Zoey and her friends are dressed to the nines for Libby’s bat mitzvah—but will things fall apart at the eleventh hour? Includes “Sew Zoey” blog posts and fashion illustrations.
In the twelfth book in the Sew Zoey series, Zoey’s friend Libby is preparing for her bat mitzvah, and Zoey, Priti, and Kate are really excited for the big party. Libby asks Zoey to make her dress, and loves the design—but her mom thinks it’s inappropriate. Can Zoey find a way to compromise while still giving Libby her dream dress? Zoey is stuck in the middle in other ways, too: Her brother Marcus’s relationship with Allie is on the rocks. Does Zoey’s loyalty to her brother mean that she has to end her friendship with Allie? And when Zoey sees something shocking at the bat mitzvah party, she’s not so sure she wants to be Allie’s friend at all…
CHAPTER 1 Fired Up I know you’re not supposed to enjoy being “fired” from a job, but I’ve been all “fired up” with new ideas for outfits since getting kicked out as treasurer of the Fashion Fun Club. See the fruits of my labor (or of my firing?) in the sketch! Aunt Lulu said maybe the club was too much of a good thing. That sometimes you need to take a break and do something completely different (and for me, that means not sewing related), so your mind can wander to new and exciting creative places. It’s also really nice to have time to do nothing at all!
That’s why I love volunteering at the pet shelter. With all those adorable dogs and cats to walk and play with, you never know what’s going to happen next. I always come away with more energy for my sewing projects.
We’re starting the next elective in school soon. I’m excited to try industrial arts. I wonder if I can somehow figure out how to combine woodworking and fashion. But how would you sit down in a wooden dress? Hmm . . . will clearly have to give this a bit more thought.
“I need your advice,” Kate Mackey announced to her best friends, Zoey Webber, Priti Holbrooke, and Libby Flynn. “I’m thinking of giving Tyler another chance.”
The girls were in their pajamas, lounging around on Libby’s bed. It was sleepover night at the Flynn house.
“What made you decide that?” Zoey asked. Kate had broken up with Tyler Landon, who’d had a crush on her, a few weeks earlier after only a few dates, partially due to Zoey’s misguided attempts to help him woo her. Under Zoey’s helpful advice (which turned out to be not so helpful after all!), Tyler had been behaving differently than usual because he’d thought it would make Kate like him.
“Well . . . we have a great time together when we volunteer at the food pantry,” Kate said.
“Not to mention the fact that he’s supercute,” Priti observed.
Kate blushed. “Well, yes, there is that,” she admitted. “But also he’s promised just to be himself this time.”
Now it was Zoey’s turn to blush.
“I was only trying to help,” she said for what must have been the umpteenth time since her matchmaking fiasco.
“I know,” Kate said, smiling. “All is forgiven. . . . Really.”
“Whew!” Zoey exhaled, relieved. “I’d hate to think I completely ruined everything.”
“You guys seem to have a lot of fun when we’re at the food pantry,” Libby observed. She’d started volunteering there, in addition to her school community service at the pet shelter, so she had seen Kate and Tyler together.
“I’m glad you’ve decided to give Tyler another chance,” Zoey told Kate. “What if I’d messed up the course of true love?”
“True love?!” Kate exclaimed. “Let’s not go overboard. I just think he’s nice. And funny.”
“And supercute,” Priti added.
“I guess,” Kate mumbled, blushing a little.
“Well, since we’ve agreed that Tyler is supercute, can I show you something superexciting?” Libby asked.
“Yes, please!” Priti said.
Libby jumped off the bed and went to her desk.
“Look! Hot off the press!” she said, holding out an embossed card threaded with gold ribbon. “My Bat Mitzvah invitation. Isn’t it cool?”
“It’s beautiful!” Priti exclaimed.
“I love the gold ribbon,” Zoey said. “It makes the lettering pop.”
“And the gold lining inside the envelope matches the lettering and the ribbon,” Kate observed. “So pretty!”
Libby climbed back onto the bed and sat cross-legged.
“A few years ago, I wasn’t even sure I was going to have a Bat Mitzvah. Dad’s Catholic and Mom’s Jewish, but neither of them are that religious. We celebrate all the holidays, but more the traditions than the religious stuff,” she explained.
“So what made you change your mind?” Zoey asked.
“My grandpa,” Libby said. “He only just escaped the Holocaust as a young boy. In fact, his name wasn’t Van Langen when he was born. But his parents hid him with non-Jewish neighbors when my great-grandparents were sent to a concentration camp. And then . . . Well, they didn’t come back after the war, and he ended up adopting the name of the family who hid him and saved his life.”
“That’s so sad,” Kate said. “He never saw his parents again?”
“Never,” Libby said, shaking her head. “And he hardly ever talked about it until recently, when he said it would mean a lot to him if I had a Bat Mitzvah. So that’s why I decided to do it. But it’s so much work, which is the reason I haven’t been around lately.”
“I’ve never been to a Bat Mitzvah before,” Zoey admitted. “What do you do? What do we do? And more to the point, what do we wear?”
The girls all laughed.
“Zoey always gets right down to the important questions,” Priti said.
“Well, there’ll be a service in the synagogue,” Libby explained, then reached over to the bedside table and picked up some papers. “And I have to read a section of the Torah in Hebrew. I’ve been going to a tutor and practicing my Torah portion every night before I go to bed, and listening to tapes so I get the pronunciation right. See?”
Zoey looked at the unfamiliar alphabet. “It looks like Greek to me.”
“Ha!” Libby said. “It felt like Greek to me when I first started. Except now that I’ve been studying it for a while, I can tell it’s Hebrew, even though it’s still hard to read.”
“I can’t believe how much work you have to do,” Priti said. “It’s really great that you’re doing this for your grandpa.”
“It’s not just for him. It’s become important to me too,” Libby said. “But I also have to make a speech, which I’m really nervous about. On the plus side, I get to have a really fun party after the service.”
“Party? Did you say party?” Priti perked up immediately.
“I’ve been to a Bar Mitzvah party before—it was really fun,” Kate said. “They played lots of games, and the food was amazing.”
“Yeah, Mom and I met with the caterers last week,” Libby said. “The theme of my Bat Mitzvah is going to be ‘Sweet,’ so needless to say we’re going to have yummy desserts!”
“So . . . you read from the scrolls during a service, and then there’s a big party with yummy desserts? That’s a Bat Mitzvah?” Zoey asked, wanting to make sure she had it straight.
“That’s not all,” Libby said. “I also do a mitzvah project, which means doing something to make the world a better place by helping others.”
“What’s your project?” Kate asked.
“Well, since I started volunteering at the food pantry, I’ve noticed they only give out canned and packaged goods, which must get really boring and isn’t as healthy as having fresh produce,” Libby said. “So I’ve started a vegetable patch to grow fresh produce to donate there. Dad helped me.”
“That sounds like even more hard work,” Priti groaned. “Are you going to have time for any fun?”
Libby laughed. “Gardening is fun. Come over and help me weed sometime! Maybe next Sunday?”
Priti looked skeptical. “Sounds like a great time . . . ,” she said, “but I think I’m busy that day. Or any day when getting dirt under my fingernails is involved!”
“Do you get lots of presents?” Kate asked. “The kid whose Bar Mitzvah I went to did.”
“Well, yes,” Libby said.
“Who are you inviting?” Zoey asked.
“About a zillion relatives, half of whose names I don’t even remember; kids from school—Josie, Gabe, Miles; Tyler, since I got to know him at the food pantry; a bunch of my friends from Hebrew school; and . . . Emily.”
Zoey couldn’t believe her ears.
“Emily Gooding?” Priti exclaimed. “Why are you inviting her?”
“I didn’t invite her,” Libby protested. “My mom did. My parents are friends with her parents, so Mom said I had to.”
“Awkward,” Kate said.
“I know.” Libby sighed. “Trust me, I’m not happy about it.”
Zoey wasn’t happy about it either. Emily had taken over from Ivy Wallace as the head mean girl.
“We’ll be having so much fun, we won’t even notice she’s there,” Kate said.
“I hope so,” Libby said. She turned to Zoey. “Zoey, I was wondering . . . Instead of getting me a present, could you design and make my dress for the party? I’ve got an idea of what I want, but if you made it, it would be really unique. I wouldn’t have to worry that anyone else would be wearing the same dress.”
“I’d love to!” Zoey said. “What do you have in mind?”
“I’d like a strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline, to go with the theme,” Libby said. “But other than that, I’m happy to leave it up to your Sew Zoey genius.”
“Oh, that sounds adorable!” Priti exclaimed. “Zoey . . . I know it’s not my Bat Mitzvah . . . but can you make me a dress too? I want to look fab for Libby’s big day!”
“While you’re at it . . . ,” Kate added.
“Okay, I’ll make everyone dresses,” Zoey said. “That way we’ll all look extra special for the Bar Mitzvah.”
“Bat Mitzvah,” Libby corrected. “It’s Bar Mitzvah for a boy and Bat Mitzvah for a girl.”
“I hope I finally get this stuff right by the time your Bat Mitzvah happens!” Zoey groaned.
“You’ll be fine,” Libby reassured her. “Wait! I know . . . Let’s go watch Fiddler on the Roof! My parents have it on Blu-ray. Then I’ll teach you how to dance the hora.”
“Is that the sideways dance?” Kate asked.
Libby laughed. “I guess you could call it that.”
She gave them a quick lesson in the hora’s footwork.
“Oh! It’s kind of like doing the grapevine, but in a circle,” Zoey said.
By the time Mrs. Flynn told them to go to bed, the girls were tired from so much giggling and doing the hora around the living room, and Zoey felt much more prepared for Libby’s Bat Mitzvah.
Chloe Taylor learned to sew when she was a little girl. She loved watching her Grandmother Louise turn a scrap of blue fabric into a simple-but-fabulous dress, nightgown, or even a bathing suit in an instant. It was magical! Now that she’s grown up, she still loves fashion: It’s like art that you can wear. Chloe has written more than thirty books for children and lives, writes, and window shops in New York City.
Nancy Zhang is an illustrator and an art and fashion lover with a passion for all beautiful things. She has published her work in the art books L’Oiseau Rouge and Street Impressions and in various fashion magazines and on websites. Visit her at Nancy-Zhang.com. She lives in Berlin, Germany.
"Most novels about fashion end up being more about little divas than about the clothing; this is an exception. This story celebrates the rewards of personal creativity and risks of self-expression. . . . This book will appeal to a middle-grade crowd that isn’t into vampires and dystopias, as well as to those who create art with their hands."
– Kirkus Reviews
"An aspiring fashion designer is the affable heroine of this first book in the Sew Zoey series. . . . In a smoothly written story of overcoming challenges with ingenuity and style, Taylor shows a knack for characterization and dialogue, and her detailed descriptions of Zoey’s designs will entice young fashionistas."
– Publishers Weekly
"Zoey Webber is a funky fashionista stuck in a gray-polyester-uniform world. The first book in a delightful new series, this will appeal to any girl finding her own style. Zoey is a bubbly and vivacious character who doesn’t let insecurities take command."
"The characters are enjoyable and well developed, and the plot is humorous and entertaining. The black-and-white drawings that open each chapter add a bit of fashion flair. With a touching ending that will leave readers with a warm, fuzzy feeling, this novel will appeal to young fashionistas."