Excerpt of See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
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Sara crosses her arms. Whatever, she says.
My mom just sighs, and we continue to drive in
silence, except for Charlies quiet singing of Rudolph,
the Red- Nosed Reindeer in Dolls left ear. I lean my
head against the window and watch the neighborhood
houses swim by, wondering if all families are as frustrating
to live with as mine.
When we get to the restaurant, my dad
hurries over to us with a huge grin on his face. Finally!
What took you so long? The photographer will be here
any minute. Quick, kids, put these on.
Were still in the parking lot as he hands us each
a neon- colored T- shirt. I notice that hes careful not to
unfold them so that we cant see the drawing on the
front. I dont know why, since hes sporting his own
neon- yellow T. As soon as he hands out all the shirts,
his chest is in full view and so is the horrible design
a huge dinosaur sitting on top of a badly drawn image
of our restaurant. The dinosaur is eating an ice- cream
cone, and drips are slipping down the front window.
Little faces peek out the window around the drips. I
think they are supposed to be ours.
Youve got to be kidding me, Sara says. Seriously,
My mom gives her a warning look.
What? my dad asks as he helps Charlie pull an
electric-blue shirt over his head.
We all have dinosaurs? I ask.
Whats wrong with dinosaurs? Kids love em.
Charlie nods excitedly and roars.
What do dinosaurs have to do with Christmas? I
ask. These are for the annual card, right?
Come on, come on, come on. We dont have time
for dillydallying, my dad says, ignoring my question.
I pull my own bright orange T over my head. It
feels bulky over the T- shirt Im already wearing. Sara
puts hers on inside out. My dad is so busy fussing with
Charlie, he doesnt even notice.
I cant believe we have to do this, Holden
says, stretching his neon-green T-shirt out in front of
him. And why did I have to get green? It makes me
My mom clears her throat in this way she has that
means were supposed to look over at her without making
it obvious. We all look and watch as her right hand,
which is in a fist, slowly unclenches and she stretches
out five fingers.
Holden, Sara, and I exchange glances. We wait.
My mom sighs and slowly unclenches her other fist.
Five more fingers. Thats ten bucks each if we keep our
mouths shut and cooperate.
I dont know when my mom turned to silent bribery
to prevent family conflicts, but it seems to work. Its not
that we want to disappoint my dad. We know he means
well. But why do his ideas always have to be so lame
and humiliating? And why does the humiliating part
always have to include us?
We all follow my dad to the front of the restaurant,
where he starts to position us under the window just
as a van pulls into the parking lot blasting the Grateful
Dead. Its Uncle Johns Band, Charlies favorite, and
he immediately starts shaking his bum.
Theyre here! my dad yells.
Sara fidgets with her dreadlocks again. At least
they have good taste in music.
Everyone, this is Eric, my dad says when the
photographer walks over to us. And Sky, he says, gesturing
to a woman wearing a head scarf.
I love your hair, Sky says to Sara.
Uh, thats not a regular camera, Holden points
out when Eric lifts the camera to his shoulder.
Thats the surprise! my dad yells. Surprise! Were
making a commercial! Isnt that great?
Excerpted from See You at Harry's
by Jo Knowles. Copyright © 2012 by Jo Knowles.
Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.