Written by bestselling author melody carlson. Meet Morgan, Amy, Carlie, and Emily. They all live in the trailer park at 622 Harbor View in tiny Boscoe Bay, Oregon. Proximity made them friends, but a desire to make the world a better place—and a willingness to work at it—keeps them together. In the first book of this new series, Project: Girl Power,bullies knock Emily from her bike on her way home from school, so the girls start walking together because there’s safety in numbers. With help from other people in the park, they set out to beautify Harbor View. In book two, Project: Mystery Bus, the girls begin summer by working to clean and restore their bus to use as a clubhouse. And thus begins the Rainbow Club. In book three, Project: Rescue Chelsea, Carlie makes a new friend. Chelsea Landers lives in a mansion and isn’t always very kind. Carlie would like a best friend, but will Chelsea fit in with her other friends? In book four, Project: Take Charge, the girls decide to take action when they find out their town’s only city park has been vandalized and may soon be turned into a parking lot. MELODY CARLSON In sixth grade, Melody Carlson helped start a school newspaper called The BuccaNews (her school’s mascot was a Buccaneer—argh!). As editor of this paper, she wrote most of the material herself, creating goofy phony bylines to hide the fact that the school newspaper was mostly a one-“man” show. She lives in Sisters, OR. Visit her at www.MelodyCarlson.com
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Project: Take Charge
By Melody Carlson
ZondervanCopyright © 2007 Melody Carlson
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Did you guys hear the latest news?" asked Amy as soon as she entered the clubhouse, an old parked bus the girls had fixed up this past summer, to find her four friends already there and waiting for her.
"You mean that Amy Ngo is actually late for the first time in her life?" teased Carlie as she pointed to her watch.
"I'm sorry," she told them. "My mother and I were having ... uh ... a little discussion."
"Don't you mean more like an argument?" asked Morgan. Then she winked at Amy. "Sorry, but I couldn't help overhearing you guys on my way over here. Man, I had no idea your sweet little mom could yell like that."
Amy rolled her eyes. "Yes, well, my mother seems to have gotten the idea that I'm spoiled."
"Goodness," said Emily with wide blue eyes. "Where would she get an idea like that?" The other girls laughed.
"Thanks a lot!" Amy frowned at the four of them.
"Hey," said Chelsea, "don't feel too bad. These guys think I'm spoiled too. You're in good company."
Amy sank down into the couch next to Chelsea, folding her arms across her chest. "Fine," she snapped. "Maybe we are both a little bit spoiled. But I'm a hard worker too!"
"I know you are," said Morgan in a kindvoice. "We all know you are."
"Now, what's the news, Amy?" asked Emily. "What did you want to tell us?"
"You guys didn't hear what happened last night?" She looked hopefully at her four friends. She loved being the person who knew something that the others hadn't heard yet. Of course, she didn't like the title that often went with it. All during grade school she had suffered being called Miss Ngo It All. But since starting seventh grade, she'd been trying to avoid that label.
"No, Amy," said Carlie. "Spill the beans!"
"Well, you know last night was the first football game at Boscoe Bay High, and they weren't supposed to win-"
"But they beat the pants off of Wedgeport," interrupted Emily. "That's old news, Amy. My brother actually took me to the game, and it was a-"
"That's not my news," said Amy. She scowled at Emily.
"Okay then," said Morgan. "What is it?"
"According to today's newspaper, it happened after the game last night. A bunch of vandals from Wedgeport High attacked the city park and made a total mess of it."
"McPhearson Park?" asked Morgan sadly.
"Yes. They actually drove their four-wheel-drive vehicles into the park and pulled down the swings and lampposts and knocked over trees and everything. The grass was totally torn up from their tires. The photo in the newspaper made it look like a hurricane had hit. I would've brought it, but my dad was still reading the editorials."
"That's too bad," said Emily. "That was such a pretty park."
"I know ..." Amy sighed. "I used to play there all the time when I was a little girl. I have so many happy memories of it ... and now it looks like a war zone."
"Well, I'm sure they will fix it up and it-"
"No," said Amy quickly. "That's just the problem. It sounds like there are no funds in the city budget to cover the cost of the repairs. And even worse than that, a lot of the businesses in town, including my very own parents, have wanted to get rid of the park for several years now."
"Get rid of it?" Morgan adjusted her glasses and peered curiously at Amy. "Why would anyone want that?"
"For a stupid parking lot!" said Amy. "In fact, that's what started my argument with my mom this morning."
"Why does Boscoe Bay need a parking lot?" asked Emily.
"I know why," said Chelsea. "In fact, my dad would agree with Amy's parents on this. He says there's no place to park in town, and all the tourist business is going down to the waterfront."
"That's because the waterfront is cool," said Morgan.
"Of course you'd say that," said Amy. "Your mom's shop is there."
"Lots of people think the waterfront is cool," protested Emily.
"Yeah, but they might not think it was so cool if there was no place to park down there," pointed out Chelsea.
"I'd still go there," said Carlie. "Even if I had to walk a mile and a-"
"But you're not a grown-up with a-"
"Okay, okay!" said Morgan, holding up both hands and starting to wear her presidential expression. "That is not what this meeting is about." Then she pointed to her colorful beaded bracelet. "Rainbows rule, you guys. Remember."
"Sorry," said Amy, although she still felt angry about what was going on in town. But she did know the meaning of the bracelet-even if she didn't fully get the religious connection, she was well aware that the letters on the beads, LYNAY, meant to love your neighbor as yourself, which meant the girls needed to respect one another. And for now it meant that Amy needed to close her mouth.
"Anyway," continued Morgan. "As you know, this is our first official meeting since school started. And the main item on our agenda today is to discuss a new project."
Emily took out a notepad. "I'm ready."
"Okay," said Morgan. "I'm sure you guys remember how we decided at our last meeting that it helps us to stay together as a group when we're all working toward the same thing. It doesn't have to be a big thing, especially since school has started. But we do need something to keep us focused and united as a group ..." She looked at the girls and sort of laughed. "Because, as you can see, it's easy to get going in all kinds of different directions ... and before you know it, we're in a big old fight."
"And then it's no fun being in a club together," said Emily.
"That's right," said Morgan. "So we're open to suggestions now. Anyone?"
The bus grew quiet for a long moment.
"Okay, for Chelsea's benefit, since she's new, I'll go over a bit of our history," said Morgan. "Maybe that will get things rolling. Let's see ... we sort of became friends last spring because of the bullies."
"The bullies?" said Chelsea.
So Carlie quickly retold the story of how Derrick Smith and his gang of thugs had picked on them and helped to unite them as friends.
"But Derrick is in juvenile detention now," said Emily.
"And his old friends have changed their ways," added Morgan.
"In fact," said Carlie, "I think Jeff Sanders has a big crush on Emily."
"Does not," said Emily.
"Does so," said Carlie.
"You guys!" yelled Morgan.
"Sorry." Emily giggled.
"Back to our history." Morgan peered at Emily. "Are you getting this down, Ms. Secretary?"
"Oh, yeah." Emily got busy writing again.
"Anyway, after we became friends, we did a major cleanup on the trailer park," continued Morgan. "We knew it looked pretty shabby and that it was probably one of the reasons we were being teased. So we really cleaned it up."
"And then Mr. Greeley, the owner of the trailer park, gave us the bus," said Carlie. "It had been sitting here empty for about ten years."
"It was pretty dirty and messy. We fixed it up," added Amy.
"And then there was the sand-castle-building contest," said Emily. She told Chelsea how they made SpongeBob SquarePants.
"But Derrick Smith destroyed it," said Amy.
"And we still won the People's Choice Award," finished off Carlie.
"So what's next?" asked Chelsea.
"That's what we need to decide," said Morgan. "That's why-"
"I know!" said Amy suddenly. "I know!"
"Uh-oh," said Carlie. "Miss Ngo It All has just arrived."
Amy scowled at Carlie.
"Sorry," muttered Carlie.
"Do you have an idea, Amy?" asked Morgan.
Amy frowned. "Not if I'm going to be teased."
"I said I was sorry," said Carlie.
"Okay ..." Amy looked at the other four girls in the bus. She wasn't sure they'd be up for this or even able to pull it off, but it was worth a shot. "How about if we help fix up McPhearson Park?"
The girls got quiet again so Amy went on. "I used to spend a lot of time there. When my family was busy at the restaurant and I was too little to help, I'd go and swing on the swings ... or ride the merry-go-round. I can't believe that it could turn into a big, ugly cement parking lot."
Morgan nodded. "Yes, that does seem wrong."
"But fixing up a park sounds like a huge project," said Chelsea. "And we're, like, five girls."
"We got the trailer park fixed up," Emily reminded her.
"And we wouldn't have to do it all ourselves," said Morgan. "We could rally support from the community, get the ball rolling."
"Or start a big old war," said Chelsea. "I mean, with people like my dad and Amy's parents-the ones who want a parking lot-it could get ugly."
"But what about the kids in this town?" said Amy. "The park is for them. Shouldn't we stand up for the kids?"
"That's right," said Morgan. "And it might help that we're kids too. I mean, older kids, obviously, but we're still young enough that grown-ups might feel guilty to think they're taking away our park."
"I like this idea," said Carlie. "And maybe we could get more permits to dig plants from the woods. I'm sure my dad would take us up there again."
"And maybe we could do a fund-raiser," said Chelsea. "My old school used to do fund-raisers every year. My mom was usually the head of the committee."
"Are you getting all this down, Emily?" asked Morgan.
"Writing as fast as I can," she said.
"I think we should check it out for ourselves," said Morgan suddenly. "You guys wanna walk to town and take a look at McPhearson Park?"
So it was decided that they would take a field trip. As they walked toward town, Amy felt like crossing her fingers. She so wanted this to work.
"Oh, my!" said Morgan when the girls turned the corner and came into sight of the park.
"What a total wreck!" said Emily.
Tears filled Amy's eyes as she looked at the ruined park with yellow police tape surrounding it like a crime scene, which it was. "This is so wrong!" she said, stamping her foot.
"Where would we even begin?" asked Chelsea. "I mean, the whole place seems ruined."
"We'd begin by getting support from the community," declared Amy. "And the sooner the better."
"So are we in?" asked Morgan. "Can I see a quick show of hands here? Who is in favor of saving McPhearson Park?"
They all raised their hands and said "Aye."
"So be it," said Morgan.
Amy looked across the street to where her parents' restaurant, Asian Garden, was located. She thought she spied her mother looking out the window toward the vandalized park. And, okay, maybe she was imagining things now, but she thought she saw her mother rubbing her hands together in happy anticipation of what might soon be a cement parking lot!
Not if I can help it, thought Amy.
Excerpted from Project: Take Charge by Melody Carlson Copyright © 2007 by Melody Carlson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Is this a good book? I've read the first book in the series, but none of the others. So, in light off me not reading it yet, I have decided to give it 3 stars. I'd have split it evenly, at 2.5 stars, but on this scale, I can't.