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Party Time!

Party time!

Chapter One

“More bagel, Nat, fewer lists, please,” Natalie Goode’s mother said. They had stopped at Mavin Deli on the way to Natalie’s school for tasty cranberry-walnut bagels slathered with cream cheese.

“Okay, Mom,” Natalie said, glancing up to see that her mom was still reading the New York Times.

Shifting in her chair, Natalie got back to business – the business of organizing the best reunion party weekend in the history of Camp Lakeview.

If we go to a movie, we can buy treats there. So I won’t have to plan for too much food at our place afterwards. But which movie should we go to? Hey, where’s my movie list?

She shuffled her papers like a pack of cards as she searched for her spreadsheet of movie possibilities. A whoosh of moist, cold air buoyed the errant page as the front door opened for a large crowd of businessmen, stamping the snow and ice off their shoes and brushing the sleeves of their heavy wool coats. Natalie grabbed the black paper before it could fall to the floor, which was damp with melted snow.

“Nat,” her mother said again, looking up from the newspaper. Steam rose from the coffee cup in her right hand. “Eat. Please.”

“But I have so many things to do before Friday!” Natalie insisted. She pulled another piece of paper from her stack, titled RVSPs for FRIDAY SLEEPOVER, and read down the list of names: Alyssa, Grace, Jenna. With me, that’s four. They’ll have been travelling. They’ll probably be really hungry.

“How many pizzas should I order for Friday night?” she asked her mother. “Do you think Alyssa likes anchovies? I’ll bet she does. It’s so weird that I spent eight weeks in the same bunk with her and I have no idea if she likes anchovies.”

“That’s a stumper,” her mother teased her. “Since I’ve never met Alyssa.”

“She’s artsy,” Natalie told her. Her face lit up. “And you’re artsy. And you like anchovies.”

“Yes, but I’m an art buyer,” her mother replied, tipping her coffee cup towards her mouth. “Not an artist per se.” She cocked her head as she considered the possibilities. “Is Alyssa an artist, an art patron, or—”

Natalie chuckled as the answer popped into her head. “She’s a vegetarian. And anchovies are fish.”

“Only technically,” her mother said drily.

Natalie’s mother went back to sipping her coffee and glancing down at the Times. She wore a very cool bracelet of seven hand-carved cameos – profiles in white of ladies with their hair swept up in ringlets – set in lovely, apricot-coloured stone. She had bought the bracelet during her summer art-buying trip to Europe.

“I’ll order three extra-large pizzas,” Natalie said finally. “We can always have the cold leftovers for breakfast.”

“True,” her mom said, amused. Cold pizza had been one of Natalie’s favourite breakfasts ever since she was seven, when she had spent a summer with her father in Rome during one of his movie shoots.

Natalie’s dad was the international movie superstar Tad Maxwell, a fact she had tried hard to hide from her bunkmates at Camp Lakeview. He and Natalie’s mom had split up when Natalie was four, and he wasn’t around much because of his busy career.

But the girls of Bunk 3C had discovered her secret soon enough, when he had showed up in a limo with his personal assistant, his bodyguard, and his gorgeous girlfriend, Josie McLaughlan. That was the reason her new animated movie was going to be shown at the reunion. Some of the campers had never gotten over their shock and awe, but Natalie’s best buds liked Natalie just for Natalie.

So I really need to make sure they have a great time. They’re such great friends.

“Okay, on to soda,” Natalie announced. “We have to be sure to get some diet, because Alex can’t drink that much sugar. I wonder if the girls like egg creams. We could go to that new restaurant over by Lincoln Centre. Or is that just a New York thing?” She wrinkled her brow. “Maybe I should e-mail them all to find out.” She reached for her backpack to retrieve her cellphone. “What time is it? I could start calling—”

“Whoa, honey, slow down!” her mother urged. “The whole point of a reunion is to see your friends again and have fun together. Not drive yourself crazy worrying over every little detail of your preparation.”

Natalie put the backpack down. She knew she was right. Her mom gave lots of parties and she attended even more. Natalie had heard many stories of parties gone terribly wrong because the host or hostess was just too worn out to relax and mingle.

It was going to be super-fun seeing all her bunkmates again. But Natalie couldn’t control her nervousness. She knew she had to make some plans. In addition to the official campwide reunion at Village Bowl, Natalie was playing hostess at not one but two sleepovers.

The first one would be smaller, with just Alyssa, Grace and Jenna, who would stay over all day Saturday. Her mother had already made arrangements for them to have a spa day, but that wouldn’t take up all the time they had together. And there was still breakfast and lunch to work out. Then getting ready for the party.

Then after the party at Village Bowl, the whole bunk was coming over for a second sleepover. That meant that all eleven of her bunkmates would be spending the entire night in her apartment! And most of them would be hanging out until early Sunday afternoon. And that made her super-nervous.

I’ve been nervous around these girls before, though, and things have worked out.

She thought back to her first day at Camp Lakeview, a summer camp in rural Pennsylvania. She had been very sceptical that anything good would come of her mother’s decision to send her there. Natalie’s mom wanted Natalie to broaden her horizons, which apparently included the horizon of “nature” – while she travelled all over Europe, buying art for her gallery.

As far as Natalie had been concerned, nature appeared to consist of the bug-infested, poison-ivy-laden wilds of Far Meadow and the mysterious waters of the lake for which the camp was named. And nature had been heavily populated: there were more kids at Camp Lakeview than students in all the grades of Natalie’s private school back in the city.

Natalie had spent the first couple of days at camp yearning for the familiar skyscrapers of the concrete jungle she called home. She’d missed her soft bed, her immaculate bathroom, and most of all, her privacy.

Then she had grown to love Camp Lakeview, with its mosquitoes, poison ivy and especially her eleven sometimes-irritating, sometimes-quirky bunkmates. She’d even trekked her way back to the overnight camp in the wilderness when Chelsea had run after that rabbit. Simon had bragged about her to everyone, like she was some kind of fearless trail guide.

Yes, it had taken her a while to settle in, but by the time summer was over and she was due to come home, it was difficult for her to believe that she hadn’t been a Lakeview camper for years.

Six months had passed since the end of camp. She was back in the greatest city of the world, in her second semester of sixth grade, and doing lots of fun things with Hannah, her best New York friend. It seemed a lifetime ago that she had shared Jenna’s care packages of chocolate-on-chocolate cupcakes, and applauded Grace and Brynn in the campwide production of Peter Pan.

At the thought of seeing the girls of Bunk 3C again, her stomach fluttered with anxiety. Although she had many fond memories of them, she figured they had changed a lot since they’d seen one another. It would almost be like getting to know eleven new people – but with the added responsibility of making sure they had a fun weekend.

On top of that, she was going to see Simon again. Simply planning what to wear to dazzle him was almost more than she could handle from now until the party.

Her mother interrupted her thoughts. “Sweetie, it’s just pizza and a movie, and your good friends in sleeping bags. Nothing to be worried about.”

Can she read my mind? Or am I that obvious? Natalie smiled at her mother, knowing she meant well. But her stomach still fluttered. Because it was much, much more than that.

They’re coming to my city and staying in my home. What if they don’t like the food, or the movie, or any of the activities I’ve planned? What if they think I’ve ruined the reunion for them? I don’t have a whole summer for them to get used to my world the way I got used to theirs.

“Oh, look at the time!” her mother cried, glancing down at her watch. “If we don’t leave now, you’ll be late for school.” They both loved to walk to Natalie’s school whenever they had time.

She folded up the Times and took a last sip of her coffee as Natalie gathered up her lists. They both pushed back their chairs, Natalie bobbing her head at Mr. Edelman, the deli owner, as he waved goodbye.

They went to the coat rack and retrieved their coats, Natalie handing her mother her stack of papers so she could slip her arms through the sleeves of her fabulous new coat from Paris.

“Goodness, you have a lot of lists,” her mom said as she neatened up the pile. “Maybe we could put this all in a notebook tonight.”

“That’s a great idea,” Natalie said enthusiastically, taking the papers back while her mom put on her own coat.

Just as they walked onto the sidewalk, a sharp gust of wind caught Natalie by surprise. Her papers flew out of her arms. They capered and cartwheeled and flapped away like black crows against the snowy landscape.

“Oh, no!” Natalie cried, racing after the closest few. She bent down and retrieved three pages from a snowdrift piled around the base of a fire hydrant.

Natalie rose to her feet, facing the traffic as honking taxis and a heavily bundled bicycle messenger rolled over at least half a dozen more of her carefully thought-out lists.

“Oh, great,” she moaned. “I’ll have to start over!”

“No, sweetie,” her mother insisted, gesturing for her to move along. “Think back. Haven’t some of the best times with your friends been spent just hanging out? Give your weekend with your friends room for some surprises.”

“Oh, I’m sure we’ll have a few of those,” Natalie said glumly. Then she chuckled. “After all, Jenna will be there. And Grace, too.” That meant pranks for sure. She just hoped she was up for them.

“There, you see?” Her mom walked behind Natalie and retrieved another piece of Natalie’s black paper, which had flapped against a tree trunk. It was the RSVP list for Saturday’s all-bunk sleepover. Most of the names were smeared from the wet snow, but the name she could read most clearly made her lose her smile.

For while it was true that fun-loving Grace and Jenna would be there, and her best camp friend Alyssa, too, it was also true that the biggest party-pooper of Camp Lakeview had let her know just yesterday that she would be there, too.

Chelsea.

Chelsea wasn’t joining them until Saturday – her mom had to work late on Friday and her father couldn’t drive right now – but Chelsea would eventually be there. And she could be so sour and cranky...it was going to be an extra challenge to be nice to her.

I’m glad we’re making that surprise for her, Natalie thought. Maybe it will de-crankify her.

“Sweetie? Stop worrying,” her mother said, interrupting her thoughts.

“Okay, Mom,” Natalie replied.

Just show me where the worry off-switch is, and I will!

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The girls are thrilled to be invited to a Camp Lakeview reunion in New York and can't wait to have as much fun together as they did over the summer. But when they get together nothing seems to go right. Can they patch things up before they go their separate ways again? Fun, friendships, secrets, boys … Summer Camp has it all! Visit the Summer Camp Secrets website at www.summercampsecrets.co.uk for biogs of all the girls, fun quizzes, top tips, sleepover songs, delish recipes and lots more!

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Book information

Age
9+
Key Stage
KS2/3 E
Lexile Measure
670L
Accelerated Reader level
4.4 MY
Paperback
ISBN: 9780746084618
Extent: 176 pages
Dimensions: 198 x 130mm

Author information

Reader reviews

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“summer camp secrets party time”
I love the story and how the author describe characters. My fave characters are alex, brynn and alyssa.I love the story.
“I LOVE ALL OF THEM!!!!!”
I lOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVE Summer Camp Secrets! They have got to be the best books I have ever read! The author should never stop writing them so they go on for ever! I'm addicted 2 them!!!!!My fave characters are Jenna and Natalie................. and Alyssa......OH and Grace and Alex.. I LOVE ALL OF THEM!!!!! Party Time is really good. On number 9 and I'm going to carry on reading them!

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