A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius

Copyright © 2015 by Stacey Matson

Cover and internal design © 2015 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

Cover design by Will Riley/Sourcebooks Inc.

Cover image © Getty Images

Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems.—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

Originally published as A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius, © Stacey Matson, 2014.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious and are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.

P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567–4410

(630) 961–3900

Fax: (630) 961–2168

www.sourcebooks.com

Originally published as A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius in 2014 in Canada by Scholastic Canada Ltd., an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data is on file with the publisher.

Source of Production: Worzolla, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA

Date of Production: September 2015

Run Number: 5004758

For Mom and Dad

OCTOBER

The Next Great Canadian Novel
(title to be announced)

By Arthur Bean

Once upon a time there was

There was once a

A long time ago

Yesterday

Today

America is awesome! This is because

The USA is nothing like Canada

A boy and his unicorn sat on the grass and the unicorn could talk and said

Murder! There's been a very violent murder!

• • •

Dear Ms. Whitehead,

As you know, I haven't been in class yet, but my next-door neighbor Nicole suggested that I write you a letter since I will be starting soon. I don't really know what to write to you. Maybe I will tell you a little about myself so that you feel like I started school at the same time as everyone else.

My name is Arthur Aaron Bean, but I normally just go by Arthur. I spent the summer at my grandparents' house in Balzac. It was a long summer. I actually live in one of the apartment buildings pretty close to the school. I like to knit and watch movies, sometimes at the same time. I'm a very good multitasker. I like creative writing, so I hope that we will do that and that I didn't miss it. I was probably the best writer in my elementary school, and I plan on getting rich as a novelist when I'm a grown-up. I don't have any siblings, but my cousin Luke is kind of like my twin brother.

My most profound work so far is the heartwarming story called “Sockland.” In this short story, a little boy climbs into the dryer during a game of hide-and-seek with his older brothers. He is accidentally shrunk and crawls through the dryer vent into Sockland. Sockland is a land where missing socks go to live. He enjoys it for a while, but then finds that single socks are very boring, and needs to find a way to get home. He then gets the socks to help him by promising to send their partners through the tunnel, and he crawls back up into the dryer to rejoin humanland. Mrs. Lewis said it was highly original and that I showed real promise of becoming the next J. K. Rowling.

The secretary told me that I'm in a class with some of the people from my elementary school so that I would feel more comfortable. Actually, she didn't say people, she said some of my friends. This seems weird, because I wasn't really friends with a lot of the people in my elementary school. Actually, most of my friends went to the Catholic school next door to our school, and so I saw them all the time. I did have a couple of friends like Oliver, but mostly I wasn't friends with people in my elementary school class. Besides, who would want to be friends with guys like Robbie Zack? I'm not friends with people who spell thoughts as thots. Good luck with that one. He's what my mother called “a handful of trouble with a capital T.”

Yours truly,

Arthur Bean

Dear Arthur,

Thank you for your letter, and welcome to Terry Fox Junior High! I'm so pleased to welcome you to both my homeroom and my English class! I was also sorry to hear about the sad circumstances that delayed your start of seventh grade. Please know that I am available to discuss anything with you anytime you may need.

I'm so pleased that you will be in my class. I hope we can explore and create some wonderful and imaginative spaces together this year. Since you've painted such a good picture of yourself, here are a few things I'll share with you so that we can get to know each other!

In my spare time (when I'm not grading homework) I like to canoe, cross-country ski, and take my dog Bruno for walks. My favorite book is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and my favorite play is A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare. I hope that it will soon be your favorite play as well, since we'll be studying it this winter!

I'm glad that creative writing excites you, and it sounds like you are ready to challenge yourself in my class. I look forward to reading some of your work and I hope to learn more about your hobbies as the year progresses.

One more note: Please be respectful of your classmates. Everyone has different strengths, and bad spelling doesn't mean that someone is not creative. Agatha Christie was a terrible speller and look how famous her books are!

Ms. Whitehead

Dear Ms. Whitehead,

Who is Agatha Christie?

Yours truly,

Arthur Bean

• • •

ATTENTION: ALL FUTURE AUTHORS!

Terry Fox Junior High is pleased to be participating in a city-wide Junior Authors Short Story Contest. Winners of the contest will be published in a national Junior Authors issue of
Writers Write Now
(
W
W
N
) magazine. You can also win $200!

Deadline for Stories: April 1st

Watch this board for more details!

• • •

Assignment: Personal Letters

Write a letter to your future self. The time is up to you: you can write to yourself at the end of this school year, when you are graduating high school, when you get married, or maybe when you are retiring! Imagine what your life will be like and ask yourself some questions. Be sure to tell yourself about your life now too! Please ensure that you use the proper letter structure we covered in class.

Due: October 8

• • •

October 8

Arthur Bean

Apt. 16, 155 Tormy Street

Calgary, AB

A.A. Bean

1 Park Avenue

Penthouse

New York, NY

Dear Future Arthur,

Hello. How are you? I am fine, thank you for asking. I was surprised to find out that you live in New York, although a penthouse on Park Avenue sounds nice. It's one of the most expensive places in Monopoly, so you must be very famous and very rich. Does your cousin Luke still live next door? It's so nice that you guys get to share a pool and see each other every day. How is your wife, Kennedy? It seems so funny to me to think that it was only this year that you met this blond goddess. Remember how you saw her every day in class and never said anything to her, but then you asked her to dance at the Halloween Dance? It was so nice the way she fainted in your arms, and you were so manly, picking her up and carrying her out of the dance. From then on, she called you her prince. Does she still call you Prince Arthur? I can't wait until this actually happens, since it's only October here. I bet the Halloween Dance was the same night Robbie Zack got rabies and died. May he rest in peace. How is your most recent famous novel coming along? I only just started part one of our autobiography, and I am still working on the greatest novel ever. Plus, now I'm starting a story to win the story competition, but of course you know that because you won it! I'm so glad you were able to finish it and your novel in one year, and then write forty-five more books. Which book did you sell to become a movie first? I hope it was a good one. In case you were wondering about me, I guess things are okay. Pickles has run away again. She was a terrible cat anyway, and her hair was falling out. I think she is sad. Or maybe she ran off with the tabby two doors down to start a new cat family. Whatever. I have almost finished knitting my first sweater. Nicole from next door says that my stitches are very even. I hope it's finished by the time it's cold outside, which might be tomorrow. HA-HA-HA. My next project will be a sweater for Pickles if she ever comes back. Please tell Kennedy that I love her and write back soon. HA-HA-HA.

Sincerely,

Arthur Bean

Arthur,

Your letter flows well from one topic to another, and you've done a nice job of creating a new world for your famous self! Remember to use different paragraphs for different ideas; this will help to separate and organize your letter. Your use of humor is great; however, please (again) refrain from killing off your classmates. Respect goes a long way.

Ms. Whitehead

• • •

Ongoing Reading Journal

As we move through the year, we will be reading and discussing books in class and in small groups. I would like you to keep track of your thoughts about these books and other books you read this year in an ongoing reading journal. You may want to write about how the book made you feel, what you like or do not like about the book, or what the book means to you. Feel free to write about any books you read in your journal; this is your space! I will be marking these with a participation mark, meaning that you will not be judged on your writing style or your feelings about the books, but on how you respond to the work overall. Hopefully writing down your thoughts about what you read will elevate the in-class conversations.

• • •

October 12th

Dear Reading Journal,

Do you mind if I call you RJ? I've always wanted to have a friend who only goes by his initials. There was a kid named PJ in my elementary school, but he wasn't very nice to me. He used to hang out with Robbie Zack, and together they would pick on kids who were smaller than them. It's not my fault that I'm short. PJ used to laugh when Robbie Zack would put moldy sandwiches in my gym bag every morning after the bell rang. Robbie would tell people that I smelled like farts because my last name was Bean. But I smelled like farts because he put moldy food in my backpack. Like I try to tell my dad, it ain't easy being Bean.

So I think maybe Robbie is like the jerk kids in
Word Nerd
. Or maybe like the whole school in
The Chocolate War
. Although Robbie never beat me up, so I guess it's not as bad as in those books.

Speaking of books, I thought
Word Nerd
was good, but
The Chocolate War
was boring, and I didn't get the ending. Did the guy die? I can't tell. Anyway, RJ, I've been reading a lot of books because I am a writer too. In fact, there's a writing competition at school and I'm going to win it. Good night, RJ.

Yours truly,

Arthur Bean

• • •

Assignment: Elegies and Odes

Write an elegy or an ode like the ones we studied in class. Your poem must be at least three stanzas long. Perhaps you would like to write a funny elegy (maybe about the death of your favorite pair of shoes) or an inspirational ode. Have fun with it!

A quick review:

An ode is a poem that compliments someone or something that inspires the poet.

An elegy is a mournful or sad poem, usually written as a funeral song or a lament for the dead.

Due: October 14

• • •

Elegy for Bobby Mack, a totally made-up bully who is not based on any person in my real life

By Arthur Bean

Your father's football jacket

That never fit you anyway

Lies empty on your floor

Since I doubt you put your clothes in the closet

What an embarrassing thing

To die like Elvis did

But not to be famous

So it's not even cool

Your dreams of working

The night shift at McDonald's

Were flushed down the toilet

That night

I'm sure Tyler and Richie

Will miss you on the bus

But I will not, since I could smell you

And I sat three seats ahead of you

Never again will I be forced to listen

To your dumb, stupid insults

About my knitting and my looks

Both of which are cool, by the way

Your voice, once louder and

More obnoxious than 1,000 screaming chimps

Will yell stupidities no more

The world breathes a sigh of relief.

Arthur,

Please see me after class.

Ms. Whitehead

• • •

An Ode to Knitting

By Arthur Bean

Oh the sound of the needles

Clicking and clacking away

They sound like a pair of beetles

Mating on a pile of hay

My sweater is practically finished

There's only one arm left to do

But I've run out of wool that will match

Don't think that I feel diminished

I'll just knit in a few rows of blue

And hope that my new fad will catch

Most people say that it's geeky

That a boy who makes sweaters should quit

But that's when I say something cheeky:

I tell them, “It takes balls to knit!”

Arthur,

This is much better use of your talents! A good use of humor and rhyming; a proper ode to your unique hobby!

Ms. Whitehead

• • •

October 15th

Dear RJ,

Today I was reading a book in class, but I don't really remember anything I read. This is for two reasons. One reason is because the book was dumb and seemed to involve cowboys and horses, which seems very outdated since no one is really a cowboy anymore. The second reason has to do with class. Ms. Whitehead decided to pair us up for the creative writing contest. She said that it would be good to have a “second set of eyes” for our work. I pointed out that the people who wear glasses already have a second set of eyes, but apparently that's “impertinent.” Anyway, you'll never guess who my partner is, RJ…it's Kennedy! Kennedy Laurel is going to be my partner for creative writing. This will be difficult, I think, since I want to be supportive of her work, but I also want to win the competition. I'm so glad that we're paired with kids from other classes. It makes it more professional. I mean, I would hate to have her see my work in class and be intimidated by how good it is. I bet her story is a love story. I heard from Oliver yesterday that Kennedy has a boyfriend, AND he's in eighth grade. So her story will be all kisses and true love, which is total crap. My story will be way better. I still think she's awesome, so I hope she's not too sad when she comes in second.

I think that I'm supposed to say something here about the book I'm reading too—I'm not really sure. It's a book for class. It's okay, because the author is pretty good about explaining how it feels when your mom is gone. It's like my life is the same as the dumb cowboy in the book who is not crying. Except I'm not a cowboy, and I'm definitely not going to be crying after I win $200. So now all I need is the greatest idea ever for the greatest story ever. Not like it will take me long to do that.

Other books
High Stakes Gamble by Mimi Barbour
Slaughter on North Lasalle by Robert L. Snow
The Last President by John Barnes
How We Do Harm by Otis Webb Brawley
Buchanan's Revenge by Jonas Ward
Hustle Me by Jennifer Foor
Gathering Deep by Lisa Maxwell
Down to the Dirt by Joel Thomas Hynes