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.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #68: The Middle School Gets Married

Mr. Siegel announces a new project for the entire middle school: marriage. All of the girls think the idea is super romantic, which annoys him because he wants them to learn something. He warns them that he will pull their names out of hats, randomly assigning everyone a spouse. Even though they know what’s coming, the Unicorns still think they will come out on top.

When the partners get announced, it seems like no one is happy. Elizabeth gets Bruce, Janet winds up with Randy Mason, Ellen gets paired with Winston, Lila’s with Todd, and Jessica gets Rick Hunter who constantly teases and picks on her. Todd convinces Elizabeth to talk to their teacher, but before she can, he announces that he won’t change the partners.

Bruce is a pain in the ass. He acts like Mr. Cool all the time, never doing any assignments. The teacher decides that they have to do everything together, including eat lunch and attend classes. When Bruce is late, he won’t even let Elizabeth sit down until he gets there.

Rick isn’t much better. He picks on Jessica all the time, even insinuating that she’s fat. He comments on all of her food, telling her that she’ll get fat and pimples. When it comes to creating a budget, he decides that he’ll be a rock star and won’t have to worry about money. He creates a budget with money set aside for concert tickets and his pet snakes without budgeting for food or a home.

Mr. Siegel announces a twist on the project, making all of the students carry around an egg as a baby. Jessica and Rick fight over their baby’s name, finally settling on Steven Fido. She gets annoyed at him and accidentally breaks the egg. She eventually breaks four or five of them, usually because she’s so annoyed.

Bruce wants absolutely nothing to do with the egg, but he does agree to come over to the Wakefield house. After seeing Ned cook dinner and help with their project, he decides that he wants to be just like him. He takes over the project, making Elizabeth feel stupid for most of the book.

As part of the project, they have to cook a well-balanced meal at school. Bruce plans the entire menu, chides Elizabeth for picking squash over spinach, and thinks that she needs more iron in her diet. When she gets angry at him, she accidentally breaks their egg and replaces it with one from their refrigerator.

Jessica and Rick have an even worse time cooking. He burns the macaroni for their macaroni and cheese and makes a joke about the teacher eating dog food just as he walks in the room. Rick apologizes, helps her finish the dish, and acts like a normal human being. Then he kisses her and admits that he likes her.

The worst couple is Sophia and Patrick, her crush. She is so worried about what he thinks of her that she rarely opens her mouth. She keeps waiting for him to make a decision while he’s waiting for her. After heading to the grocery store three times without making a choice, she finally snaps and they stop talking. She goes home, learns that her mom is engaged to Sarah’s dad, and yells at them that they are making a huge mistake. On top of all that, Bruce finds out that the egg Elizabeth used is a hard-boiled one and stops talking to her.

Jessica wants to tell everyone about her new boyfriend, but they are too busy bitching about their partners. She and Rick start spending more time together, but things are different. He stops teasing her, they never argue, and they never have any fun. When she starts bragging about the budget she did on her own, he finally snaps and they stop speaking.

The last day of the project arrives, and Mr. Siegel lets them finish up. Everyone starts fighting and he hears someone say that the project was impossible. He basically tells them that they learned the right lesson: that marriage is impossible unless you’re old enough and with the right person, and he promises them all an A.

Bruce apologizes to Elizabeth and goes back to being Mr. Cool. Sophia and Patrick makeup, and she tells her mom that she can’t wait to be part of a new family. Jessica goes to the Unicorn table and sees Randy teasing Janet. Ellen invites Winston over, telling her that everyone is used to the way things were. Even Lila rushes off to sit with Todd. Rick stops by, teases Jessica, and she gets excited because things are back to normal.

*The project is part home ec, part math, part social studies, etc. Did you all have to take home ec? It was an “elective” in my junior high, but we could take other classes too. I think I took the basic class and then took cooking classes instead, and I knew a lot of people who never took a single home ec class. This book acts like everyone has to do it.

*There is no way that this is a new project, so why is everyone so surprised? Janet is in eighth grade, so I’m assuming that she did this project at least once. If it is new, how will it work in the future? Will they need to do the same thing every freaking year?

*Todd is apparently a neat freak that cannot pick the perfect folder for their project, which seems completely out of character.

*We didn’t do the egg project in my school, but we did have to carry either a sugar or flour sack. There was one 12-pound flour sack assigned, and guess who got it? Yup, that was me. Everyone else had a little 8 pounder, and I was stuck lugging the giant bag to every class.