Excerpt from Chicken Soup For The Preteen Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Chicken Soup For The Preteen Soul

101 Stories of Changes, Choices and Growing up for Kids Ages 10-13

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen

Chicken Soup For The Preteen Soul
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2000,
    350 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2000,
    380 pages.

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My Best Enemy

Examine the contents, not the bottle.
The Talmud

Once again, I was in a new school. So was a girl in my class named Paris. That's where the similarities ended.

I was tall, with a big, moony face. She was petite and skinny with a model's delicate features.

My thick, black hair had been recently cut short into a shag style. Her natural caramel blonde hair flowed to her waist and looked great when she flipped it around.

I was twelve and one of the oldest in the class. She was eleven and the youngest in the class.

I was awkward and shy. She wasn't.

I wore baggy overalls, sweatshirts and lime-green hiking boots. Paris wore rhinestone platform shoes, little twirly skirts and expensive, size-one designer jeans.

I couldn't stand her. I considered her my enemy. She liked me. She wanted to be friends.

One day, she invited me over and I said yes. I was too shocked to answer any other way. My family had moved six times in six years, and I had never managed to develop many friendships. No one had invited me over to play since I was young enough to actually play. But this girl who wore tinted lip-gloss and the latest fashions wanted me to go home with her after school.

She lived in a fun part of town that had two pizza places, an all-night bookstore, a movie theater and a park. As we walked from the school bus stop through her neighborhood, I tried to guess which house might be hers. Was it the white one with the perfect lawn or the brown-shingled three-story house with a silky golden retriever on the front porch?

Was I surprised when she led me into an apartment building, which smelled like frying food, chemical cleaning sprays and incense! She lived on the fourth floor in a two-room place with her mother, her stepfather, her two brothers and her sister.

When we got to the room she shared with her sister, she took out a big case of Barbies—which was my next surprise. I would have thought she'd outgrown them. I had never played with them. But we sat on the floor of a walk-in closet, laughing as we made up crazy stories about the Barbies. That's when we found out that we both wanted to be writers when we were older and we both had wild imaginations.

When we got bored making up stories, she took out a small case of make-up and taught me how to put on lipstick and blush. I still thought that I looked like a clown; my face just wasn't made for make-up. Unlike me, Paris looked about eighteen years old in make-up.

We spent that afternoon screaming with laughter. Our jaws ached from smiling so much. She showed me her wardrobe, which had mostly come from a designer clothing store down the block. The woman who owned it used her as a model sometimes for her newspaper ads and gave her clothes in exchange.

Paris had the whole neighborhood charmed. The bookstore owners lent her fashion magazines, the movie theater gave her free passes and the pizza place let her have free slices. Soon I was included in her magic world. We slept over at each other's houses, spent every free moment together. Sometimes Paris and I stayed up the entire night talking. We never ran out of things to discuss, whether we were making detailed lists of boys we liked or talking about the meaning of life.

She was too poor to have a telephone, so when I was forced to be apart from her, I would dial the number of the pay phone in the pizza place. If I was lucky, Paris would be nearby and answer it.

She was my first real friend since childhood, and she helped me get through the rough years of early adolescence. My dark hair grew out and I learned to love being tall. Eventually, I found a shade of lipstick that didn't make me look like something from Scream II.

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(c) 2000. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen, Irene Dunlap. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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