Friday, February 1, 2013

Sweet Valley Junior High #25: Drama Queen

Let's get the Toby/Anna story out of the way because it is easily the most boring of the group. They both got cast in West Side Story, but Toby is super busy trying to be a huge star. He keeps getting distracted by Anna because she is so beautiful and he just can't concentrate on learning his lines.

Anna thinks that he isn't interested in her, especially since they are dating but he hasn't kissed her yet. Then he does kiss her and she's suddenly fine. The lead in the play gets sick and since they apparently don't have understudies, they decide to move Anna up. She has like two weeks to learn all of her lines and get ready for the show.

Toby starts getting super annoying. They fight over who is the better singer, and he keeps acting like a big star. They fight all the time until her mom calls them out on it and they try to calm down. They make up just in time for the first performance and they naturally do a great job and everyone loves them.

Jessica and Lacey kind of get a B-plot in the book. There's a huge school-wide Olympics thing that divides the school into different teams, and they wind up on the same team. The first event is an egg toss and they do a good job until Lacey hits Jessica in the chest with an egg. They keep getting paired up, and Lacey goes out of her way to make her look stupid.

Jessica is also worried because Lacey keeps flirting with Damon, who tries to keep the peace without actually telling Lacey that she is a bitch. They wind up together in the thre-legged race and when Lacey decides to try and throw the race, Jessica literally picks her up and drags her across the finish line. Ronald the dork gets put in another event and wins it for their team, which makes Lacey get into the events.

Of course by the time she develops some team spirit, the competition is almost over. The last event is a tug of war. Jessica and Lacey are on the same team and they almost win, but start fighting and end up getting eliminated. They do work together though and their team places second overall. Everyone thinks that they will get along now, but they both snap at each other and agree that things won't be so nice when they meet again.

*The Olympics thing is weird because they apparently let the kids pick whether or not they want to participate. We had things like this in my school, but you didn't get to skip it because you were in drama club or something.

*They also take attendance and no team can win any event unless every member of the team, including those not participating, is there. That's funny because in an early event that they win, Lacey isn't there. Later though, they can't win unless she shows up.

*Toby is a real dick in this book. Anna says that he did some commercials and other things when he was a baby/toddler, which apparently makes him an expert in all things acting.

Sweet Valley Junior High #12: Third Wheel

There are three major storylines here, and Salvatore's is the least interesting so let's start with him. His parents live in Germany because his dad is a military man stationed at a base there. They come back to California for a visit, and his mom acts like he is a kid and his dad treats him like a soldier. He decides to hang out with the guys to be the kind of son his dad wants.

Elizabeth and Anna think that he's avoiding him and feel like crap. He acts really obnoxious, shoots rubber bands at people, including Elizabeth who he hits, and generally behaves like a teenage boy. His dad keeps lecturing him on joining a team and acting like a man. His mom takes him to the natural history museum, and he and his dad share a moment when they remember buying and playing with plastic dinosaurs. His dad buys him a new one and when he starts goofing around like a kid, his dad yells at him.

His parents want to take him shopping for clothes, and he brings along the girls. Elizabeth naturally wins over his dad, and they pick out clothes he will actually wear. His dad realizes that he likes-likes her, but he points out that she just wants to be friends. His dad tells him that his mom said the same thing and they bond some more before he leaves.

Bethel notices this cute guy named Jameel at a track meet and tells Jessica. Jessica tells other people, and they make fun of her because he's a year younger. Jameel starts following her around, but she ignores him. Every time they start to get close, people pick on her so she keeps avoiding him. He writes her a bunch of poems and love notes that he puts in her locker, and he even gives her a chocolate rose.

She tells him that she will date him when he beats her in a race, and he sets up a time to race. Bethel starts training constantly and making Jessica go with her. They finally do race and she wins. As part of their deal, he must now leave her alone forever. She starts moping over him and missing him all the time. She goes to the big dance alone and asks him to dance. A few people tease her, but most people are fine with it.

Jessica hears about the big dance/beach party and wants to go with Damon but he never asks her. She keeps waiting for him to ask and gets mopey when he doesn't ask. She gets completely caught up in helping Bethel train that she can't think about anything else. Damon notices that she's suddenly wearing older clothes and seems really tired, and he wonders if she's annoyed with him. She even passes out at the table and he has to revive her.

She finally talks to Elizabeth who points out that he might not have the money for the dance tickets. Jessica gathers up all of her money and buys two tickets. When she gets ready to ask him, he shows her the two tickets he bought. He worked for a neighbor to save up the money, but he didn't want to bring it up until he could get the money together.

*Even in the “realistic” Sweet Valley world, everyone loves a Wakefield twin. According to Salvatore, Elizabeth won over his dad before saying a word.

*Does anyone really care if an eighth grader dates a seventh grader? I remember a sophomore girl no less dating a freshman guy, and a few freshman/sophomores dated guys in the eighth grade.

*Salvatore passes around one of the poems that Jameel wrote and makes up a little song to go with it. Everyone sings it to her in the middle of the cafeteria and she's mortified.

*Elizabeth hears from Jessica how upset Bethel was and feels a little bad because she was one of the singers, but she didn't realize it was a bad thing. This is from the same girl who got pissed when someone spread a rumor that she wanted a boyfriend!

*Jessica eats Jell-o with a straw and talks to Damon about how it's so red but doesn't taste red. He starts worrying about her and then she literally falls asleep in her food. He has to wipe the Jell-o off her face and the scene is actually pretty cute.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sweet Valley Twins #34: Jessica, the Rock Star

Jessica won free tickets to see Melody Power in concert, and she took Elizabeth with her. She cannot wait until school the next day when she can tell her friends all about it. They stay up late talking about the show, and Jessica can barely get to sleep because she's so excited.

The next day, Elizabeth goes downstairs for breakfast and Jessica makes a dramatic entrance covered in scarves and necklaces like Melody wears. She tells her family that she wants to be a rock star when she grows up, which leads to Steven teasing her because she can barely sing. She goes to school and brags about the concert but mainly just wants everyone to know that she's going to be a star.

Conveniently, Bruce, Aaron and some random guy just formed a rock band and need a lead singer. Jessica decides to go to the auditions, and she spends hours getting ready. Elizabeth notices that her twin keeps singing in this weird gravely voice and tells her that she should use her own voice. Jessica doesn't care though because she thinks that she sounds great. Elizabeth also tells her that some other talented girls are auditioning, including Dana Larson.

She heads over to Bruce's house, but before anyone can do anything, his mom calls him upstairs. She needs to use the house for some random charity thing and her friends are sick of listening to his band. She tells him that he can't practice there anymore, and no one else has cool parents. Jessica suggests that they use her house because her parents love music. It's no surprise when they pick her as their lead singer, and only Elizabeth seems to wonder if it has more to do with their basement and less to do with her singing.

Jessica quickly becomes the gopher for the band. Every time she wants to practice, they ask her to run an errand like getting them drinks or riding her bike over to Bruce's to find him some extra strings. They only let her sing a few times, and they all grimace at her horrible singing. Elizabeth tells her to try using her own voice, but she thinks that she knows better.

She spends so much time with the band that the Unicorns get pissed because she misses a few meetings. The band, NRG, decides to tape their practice so they can see if they can pick up on anything they did wrong. Jessica keeps the tape after they leave, hears herself sing, and realizes that she's terrible. She starts practicing on her own so that she can get her voice in shape before their first gig.

Elizabeth goes to the mall with her mom and hears the boys in the department store. They lied to Jessica about what time the gig started because they want her to miss it, and they even pick out clothes without her. She comes home to find her sister practicing and sounding a lot better. The next day, she lies and tells Jessica that Bruce called and told her what to wear and what time the show was.

Jessica gets to the party on time and discovers that they actually started a lot earlier. She realizes what they did to her and decides to show them up. She gets on stage and sings with them and naturally they are awesome. All the kids at the party hated them until she got there, but they suddenly get up and start dancing. They are such a hit that other people start calling and requesting gigs. Bruce treats Jessica like a princess and brings her drinks, but she decides to quit the band. She invites the Unicorns over and kick the band out, saying that she isn't ready to be a star.

*Wait, so 30 books ago Jessica was too young to see a rock concert with her friends, but now she's old enough to go out late on a school night with just her twin? Alice's explanation was that she would be disappointed if they didn't let her go.

*Apparently the show sold out within five minutes, and the only SVMS students who went were the twins and Mary because her step-dad is a huge fan.

*She changes her name to Gem because Jessica is too boring and then changes the signs/poster she makes so they all highlight her name as the lead singer.

*Supposedly NRG is such a hot band that even high school kids want them. Yes because nothing says a hot high school party like a bunch of sixth and seventh graders hanging around!

*It's super annoying that they keep changing the twins' voices. In some books, they can barely carry a tune, and then in other books, they are practically superstars.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Baby-Sitters Club #80: Mallory Pike, #1 Fan

Mallory has a big new project coming up at school, which surprisingly enough isn't part of the Short Takes classes. Their teacher wants them to create a project that has something to do with their future career. Mallory knows that she wants to write children's books, and since she has a new found interest in plays, she decides to write a play.

She goes to the kids' drama club and convinces them to put on her finished play. She writes up a report and hands it in to her teacher, but the teacher wants her to do something more because apparently writing and performing a play just isn't enough. Since she is obsessed with Henrietta Hayes's books, she decides to write the author a letter. She gets back a form letter, but decides to keep plugging away at it.

Mallory goes to her teacher and suggests that she meet with the writer and write a paper about it. The teacher agrees even though she has no connection to the author. Luckily though, Mallory discovers that Hayes actually lives in Stoneybrook, just one street over from Dawn and Mary Anne. After writing two more letters without getting anything except a form letter, she sends one to the author's actual house and gets back another form letter.

This time, she goes over to her house with a questionnaire that she made up. Mrs. Hayes opens the door, sees her there, and invites her into the house. After talking for 30 seconds, Hayes offers Mallory a job as her personal secretary. She explains that she sends out form letters to anyone who writes her because she doesn't have time to personally respond to each one.

While all this is going on, Mallory still has to write her play. She knows that writers usually use personal experiences, so she writes a play about her family. Valorie is a poor writer who just wants to focus on her writing but her family keeps getting in the way. She has an annoying little sister named Ranessa who talks in rhymes, a little brother Ricky who is a klutz, and three irritating triplet brothers.

Some of the kids in the play like Becca, Charlotte, and Haley realize that she's making fun of her siblings. They get uncomfortable and decide not to do the play. Her brothers and sisters show up and demand that she change the play because they don't want people making fun of them. Some of the kids decide to let Mrs. Pike watch the run through and see what she says before they drop out. Mrs. Pike doesn't like it because she thinks Mallory is being mean to her brothers and sisters.

While all this is going on, Mallory's teacher decides that she needs to include more information about Hayes's personal history. Since her books focus on happy families and perfect kids, she assumes that she had a perfect childhood too. She goes to the library and finds that Hayes was actually an orphan who went through a series of foster homes. Mallory feels cheated and like the author lied to her.

She tries to cover up her feelings, but she finally breaks down and accuses Hayes of lying. Hayes admits that she didn't have the perfect life but that writers can't just write what they know. Mallory is also sad to learn that she had a daughter who died and that she kept her daughter’s room the same way she left it.

Mallory agrees to change the play to accommodate her family, and her mom makes everyone sign off on it before she passes out the new script. Everyone agrees to do the play, and it goes great. Mrs. Hayes comes to the play and likes it. The Pikes think she did a great job and everyone sucks up to her. Hayes apologizes for kind of yelling at Mallory, and Mal decides to go back to working for her.

*Jessi's project involves writing out the stories behind certain ballets. Not writing behind the scenes stuff, but actually writing out the story of what's going on in the ballet because Stacey explains that she somehow can't follow the storyline in person. The teacher somehow thinks this is a fantastic idea. And yet, Mallory can't just write a play and write about what she learned helping kids put on the play.

*The teacher also makes Jessi create illustrations to go along with her stories. What the hell does that have to do with her wanting to be a pro ballet dancer?

*Hayes has her address published in the phone book, seriously? And she doesn't think it's odd when a reader not only sends a letter to her home address but shows up there?

*Hayes's daughter’s room has a twin bed, lots of ruffles, and tons of pink stuff everywhere. But, the article that Mallory reads says that she was 18 when she died. What kind of 18 year old girl has a room like that?

*Mallory's play is ridiculous! She acts like her parents demand all of her free time and that she never gets the chance to write. I know they demand a lot of her in other books, but in this one she has time to work on her play, meet with the kids in the play, babysit, and attend BSC meetings without her parents asking her for anything.

*It's weird that there isn't a subplot in this one. The main plot is about her working on the play and the subplot is about her working for Hayes.

*How many famous people live in this freaking town? According to Mrs. Kishi, who keeps files on every famous person, there are several famous writers and at least two illustrators living in Stoneybrook.

*BTW, Mallory gets a response from her in less than a week. I'm still waiting for Christian Slater to respond to the letter that my 12-year-old self sent him!

*I actually did get a response from Tom Cruise when I was a kid LOL. I wrote him a letter to tell him that I would be his perfect wife, but that I was okay with him marrying Nicole Kidman (this was way back in the day). I got back a letter about his “new” movie Far and Away with an auto-signed picture that I still have in a drawer at my parents' house LOL.