Maddie on TV, page 1
Maddie on TV
Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Translated by Sarah Cummins
Formac Publishing Company Limited
A Real Fan
At the first beep of the alarm clock, I leaped out of bed, hurried downstairs, and turned on the television. I had missed my favourite show the night before, but it was on again in the morning.
My idol on the show is Adam. He is so sweet, so brave, so cute! I wish I knew a boy like him!
“Maddie! Come eat your breakfast!” my mother shouted. “If you skip breakfast, you’ll be tired all day.”
Grrr. Mom is obsessed with nutrition! Just then, Adam came on, with his buddy Justin. Justin isn’t as—
“Maddie! Do I have turn off the TV myself?” my father threatened.
Grrr again. When Dad turns off the TV, it stays off for a long time. I turned the sound down, hoping I could come back and catch the end. I headed for the kitchen.
“Breakfast is supposed to be a quiet oasis of family time,” my dad lectured me. Then he disappeared behind his newspaper. Unbelievable! My two brothers were playing war.
“Got you! You’re dead!” bellowed Alexander.
“I can’t be dead!” Julian protested. “I’m Tintin, boy reporter.”
My little sister Angelbaby was screaming for her food. Mom came in with two bowls of Pablum. Then she put one of them down in front of me!
“Since you’re running late,” she said sweetly. She put the other bowl down by my dad.
“You can feed Angelbaby,” she said even more sweetly. “And enjoy your family time.”
I gulped down the disgusting gloop, hoping to make it back to the living room before my show was over. As I was getting up my father tossed down his paper in disgust. “That is really too much!” I thought he was talking to me, so I sat down again.
“Now they’re going after kids!” Dad went on.
“Who is? The evil invaders? I’m ready for them,” roared Alexander, shooting his imaginary gun into the air.
“Not invaders,” my dad laughed. “Manufacturers of miracle foods. Poison mongers!”
“This sounds like a case for Tintin!” cried Julian.
It is so depressing. My brothers cannot distinguish reality from fantasy.
“Now they’re marketing an energy candy,” said Dad. “It’s a sucker called a Lollipep. It’s supposed to be a fruit concentrate that boosts your energy.”
“At least we’d spend less time at the breakfast table,” I muttered.
“If you want an energy boost, I’ve got one,” offered my mother. She intoned a magic spell, waved her hands in the air, and produced… an orange.
“A fruit concentrate bursting with energy!”
Everyone laughed but me. I knew I had missed my show. I hoped my friends had managed to catch it.
Whew, they had! At morning recess, Clementine filled me in on the plot developments.
“There’s a new girl in school. Her name is Melissa. She has long blond hair, and the guys all think she’s gorgeous. Especially Justin and Adam.”
I tried not to show it, but I was crushed. Adam would never give me a second glance, with my spiky paintbrush hair!
Patrick had a different take on the episode.
“Justin doesn’t care about Melissa. He just wants Adam’s jacket. So he made a bet: whoever kisses Melissa first wins the other one’s jacket.”
“Adam’s an idiot to take the bet,” Nicholas chimed in, between mouthfuls of chips. “That old jacket of Justin’s isn’t worth a bag of chips.”
“You’d never risk a single chip on a girl,” I retorted. “You’ll never be a hero like Adam.”
“Some hero,” sneered Patrick. “He can’t beat Justin. Justin told Melissa that she has magic powers. With a single kiss, she can make a jacket appear out of thin air. So Melissa went along with it and kissed him.”
I was appalled! “That’s unfair! Adam never had a chance. Someone should warn him about Justin.”
“You can tell him yourself,” Patrick suggested. And then he gave me some fantastic news! At the end of the show, they announced a contest. The winners get to be in a commercial with Adam and Justin.
Inside I felt a hurricane of emotions, as I imagined myself with Adam. But I managed to keep calm and casually asked the others if they were going to enter the contest.
“Not me!” Clementine was adamant. “They only want girls with long blond hair, like Melissa.”
Nicholas and Patrick agreed. I pretended I thought so too, but I had already decided that I was going to win. Even if I had to wear a blond wig!
Would Gran Help?
The rest of the school day dragged on. Nothing our teacher Ms. Spiegel had to say seemed as important as my plans.
When I got home, I pretended to be a good little girl and got my homework out of the way. In fact, I spent most of the time checking my watch.
At seven o’clock on the dot, I ejected from my room and landed in front of the TV. My brothers were fighting over the remote. I wailed at my mother, who for once took my side.
“Maddie has done her homework, so she is allowed to watch TV.”
“I have to watch Tintin,” Julian protested. “My assignment is to present my hero to the class. And I have to study Tintin so I can become a star reporter.”
I pointed out to Julian that the best way of becoming a star reporter is to do a report on something. For example, he could do a report on my program.
The little genius thought it over and decided I was right.
“A report on that garbage!” Alexander said scornfully. “In my program, the fate of the planet is at stake!”
“Right now you have the fate of your homework to settle,” my mother said, dragging him off.
I zapped to my channel and settled in comfortably. Julian sat next to me, looking serious and attentive.
As I watched the show, I felt that I was already a part of it. I got so caught up in it that I totally forgot about the contest. But Julian saved the day by informing me that the contest regulations were in all the newspapers.
Yikes! The newspaper was in the blue box, and the blue box was out at the curb. I ran outside.
Phew, the box was overflowing. I even went through everything. One, two, three bags—no luck. I rummaged through the smelly bits at the bottom. When I came up for air, there was Julian. He handed me the newspaper, open to the page with the contest regulations.
“I figure you want to enter.”
As I read, he nattered on. “Instead of doing a report on your boring show, I’m going to do an investigation on Lollipeps. Those energy suckers are a serious issue for Tintin.”
It turned out the winners of the contest would film a commercial for Lollipeps. Entering the contest was much more complicated than I had expected. I had to think it over…
But first, I needed to lose my brother.
“I think we should just forget about the whole thing,” I told him regretfully. “Mom and Dad will never let me do an ad for the poisonous Lollipeps.”
“You’re just trying to get rid of me!” Julian was angry. “But Tintin will show you!”
There was no way I could enter the contest without everyone knowing—Julian, my parents, my friends. Unless I could somehow find an accomplice… like Gran!
As soon as my brothers had gone to bed that night, I snuck down to the base-ment to phone Gran. I told her all about my secret project, which would amount to nothing but a pile of broken dreams if she wouldn’t help me.
Gran said she needed to think about it. I climbed upstairs as slowly as a dejected snail. When I reached the top, I had never felt so lo
The door opened suddenly. It was my dad, and he didn’t look pleased.
“What are you doing here? I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Your grandmother just called. She’s going to pick you up at school tomorrow.”
I jumped up joyfully and kissed him. He looked surprised.
“Is there something going on here that I should know about?”
It’s amazing how suspicious my dad always is.
I waited for Gran in front of the school.
All day I had avoided my friends. They would have tried to discourage me. I was so excited that I was afraid I would give myself away. What a surprise it would be for them to see me on TV with Adam! And if it didn’t work out, they wouldn’t be able to make fun of me.
There was Gran! I ran to the car. The look on her face immediately took the wind out of my sails. She must have come just to tell me why she wouldn’t help.
“Maddie, are you listening? I was saying that it won’t be easy. Do you still want to go ahead with it?”
My spirits shot way up again.
“Yes! Yippee! Of course I do!”
“Good. I’ve already filled out the form, but we have to attach photos. I brought my camera.”
“Photos? Now? We can’t, Gran!”
“I don’t have my clothes, my makeup, my wig…”
“Maddie, we are not doing a fashion shoot. The point is to highlight your personality.”
I was puzzled. What did she mean, highlight my personality?
She drove to the park. And what did she take out of her bag? A ball, a packet of suckers, and elastics to make pigtails! The only thing missing was a diaper!
No way was I going along with that plan!
“They want sexy girls, Gran, not sucky babies. And anyway, that’s not my personality.”
“Of course it isn’t! The way I see you is as a lively girl with a lot of pep… which she gets from Lollipeps!”
I had forgotten about the Lollipeps. But I still wasn’t convinced.
“Trust me, Maddie.”
Gran led me over to the basketball court and started taking pictures. I posed like a model, crossing my feet, twisting my shoulders, staring out into the distance.
“No, Maddie! This isn’t working!” Gran stopped me. “Let’s try some action shots!”
Grrr! I kicked the ball in frustration.
“Good!” Gran said encouragingly. “More!”
At her urging, I jumped, I shot—and I scored! Hooray! I raised my arms in triumph.
“Fantastic!” Gran cried. “Now, you should—”
“I get it, Gran. Now I should have a Lollipep.”
I grabbed one of the suckers, which just happened to be my favourite flavour. Yum! I had enough time to devour a second one before Gran was finished.
She was so excited that I began to think that my photos were going to be a hit!
The Blond Mouse
The next days were the absolutely worst of my entire life. I felt it all: from excitement to despair to hope. Then Gran showed me the pictures. They were awful! I looked hideous in every one. A little butterball, mugging for the camera. It still makes me cringe to think about them.
At school, I tried to keep away from my friends so I wouldn’t have to explain why I was in such a bad mood. It didn’t work. Patrick was even more tactless than usual.
“What’s the matter, swell head? Usually we can’t get a word in edgewise.”
Nicholas tried to get me to talk by bribing me with suckers, of all things. Only Clementine left me in peace. I was beginning to wonder if she was still my friend.
At home, I hid out in my room. When I announced for the umpteenth evening in a row that I had to study, Alexander started to laugh and my parents looked worried, as if it was something abnormal! Grrr. I stomped off to my room and cracked open a book.
There was a knock at my door.
“Maddie! It’s me, Tintin. I have proof that you lied to me. I advise you to open the door.”
Julian is such an idiot, if he thinks he can threaten me.
He slid something under the door. It was one of my photos!
I went ballistic! The sneaky, nosy little rat! I opened the door, pulled Julian in, and rained insults on him.
The insults slid right off him. I asked him what he wanted.
“I want to go with you to the contest and report on it.”
I said okay, because I knew I wouldn’t be going. And I told him he had to give me back the other photos.
“I don’t trust you anymore,” he said as he left.
I tried to tell myself my secret was safe, but it was no use.
I waited a bit and then went downstairs, looking unconcerned. The whole family stared at me as if I was an alien.
Then I saw all my photos, spread out on the coffee table. My eyes popped out of my head and then settled on Julian. He could tell I was going to kill him, and panicked.
“Mom and Dad were worried! They called Gran and twisted her arm. And she told them everything because Lollipeps called, and your broken dream isn’t a secret anymore!”
My dad informed me that I had been chosen to audition for the contest. I felt a volcano of joy swelling up inside me, until my mom doused it. She started out with a lecture, which I knew was going to end with a refusal. She railed against everything: Lollipeps! Advertising directed at kids! How spineless Gran was! And last, my behaviour toward Julian.
“You can’t just use him and then dump him. You can go to the audition only if Julian goes with you.”
What? They were letting me go! I was so surprised that I forgot to react. I asked Mom if she was really willing to let me do it.
She rolled her eyes in resignation. “Your grandmother thinks it will be a good experience for you.”
When I thought of all I had been through so far, I figured it had already been a good experience!
The big day finally came. We were on our way to the audition!
I had been through another week on the roller-coaster ride of emotions. One moment I was soaring, the next I was crashing. My self-confidence was shot from hearing Alexander constantly remarking, “If I had known they would take just anyone, I would have entered myself.”
At school, the guys blamed me for the general crankiness that reigned in our group. I told them they should blame Clementine instead. She was no longer talking to anyone, the little priss!
“Here we are!” announced Gran. “Let’s go, kids. And let’s have fun!”
I was worried that Adam would think I was just a baby, since Gran had dressed me the same way as in the pictures. She even brought the ball along. Julian was laden with his reporter’s kit: tape recorder, Polaroid camera, and all.
We looked like a bunch of clowns.
As we entered the studio, I stopped laughing. There must have been a thousand people there! And the other girls—whew! They looked like lollipops themselves: skinny little stick-bodies topped with brightly coloured heads.
I felt like the ugly duckling, the only licorice lollipop in the bunch. All of the other contestants were examining me. It was like having an X-ray. I wished I could disappear.
“It’s stifling in here, Gran! Let’s leave!”
“No, Maddie. I warned you that it would be hard. You have to audition. All actors have to go through that stage. Wait here, I’m going to find out when your turn is.”
Gran seemed to be enjoying herself. Julian was prowling around like a reporter. I figured I might as well look for Adam. I surveyed the room but didn’t see him. So I just stood around until Julian came back, all excited.
“Guess what I just discovered! Wait till you see this!”
He handed me a picture, fresh from his Polaroid. Gradually there appeared the image of a girl with long blond hair.
“Don’t you recognize her?” asked Juli
I looked closer at the girl’s face—I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was Clementine! So that’s why she was hiding in her little mousey hole! She was afraid I would find out and she would have to deal with me! I felt like pulling the blond wig right off her head, but I didn’t want to make a scene.
Strangely, I wasn’t worried about all the other girls now. It was if the audition came down to just Clementine and me.
When Gran came back, she was pleased to see how excited I was. But she warned me that we would have a long wait.
We had to wait two hours! You have to be really motivated to wait that long for an audition. It was even harder, because Clementine went in before me. The only thing that kept me going was the disappointed look on her face as she left.
She walked right past me, pretending not to see me. I can’t believe she thought I wouldn’t recognize her!
“It’s your turn, Maddie,” Gran announced. “Good luck, and show your spirit!”
See you later, little mouse.
Disgraceful! There is no other word to describe that audition. After making me wait for two hours, they kept me in the audition for two minutes! They didn’t even want me to play with the ball.
And Julian embarrassed me to death by asking them, “Do Lollipeps contain poison?”
They all laughed heartily as they showed us the door.
I decided I would pretend that I hadn’t recognized Clementine.
I didn’t see Clementine on the bus Monday morning. I hoped she was staying home sick.
Grrr. There she was, leaning against the door to the school. There was no way to avoid her.
We said hi, then I skilfully started in.
“So why are you talking to me all of a sudden?”
“Why are you talking to me?”
If that’s the way she was going to be, I would attack.
“You’re such a hypocrite, Clementine!”
“Look who’s talking! As if I didn’t see you at the contest!”
“How could you miss me? At least I wasn’t in disguise!”
Clementine blushed. “I only wore that wig to give me self-confidence,” she admitted. “But it turned out to be my downfall.”
Poor thing. She had practised a karate number that went all wrong. While she was doing her attack moves, the wig slipped down over her face. I felt sorry for her, so I told her about my own pitiful audition.