Claudia meets the new girl in school Ashley Wyeth and instantly likes her. Ashley took art classes at some fancy school in Chicago and is taking the same art class as her. They talk some and Claudia kind of likes her, but she’s more flattered by her. Ashley thinks she’s a talented artist and likes her portfolio.
Before long, Claudia is spending all of her free time with Ashley. They spend most of their time talking about art and really don’t get to know each other. They go downtown to get ideas for their next project and Claudia is late for a meeting. She kind of blows it off though because she wants to enter this big sculpting contest/show and needs Ashley’s help to get an idea.
Ashley keeps trying to get Claudia to sculpt an inanimate object. She wants to do a fire hydrant and wants Claudia to sculpt a traffic light. Claudia doesn’t really get the idea and thinks that Ashley is just trying to push the boundaries. She skips a meeting and has Dawn cover for her. Then, she skips another meeting and the BSC reacts. They eat a bunch of her junk food, hide it all over the room in new places and leave her nasty notes.
Claudia sits for the Rodowsky boys and discovers that Ashley lives next door. She’s flabbergasted by the idea of sitting and can’t figure out why she would do it. She tells her that she should focus on just her art and not worry about anything else. Ashley keeps pushing her and she doesn’t know what to do. She finally decides to sculpt Jackie for the contest.
Then she discovers that she’s super far behind in all of her classes and has to spend days making it up, even missing another club meeting. She tries explaining it to Ashley, but she doesn’t want to hear it. She ends up dropping the contest because school is more important than art. The whole BSC turns out for the show and Claudia wins a special mention ribbon. Her teacher entered her sculpture as a work in progress and thinks it might have won, had she finished. Ashley wins first place with her fire hydrant.
At the end of the book, Claudia and Ashley have a talk and decide to be friends. Ashley sits with them at lunch and gets along with everyone, even Kristy. Claudia says that from then on, Ashley sometimes sat with them, but usually sat by herself.
*The other girls think it’s weird that Ashley wants to be friends with Claudia, but doesn’t want to be friends with anyone else. It’s a good point, but one that isn’t explained.
*Ashley hangs up on Claudia, but she just keeps trying to explain and be her friend again. Why even bother with it? It wasn’t like they were real friends or anything.
*Dawn, Kristy and Stacey all leave notes for Claudia in her room and some of them are actually kind of mean!
*Claudia keeps saying that Ashley wore hiking boots. Looking at the cover though, she’s wearing construction boots. I totally wore those all the time in the early 90s and we always called them construction boots.
*She has to explain to Jackie that his sculpture won’t be in the show. She takes the time to explain to him early on that it might not win a prize. Shouldn’t she have explained that she might not get it done in time? She had less than two weeks to go at the time.