As a new school year begins, everyone and everything starts to change. Can Zoey keep up? Includes “Sew Zoey” blog posts and fashion illustrations.
In the ninth book in the Sew Zoey series, quite a few people have a change of heart—and clothes. One of Zoey’s frenemies asks for Zoey’s help choosing a back-to-school outfit. Zoey’s friend Priti shows up to school with a new look and gets mixed reviews. And Kate is nursing a swimming injury, so she suddenly has tons of free time…and wants to spend it with Zoey. But between helping her frenemy and attending fittings for a tween TV star who wants to buy one of her outfits, Zoey is too busy. Kate fears that Zoey is changing. Could she be right?
A Change of Lace CHAPTER 1 The Long and the Short of It
Can you believe school starts next week?! Summer vacation always seems so long at the beginning, and then, at the end, it seems like it flashed by in an instant. All of a sudden it’s about to be over, as if time magically starts to speed up in August.
It’s been a really fun summer, getting to visit Daphne Shaw’s studio, going to sleepaway camp for the first time, and taking a screen-printing class, but there’s something exciting about starting a new school year, too. I’m designing a new outfit for the first day of school, but I’m keeping that under wraps for now. Instead, here are “the long and the short of it” skirts inspired by how I feel about time this summer. I hope you like them!
“What do you think, Marie Antoinette?” Zoey Webber asked her dressmaker’s dummy as she put the final touches on the sketch for her back-to-school outfit. “Is this a winner or is it just . . . weird? I can’t make up my mind.”
The problem with Marie Antoinette was that being a headless dress form, she wasn’t very forthcoming with her opinion.
Zoey sighed and looked at the pictures she’d printed out after watching a movie from the 1960s. They were of an Italian actress wearing a wide-legged halter-top jumpsuit. Zoey’d thought it was such a cool and different look, perfect for her to update with Zoey magic. But now, comparing the sixties outfit to her sketch, she wasn’t so sure.
Just then the doorbell rang, interrupting her musings.
“Hey, Zo! The Holbrookes are here!” her brother, Marcus, announced from the bottom of the stairs.
Zoey slipped on her flip-flops, grabbed her purse and cell phone, and ran downstairs. She had a mall date with one of her best friends, Priti, to help her shop for a new back-to-school outfit.
“See you later, Marcus!” she called on the way out the door.
Zoey slid into the backseat next to Priti. “I can’t believe school starts next week,” she said. “I’m excited, but I’m still not sure if I’m ready.”
“This summer has gone by so quickly,” Mrs. Holbrooke said. “It seems like only yesterday you girls got out of school. A lot has happened since then, hasn’t it?”
“You can say that again,” Priti said with a sigh. She was still adjusting to the idea that her parents were getting a divorce and to the fact that her dad had moved out of the family home.
Mrs. Holbrooke gave Priti a worried look in the rearview mirror, which transformed into a cheerful smile the minute she caught Zoey’s eye. “Well, you’ll have to pick out a great outfit to wow everyone on the first day, right, Priti?”
“Uh-huh. Sure,” Priti agreed without any of her normal bounce and enthusiasm.
Zoey wondered what was going on—had Priti and her mom had a fight before she had gotten into the car?
She spent the rest of the ride to the mall describing how she came up with the idea for her back-to-school outfit and asking Priti and Mrs. Holbrooke what they thought about the idea.
“I think it sounds fab,” Priti said. “Why are you worrying so much, Zo? You were voted Best Dressed last year!”
“That just means I have more of a reputation to keep up!” Zoey said.
Mrs. Holbrooke pulled up outside the mall.
“I’m sure you’ll look adorable, Zoey. You always do,” she said. “I’ll see you in a few hours. And you know the rules. . . . Don’t talk to strangers, and call if you’re even going to be a minute late for pick-up time.”
As she drove off, Priti dragged Zoey toward the mall doors. “Come on! Let’s shop till we drop!”
The girls browsed a few of the popular chain stores before ending up at their favorite clothing shop, My Best Friend’s Closet. While Priti browsed, Zoey picked out a few outfits she knew her friend would love—colorful clothes, sparkly accessories, an adorable belt with a fake jeweled buckle.
She walked over to the display rack where Priti was standing.
“What do you think?” she said, holding up the clothes she’d picked out. “Perfect, right? Do you want to try them on?”
“Sure,” Priti said, taking the clothes from her.
But Zoey noticed that before she walked to the dressing room to try them on, Priti grabbed a bunch of black clothes off a rack where she must have placed them while she’d been browsing.
That’s odd, Zoey thought. Her friend was usually the queen of bright colors.
Priti came out wearing the first of the outfits Zoey’d picked for her.
“It looks awesome!” Zoey said.
Priti looked at her reflection in the mirror.
“I don’t know. I’m not . . .” She paused, turning to look at it from another angle. “Let me try on the other one.”
Zoey waited, wondering what Priti didn’t like about the first outfit, which looked really good on her.
The second outfit looked even better on Priti than the first.
“What do you think?” Zoey asked.
“It’s cute,” Priti said. “I like it.”
“Great!” Zoey said. “Just in time, because I’m getting hungry.”
“I just want to try on one more thing,” Priti said. “I’ll meet you by the register.”
When Priti went to the register to pay, all the clothes she was carrying were completely . . . black.
Zoey was surprised. Seeing a striped scarf hanging nearby, she took it from the display and draped it around Priti’s neck.
“What do you think? It would brighten up your outfit a little.”
Priti shrugged and removed the scarf from around her neck, placing it back on the display.
“It’s nice, but I’m good without it.”
“What about the jeweled belt?” Zoey suggested.
“No, it’s okay. I’m just going to buy the jeans and the shirt.”
As Priti paid for her purchases, Zoey wondered what was going on with her friend. Maybe Priti wanted to experiment with her style, and there definitely was nothing wrong with that. Zoey was all about being adventurous with clothes.
It was just . . . going from glitzy to goth seemed pretty dramatic. On the other hand, Zoey thought, Priti had always had a flair for the dramatic.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m starving,” Priti said, hooking her shopping bag over her shoulder. “Let’s hit the food court.”
After they got their food, the girls were looking for a table to eat at when Priti hissed, “Zo, is that Shannon Chang over by Lola’s Lattes?” Shannon was friends with Ivy Wallace and Bree Sharpe, girls who often teased Zoey and her friends at school.
“Oh my gosh, yes it is,” Zoey said. “Let’s go the other way.”
They found a table on the opposite side of the food court, next to a pillar, so they were out of sight.
Or so they thought. A few minutes later, Zoey caught sight of Shannon heading straight in their direction.
“She’s coming over here,” she told Priti in an undertone.
“Why?” Priti wondered.
“I don’t know!” Zoey whispered.
They watched Shannon wind her way toward them, carrying a bag from a pricey designer shoe store.
“Hi, Zoey!” she said when she arrived at their table. “Hey, Priti.”
“Hi, Shannon,” Zoey said. “What’s up?”
“Um . . . nothing much. Just . . . uh . . . doing a little shopping.” She paused and stood there, looking awkward. “What are you guys up to?”
Priti looked pointedly at the trays of food on the table. “Eating lunch.”
“Right,” Shannon said, her cheeks flushing.
Zoey and Priti exchanged furtive glances as Shannon stood by the table in an uncomfortable silence. It was obvious she wanted something—but what?
“So . . . uh . . . Zoey . . . I was wondering if maybe you could maybe, you know . . . um, help me pick out a back-to-school outfit?”
Priti, who’d just taken a sip of soda, started coughing. Zoey figured Priti was as taken aback as she was that Shannon Chang was asking her for fashion advice.
“Um . . . okay,” Zoey said.
Shannon smiled. “Great. We can go when you guys are finished eating.”
Priti, who’d recovered from her coughing fit, gave Zoey a What are you doing? look.
“How about we meet at Urban Chic in, like, fifteen minutes?” Shannon suggested.
“Sounds like a plan,” Zoey said. “See you in a few.”
As soon as Shannon had walked out of earshot, Priti leaned across the table and asked, “Are you crazy? I bet this is just a setup for a prank. Ivy and Bree are probably somewhere in the mall, waiting to take a video when Shannon trips you or pushes you into the fountain or something.”
Zoey wasn’t 100 percent confident about Shannon’s motives, but she didn’t think she’d go that far.
“I don’t know. I mean, we used to be friends. And Shannon’s confessed in secret that she reads Sew Zoey, so she must be a little interested in fashion, right?”
“Kate reads Sew Zoey, and she doesn’t care that much about fashion,” Priti argued.
“But that’s different,” Zoey pointed out. “Kate’s one of my best friends. Besides, you know, Shannon was in my screen-printing class this summer and she was really nice to me then. She even helped me make the T-shirts for Marcus’s band.” She finished the last of her smoothie. “I think Shannon’s being genuine.”
“I don’t know,” Priti said, clearly still skeptical. “Just be careful, okay?”
Shopping with her former best friend and one of her current BFFs was seriously awkward, Zoey decided. Shannon acted as if Priti wasn’t there, while Priti kept giving Zoey See, I told you looks.
“How about this?” Zoey said, holding up a cute denim skirt.
Priti sighed, loudly, and checked the clock on her cell for the third time in ten minutes.
Shannon finally acknowledged Priti’s existence by giving her a dirty look.
Zoey was beginning to wish she were at home working on her own outfit instead of helping everyone else with theirs.
She found a pair of capris in a vivid cobalt blue and showed them to Shannon.
“These are adorable, don’t you think?”
Shannon shrugged. “They are, but . . . I’m not sure.”
Zoey definitely wished she were back at her worktable. She wasn’t having a good time. Not at all.
Priti checked her cell again.
“Uh-oh! Look at the time—can’t keep Mom waiting!”
“Sorry, Shannon,” Zoey said. “I guess we just didn’t have any luck today.”
“It’s okay,” Shannon said. “Um . . . maybe we could come back tomorrow and look again?”
Priti was behind Shannon, shaking her head so vigorously that Zoey was afraid Priti was going to hurt her neck. But there must have been something of the old Shannon in the request, because Zoey found herself saying “Sure, it’ll be fun” and arranging to meet Shannon at two the next day at My Best Friend’s Closet.
“What possessed you to say yes?” Priti asked as they walked out to meet her mom. “I don’t understand.”
“I don’t know,” Zoey said. “Because she used to be my best friend, and she asked me?”
“You should call Shannon and cancel your plans for tomorrow,” she urged Zoey.
“I can’t do that!” Zoey exclaimed. “I already told her I would.”
“Tell her you have a doctor’s appointment you forgot about,” Priti said. “Make something up.”
“I don’t want to lie to her,” Zoey said. “I’d feel bad.”
“You shouldn’t be encouraging your friends to lie, Priti,” Mrs. Holbrooke admonished.
“It’s not that, Mom. It’s just that Shannon’s been mean to Zoey at school, and I don’t want her to get hurt again.”
“Wanting to protect your friend is a good intention. Telling her to lie . . . not so much,” Priti’s mom said.
Priti sighed. “Well, however you do it, you’ve got to figure out a way to get out of going shopping with Shannon tomorrow, Zoey,” she said. “I’m telling you, she’s up to no good. Trust me.”
When Zoey got home, she wasn’t sure what to do. Deep down, she shared some of Priti’s concerns about Shannon’s sincerity and wondered why her old friend suddenly wanted her advice after being distant for so long. But they’d had a good time in their class together during the summer. Maybe there was a chance they could patch things up, even if they weren’t BFFs anymore.
After getting a snack, Zoey picked up the phone and called Kate. She explained her dilemma and asked what to do.
“I agree with Priti,” Kate said. “I’m worried you could be walking into a trap.”
Zoey thanked her for her opinion, but inside, it just made her feel discouraged. Next she called Libby. Zoey was surprised that Libby seemed to agree with Priti and Kate.
“Do you really think she wants your fashion advice, Zo?” Libby asked. “Think about all the times she’s stood there and smiled while Ivy’s made fun of your outfits.”
“Well, you and Priti and Kate all seem to feel the same way, so you’re probably right, but she was really nice to me over the summer, you know?”
“Trust your gut, Zoey,” Libby replied. “But I don’t want you to get hurt.”
When they said good-bye, Zoey had a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. It was true. Shannon hadn’t been much of a friend over the last year. Shannon had watched and even joined in when Ivy and Bree were being unkind to Zoey.
“Everything okay, honey?” her father asked at dinner. Zoey was uncharacteristically quiet.
“No,” Zoey admitted. “I just don’t know what to do.” She explained her Shannon dilemma. “Part of me thinks everyone’s right, and maybe I should cancel, but another part of me thinks that maybe she has changed, and what if I’m not being fair?”
“Well, you know what we say in sports—no pain, no gain,” her father said.
“It’s like that with relationships, too. There’s always a risk of getting hurt, but if you don’t give people the benefit of the doubt, then you might miss out on the good stuff, too,” Mr. Webber explained.
“So you think I should go?” Zoey said.
“You had a nice time with her this summer, right? What’s the harm of giving her another chance for an hour or two?”
Being pranked by Ivy? Being laughed at?
Zoey thought about what her father said, and realized that maybe she should just be brave and give Shannon the benefit of the doubt.
“I will,” Zoey said. “Even if my best friends think I’m crazy.”
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."