Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sweet Valley High #34: Forbidden Love


Sweet Valley High is all abuzz because Maria Santelli is engaged to Michael Harris. Even though Jessica barely talks to her, she now wonders if Maria will put her in her wedding party, and she wants to be next to her in the pyramid. Elizabeth thinks that they will probably keep things on the down low because their parents don't get along. Their dads were once business partners but had a falling out and no longer speak.

Maria is so excited about her engagement though that she shows off her ring to everyone. Michael points out that he wanted to keep it a secret, but she thinks that their best friends deserve to know. Lila and Jessica decide to throw them a huge engagement party at Fowler Estate. They go all out with a wedding cake and surprise them by saying that it's a party for Lila's cousin.

Maria is also working with Winston because he's running for student council. Michael is pretty jealous of all the time that they spend together, and he pouts whenever she makes plans with him. They meet every Tuesday and Thursday, but he asks her to cancel one day to spend it with him. He then makes her give up another day because he has a tennis match. When he suggests that she stop helping him, she agrees to find a replacement.

She turns to Liz, which is a bad idea. Liz says that she's way too busy dealing with schoolwork and a special project she's working on with Jeffrey for the paper. She also makes a few rude comments about the engagement, in her smug Liz way. Maria winds up saying that she's just jealous and hanging up on her. Winston doesn't take it very well either, telling her that she's breaking her heart, which makes her wonder how he feels about her. He naturally tells Liz that he has a huge crush on Maria and wishes she was single.

Everyone in school gets paired up for a special marriage project. Michael and Maria conveniently wind up together, and they constantly fight. The teacher picks their jobs, and Maria is a stay at home mom. She talks about how she wants to work, and Michael does the whole "no wife of mine" thing. They also have to deal with a fake crisis. Theirs is a son who gets caught shoplifting and the judge recommends counseling. Michael threatens to beat it out of his son and she just goes along with him.

That is really their big problem. Maria just follows along with whatever he says or does because she's afraid of rocking the boat. They even get into a fight on the way to the party, and when she says that she doesn't want to go, he leaves her in the car and heads to the house. She runs after him, and the other guests swarm them. Michael gives a huge speech where he announces that he'll run against Winston in the student council elections with Maria's help. Winston runs outside, and she goes right up to Michael and hands him back the ring before chasing after him.

Mr. Santelli and his wife go to the movies and run into Caroline's mom. Mrs. Pierce lets it slip that Caroline is at the party and congratulates them on the engagement. They call Michael's parents and all four rush to the party. Michael tells them that they were engaged but not anymore, and they make up over their fight. They even decide to start working in business again.

Maria apologizes to Winston and makes a comment that lets him know the engagement is off. He suggests that he might need to be a little more serious, but she likes him the way he is. They wind up kissing and going back to the party. Michael and Maria have a chance to talk and decide to be friends. They finish up their project and actually agree on what they need to do.

*Micheal’s sister is coming to his meet, but she doesn't know about the engagement, so Maria has to take off the ring and just sit in the stands. She can't even cheer for him because they are supposed to hate each other.

*She also has to take the ring off every day after school and put it back on in the morning. When she tells him that she's getting sick of it, he says that he will eventually tell his parents. Nice guy.

*I love that Liz gets paired with Bruce for the project, just like they did in junior high. Lila winds up with Ken and complains that they will never have any money. Jessica works with Winston, and they actually get along better than they do later in the series.

*So Michael is the type of guy who wants his wife home, barefoot and pregnant and isn't above beating his children. Yup, he totally sounds like the kind of guy I would want to marry.

*Maria never once mentions having any feelings whatsoever for Winston, but when he says that he likes her, she suddenly likes him too, and they date for millions of books. I'm not sure how I feel about Winston going after a girl who just got dumped though...

*Liz mentions that she never thinks about marriage and feels relieved that Jeffrey isn't thinking about it either. Somehow, I think that the answer would be different if it was Todd.

*Liz also comes across as a little smug, saying that she feels confident with their relationship without thinking about things like marriage.

*Ha! Liz says that Jess will probably never settle down because she'll just keep bouncing from one guy to the next.

*Winston knows that they broke up because Maria says he knew they "were engaged." It's just a little minor thing, but I would totally tell someone something like "you knew we were dating, right?" It doesn't necessarily mean anything, and it would sound odd if she said, "you didn't tell me you loved me because you knew we are engaged."

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Baby-Sitters Club #47: Mallory on Strike


Since SMS hosts 9 billion different events every year, they decide to host a Young Author's Day. Mallory can't wait because she wants to be a writer (in case you didn't know) and she plans to work on a big story for the contest. She tells Jessi all about it, and everyone acts like she already has it in the bag.

Nobody bothered to tell her parents though, which means that she seldom gets any work done. She plans to spend all day Saturday working on her story, but her parents need her all the time because they can't focus without her. They ask her to make a sandwich for Claire and do 900 other things. On another day, she gets stuck breaking up a fight with the triplets, sitting for Claire, and keeping Margo out of trouble. She doesn't even have time to do her homework let alone work on her story.

She winds up turning down a few sitting jobs, which annoys Kristy. While dealing with a bunch of family stuff, she shows up late for a meeting, which really annoys Kristy. She also turns down more jobs and decides to work on a schedule. She outlines all of her current sitting jobs, schedules time for chores, time to work on her story, and time for homework. Mrs. Pike interrupts her on the first day, asking her to handle baking cookies for dessert.

Mallory finally decides that she should retire from the club. She shows them her schedule, and Kristy points out that she didn't leave any time for new sitting jobs. Mallory asks them to demote her to an associate member so she can deal with everything in her life. Kristy decides to give her two weeks off to focus on her story, and then they can decide what to do next.

The next weekend, she officially decides to go on strike. She makes a sandwich board out of a piece of poster board and a pair of suspenders and tells them all that they need to leave her alone for the rest of the day. The Pikes need to go to an emergency library meeting (seriously) and hire Mary Anne and Dawn to watch the kids. Mary Anne interrupts Mallory, who didn't even know they were there. Mary Anne points out that Mallory needs to have a serious conversation with her parents so things don't go back when she finishes her story.

Mallory finally does have the talk, and the Pikes feel bad about taking her for granted. They decide to host a special Mallory day, and take her and Jessi to the mall. After wandering through the mall and buying some crap, her parents treat them to lunch. She feels pretty good about the day but realizes that she missed her siblings, so she tells them that she wants to take them out after Young Author's Day.

Young Author's Day finally comes, and Mallory signs up for all of the events. In the middle of the day, they give out awards and she wins for Best Overall Story in the sixth grade. A professional writer comes to the event and talks to Mallory about how she has what it takes to make it in the writing world. People come up to her in school to talk about what a great job she did and her teacher is super impressed with her work.

At the end of the book, she and Jessi arrange to spend the day with the Pike kids. They take them to a carnival-thing at the Barrett house and make them put on a puppet show. She then goes to the park and gives them a clue, which leads them on a treasure hunt. They find a bunch of treats and small toys for them, and the book ends with them all hanging out in front of the Pike house.

*So, Mallory apparently takes a Creative Writing class on top of English. Did any of your schools offer this? We had a club for people who liked writing, but it met one day a week after school.

*Mallory mentions that she buys a pair of earrings and a vest, while Jessi buys a sweater and earrings. When they go to lunch, they claim that they have bulging bags and Mr. Pike asks if they bought out the mall...for two bags?

*The writer does a Q&A session first thing in the morning and then signs her books at the end of the day. Why the heck would a professional writer come to a middle school just to lounge around all day?

*Mallory mentions that her teacher wrote a book and is all impressed by that. I wrote a book too, one that you can actually find on Amazon and in book stores, and no one in my family really seemed to care LOL.

*Is hiding a bunch of stuff around a public park a good idea? It's at least two hours until they go back, and anyone could find the stuff in that time.

*Mal wears red tights, a denim skirt, jean jacket, and earrings that Claudia made when they go to the mall, while Jessi wears a purple jumpsuit with a gold turtleneck. I'm totally picturing one of those weird jumpsuits with the thin straps and scooped neck, which makes it even worse.

*Jessi sits for Claire and Margo, who are annoyed by Mallory being a pain. They make a ballet called Mean Old Mallory, and then tell her about it and how Jessi laughed at it. Mal gets upset, tells them to shut up, and runs off in tears.

*Kristy has plans with Mary Anne but gets stuck sitting for Andrew, Karen, and David Michael. Everything goes wrong all day: the kids fight, Boo-Boo eats their sandwiches, etc. She wonders how Mallory can handle with that type of thing everyday.

*The reason she has to sit is because her mom's friend had a heart attack, so she and Watson are going straight to the hospital. That's kind of sweet, but it seems a little extreme. Since it literally just happened (or they just got the call), it kind of seems like only the family should be there.

*Dawn and Mary Anne have some issues when sitting too. They make one big pizza for all the kids, but they have to pick ingredients off for some kids, and Claire needs her pizza cut into smaller pieces. BTW, they totally didn't tell Mallory when they made lunch.

*The people in her class get the option to submit something for Young Author's Day or not. It kind of seems strange that kids who specifically take a class for creative writers wouldn't want to take part.

*The whole award thing is weird anyway. They give prizes for different types of writing (mystery, etc.) and then the Best Overall prize, but Mallory actually submits her story for that prize. Doesn't it seem like they should award those prizes to the best story from each grade regardless of its style/theme?

*Mallory is all shocked when she finds out that it takes a year to get a book published. That seems like it's common sense because I was surprised that mine landed in stores around five to six months after the publisher got it and we went through editing.

*Mr. and Mrs. Pike are really horrible parents. They literally ask Mallory to do something different every day and then don't understand why she is frustrated. Maybe your daughter is annoyed because you can't be bothered to stop a fight between your sons or make a sandwich for your daughter.

*BTW, they call Dawn and Mary Anne because they have a library emergency. They claim that the library is in the middle of a financial crisis and need all the board members there. I'm pretty sure that's something that wouldn't just randomly appear overnight, and why would these two sit on the board of anything.

*Part of why Mallory asks to be demoted is because of her sitting job for the Barretts. They spill flour all over the kitchen, and before she can stop them, Suzi and Buddy dump water all over the floor. Buddy then goes for a bike ride and gets his foot caught in the spokes because he wasn't wearing shoes. Mrs. Barrett is pretty cool with it, but Mallory thinks that it proves she can't handle sitting.

*Mallory says that Jessi takes French. Has that been mentioned before? I know she has an "ear for language," but I always pictured her taking Spanish or something. Claudia keeps bragging about this great French dish, and Jessi translates it as eels.

*Here's my story about writing in middle school. We had a club that meet one day and had a big competition once a year. There were district, regional, and state competitions, and we only made it past the regional level once. Our English teacher picked the students for the club, but some people just randomly joined. I loved our teacher, but he definitely had his favorites and I was not one of them. He always criticized my writing and heaped praise on a few other people. I ran into him when I hit high school, and he told me that he kept pushing me because he knew I was a strong writer but he knew that I could do better. I guess he was right because out of the 15+ people in that club, I am the only one who now works as a writer.