Friday, February 14, 2014

Sweet Valley Twins #77: Todd Runs Away

Sweet Valley Middle School is about to launch yet another special program. This one is a special creative writing class that meets after school, and Mr. Bowman gets to pick the chosen few who take part. Elizabeth and Amy naturally end up in the class, but so does Todd Wilkins, which is odd since he never wanted to write before. He's a little worried because the class ends just 15 minutes before basketball practice, and he isn't sure he can do both.

Todd has a lot on his plate lately because he's the star of the middle school team, and you know how important middle school basketball is in terms of life. His dad was once a great player, but he blew out his knee before he could make it to the pros. He keeps pushing Todd to be a better player and focus all his attention on the sport.

Mr. Ramirez, the new teacher of the program, is a super cool guy who lets the kids call him Mark. He encourages them to work together on a story to show them that the greatest stories involve making a big choice. He asks them to write a story that's at least three pages before their next class.

Todd keeps working on his story, but it makes his playing suffer. His dad pops up to warn him that he shouldn't focus too much on school because he's an awesome dad. Seriously, he keeps saying that he didn't have as much homework before he took this one class and that he should consider how much time his schoolwork takes away from his practice time.

He winds up missing an easy shot at the next game, which leads to another lecture from his dad. Mark then tells him that he had the best story out of everyone in the class. Mr. Wilkins tells him that he has to drop the class, and he starts to but changes his mind. Mark then tells everyone to rewrite their story for no real reason, which means that he has to take more time away from basketball.

Mr. Wilkins decides to do something about this awful teacher. He goes to the school, but the principal won't do anything because Mark didn't do anything wrong. He then goes to different parents, and the parents tell their kids, so they all snub Todd in school. Todd gets so sick of people being mean to him that he skips school. The principal suspends him from the next game, and everyone hates him even more.

Todd wants to tell his dad what happened, but he decides that running away makes more sense. Elizabeth sees him and tries to talk to him, but he makes up a lame story about carrying a backpack full of clothes because he's making a donation to the homeless shelter. He buys a bus ticket and falls asleep at the station, waking up to his dad standing beside him.

Mr. Wilkins talks about his glory days as a player and how he wants to see Todd succeed in life too. He kind of says that he's sorry for being an asshat, and he encourages Todd to play basketball and write at the same time. He tells everyone what happened, and the other kids feel kind of bad for blaming him when his dad was the asshole.

The other story is all about how the twins need bras. They both want to talk to each other, but are afraid that the other doesn't need one yet. Jessica puts a bra ad in Liz's closet, Liz finds it and hides it in her room. They finally sit down and talk about it and decide to go to the mall together without telling their mom.

Every time they get in the store, something goes wrong. They see a classmate's mom one time and have Caroline in the dressing room next to them the next time. They finally go back, but the store is having some special promotion. They're the one millionth and one customer and would get discounts on all their purchases for a year, but they run away because the store wants to take pictures of them holding their items.

They finally go back again, find the right sizes, and make the purchase. On the way home, they run into some kids from school, and it starts raining. The kids all run away, but their bags get wet. When they go to leave, the bags split and spill their bras on the ground. There's no real resolution either because then Elizabeth sees Todd and runs away.

*Todd keeps saying that his dad was practically a professional NBA player until he blew out his knee. Turns out that it happened when he was a junior in high school. Um, there's a lot of good high school players who never go on to the pros.

*How does this school have so much money??? Mark is yet another teacher hired for just one program.

*The whole choice thing irritates me. Not every story in the world deals with someone making a choice between two different things.

*Apparently this class is mandatory too. Todd wants to drop it, but everyone chosen must go to the class. What if you had no interest in writing? Or what if you had afterschool commitments?

*This is pretty gross, but Steven notices the twins are "growing" and keeps teasing them about it. I grew up with two older brothers, and they would never even comment on it when I needed my first bra.

*Steven seriously walks around with his shirt pulled out at chest level, talking about how his sisters are growing up. Ew.

*You might think this book involves Todd running away, but it only happens like 20 pages from the end, and the story resolves itself in a few pages.

*Ellen apparently needed a bra before any other sixth grader that Jessica knows. I guess that means Lila is still walking around without a bra on under her fancy designer clothes.

*Todd's story is about a basketball player who has to choose between making the game winning shot or letting his best friend do it. Yeah, that story sounds awesome!

*Elizabeth's story is no better though. She writes about a girl who has to choose between writing for a newspaper or writing mystery novels. The teacher points out that she could do both, and she says that she never thought about that before. Really? Aren't there multiple books where she writes poetry or short stories while working for the paper too?

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