He's new in school. And
he's very different. He dresses in an oversize tee shirt with a dragon
on it. He begs for lunch money. He's the perfect candidate
for the school bully. But what is not evident is his artistic ability.
He is an incredible artist. When Justin is assigned to partner with
him for a school project, he is reluctant but knows he has no choice.
When he finds out about Jinsen's talent, he becomes intrigued. After
all, Justin's father is an artist so he has grown up with an appreciation
of art. Becoming Jinsen's friend comes with a price though.
Do I remember Jinsen? How could
I ever forget him? Jakob, Megan and I, friends since middle school, were
sitting in the high school cafeteria when Megan spotted him. A skinny bald-headed
kid in a size million red tiedyed dragon T-shirt, wearing his backpack,
was making his way across the cafeteria going from table to table. He seemed
to be asking for something. Most people stared at him or laughed at him.
Some of them even threw things at him and through it all he smiled, a regular
sunny smile. When he came up to our table I could see his big ears, tilted,
sleepy eyes, and shaved head. He was begging “like a monk”, he said, and
I gave him a dollar despite Megan’s glare. “Everyone was looking” she said,
“Don’t do it again.” Ten minutes later I was paired with Michael Martin,
alias “Jinsen”, in Ms. Keller’s class. Now, through no fault of my own,
I had to work on a project with “Buddha Boy”, go to his house, be seen
with him. It was so humiliating! And I couldn’t even ditch the assignment
like Tim Elder because I had a low “C” and needed every point just to pass.
Justin, a sophomore at Edward Rucher High School, learns that “Jinsen”
is Michael’s spiritual name in Buddhism, and that Jinsen is the most talented
artist in the whole school. Most importantly, Justin learns that his karma
is to make and lose a friend. Oklahoma
Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award nominee, 2005-2006