Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #86: It Can’t Happen Here

There’s a new boy in school, Brian, who every girl is in love with and every guys wants to be friends with. He comes from Los Angeles, has a ton of money, and is kind of an ass. Aaron Dallas wants to be his new best friend, but he has to deal with his grandpa who is town for awhile. Grandpa makes a special Jewish dinner and Aaron has to eat with the family. When he wants to sneak off to meet his friends at the movies, his grandpa offers to go with him and pay for his friends, but he begs off because he’s embarrassed.

Cut to history class and the beginning of an assignment on the Holocaust. They divide the class into two groups: one led by Brooke and one led by Brian. The teacher tells Brian to pick half the class as part of his team, and he picks the “cool” kids, including Aaron and the twins. The teacher tells each leader that they can institute any rules they want and do whatever they want with their team. Brian decides that everyone on his side will wear black shirts every day.

Aaron thinks of himself as Brian’s right hand man. Randy stops by his house and actually likes spending time with his grandpa. He asks him to put in a good word for him with Brian, which he does, but Brian has no interest in adding Randy to the group. Meanwhile, Janet decides that Brian should add older kids to his group. Jessica suggests it to him, and he invites all the Unicorns into his club except for Ellen.

Elizabeth is the only person who doesn’t like Brian. She doesn’t like the way he excludes people or how he treats other people. Brooke’s group goes to Casey’s to clean up the parking lot, so he plans a group meeting there. They throw trash all over the parking lot, which causes the owner to run outside and yell at them. Brian lies and tells him that it was Brooke’s group.

Brian tells everyone at the meeting that he’s throwing an exclusive party and only those there are invited. A few girls offer to help setup and cleanup after the party, which shocks Aaron. Brian then warns Jessica that if Elizabeth doesn’t start playing along with his club, he will kick her out. She begs her sister to start acting like a club member and she refuses.

Brian sees Mandy’s mom driving around and dis-invites her because her mom drives a crappy car. Then he dis-invites Anna because he didn’t realize she was deaf. Elizabeth is shocked when Anna tells her that he made fun of her by doing fake sign language and everyone laughed at her. Amy is upset too because Brian stood behind her and whispered dog in her ear because he thinks she’s ugly.

Aaron’s grandpa keeps trying to talk to him and he keeps blowing him off. At one point, his grandpa mentions that he lost his sister in one of the concentration camps and Aaron is so uncomfortable that he just leaves. He keeps thinking that something is wrong but he can’t put his finger on it. When he sees Elizabeth have a confrontation with Brian, he just warns Jessica to talk to her twin.

Brian puts Aaron in charge of uninviting people to the party, including those who offered to help. On the night of the party, Elizabeth throws a party for everyone who wasn’t invited. She can’t figure out why so many people want to be friends with him. Even Winston is upset that he didn’t get an invitation.

Elizabeth and Brian have an altercation in school. She accuses him of being a bully and he goes off on her. He tells everyone in his club that they can’t talk to her anymore, and even Jessica starts avoiding her. He gets Aaron and Kimberly to meet him after school and they gang up on her. He twists her arm behind her back and tries to shove her in a locker. Jessica shows up and they run away. Aaron feels so bad about what happened that he runs straight to his grandpa.

Grandpa comes to school and tells the class some of what he experienced during the Holocaust. It leads to a discussion about the class project, and Aaron finally speaks up. Brian pretty much acts like he did nothing wrong, even when Elizabeth tells them what he did to her. Jessica also jumps in and people start taking off the armbands (yes, armbands) that he made them wear. They all realize that it’s easy to follow the pack and decide to be better people in the future.

*Apparently Aaron and Randy are both Jewish. You would think the writers would have mentioned that before.

*The owner of Casey’s is actually named Casey and he actually works there. For some reason, that made me laugh.

*They always describe Casey’s as being in the mall, and the girls always walk through the mall to get there. In this book, it’s a standalone ice cream shop with its own parking lot.

*Brian is so rich that he actually has a butler who seems to just sit around waiting for him to order something.

*When the twins tell their parents about the project and how they are studying the Holocaust, Ned and Alice just exchange a look and say nothing.

*The teacher should get fired. He says that Brian took things a little father than he planned but it was a good learning experience. Yes, and a pre-teen girl was almost hurt.

*This wasn’t a learning lesson for Brian. Even at the end, he doesn’t admit that he did anything wrong because he was just doing what the teacher said.

*Brian is such an ass. Aaron thinks his house looks like a palace, and he just smirks because his house in L.A. was so much bigger. Then, when he asks for a snack, the butler brings them sandwiches, chips, dips, snack cakes, and like 9 other things.

*I sincerely hope that young girls who read this book didn’t mention it when actually studying the Holocaust in school.

*Aaron and Jessica are still kind of dating in this book, but she thinks Brian is super cute. Brian knows that she’s his girlfriend, but he still flirts with her constantly and Aaron just lets him do it.

*There’s no explanation as to why he didn’t want Ellen in his group. She almost cries at one point and they just let her run away. She’s the only smart one in the Unicorns though. When they say they’ll convince him to change his mind, she decides that she doesn’t want to be part of his group if he didn’t already think she was cool enough.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club Mystery #1: Stacey and the Missing Ring

Stacey decides that it’s the perfect time to mention to her mother that she wants a birthstone ring. Her mom isn’t too sure about the idea, and she really flips out when Stacey tells her that she wants a diamond ring. They have a minor fight, made worse when she tells her mom that her dad would buy it for her. She storms upstairs, calls Kristy, and the entire club goes to the mall.

She tells her friends about the ring that she wants, and she gets annoyed that no one is on her side. When she sees a display at the mall, she points out a similar room and they are all pretty shocked. They all think it’s too expensive and no one takes her side like she wants them to. She does tell her mom how much more expensive the mall ring was compared to the one she really wants, and Maureen basically tells her that she can have $10 toward the ring and that’s it.

At the next BSC meeting, they get a call from a Mrs. Gardella. Their nanny is on vacation and they need a sitter. Stacey gets the job and discovers that the family is a little weird. They have a dog named Bird and a cat named Mouse, and Mrs. Gardella spends most of her time telling her how to care for the animals, like how the cat eats at the table. She finally introduces their baby Tara, but she’s kind of an afterthought.

The next day, Stacey’s mom wakes her up because Mrs. Gardella is on the phone. When she got home, she discovered that a diamond ring was missing. She gives Stacey one change to give her back the ring before she does something drastic. Maureen defends her daughter, but Stacey still feels bad. She calls Kristy who calls an emergency meeting.

Stacey tells everyone what happened, and they are all shocked. Mallory makes a comment about it being a weird coincidence that she just wanted a diamond ring but that’s it. Mrs. Gardella tells the club that she will need to warn their other clients about what happened. No one knows what to do, especially when calls stop coming into the club. Two parents cancel sitting jobs and only a few girls get jobs.

Stacey decides not to take any sitting jobs because she doesn’t want to take money away from the other girls. Claudia gets a job sitting for Jenny, and she gets scared when Mrs. Prezzioso comes home early. After telling her husband to put Jenny to bed, she tells Claudia that Mrs. Gardella was at the party and told them what happened. She doesn’t believe that the BSC would steal for anyone but she still wanted to leave early.

Stacey is watching Gone with the Wind with her mom when Claudia calls to tell her what happened. Claudia comes over and they talk about things. Stacey notices that she keeps circling the room and going through her stuff, and she realizes that Claudia is looking for the ring. Claudia basically tells her that she just wanted to make sure, they fight, and stop talking for a few days.

Stacey finally comes to a decision. She will offer to sit for the family for free until she pays off the cost of the ring. Mrs. Gardella agrees but only if someone else comes with her at least once. Kristy and Stacey head over to their house one night and do a quick search but find nothing. Mouse keeps playing with toys and carrying them off so Stacey decides to follow him. She discovers that he has hiding places all over the house, and in one of his spots, she finds the missing ring.

When Mrs. Gardella comes home, they show her the ring and she feels like crap. She says that he constantly hides little things all over the house but she didn’t know about this spot. They pay both of the girls for sitting and she apologizes. When they ask her to call their clients, she says that she only ever talked to Mrs. Prezzioso.

At the next BSC meeting, Stacey and Claudia have made up. Mrs. Gardella calls and says that her nanny is back, but she will still need the girls in the future. They all agree not to work for her again though. Stacey also announces that her parents agreed to go in together and get her the ring she wants for Christmas or another special occasion.

*So, Stacey’s birthday is in April?

*Mrs. Gardella makes it a point to explain that she needs to put the animals’ food out 30 minutes before they eat to bring it up to room temperature. As soon as she leaves, Stacey feeds the animals.

*Mary Anne sits for Jenny and the little boy next door comes over. When she’s not paying attention, they bring the water hose into the house and spray down the entryway. She says that she managed to clean it up so no one would notice, but that seems like an awful lot of water damage to me.

*Claudia outfit: red sweater, black leggings, red high tops, and a red plastic lunchbox. I think this might be the only outfit of hers that I would ever wear.

*Claudia’s dad agrees to drive her over to Stacey’s house because it isn’t “too late,” yet she didn’t leave the Prezzioso house until at least 8:30. That seems kind of late for a junior high student to be out roaming around.

*Mrs. Gardella is kind of crazy. She literally spends 20 minutes talking about the animals before remembering her kid. Even then, she’s just kind of like “oh yeah, feed the baby and put her to bed, see you.”

*Why would she believe them so easily? Stacey could have snuck the ring into the house and stuck it under a rug.

*Then again, if she knows that her cat steals jewelry and other small things, why wouldn’t she at least check out some of his hiding spots?

*Everyone is a little too trusting of Stacey. They instantly believe that she would never steal a diamond ring, but in later books, they are all too willing to believe that she would do bad things.