Allie has rules for everything, until she meets Rosemary, the biggest and meanest girl in fourth grade.
Allie Finkle is totally ready for the first day of school, even if it is in the middle of the school year, and even if it is a totally new school, because she knows her rules. On the first day at a new school, you need to wear something good, so people will think you're nice.
But not all the boxes are unpacked, and Allie can't find her leggings to wear with her new plaid skirt that flares out when she twirls around. So she just wears her jeans instead of leggings — and the skirt. (Show back cover photo.) Erica lives right next door, and they walk to school with Sophie and Caroline and Allie's little brother Kevin and Allie's parents. Allie has a rule about that, too — there's nothing wrong with walking to school with your parents on the first day, except everything.
She's in Mrs. Hunter's class, and even gets to sit next to Erica. That's how she finds out about Rosemary, the biggest and meanest girl not only in their class, but in the entire fourth grade. And when Rosemary gets into trouble for making fun of Allie's essay, she swears she's going to beat Allie up. Allie tries very hard to be unnoticeable, until the day of the fourth grade spelling bee. When the other class wins because Allie missed spelling D-O-C-T-O-R, Rosemary threatens her again. "I'm still gonna kill you, Finkle. Don't think I've forgot. I haven't. I may even have to kill you twice."
What is Allie going to do? She can't tell Mrs. Houser or her parents — that would only make things worse. Allie has rules for everything, like Never eat anything red, but what are the rules about getting beat up, and how can she follow them?
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.