It was supposed to be a special year because ten was her favorite number, but it didn't turn out that way.

Sometimes Sprig wished Dakota would just disappear, like smoke curling up in the air. Not that she wanted anything bad to happen to her big sister, but she was so annoying sometimes. Like when she got to talk to Dad when he called every night before Sprig could, and told him all the news, so Sprig had nothing to say. Or when Mom let her cook dinner and didn't let Sprig help. Or when she volunteered to take care of Cora, Miss Ruthie's dog, before Sprig could say she would. 

Sprig had been so sure that this year would be special, because she was ten years old — and ten was her favorite number. She loved to make lists of ten things, and her latest was "Ten Ways to Make My Sister Disapper." But it was turning out to be an awful year. Dad had to go to Washington, D.C. for six weeks, and Mr. Julius, the substitute teacher, talked too much, had long, skinny, spidery arms, and used orange chalk to write on the board, which Sprig thought was just plain wrong.

Then suddenly, all those things didn't seem so important, after Mom told her and Dakota about Dad. He wasn't going to stay in Washington, he was going to Afghanistan to help build schools to replace the ones that had been destroyed in the war. All Sprig knew about Afghanistan was the Taliban, the war, and that it wasn't a safe place to be. She knew her father loved his job and wanted to help Afghan children, but she wanted him home, home and safe.

What else can go wrong with Sprig's special year?

This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.