Chapter One: The Big Idea
I love school, but long weekends are the best. Dad gets home early. Mom takes off from the library when she can. I plan family adventures, like going to the Museum of Life and Science or visiting Morehead Planetarium.
That’s why I was surprised when Mom suggested something else for the one coming up.
“Jada, you’re always planning fun for the family, why don’t you think of something just for you?”
Yes! I didn’t need to think. I looked around my room at the posters of my science heroes, like Dr. Mae Jemison and Dr. George Washington Carver, and knew just what I wanted: my first sleepover. My friends and I could make ice cream in plastic bags, create slime, and do other cool experiments. An evening all about science with my BFFs. Couldn’t get any better than that.
“Can I have a sleepover with Lena and Simone, please?”
I crossed my fingers behind my back and waited and hoped . . . and hoped and waited. Seconds felt like hours.
“That’s a great idea,” Mom said. “Let me talk to your dad.”
I crossed my fingers tighter as Mom left my room and headed downstairs. My best friend Mari and I were supposed to have a science sleepover. But then she moved away. So I wanted to have one with my besties from school, Lena and Simone.
Mom came back smiling.
“I’ll ask their parents,” she said. “If it’s okay with them, it’s fine with Daddy and me.”
“Thanks, Mom!” I gave her a hug. “I want to do kitchen chemistry and call it the Best Friends Lab.”
“Nice idea, but I didn’t know Lena and Simone were into science like you.”
I paused and thought about my friends. Sure, they liked other things more, like jumping double Dutch, writing stories, acting, making arts and crafts. But they didn’t hate
“They like it okay,” I said. “But after the sleepover, they’ll love it.”
“Hmmm,” Mom said. “They might. But you might want to have some other activities, too.”
I heard what Mom said, but I knew my friends would love my science sleepover. What was there not to like?
I ran to the playroom to get a white crayon and two pieces of white paper for my invisible message invitations. I wrote them out. Yay! You couldn’t see anything. All Simone and Lena had to do was paint on the paper with watercolors for the waxy writing to appear. Wait until they got their invites
, I thought. Bet they’d be surprised.
At school, it was hard to keep my sleepover secret. The invitations were in my backpack. Mom told me to give them out at the end of the day.
“You look happy,” Lena said when I sat at our table. “What are you smiling about?”
“You’ll see,” I answered, then started on my morning work. I tried to focus, but kept thinking about the sleepover. I pictured my friends looking amazed as we did one super science project after another.
I snapped out of my daydream. My classmates giggled.
“Sorry, Miss Taylor,” I said.
“Could you please turn in your worksheet?”
How was I going to make it through the day?
Finally, the last bell rang. As we headed to the buses and carpool lane, I handed each of my BFFs a small bag with a folded piece of white paper and a plastic palette of watercolor paint.
“What’s this?” Simone asked, peeking into the bag. She pulled out the paper and opened it.
“It’s an invisible message,” I said, beaming. “When you get home, paint the paper with the watercolors and writing will appear.”
“Cool!” Lena said.
“I guess,” Simone said, crinkling her nose. “Sounds like a lot of work. Can’t you just tell us what it says?”
I stuck out my lip and made my eyes as big as I could.
“Okay, okay,” she said, laughing. “Just stop with that face. I’ll paint it and read.”
Copyright © 2019 by Kelly Starling Lyons; Illustrated by Nneka Myers; Cover illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.