Friday, August 24, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #61: Jessi and the Awful Secret

In case you didn’t know, Jessi is an amazing dancer. She tells us multiple times when the book starts and again in other parts of the book. Her teacher decides to host a series of classes for underprivileged youngsters and asks for volunteers, but only Jessi and this girl Mary decide to help. Jessi is a little surprised because Mary is a lousy dancer who has no future.

After their next class, Mary mentions that she feels fat and needs to lose some weight, even though Jessi can’t see any fat on her. One of the other girls tells her that if she loses 10 pounds like she did, Mary can dance like a dream. Jessi basically forgets about the conversation until she notices that her classmate is acting a little weird.

The first class goes a little weird because it isn’t disciplined like her earlier classes were. She notices this boy Devon who keeps acting up even though he dances really well. There’s another little girl who has some good skills but is too shy to even answer when she gets called on during class.

The other volunteers are a little older and want to have fun, so they all head off to Burger King. Mary mentions to Jessi that she’s still on a diet and can’t really eat, but Jessi convinces her to just get something simple. She notices that Mary just pushes her food around on her plate and doesn’t even drink any of her soda.

Once the kids start learning more about dance, they get into it a lot more. Jessi keeps having fun, but she is still worried about Mary. Mary looks sick and doesn’t have much strength. After she nearly passes out during class, the teacher says that she should talk to her doctor. Mary comes back a few days later, claiming that she’s fine but she still looks like crap.

Jessi naturally takes her concerns to the BSC, and Claudia sneaks some college psychology textbooks from Janine’s room. They read all about anorexia and decide that Mary must be sick. Jessi tells Mary that if she doesn’t tell their teacher, she will and Mary runs away. When Mary actually gets sick, Jessi finally tells Mme. Noelle. Their teacher goes to Mary and tells her that she needs to get help right away.

Now that’s taken care of, Jessi decides that it isn’t right to show these kids ballet without giving them any hope for the future. Kristy brings up a scholarship and agrees to talk things through with Watson, who decides to sponsor the scholarship himself because he’s suddenly a lover of dance. Mme. Noelle is so grateful that she almost cries, and awards the prizes to Devon and the quiet little girl.

The B-plot is all about poor Shannon. She suddenly has a ton of free time and keeps calling Kristy to do things with her. Kristy keeps turning her down because she has too much stuff to do and brings it up at a club meeting. Claudia, Dawn, and Stacey are excited to spend time with her and they hang out a lot. Kristy gets snotty all the time and basically ignores Shannon. They have a huge fight and Kristy admits that she feels like Shannon is stealing her friends. They eventually make up, and Kristy asks Shannon to start attending BSC meetings.

*This must have come after I stopped reading the books because I don’t remember Shannon ever coming to the meetings regularly.

*Jessi and Quint exchange letters, talking about how much the ballet world has come and how dancers come in all sizes now. I checked the copyright, which is 1993, because the ballet world really hasn’t changed.

*Jessi mentions how unfair it is that dancers are expected to look a certain way, but it’s hard to buy that after she mentions in the very beginning that she’s “blessed” with a naturally skinny body. Let’s see how she looks after puberty.

*Two of the girls in her class had to join because their moms made them. When she tells them to stop talking, they act like 70-year-old ladies, telling her that “not to bother”, “to tend to the others”, and stuff like that.

*It’s kind of cruel to offer a free dance class for underprivileged kids and just expect them to give up later. Then again, maybe it’s Noelle’s crafty way of making their parents scrimp and save for lessons.

*This book mentions that Watson met Kristy’s mom at work, which I don’t think is true.

*Kristy was the first one to think Stacey was anorexic because of her diet, and yet here, she has no clue what the term means.


  1. This is one of those books that is the equivalent to a "very special episode"...

    There's a couple of books where the girls refer to Jessi's "long dancer's legs" - I always think that that means she'll shoot up in a couple of years and not be able to do classical ballet any more. (She could still be an awesome contemporary dancer, though!)

  2. She's constantly described as having dancer's legs and it always annoys me! Then again, I came across one recently that referred to Stacey having long legs, which seem to come out of nowhere.