"Someone puked in the heater vent, so we're changing classrooms?" Walk whispers to Matteo. "How many classrooms they have here, anyway? Couldn't they just clean the vent?"
"Yeah, Burrito Boy . . . ," a hot blond girl tells Matteo, but Walk doesn't catch the rest of what she says. Whatever it was must have been bad, because Matteo's eyes go dead like he's climbed right out of his face.
"What?" Walk asks, but Matteo doesn't answer. His nostrils flare. He keeps his mouth closed.
After class Walk tries again. "What did that girl say to you?"
"The blond sitting across from you."
"Nothing." Matteo zips up his organizer, with all the pencils pointing the same way.
"What's her name?"
"Brianna Hanna-Hines. Her dad made a billion bucks writing a book, Women Are Toads. Men Are Toadstools."
"Women Are Toads. Men Are Toadstools?" Walk whispers.
"Uh-huh. And the auditorium is called the Hanna-Hines Performing Arts Building. Brianna Hanna-Hines. Starting to make sense to you?"
"Her parents are loaded. But what she say to you make you look so . . ."
"Make me look so what?" Matteo glares at Walk.
"Like . . ." Walk sucks in his breath. "Never mind, man. Never mind."
Excerpted from If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko. Copyright © 2007 by Gennifer Choldenko. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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