Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #29: Jessica and the Brat Attack

Sweet Valley Middle School is hosting a fundraising carnival and all the kids want to run booths. The school decides to do a lottery and have everyone randomly draw the name of a different booth. Jessica is sure that she will get to run the Wheel of Fortune, but Caroline Pierce actually gets in on the first draw. Jess gets stuck with the water balloon booth, which is the worst booth.

Amy is devastated because she really wants to go to the fair, but she has to babysit for the Sampson family. She keeps moping around until Elizabeth offers to take the job from her. Amy warns her that the kids are monsters, but Liz agrees to take the job. She asks Jessica to take a message when Mrs. Sampson calls that night.

Jessica takes the message, but starts seeing dollar signs when she learns the job pays $70. She calls Mrs. Sampson back and takes the job for herself. Elizabeth is pissed, but just tells her not to ask for help. Then, since the fair needs someone to work that booth so bad, Jessica suggests Elizabeth. Elizabeth gets stuck at the worst booth and warns her sister yet again not to call her or ask her for help.

Jessica goes to the Sampson house and meets Susan and Dennis, the two youngest kids. The only rule really seems to be that she needs to keep the kids out of the locked all white living room. As soon as Mrs. Sampson leaves, the kids go wild. Jess dreams of reading her magazine and relaxing all day. The kids rip her magazine apart, fight over the television and keep screaming at each other.

Lila calls from her brand new mobile phone and lets her talk to Elizabeth. Liz basically tells her twin that she made her bed and now she needs to lie in it. Peter, the oldest boy comes home because he had a fight with his friend. Susan finds the key to the living room and they start ripping it apart. Gretchen comes home because her Brownie group had to leave a hike after a girl got hurt. Instead of helping Jessica, she starts ripping apart the living room too.

All day long, Jessica keeps asking Elizabeth for her and her twin keeps refusing. After all the kids come home, Liz feels bad. She asks her sister what she’s wearing and rushes home. The twins play a game with the kids where one will say she’s going to another room and the other twin rushes there. The kids show up and think that it’s Jessica, so they think she has magical powers. After 20 to 30 minutes, they think Jessica is a witch (ha!) and start listening to her.

The Sampsons are so happy that they give her a $10 tip and ask her to sit again. She goes home and wows the family with the story of her great sitting job. Elizabeth comes home, but Jessica acts like she did it all on her own. Later, she offers to split the money with her twin, but Elizabeth just takes $30 for helping…for 30 minutes. Jessica overhears her twin whispering on the phone, but doesn’t think anything of it.

When they go back to school, the kids announce that they want to throw a mini-fair for Jessica because they feel so bad that she missed it. She turns them down, but they keep pressing it so she meets with them after school. They all show up with water balloons. Lila misses with her balloon, but Elizabeth hits her dead on. They all have a good laugh and run off to the beach.

*Apparently there are only ten booths open at the fair. They keep saying that everyone wants to run a booth, but they have one booth for each student. So, only ten people show up to get a booth?

*Would you really go back and sit for a family after the kids tied you to a chair and tried to cut off your hair? That’s exactly what the Sampson kids did to Amy one day.

*There was a little moment that bothered me. Jessica makes a comment about the Girl Scouts and Gretchen gets snippy because she’s a Brownie. Um, so was I and that’s just part of the Girl Scouts.

*Jessica got $70 to sit for two kids for ten hours. The two other kids show up within a few hours, so she actually sits for four kids for at least 6-8 hours. Mrs. Sampson gives her $80 for the whole day. That sounds like a rip-off to me.

*Supposedly, they only have one kid to run each booth. Yet Elizabeth takes off for awhile and they let Lila take over her booth. Lila was running a different booth, so who takes over her booth?

*Jessica realizes that she could have just ducked to avoid the water balloons and no one could hit her. Of course, she realizes this long after she ducks out on the job.

*Elizabeth says that she has no choice except to take over the job after Jessica quits. You always have an option dear Liz, you just never choose it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #21: Left Behind

Sarah Thomas is a little sad and not because she never appears in any other Sweet Valley series. No, she’s sad because her dad is dating a hot young thing named Annie and you just know that all girls named Annie in town are horrible people! At first, Annie took her shopping and did fun stuff with her, but now she doesn’t give a shit about Sarah.

When she comes home from school, she finds Annie painting her nails. She asks Sarah to clean up the lunch dishes, which are actually lunch and breakfast dishes because she didn’t do any cleaning all day. When her dad comes home, Annie takes all the credit and pouts because he has to go out of town for work. Annie wants sushi, which makes Sarah sick, but her dad lets Annie pick because after all, she did all that cleaning. Annie also wants to go to the movies and leave Sarah at home alone, even though Sarah doesn’t like being in the house alone.

So dad goes out of town on Monday morning and leaves Annie in charge until he gets back on Sunday. When Sarah gets home from school, Annie gets a phone call from a guy. She tells Sarah not to answer the phone anymore when she’s home and that she has to go out of town and take care of her sister. She promises to be back the next day, warns her not to worry her dad by telling him she took off and leaves.

Of course Annie doesn’t come back when she promises and Sarah freaks out being left alone. She can barely sleep, cries all the time and feels like crap. She won’t tell anyone that Annie left because she promised her. She even lies to her Aunt Lillian and her dad when he calls and *gasp* won’t even tell Elizabeth what is going on. She considers taking a nap in the nurse’s office, but worries that the nurse might call her dad.

Liz invited her and Amy over for a slumber party, but she decides to take a nap first. Annie calls, shouts at her for being a baby and warns her again not to tell anyone she left. Sarah goes upstairs, hears a noise and freaks out. She starts down the stairs, trips and tumbles to the bottom. She starts crying because she is in so much pain.

Amy, Liz and her dad stop by Sarah’s house and knock on the door. Amy sees a light on upstairs and when Liz peeks through the door, she sees Sarah at the bottom of the stairs. Ned breaks a window, Liz climbs inside and they call an ambulance. Ned calls her dad’s office and tells them what happened.

Later that night Mr. Thomas shows up and rushes into her room. She won’t say anything at first, but eventually confesses that Annie took off. He calls her sister and learns that everything she told him was a lie. She said she grew up taking care of all her little brothers and sisters, but she was the baby in the family and hasn’t seen her family in weeks. Annie rushes through the door with the same sad story and he shoots her down. She pitches a hissy fit and he walks away, letting her leave.

Elizabeth drops by later in the week and learns that Sarah’s aunt wants custody of her. She convinces her friend to tell her aunt how she feels and of course everyone agrees that she should stay with her dad.

Jessica has a B-plot that involves Janet Howell suddenly spending a lot of free time with her. Janet is always inviting herself over, but never wants Jess to come to her house. She also asks about Steven all the time, but Jess doesn’t get why. She literally doesn’t get it after she invites her to go roller skating with her family and Janet gets pissed off when Steven doesn’t go.

Janet suggests they have their next party at the Wakefield house. She asks Steven to the party and he shoots her down before running away. Janet makes rude comments and Jess calls her out. They fight and she threatens to resign from the Unicorns. Lila isn’t speaking to her either because she took Janet skating instead of her, so she thinks her life is over.

Of course she makes up with Lila and Janet tells everyone that she had a great idea for a luau party. Everyone loves the idea and they love her again, but Janet still makes it clear that Steven should come to the party. Oh and they decide to make the party in honor of Sarah, since she sprained her ankle and had a concussion and all.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #57: Dawn Saves the Planet

Mrs. Gonzalez, Dawn’s science teacher starts an ecology program for the class. Stacey is in another session, but gets the same project. The two girls talk and decide that they should teach a class for kids in the neighborhood. The teacher agrees to let them work together because it would be a great project for the class.

The girls end up with a lot of neighborhood kids, like the Kormans, Buddy, Nicky, Vanessa, David Michael, Suzy, Andre and Karen. In the middle of the first class, Dawn mentions that there is only one recycling center in the whole town and wonders why there aren’t more. That leads to a new idea about creating a recycling center at SMS.

She goes to Mrs. Gonzales, who agrees with her proposal and lets her meet with the vice-principal. He agrees to let her start the program, as long as the students vote on it and want the program. Dawn turns into an environmental Nazi, constantly attacking people in the halls and demanding that they recycle. The votes come in the school unanimously approves the program, but also demands the teacher be the leader.

Dawn is sad about losing the chairperson job, but plays it off to everyone else. She tells them that the only reason picked the teacher is because she is an adult. Then she overhears Grace and Cokie in the hallway, talking about how obnoxious she is and wonders if other people feel the same way.

Once the project gets off the ground, Dawn wants nothing to do with it. She writes the newsletter, but stays away from planning and everything else. When the big ceremony starts, she goes, but pouts the whole time. They make a big announcement and praise the person behind the project. Dawn is shocked when they praise her teacher.

Dawn has another surprise in store when the BSC members go off on her. She’s been lecturing them constantly, riding their butts about recycling and being a huge pain in the ass. She and Stacey planned a Green Fair for the kids and she completely took it over. Stacey goes off on her, followed by the other members. She finally realizes that she was acting obnoxious and apologizes.

The Green Fair goes brilliantly. Their teacher even shows up and praises Dawn. They decide to give the money raised at the fair to the recycling program. The teacher asks Dawn to join her as chairperson and she agrees, but it’s never mentioned again in any of the other books.

*Two of the boys make birdfeeders from pinecones and peanut butter. I know the idea works, but I don’t know how they could transport those and sell them without getting peanut butter all over the floors.

*Dawn comes across as way more nutso here than she does in the other books. She literally accosts one girl in the hall over throwing away a can and follows another around lecturing her about Styrofoam.

*Dawn also comes across as really selfish. Once she isn’t asked to chair the program, she completely quits. I think it’s pretty unrealistic to expect a teenage girl to run a whole recycling program.

*Kristy sits for the Korman kids and they make a comment about how they “always” get hot dogs when they have a sister, so their mom lets them have pizza. I swear this same thing happens in another book.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Malibu Summer

Jessica really wants to go to Malibu for the summer because Lila got a job working as a nanny for a rich family, even though the family has a bunch of other helpers. Liz wants to work at the newspaper, but their parents decided Jess could only go if Liz does too. Lila makes her feel bad by claiming that Jessica wants this more than anything so of course she caves.

Lila tells Jess that babies are better than older kids because all they do is sleep (ha!). She learns that the agency has two families available in Malibu, one with a baby and one with a younger, troubled girl. When she discovers that the family with the baby is related to her new favorite singer Tony Seargant, she decides to take that one. Liz has to cover for her during the interviews because of cheerleading camp and discovers that Jess’s house is teeny tiny. Jess still wants it because of the Tony connection. Also, she doesn’t believe that it’s really small until she sees it for herself.

Liz gets a job at this huge house with the Bennett family. They are rarely home, so she spends a lot of time with this six-year-old daughter Taryn. Jess hates her house because she sleeps in the baby’s room and Lucy and Josh don’t have enough room for all her stuff. She tries pretending that she’s allergic to their cat, but Liz calls her on it because she went through an allergy test in the past. She finally bonds by telling the little girl stories about a “wicked little girl” that makes her smile.

Jessica meets this cute guy named Cliff that lives next door to Liz’s family. He throws a party and she gets Liz to take over her job so she can go. They fall in love, natch. Liz goes to the other house and they tell her about a house guest showing up that night. His name is Jamie, he’s 21, goes to Harvard and loves everything Liz does.

She doesn’t really want to date him because he’s way too old for her, but then she decides that she can talk it over with her parents later. They sneak around town constantly and go out without telling anyone. One night they meet at a local cafĂ© and come face-to-face with a large man named Frankie. It turns out that Jamie is actually Tony. He had a drink with a girl one night and she had a boyfriend in prison named Frankie. Frankie started stalking him and following him around, so he ran off to his cousin’s house. Frank attacks, Liz hits him over the head and knocks him out.

Jess goes to check on Liz and discovers that Taryn is missing. She heard her parents fighting, thought they hated her and ran away. She finds her trapped on a broken footbridge. The cops can’t save her because it’s a Sweet Valley book and the authorities have no place in these books. Jess tells her a little story and the girl gets close enough that she can grab her.

Liz runs into Jess at the hospital and stops in Taryn’s room. Her parents can’t reach her, but Jess tells them about the little stories. Her mom tells her a story, calling her parents the wicked people and Taryn hugs her. Liz spends the rest of the book moping around and not talking to Tony, while Jess moans over not recognizing him.

Tony sends them free tickets to a big charity concert. Jess convinces her to go, even though she doesn’t want to see him again. Tony plays a song called “Summer Girl” about spending time and falling in love with a girl and dedicates it to Liz. She starts crying and then smiles because she knows that they will always have their one summer…or something like that.

Oh and Lila spends the first half of the book complaining about immature high school guys and then meets a cute older guy that turns out to be a year younger than her. She really likes him and decides to go for it, but Jess is a huge bitch about it. She makes fun of her constantly for dating a younger guy and it is super annoying.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #79: Mary Anne Breaks the Rules

Mary Anne has a sitting job at the Kuhn house, which isn’t doing so well. Jake is really upset over his parents’ divorce because his dad moved to Texas and never gets a chance to visit. He comes home in tears because Buddy invited him to his mom’s wedding. He’s also upset because Buddy now has two dads and he has none. Mary Anne decides that the best thing is to get Logan. She asks him to come over and hang out with Jake every now and then, giving him a male presence in his life.

Logan starts coming over a lot and spending all of his free time with Jake. They play soccer, do guy stuff and just hang out. Mary Anne decides not to tell Mrs. Kuhn because she doesn’t want to upset her. Cut to Mrs. Kuhn coming home one day and finding Logan in the kitchen. She immediately thinks he is there as Mary Anne’s boyfriend and he runs out without contradicting her.

Mrs. Kuhn calls the club and lodges a complaint. All of the girls act shocked that Mary Anne would invite a guy over. She tries explaining and they tell her to call Mrs. Kuhn and explain the situation. The girls won’t let her take any other sitting jobs and think Mrs. Kuhn called other parents because they stop getting jobs. Mary Anne cries constantly and worries about what to do.

Then Mrs. Kuhn shows up with Jake. He spent the whole weekend pouting because Logan promised to come to his soccer game and never showed up. He told his mom that Logan came over for him and hardly spent any time with Mary Anne. Mary Anne explains that she wanted to help Jake out and Mrs. Kuhn cries because he needed a male presence. She calls Logan and invites him to spend some time with Jake that day and calls the BSC, explaining what actually happened.

There is also a story about a bunch of kids, including the Pikes, Jake, Buddy and the Braddocks wanting to build a haunted house for Halloween. The kids fight because half want a funny house and half want a scary house. They eventually decide to split up and make two houses. Logan and Mary Anne help with the funny house and visit the scary house, where they see Alan Gray helping. Apparently Vanessa asked Mallory for help and she sarcastically told her to call him because he knew all about gross stuff.

*What is up with the divorced people in this town? Both of Dawn’s parents remarry within a year of their divorce, as does Mrs. Barrett. Plus I always got the feeling that Watson was barely divorced when he hooked up with Kristy’s mom.

*Check out Logan on the cover of this book. I always thought he looked pretty dorky, but here he looks like he’s about 36 years old.

*I also have to ask what is up with the way kids dress in these books? Stacey and Robert run into Mary Anne and Logan on a date. They went to Chez Maurice and she’s wearing a white pantsuit with a silk shirt.

*According to Stacey, Jamie went as Peter Pan for last Halloween (never mentioned before) and cried because everyone thought he was Robin Hood. Okay.

*The Arnold twins go as Tweedledum and Tweedledee for Halloween and Shannon acts as a fill-in sitter for Halloween when their mom loses her contact lens.

*Mary Anne is such a brat in this book! She keeps thinking that she should tell Mrs. Kuhn about Logan and keeps putting it off, but then she feels shocked when she catches them.

*Ann’s notes say that she loves Halloween, which is why it’s a recurring theme in the BSC books. If by recurring you mean every five books when not a single year passes, then I completely understand.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #71: Claudia and the Perfect Boy

Claudia is sitting in her room, hugging herself and feeling sad because she doesn’t have a boyfriend. She makes a list of things she wants in her perfect guy, including being a good listener, lots to talk about, artistic and muscular. Stacey catches her and after later telling her what she was doing, she gives her some feedback on her list. Stacey then shows her a personal ads column and they get the idea to one for the middle school.

Emily is completely on board with the idea and gives her half a page in the newspaper. Of course it’s a huge success and everyone in school submits an ad. They eventually get another half page, just to compensate for all the letters. Claudia also finds a few letters that peak her interest. One is a guy who says he likes to swim and sketch.

His name is Brian and they go on a date, but it’s a disaster because he barely talks. He reveals that he likes to assemble model cars and sketch the finished cars. Then she goes out with Richard/Rock, who’s Alan Gray’s neighbor and goes to a private school. He’s obsessed with everything Asian and has a gross tattoo, plus he keeps talking to her about oriental things. She goes out with a few other guys when she puts in her own ad and accidentally answers Alan’s personal ad.

Then she gets a letter from a guy who sounds perfect for her, but he doesn’t leave a name or number. When she complains about it and keeps searching for him, she gets another letter from him saying that he’s out there and he’ll find her. She keeps freaking out and Stacey reveals that she wrote the letter to make her feel better. She’s kind of pissed, but then decides to give up on dating for awhile and just be happy alone.

The other storyline involves Mrs. Barrett discovering that Marnie is allergic to their dog. Buddy and Suzi hate their sister because they have to give up Pow. She puts an ad out and meets a bunch of people, but no one seems right. Eventually the Pike family decides to take Pow in and all’s well that ends well.

*Claudia gets a letter from a boy named Sean, who wants to start a support group for divorced kids. She talks it over with the BSC and eventually gives him the number of a therapist. I think it’s pretty shitty that she didn’t run the letter.

*The Pow storyline is such a tack on! If Marnie was allergic to the dog, wouldn’t she have shown symptoms before? There’s been entire scenes where she hugged the dog or sat on him and never once shown any symptoms.

*It’s kind of funny that the Alan thing wasn’t referenced in the Friends Forever books, especially after they started liking each other.

*Claudia ends up having the personals column and a matchmaking column in the paper, but of course she stops both of them after this book.

*She screws up a bunch of ads and Logan thinks Mary Anne is trying to dump him because of it, so he stops talking to her. Yeah, he’s a real winner. I’m sure she’d be stupid enough to advertise for a new boyfriend, knowing he would read the ads and use her real phone number.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #121: Abby in Wonderland

Abby, Anna and their mom are heading off to the Hamptons for a vacation with her grandparents. Gram and Grandpa apparently have an annual anniversary party with some huge theme and this year they are going out early and helping. Gram wants to celebrate with an Alice in Wonderland storyline.

From the moment they get there, Abby notices that her grandma seems a little different. She keeps taking naps all the time, her grandpa who recently had heart surgery constantly worries about her and she’s uptight about the party. She keeps pointing out people that can’t make it and acting upset about it, but then refuses to call them and ask them to come.

Gram asks Abby to run in and find the party menu in her room and when she can’t find it, Abby does a little snooping. She finds a pamphlet on breast cancer and realizes that her grandma is sick. She takes it upon herself to call everyone that couldn’t come to the party. She calls her uncle and he rearranges her plans and then calls her cousin who promises that she’ll do her best.

Abby knows that her grandma and her sister Leah had a fight over something years ago and no longer speak. When she acts down about it, Abby calls the woman. Leah reveals that she wasn’t invited and hangs up. Abby tells her grandma, who feels bad, calls Leah and they make up.

Kristy comes into town and Abby gives her a costume for the party. Everyone shows up and they have a lot of fun. Gram makes a special toast and says she loves everyone, which causes Abby to run off in tears. She tells Gram about finding the pamphlet and Gram reveals that they did a biopsy, but she won’t know if she has cancer for a few weeks. They cry and hug, but at the end state their love for each other.

The Pike family is going crazy because they can’t go on vacation. Mr. Pike’s car died and their vacation money has to pay for the repairs. The BSC help the kids get over their funk by planning a special at-home vacation. They line up plastic swimming pools, decorate the yard like a beach, have Hawaiian music and even eat vacation foods. Mr. and Mrs. Pike are exhausted at the end and everyone doubts they will ever have a stay at home vacation again.

*The Mallory plot confuses me. I know she went away to boarding school, but there is no mention of that in this book. They mention that she went on vacation to Europe with everyone recently (adding even more confusion to the continuity of the books), but they act like she never left.

*Abby’s mom makes them leave later because the publishing house needs her to read a book before making a decision on it and they can’t make a decision without her input. Pretty good given that she’s only worked there for around three months!

*Abby is shocked that Leah doesn’t know who she is, but they’ve never met! In fact she even explains that Leah and her grandma stopped talking before she was born.

*Apparently Leah and Gram fought because Leah revealed in the middle of a dinner party that her sister joined Weight Watchers.

*Dawn comes back for vacation and Mary Anne signs her up for a sitting job. Seriously, she hasn’t even flown into town yet and she signs her up for a job.

*Anna’s friend Corly comes to the house and notices a misprint in her music book, just by looking at the notes. Um, there is musically talented and then savants. Which one is she?

*Anna and their mom are super excited about swinging by their old house. You know, the one where they lived when their dad died and the one they had to give up. Yup, I totally get the appeal.

*Kristy chases a famous sportscaster down the street for his autograph. That seems pretty far out of character for her.