Barbie Fall 2014, страница 1
Special thanks to Diane Reichenberger, Cindy Ledermann, Sarah Lazar, Charnita Belcher, Tanya Mann, Julia Phelps, Nicole Corse, Sharon Woloszyk, Rita Lichtwardt, Carla Alford, Renee Reeser Zelnick, Rob Hudnut, David Wiebe, Shelley Dvi-Vardhana, Gabrielle Miles, Rainmaker Entertainment, and Walter P. Martishius
BARBIE and associated trademarks and trade dress are owned by, and used under license from, Mattel.
Copyright © 2014 Mattel. All Rights Reserved.
Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto, Penguin Random House Companies. Random House and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.
ISBN 978-0-385-38627-2 (pbk) — ISBN 978-0-385-38628-9 (eBook)
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
Who’s Who and What’s What
Princess Alexa moved a stack of books and plopped into the armchair in her room. She swung her legs over the side and twisted her blond hair back with a long hair stick. Then she opened her newest book and sighed happily.
There was nothing she loved more than escaping from her royal duties with a good story. Being a princess was hard work—there were so many expectations. In a book, you could be anything you wanted to be. Some days, Alexa wished she were anything but a princess.
Just as she began to read, there was a knock on her bedroom door.
“Princess Alexa? Are you in there?” a man asked from the other side.
Alexa recognized her butler’s voice. “In here, Brookhurst!” she called. She made her way to the door.
“Sorry to interrupt, Your Highness,” said Brookhurst.
“No problem,” Alexa replied, closing her book. “How can I help you?”
“The Equestrian Club has asked if you might say a few words before their exhibition this afternoon,” he said.
Alexa bit her lip. “You mean . . . a speech?” Speaking in front of people made her nervous. As a princess, she was asked to make a lot of speeches. That was part of the reason she sometimes wished she weren’t a princess. “Not just for the horses, I’m guessing?” she joked.
Brookhurst gave her a kind smile. “I believe the two-legged members of the club will be there as well, Your Highness.”
“Of course,” Alexa said, wringing her hands. “Please thank them for the invitation, but . . . ”
“But you send your regrets,” the butler said, finishing her sentence. It wasn’t the first time Alexa had declined an invitation to make a public appearance. It just made her so anxious to think of all those people staring at her.
What if she didn’t say the right thing or act the right way? A princess was supposed to be perfect—and Alexa felt anything but.
Brookhurst bowed as he exited, leaving Alexa alone with her thoughts.
“A speech?” she muttered under her breath. “I can’t do that.” She twirled around the room, hugging her book to her chest. Books never made her feel uncomfortable or asked her to give speeches. In books, Alexa could be whoever she wanted.
There was another knock.
Brookhurst stood in the open doorway. “Princess Alexa, the Prince of Hilgovia has arrived for tea. Your grandmother says she would be very pleased if you would join them.”
“Um . . . ” Alexa hesitated, trying to think of an excuse. “Maybe it would be better if you—”
“—just say hello for you,” Brookhurst concluded. “Of course, Your Highness.”
As he closed the door, Alexa flopped onto her bed. If only she had a whole day to hide in her room and read! Better yet, she wished she could be a character in one of her books. They always seemed to have all the answers.
The sound of her mother’s approaching footsteps snapped Alexa out of her daydream.
“The dance instructor is waiting,” the queen said sternly when she reached her daughter’s room. “And so are your friends.”
Alexa glanced at the clock. She had almost forgotten about her dance lesson—or rather, she wished she could forget about it. There was a royal ball tonight! Everyone expected her to waltz in front of a huge audience. It was tradition. But so far, Alexa had been too nervous about it to get any of the steps right in rehearsals. She felt like she was going to make a fool of herself in front of the whole kingdom.
“Oh . . . well . . . ,” she said, stalling.
“No more excuses,” her mother declared. “The ball is tonight. You must finally learn to dance like a princess. Come now.”
Alexa heaved a sigh and followed her mother down the hall.
Alexa peeked into the palace ballroom. She spotted her friends Jenna and Samantha. They were practicing a modern dance routine they had made up themselves.
“Five, six, seven, eight,” Jenna counted.
Their instructor, Mr. Primrose tapped his watch. “Girls, girls,” he scolded. “We are here to practice the art of the dance, not that hippity-hop!”
Jenna and Samantha dissolved in giggles.
Alexa entered the room. “Sorry I’m late, Mr. Primrose,” she said, waving hello to the girls.
“Princess Alexa, how delightful of you to join us,” Mr. Primrose said sarcastically. “Let’s pick up where we left off last session, shall we?” He positioned Jenna and Samantha on either side of Alexa. “The ladies-in-waiting stand here, um, waiting. Then your father, the king, bows to you, the princess.” Mr. Primrose bowed to Alexa, showing her how it would look. Then he took her hand. “The orchestra begins.” He closed his eyes as he pictured the spectacle of it all.
The queen started the music. Alexa took a deep breath, getting ready to practice. But instead of the sweeping classical waltz they all expected, the thumping base of a hip-hop song blasted through the speakers. Thump-thumpity-bump!
Samantha burst into giggles, and Jenna shook her head in embarrassment. Alexa couldn’t help but laugh. Samantha was always up to something silly—and it sure did help break the tension!
The queen frowned and found the correct track to play. As the waltz music filled the air, Alexa’s nerves returned.
Mr. Primrose led her around the floor. “And one-two-three, one-two-three. Eyes up, Your Highness,” he instructed her.
Alexa tried to stop watching her feet, but that made her dizzy!
“Mr. Primrose,” she protested, “this really isn’t my thing.”
“Nonsense, Your Highness,” Mr. Primrose replied, twirling her faster. “Just glide-two-three, glide-two-three.”
Alexa sighed. It seemed no matter how many times she tried to explain herself, no one ever really listened. “You’re very patient,” she continued. “But I’m afraid I’m not—”
“No, no, you’re doing exceedingly well, Your Highness. One-two-WHOA!”
Alexa had stepped on Mr. Primrose’s foot. Crash! He fell to the floor.
“Ah, yes,” the dance instructor winced, rubbing his ankle. “Well, that’s a bit tender.”
Alexa felt terrible. Not only was she a poor dancer, but she’d really hurt someone!
“Mother, ” she said, turning to face the queen. “I’ve tried to learn the dance, but—I just can’t. I better sit this one out.”
The queen shook her head. “Nonsense,” she said with a wave of her hand. “It’s tradition! Every royal ball for the last one hundred fifty—”
“One hundred sixty,” Mr. Primrose corrected her.
“—sixty years—has begun with this waltz. And now that you’re seventeen, it’s your turn to carry on the tradition.”
Alexa hung her head. Everyone was so concerned with tradition. But what if she just didn’t fit the part? “Everybody will be watching me,” she said miserably.
The queen heaved a sigh. “That is the general idea, Alexa,” she explained. “After all, you are the princess.”
“Um, Your Majesty?” Jenna asked, waving her arm to get the queen’s attention. “I could do the waltz at the ball instead of Alexa!”
Alexa clapped her hands together. “That’s a great idea!” She knew that Jenna loved to be center stage. This way they would both win!
The queen crossed her arms. “Thank you, Jenna,” she said sternly. “But Princess Alexa must be the one to dance.”
Jenna shrugged. “Worth a try,” she whispered to Alexa under her breath.
“If you don’t mind, Your Highness,” Mr. Primrose said from his chair, “I think I’d better see to my ankle.”
The queen nodded. “Brookhurst,” she called. “Help me with Mr. Primrose, please?” The butler and the queen offered Mr. Primrose their arms and assisted him from the room.
“Jenna, Samantha,” the queen called over her shoulder. “Please show Alexa how to do the dance, would you?”
Alexa rolled her eyes when her mother had left the room. “Sorry you guys have to do this,” she said to her friends.
“Are you kidding?” Jenna said, doing a little dance. “It means getting to wear an amazing dress tonight.”
“Wait a sec—” Samantha began, a twinkle in her eye. “The queen didn’t say which dance, did she?” She pulled another music track from her bag and popped it in. “Remember this?” she asked as a dance beat thumped through the air. She started to move, and Jenna joined in. It was obvious they knew this routine well.
“Come on, Alexa!” Jenna urged.
Alexa shuffled her foot nervously. “Uhh, I don’t know. I can’t dance like you guys.”
“Try it!” Jenna said. “Like we showed you last time! Five, six, seven, eight.”
Alexa hesitated, but then she copied Jenna’s steps. She realized she could keep time to the music and follow her friends’ steps. She was dancing—and it felt pretty good! But then she lost her concentration and tripped. “Sorry—I can’t keep up with you!” she cried, feeling defeated.
“You were doing great,” Samantha told her.
Alexa shook her head. “I’m having enough trouble learning the waltz.”
Samantha put a hand on her hip. “Alexa, you’re a princess. Which means you’re good at everything!” she teased.
Alexa gave an uncomfortable laugh. “So everyone keeps telling me.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll do great,” Jenna said, putting an arm around her shoulder.
“Thanks, guys,” Alexa replied. She gathered her things and waved to her friends. “I’ll see you tonight.”
Lost in thought, the princess practically bumped into her grandmother on the way out of the ballroom.
“I thought you danced beautifully,” her grandmother said, cupping Alexa’s chin in her palm.
Alexa hugged her grandmother. “You have to say that,” she joked. “You’re my grandmother.”
Alexa followed her grandmother down the hall to a sitting room.
“You shouldn’t hide your talents, dear. What are you afraid of?” her grandmother asked gently.
Alexa blew out a frustrated breath. “Other than an epic fail in front of everyone?” she asked.
Her grandmother chuckled and took her hand. “I do wish you had come to tea. The Prince of Hilgovia is very nice. And he’s your age.”
Alexa rolled her eyes. “Grandma, you know I don’t like that stuff. Meeting people, giving speeches, going to balls . . .”
“All those horrible things princesses are forced to do,” her grandmother kidded.
“Grandma!” Alexa cried, trying hard not to smile.
“Princess or not,” her grandmother continued. “You can’t hide from life forever, dear. You’ll never know what you’re good at unless you try. Here.” She pushed a book across the table. “I brought this for you.”
“But I’ve read all your books, Grandma.”
“Not this one,” her grandmother replied. “I’ve been saving it for the right time.” She opened the book and read the first line. “ ‘In a kingdom by the sea lived a princess who had magical powers.’ ” She paused and looked at Alexa, her eyes shining with mischief. “Ah, but you probably wouldn’t like it.”
“Grandma!” Alexa cried, reaching eagerly for the book. “Thanks. You know exactly what I like.” She headed back down the hall, opening the book along the way.
Alexa wandered down a garden path, reading out loud as she went.
“ ‘The princess could have made flowers bloom or changed the color of her dress. But you can’t use magic if you don’t know you have it.’ ”
Alexa eyed her own dress curiously. She held up her pointer finger like it was a magic wand and shook it.
“Pink!” she exclaimed. But of course, her dress didn’t change a bit. Alexa giggled at her own silliness and continued reading.
“ ‘In the wall of her garden was a door she had never noticed before, a door that led to a fantastic world that she would never forget.’ ”
Alexa sat on a low-hanging tree branch. She continued reading. “ ‘With a flick of a wand, she discovered—she had magic!’ ”
Alexa closed the book and hugged it to her chest. She thought about how amazing it would be to really, truly possess magic. She imagined all of the things she could do with it—not just changing the color of her dress. She could help people—maybe she could even help herself be less nervous.
She moved through the garden, daydreaming about a life full of magic.
She reached a high, ivy-covered wall at the edge of the garden. Through the ivy she noticed a sparkling arched door. Alexa didn’t remember ever seeing this door before, yet it somehow looked familiar.
Quickly, she fumbled to a page in her book with a drawing of a doorway on it. She held it up to the wall and compared the two. They looked the same!
“Huh,” Alexa said curiously.
She placed the book on the grass nearby and touched the door’s handle. Then she hesitated. What could be on the other side? She thought of her grandmother’s words: She would never know unless she tried.
Here goes nothing, Alexa thought. She pushed gently on the handle, and the door opened. A glittering glow of sparkles surprised her.
“Whoa!” she yelped, peering through the doorway. A colorful tunnel stretched out before her. She took a tentative step inside. There was no telling what lay ahead.
Suddenly worried, Alexa stepped back into the garden and closed the door. Then she heard Brookhurst’s voice.
“Your Highness! Good news! Mr. Primrose is recovering. You may continue the dance lesson.”
Alexa held her breath. She didn’t want to go back to practicing. Before she could talk herself out of it, Alexa threw open the hidden door and stepped inside.
A tunnel stretched out in front of Alexa. Its walls shimmered and sparkled with vibrant colors. They seemed to be beckoning Alexa forward. Overhead she spied a trellis, thick with lush, exotic plants. Alexa took
Alexa wasn’t sure where this passageway led, but she felt certain that something special lay at the other end.
Finally, Alexa reached the archway at the end of the tunnel. Shielding her eyes, she stepped into the bright sunlight and gasped. A flourishing, brilliant landscape stretched out before her in every direction. What a remarkable place!
Plants of dazzling colors wound their way over rocks and through trees, reaching high into the sky. Neon-colored vines swirled around tree trunks and climbed upward.
Even the grass was somehow lit from within, glowing a beautiful aquamarine. Flowers and bushes—some larger than Alexa’s head—seemed suspended in midair!
It was as if someone had planted a group of gardens and set them drifting through the air like a bunch of rainbow-hued balloons! Alexa couldn’t explain it—the whole effect was magical!
A stream wound its way through the foliage, pleasantly babbling as it went. A small, fantastical purple creature bounced on its curly tail past Alexa’s feet. It hopped onto a floating garden, two similar creatures following behind it.
Alexa chuckled. Everything felt so new and wonderfully exciting!
Just then she heard a sound. Whirr-thunk!
An arrow landed in a tree trunk next to her.
“Ahh!” she cried, glancing around to see who could have shot it her way.
“Intruder!” a voice called from over the hill.
Alexa looked for a place to hide.
“We know you’re there!” came another voice, this one closer.
Alexa ducked behind a bush as two figures came over the hill. They looked like girls about her age—only something was different. Their clothes, decorated with shells and butterflies, seemed more suited for a fairy tale—as if they were magical creatures.
Oddly, it also seemed to Alexa that they weren’t quite sure how to walk on the ground. Strange, she thought.
Then one of the girls strung another arrow into a slender bow. Alexa hid.
“You might as well swim out,” said the strawberry-blond archer. She and her brunette friend inched their way toward Alexa’s hiding spot.