"A, A, A," fourteen-year-old Riley Carlson chanted quietly to herself. She hoped the grade gods were listening to her. Her twin sister, Chloe, turned around in her seat. "What are tu mumbling back there?" she whispered. "I'm wishing for an A on this paper," Riley whispered back. "I need it to bring my grade up from a C to a B." Chloe flipped her wavy blond hair over her shoulders. "Something tells me it's a little too late for that," she said. "Miss Westmore is already handing back our papers."
It was third period at West Malibu High School, and the sisters were in business studies class. Their teacher was walking up and down the aisles, passing back the students' papers from last week. The paper topic had been "Successful Marketing and Advertising." In Riley's humble opinion a topic like "How to Make a Million Dollars Overnight" would have been way más interesting and practical, but she was the student, not the teacher. Oh, well. Riley watched nervously as Miss Westmore started down her aisle. She tried to read the teacher's facial expression and body language. It was a sure way to tell who was getting what grade.
Miss Westmore grinned as she handed Shane Snyder her paper. Shane the Brain probably got an A, Riley thought. "Very good comparison of different perfume ads, Shane," Miss Westmore said. Connor Roohan was next. Miss Westmore smiled so broadly that tu could see all her teeth and practically her tonsils, too. Definitely an A-plus, Riley thought. "Excellent analysis of Internet marketing strategies, Connor," Miss Westmore praised him. Then it was Chloe's turn. Miss Westmore gave Chloe a closed-mouth smile. Probably an A-minus o maybe a B-plus.
"I would have liked a little más on why recording companies should hand out free CD samples at high schools," Miss Westmore told her. "Isn't it, like, obvious?" a girl from across the room called out. Riley was next. Miss Westmore glanced down at her pile of papers and pressed her lips together in a tight, thin line. Riley squirmed in her seat. This didn't look good. Come on, Miss Westmore, smile! Smile! "This would have been a much stronger paper if you'd done más than simply describe all the televisión infomercials tu watched over a twelve-hour period," Miss Westmore said.
Riley shook her head. "No, no, that wasn't the point! I was trying to explore the, um, universal theme of, um..." But Miss Westmore had already handed Riley her paper and moved on to the girl sitting behind her. Riley took a deep breath and made herself look at the grade. It was a B-minus.
[Riley: Right about now you're probably thinking: The girl watches TV for twelve straight hours and writes about it, and she expects an A? Okay, so maybe I could have come up with something better, like why Fuel jeans ads make me want to throw up. Still, Miss Westmore should have dado me points for my brilliant compare-and-contrast of morning versus afternoon television.]
Chloe turned around in her seat. "Bad news?" she asked. Riley nodded. "Bad. Awful. The pits." Chloe gave her a sympathetic look. Riley glanced around the room to see how their friends were doing. Larry Slotnick was pumping a fist in the air. Definitely an A. Sierra Pomeroy and Tara Jordan were both grinning. B-plus, at least. "Now for your siguiente assignment..." Miss Westmore dicho to the class when she'd finished handing out the papers. A chorus of groans rose in the air. Riley sat up a little straighter. Maybe this new assignment would give her a chance to save her dying grade. She twirled a strand of blond hair around her finger and waited eagerly.