BOOK EXCERPT

FROM "COOL ZONE WITH THE PAIN & THE GREAT ONE," BY JUDY BLUME, ILLUSTRATIONS BY JAMES STEVENSON (DELACORTE PRESS, 108 PAGES, $12.99)

At dinner, the Pain said, "Why do you chase Lucas on the playground?" "How do you know about that?" I asked. The Pain didn't answer. He just shoved another forkful of plain pasta into his mouth. He only eats white food these days. I gave him my best look and asked my question again. "How do you know about Lucas?" "Everybody knows," he said. "Does Lucas liked to be chased?" Mom asked. "He pretends he doesn't," I said. "Are you sure he's pretending?" Mom said. "Of course he's pretending," I told her. "She's not the only one who chases him," the Pain said. "Why don't you mind your own business," I said. But did he listen? No. "All her friends chase him too," he said. Then he laughed with his mouth full of pasta, as if he was telling the biggest joke. As if he was giving away top-secret information. "I know more," he said to Mom and Dad. "Want to hear?" "Stop!" I shouted. "You're ruining everything. Just like always. You are such a pain!"