When Isabella Antonelli becomes an overnight YouTube sensation in a documentary detailing her REAL, non-royal, Italian-American family, she needs to figure out a way to tell everyone at her new school the truth—or come up with some better lies. Brimming with offbeat humor, ISABELLA FOR REAL sets the scene for an eccentric, multi-generational family drama that will have readers laughing out loud and giving Isabella’s performance a standing ovation.
When Isabella Antonelli becomes an overnight YouTube sensation in a documentary detailing her REAL, non-royal Italian American family, she needs to figure out a way to tell everyone at her fancy new school the truth about her family—or come up with some better lies.
Brimming with offbeat humor, Isabella for Real sets the scene for an eccentric, multi-generational family drama that will have readers laughing out loud and giving Isabella’s performance a standing ovation.
Saturday, 10:21 a.m.
Scene 1/TAKE 1
Attic Bedroom Closet
Can an eleven-year-old go to jail for fibbing, faking, and personality perjury?
Scene 1/TAKE 2
How about eleven and seven months?
Scene 1/TAKE 3
Eleven years, seven months, two weeks, four days, seven hours—
I don’t know how many min—
Yes, she is me. Guilty. All four syllables.
Person shouting: him. Who’s him? I mean, he?. . . He?
Sorry. I’m mostly C minus when it comes to pronouns. Spelling. I’m way better in spelling. I was solid B at Merciful Sisters on the Mount of Small Blessings.
That’s where I used to go to school until the place ran out of grades. I have a drawer full of forest green knee socks from kindergarten through fifth. Not as many plaid jumpers. I didn’t grow much between grades three and four. Except for my nose. If I lived in Muppetland, I’d be in the same gene pool as Grover or Banana Nose Maldonado. My mother says that’s an exaggeration, but catch me next to Grandpop, and it’s a no-brainer I inherited schnozzola DNA from his side of the family.
Inherited: I-N-H-A-I-R . . . E? . . . I-N-H-A-R-I . . . E? . . . I-N-H-double R . . . I . . . E?
Okay, so maybe that B was a little squishy.
He him/him/he: Vincent. My cousin. More like my big brother—who, by the way, from now on should stay on his own side of the driveway and never ask me to help him with anything again.
Lots of moving parts—as in BOOM.
“Isabella? Are you going to answer to me?”
That would be no. As in N-O.
But if I were ever speaking to that big brother traitor, I’d be using words that would guarantee my great-grandmother making sure my mouth was on the end of a bar of green Palmolive.
(Nonni doesn’t allow bad language in this house. Except, of course, if it’s coming from her. Our neighbors say her vocabulary—in English and Italian—is more colorful that the biggest box of Crayola crayons. I don’t know much Italian, but can say for sure, Nonni is a box of 120 when it comes to English.)
“ISABELLA! Are you coming down or not?”
Me. Closet. Not going anywhere.
. . . Unless we’re talking jail.
Scene 1/TAKE 4
I wonder if I could escape out my bedroom window? It worked for Mom’s oldest sister. When Aunt KiKi was fifteen, she ran away from home to become an actress. She climbed down the trellis, hopped on a bus, and made it all the way into Manhattan with nobody being the wiser.
A trellis is what I need, all right . . .
Too bad Nonni took a hatchet to it after hauling Aunt Kiki back home from the corner of Broadway and Forty-Second.
Maybe I could tie sheets together? Knots have been my specialty since Uncle Babe taught me how to double-tie when I was four. I have sneakers under my bed with laces Mom’s tweezers can’t get loose.?Thing is, even if I drop three floors without breaking a leg or squashing what’s left on the tomato plants (which would be a whole other kind of mess), where would I hide out? Everybody here on Broadhead Place would turn me over to Nonni.
Even without a reward. (They remember what happened to the trellis.)
What I really need is a getaway car . . . but I don’t think I can back the old Buick out of the driveway.
Aunt Rosalie never lets me practice going in reverse.
Scene 1/TAKE 5
“IS-A-BELL-AH! Come on . . . talk to me.”
Talking is how he got me into this mess. I might not talk to that big-shot college person for the rest of my whole entire life.
Cut. Edit. Delete.
What life? That’s been flushed and is heading for the sewer, and I already know what an ugly stinking place that is. Trust me, I’ve heard stories. Poppi Flavio, my great-grandmother’s third husband, who she called Number Three, had a cousin who worked in the Department of Water and Sewer Utilities for thirty-seven years. Yes, wastewater means exactly what it sounds like it means, and probably the reason cousin Sal used so much Old Spice, we could smell him coming up the sidewalk.
“ISABELLA! People are waiting.”
Translated: Sewer. Me. Eeeuuw.
“Come on, Isabella! Where are you?”
Like I’m going to tell him that after he blows me out of the water on YouTube: eleven million hits in three days. I beat the piano-playing cat, which is scary. The cat has more talent. (Smaller nose, too.) It’s because of Vincent and his dopey videos that all those reporters, photographers, bloggers, tweeters, nosy neighbors, five TV trucks, two police cruisers, and some guy making balloon animals are camped out across the street. I think it was the balloon guy who started chanting, “Iz-zeee! Iz-zeee!” when the Eyewitness News reporter went to live remote at seven thirty.
There’s a circus going on downstairs too. Almost everybody I’m related to is in the basement celebrating “stardom,” including Aunt KiKi, who limo’d in from Greenwich Village in a white stretch Hummer. She swooped past the reporters (and then our furnace) making her grand entrance decked out in a purple turban and false lashes that looked like black fuzzy caterpillars glued to her eyelids.
“Isabella, dahling! Kiss kiss for Auntie! What have I been saying for eons and eons? I always knew my talent was lurking around somewhere inside you, just waiting for a glorious breakout momento! And, there he is—Vincenzo, mio caro! My amahhzzingly gifted—not to mention handso...
"...the funny and engaging story is an overall charmer ."
"This is a timely story in an age where kids are being constantly reminded of the perils of revealing too much on social media. A funny, cautionary tale for the age of social media."
"Palatini has created a vibrant look at life in an eccentric family with a colorful cast of unique characters whose quirkiness never fails to delight."
–School Library Journal
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