY in my way and didn’t move when I asked him nicely TWICE!

When I finally got around him, there was a little old lady, reaching out and grabbing that last SmooshPet.

Operation SmooshPet was about to become a complete and total FAILURE!! 🙁

I had failed Brianna. Who drives me bananas, but who was going to be HEARTBROKEN when she didn’t get a SmooshPet for Christmas!

But THEN I heard this, “I have the SmooshPet! I repeat, I have the SmooshPet!” It was Zoey!! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! 🙂

We met at Dairy Queen. Chloe looked exhausted. Zoey held the SmooshPet triumphantly over her head.

“That was AMAZING,” she said. “What a rush! We should do this every year!”

I texted my mom the good news, and she said I should treat the girls to ice cream and use the emergency credit card.

So our mission was accomplished, all thanks to Zoey. After ALL the trouble to get that SmooshPet—when Brianna opens it up on Christmas morning, I can hardly wait to play with it too!

Hey readers, what’s something you’ve always wanted that was super hard to get your hands on?