Meet Phillip. His mom relocates him to a new school in the middle of the school year.
Things do not go well. Phillip lands himself a trip to the dean of student’s office when he tries to forge his mother’s signature. Maybe if he spelled her name correctly it would have gone better.
Phillip also finds himself having more and more anxiety. And the song some bullies are singing is certainly not helping:
Phillip Willip, Puddin and Pie.
Got a bad grade and made him cry.
There is one class Phillip has that is going well. It is with Mr. Filter, who starts each day with a writing prompt. These “jam sessions” allow students to be creative and enjoy writing. Phillip writes about being a basketball on a soccer field. Another day he writes about receiving two dragon eggs in the mail, one for himself and one for a particularly cute girl.
But will Phillip ever be able to make his real life go as well as his Jam Sessions?
“Wow! You really SHOWED her! That’s awesome, Phillip. We hate Tina. She is such a prude.”
Robert added from the bus seat behind them, “Remember when we tied her gym shoes together and threw them up onto the basketball goal? She got us a detention for that. She deserved it, Phillip!”
Phillip didn’t feel like he “showed” anyone anything. And he certainly didn’t feel like Tina deserved to have her earring ripped out, even if she was reading his journal. But Chuck seemed to think it was the best thing that had ever happened at Cloverfield Middle School.
“Yeah,” Phillip added, “but I have ISS tomorrow. And it is in the afternoon, so I still have to get that math test signed. My mom is going to be so mad after this.”
“Let me see that test,” Chuck interjected.
Phillip hesitantly pulled it out of the front pocket of his trapper keeper. There again was the massive red “35%” on top of the page.
“What is your mom’s name?” Chuck asked.
It was a weird question. “Rhodman, just like mine.”
“No dude, like her FIRST name.”
Chuck suddenly produced a pen from seemingly nowhere. Before Phillip could protest, Chuck wrote in big letters:
“There you go, Phillip. Problem solved!” Chuck handed the paper back with the name written boldly right below the “35%.”
“What did you do?” Phillip said louder than he meant to. “That isn’t even how you spell it!”
“Mrs. Murray will never know. You are good. Now you don’t have to tell your mom. Seriously, I did you a favor. Be grateful.”
Jerry Harwood was born in Ooltewah, TN. His mother was an elementary school teacher and he spent his afternoons reading books in her classroom or the nearby library. He has experimented with other occupations: camp director, program director at a counseling center, college professor and middle school teacher. Jerry has backpacked Europe, taught in a Ukrainian University, worked in Rwanda after the genocide, is a first responder, sort-of remodeled a VW Thing, and has a love for Cherry Coke Zero that is only surpassed by his love for his wife, six children, and grandson.
Jerry attended college at UT Chattanooga where he was in university honors and majored in Latin and classical literature. He has two master’s degrees, nearing completion on a third. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he is an active member of the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild, the Atlanta Writer’s Club, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
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