Abby opened her eyes to walls of calendars. There were big ones and small ones, glossy photographs and black-and-white drawings, calendars from many of the states and quite a few countries as well as calendars for every holiday, hobby or interest.

Calendars greeted her every morning when she woke up and were the last thing she saw at night. The best thing about Abby's room was that she never got bored, because the calendars changed about every thirty days. Her room was like an animal that shed its skin each month to become another creature.

I have to find a World Cup Soccer calendar, Abby thought sleepily. She rolled over, turned on the light, and grabbed her notebook from the table next to her bed.

Plan for today: Do twelve sit-ups before breakfast. Run around block twenty times. (Don't stop to talk with friendly neighbors.) Eat healthy food. No donuts! No Chocolate bars! Smile sweetly when Supersib Eva tells how she scored for her team. Nod wisely when Supersib Isabel lectures about War of Roses (Question: Why not War of Dandelions? Or Geraniums?) Ignore twins' fighting. Be kind to younger brother, Alex. Play chess with him when he asks. It's not his fault that he wins every game. (Be a good loser.)

Abby threw back the covers and stretched. She climbed out of bed and opened her bureau drawer. Today she was going to wear one of her favorite outfits: cargo pants and a striped tank top. She laid the clothes on the bed, then picked up a small white box that she had hidden under some T-shirts. Inside was a pair of gold hoop earrings.

Wish for today: pierced ears. How can I convince Mom to let me get them?

It was the first day of fifth grade - or as her best friend, Jessica, put it, "the first day of the last year of elementary school." Their teacher was Ms. Kantor. She had transferred from another school in the district.

Abby picked up her journal.

Bad: I don't know who Ms. Kantor is.
Good: She doesn't know who I am. Or who my family is
.

She put her journal down and walked over to the bureau. Her hairbrush lay on top of it, along with piles of seashells, rocks and miniature plush animals. Abby pulled the brush through her tangly hair, then gazed into the mirror and sighed.

She had curly red hair that a thousand hair clips would never tame. Her eyes were gray-blue and small. Her nose - well, there was nothing to say about her nose except that it was in the middle of her face.

I have an ordinary face and extraordinary hair, Abby told herself. She would rather have had it the other way around.

She held the gold hoops to her ears and wished, for the thousandth time, that she could wear them to school. Especially today. Not only was it the beginning of the school year, but it was also the year that Abby had decided she would turn herself into a soccer star!