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I need you to do me a favor. Yes, you. You'd better do it, too, because I'm not going to let you read any further until you do. Okay, are you ready? Stretch your right arm high up to the sky. Now reach across the top of your head and touch your left ear. Did you do it? Good. Go find a mirror and look at yourself.
Do you see how your arm forms a kind of arch over your head like that? Did you ever realize that your arm was so flexible or that it could reach so far? Did you know you could do that?
Well, Georgie can't.
I thought you should know that before you started reading about him. It's not that Georgie's problems all started because he couldn't touch his left ear with his right hand, but the fact is that he can't. Even if he wanted to.
You can let go of your ear now.
Georgie sat at his desk in Mr. Myers's fourth-grade class, his chin in his hands, and tried to ignore the tapping on his shoulder.
The thing about Jeanette Wallace, Georgie thought, was that she was mean. That's why everyone called her Jeanie the Meanie. Georgie had known her since he was five years old, in kindergarten, and she'd been mean even then. She was always staring at him or following him around at recess and asking him mean questions like "How come your head's so fat?" And when he tried to ignore her, like all the adults in the world told him to, she got mad and bugged him more. Once she'd even made up a song about him.
Georgie Porgie puddin' and pie
Too bad you're only two feet high
True, she'd gotten in trouble for singing it and had to scrape gum off the bottoms of the desks for an entire lunch period, but that still didn't make Georgie feel a whole lot better.
The worst part, though, was that Georgie had been sitting directly in front of her since the first day of fourth grade.
Georgie stared straight ahead and tried to think good thoughts, like the fact that this was the last day before Christmas break, which meant no more Jeanie the Meanie for two whole weeks.
Suddenly something caught Georgie's eye. Three rows up and two seats over, Andy Moretti dropped his pencil on the floor. Georgie held his breath. If Andy picked the pencil up in one swift movement, it meant the drop had been an accident. But if Andy struck the pencil twice on the floor before returning it to his desk, it was a signal.
The thing about Andy Moretti, Georgie figured, was that he was Italian. Not just a little Italian like Georgie was a little bit Irish (and a little bit German and Scottish and Native American and who knew what else); Andy was all Italian. He was also the best soccer player out of all the kids in fourth-grade lunch and Georgie's best friend since forever.
Andy struck the pencil twice.
Georgie smiled and raised his hand. He tried to raise it as high as he could, so Mr. Myers would be sure to call on him.
"Yes, Georgie?" Mr. Myers said. "Did you want to work out this problem for us?"
Georgie nodded and slipped out of his seat to walk to the chalkboard. He hopped up onto the step stool that was always at the front of the room, just for him, and then he finished the problem that Mr. Myers had written on the board: 3 10 = 7.
On the way back to his seat, Georgie made a detour so he could pass Andy's desk, and Andy slipped a note into his hand. Georgie waited until he was safely back in his seat and then unfolded the paper quickly under his desk. "My mom will pick us up. Don't take the bus!"
Georgie felt another tap on his shoulder. "What's the note say?" Jeanie the Meanie hissed in his ear. Georgie didn't answer. He shoved the paper into his pocket and ignored the tapping until the bell finally rang three minutes later. Then, like everyone else, he leaped out of his chair, snagged his backpack from his cubby, and raced over to the wall by the door to grab his coat.
Everyone in Mr. Myers's class had their own hook for their coats with their name written above it, but Georgie's was different. Georgie's hook was a foot lower than all the others. The janitor had put it in especially for him on the first day of fourth grade. Georgie usually didn't think much about it. He didn't usually think about the step stool under the chalkboard either. Or the fact that his feet didn't reach the floor when he sat at the lunch table, or that Jeanie the Meanie picked on him more than anyone else in the school. That was just the way things were, and Georgie knew there wasn't anything he could do to change it.
Because the thing was, Georgie Bishop was a dwarf.The Thing About Georgie. Copyright © by Lisa Graff. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from The Thing about Georgie by Lisa Graff
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