The twins' art teacher announces a new project for the class. They need a new mural for the library. He asks for suggestions as to a mural theme, Elizabeth brings up recycling, and everyone agrees to use it. It's super confusing though. The teacher puts them in groups of three and asks them to come up with an idea, but then everyone creates their own murals. Are they planning on putting all the murals together at the end?
Anyway, Liz gets put on a team with Sophia Rizzo and Sarah Thomas. Sarah is kind of a cry baby, and Sophia is kind of bitchy, so they naturally don't get along. They decide to make a mural that shows goofy drawings of their classmates. During their first painting session, they get into a fight and start throwing paint at each other. They accidentally hit one of their teachers with paint and have to come in for a meeting with their parents.
Both Sophia's mom and Sarah's dad blame their own kids for what happened. During their meeting, Mrs. Rizzo suddenly can't speak English well enough to keep up with the conversation, but no worries because Mr. Thomas is fluent in Italian. He then suggests that they take the kids to a baseball game. They have so much fun at the game that Mrs. Rizzo suggests they go to the lake for lunch the following day.
Both girls are so upset at the idea of spending time together that they ask Liz to come with them. They end up being really nasty with each other and it ticks everyone else off. Sarah complains that Sophia broke her toe when she dropped a grill on her foot even though it landed nowhere near her foot, and Sophia doesn't like the way Sarah looks at her. Everyone else works together to throw Sarah in the water after she complains again, and because Sophia makes fun of her, they toss her in too.
Sophia's mom comes over to pick her up from a meeting at Sarah's house. She finds out that Mr. Thomas creates kites in his spare time, which causes her to talk about the kite she had as a kid. This is the final straw for their kids. They decide to work together to break them up. They try a few things before Sarah shows up with pictures of her dad and his ex-girlfriend Annie, you know, the same woman who almost killed her. They send the pictures to Mrs. Rizzo with a note on the back to stay away from "her man."
Once they break up, both parents become completely miserable. Sarah finds out that her dad was building his girlfriend a kite just like the one she had as a kid, and Sophia sees how unhappy her mom is all the time. They work together to get their parents back together. Sophia takes her mom to the lake, they see Mr. Thomas flying the finished kite, and she runs directly into his arms. Aww.
Then we have Jessica. Tired of people talking about how no one famous ever came from Sweet Valley or something, she tells them that her cousin is Quake Field Wakefield, a famous baseball player. When her art group pushes her to get him to model for their project, she makes up a story about how their sides of the family never talk because his great-great-great-great grandfather or something stole her great-great-great-great grandmother.
Ken ends up writing to Quake Field and creating a petition that almost the whole schools signs. Quake Field then takes out a full ad in the local paper to explain that his last name isn't even Wakefield. He changed it when he became famous. Alice figures out that they actually do share a relative and that they really are cousins. He comes to Sweet Valley and poses for their mural in the end.
*Yeah, so Ned literally just calls the clubhouse and asks for Quake Field, explaining that he wants to tell him about the article in the paper. And they get him on the phone!
*Since I just read Poor Lila, I think it's funny that the "troublemakers" in Sweet Valley both have older brothers named Tony. First Melissa McCormick and now Sophia Rizzo.
*Sophia has a dream that their parents get married. Tony suddenly dresses all fancy, her mom wears ballgowns, and Tony calls Sarah his favorite little sister. Mr. Thomas buys him everything he wants and gives her a coupon for a free tattoo.
*Sarah has a similar dream, but in hers, Tony is a low life thug. Sophia and her mom wear gold lame outfits and have stolen stuff all over the house, including a stolen poodle.
*Mrs. Rizzo has a full-time job and occasionally has to work late. That must be hard given that she can barely speak English. Seriously, how does she communicate with her own kids? Sophia even says that neither her nor her brother can speak Italian. Plus, isn't she supposed to work from home and make quilts and stuff that Alice sells?
*Sarah comes across as a huge baby in this book, which is funny because that's how Jessica refers to her. She fake cries to get her dad to pay attention to her, and when he doesn't, she just stands in the room and says, "boo hoo" a few times really loudly.
*The whole Mr. Thomas/Mrs. Rizzo thing is just kind of stupid. She's a poor woman from the wrong side of the tracks who loves decorating her home and cooking. Mr. Thomas works all the time and comes across as a huge yuppie.
*I also get the same vibe from Mr. Thomas as I do Mr. Fowler. If you have so little time to spend with your only daughter that you need to hire a housekeeper/cook so she isn't alone every day, you really shouldn't spend your free time dating. Try spending some more time with your kid!