Ugh, this is the book that makes me so glad I never wanted to be a teacher.
Even though SMS is constantly running out of money for school things, they keep doing Short Takes. This time, Jessi signed up for a class on computer programming because she thought it sounded interesting. SMS once again brings in a brand new teacher. Mr. Trout is kind of dorky. He's super tall and skinny, always wears pocket protectors, and worst of all, he seems afraid of his students.
This causes the kids in his class to go a little crazy. They stop listening to him and do whatever the hell they want. They throw spitballs at each other, make fun of his name, joke around about how he has a lisp, and generally act like little assholes. Jessi feels bad for him but not so bad that she doesn't go along with them. They do stupid shit like arrange to throw their books on the floor at the same time. It makes Mr. Trout jump and gets him a little distracted, but they all act like it was the funniest thing in the world.
Jessi feels bad enough that she talks it over with the BSC. Kristy pretty much rolls her eyes and says that he needs to grow a back bone. Everyone else feels a little bad for him but wonder why he became a teacher. Mary Anne being Mary Anne almost cries about the whole thing. Everyone in his class fails their first test because they were too busy goofing off to learn anything, but he just goes over the materials again, which does absolutely nothing.
It's also time for the Sixth Grade Follies. It's some lame show that the sixth grade puts on to make fun of their teachers. Jessi volunteers as both a performer and a member of the finance crew. The teachers decided to charge admission and give the money to a local charity. The two Dollies, two teachers who look and act just like Dolly Parton, are in charge of the whole thing. They kind of encourage Jessi and her Latino friend to participate by saying they want to represent all students, which is a little weird.
Despite the fact that Jessi is black, which she thinks means people hate her, she hosts the first meeting. Everyone shows up except for one girl, but her parents wouldn't let her hang out with Jessi anyway because they are totes racist. Becca finds the whole thing so exciting that she keeps following them around all the time. They come up with some funny sketches, including one where Jessi dresses up as one of the two Dollies to start the show.
Jessi starts feeling even worse for Mr. Trout. She notices that he's super quiet and keeps to himself most of the time. He doesn't even talk with the other teachers. One of the girls in her class realizes that he wears a toupee and tells everyone. They set it up so that one kid gets his toupee off with a fishhook. He's clearly embarrassed, especially since the hook gets caught in his coat, but he lets everyone off.
Someone else then comes up with a “super funny” skit. Jessi will come in with a bald cap on her head and dressed like a Klingon. A kid dressed up like their teacher as Elvis will say he was kidnapped by a Klingon, Jessi will step out and repeat it with his lisp, and everyone will laugh. She doesn't want to do it and even plans on backing out, but before she can, the kids tell one of the Dollies. She thinks it's absolutely hysterical and pushes Jessi to do it.
Cut to the night of the show. Jessi as Dolly opens up the show on a huge note, but her doing Mr. Trout brings down the house. People just can't stop talking about. The BSC pig out on ice cream and keep telling her how she's a superstar. Becca keeps staring at her like she's Taylor Swift or something. Jessi gets so many compliments that she decides Mr. Trout will be fine with it.
He's definitely not okay though, so not okay that he doesn't come to school the next day. She finds out from one of the Dollies that he just didn't show up to work one day. The principal went to his house, found the place empty, the phone shut off, and his car gone. Mr. Trout apparently called in later to say he wasn't coming back because he was going back to grad school.
They get a brand new teacher who doesn't give them lip. He sends one kid to the principal's office right off the bat and makes it clear that any other disruptions aren't tolerated. The Dollies tell Jessi not to worry about Mr. Trout because he didn't really fit in and that her skit shouldn't have bothered him. The principal refuses to give him a second chance and tells her that he wasn't cut out for teaching. Even her friends and parents say the same thing.
Jessi eventually makes up a petition to bring him back and hangs it up in school. Only the BSC members sign it. Jessi starts thinking that maybe everyone else was right and that he wasn't cut out for teaching. They learned more from their new teacher in a few days than they did the whole time with him. She finally decides to write him a letter to apologize for being a brat. At the end of the book, she gets a letter back. Mr. Trout sucks up to her by saying he always thought she was an intelligent and polite young lady, that he holds nothing against her, and that while he appreciates the gesture, he won't come back because he's going back to college.
In other news, Becca starts acting a little weird. She goes with Jessi to a sitting job at the Pike house and gets all the kids interested in her. Other kids in town keep showing up at sitting jobs and working together on some mysterious project. Charlotte finally gives Stacey something and tells her not to open it until the BSC meeting. It's an invitation to the BSC Follies, a show the kids decided to put on together.
Vanessa dresses up like Claudia, which is hysterical. She carries around a backpack filled with food, keeps snacking in the middle of the show, and at one point, contemplates turning a clock into a hat. It's just so amazingly adorable that Mary Anne almost cries and everyone else laughs their asses off. Vanessa is the only good part.
*This book pisses me off really bad. There is no way those kids shouldn't get punished. I don't care how lame Mr. Trout is, the toupee incident alone would result in some serious detention time. Even if he doesn't tell on him, the story spreads around the school in no time.
*These are the kids who will get their parents to come to their high schools and bitch to their teachers about how they have too much homework, count on it.
*I can't stand the teachers either. They think he was a terrible teacher because he didn't hang out with them in the teachers lounge. I guess some people really never get over the whole high school mentality.
*Claudia outfit: a tie dyed tee shirt, bell bottom pants, an alligator barrette, and cats eye glasses from the 50s. I bet older Claudia is one of those chicks walking around in clear lens glasses to look smart.
*Jessi merely “suggests” that the Dollies let her help come up with a dance routine, and they put her in charge of it.
*The girl who doesn't come to her house? She squeezes her hand after the show and tells her she did a good job, so I guess she cured racism!
*For the meeting at her house, they put out potato chips, pretzels, M&Ms, Goldfish and Triscuit crackers, tortilla chips, and a massive bowl of fruit. Jessi starts worrying that they won't have enough food, even after her mom reminds her that her dad is grilling hamburgers and hot dogs too. How much food does she think eight people will eat??
*One guy shows up early, his dad walks him in, and stops to talk to her parents. Jessi kind of makes it out like a racist thing, but I think it's more the dude wanting to find out where his kid will be all day.
*How many books have we had where the school does some fundraising thing because they need money? Maybe they should stop hiring teachers to teach one month classes all the time!
*Jessi keeps talking about Peter Pan and making it out like she was the star. I think she even comments that she was the comedic highlight. Hm, I think I read a different book...
*Despite being the one who planned the whole damn thing, Becca is so embarrassed to perform at the follies that she runs backstage at first. She wears a tutu and keeps stretching all the time to play Jessi.
*Claudia and Kristy have a minor fight over nose piercings. Kristy thinks it's crazy, but Claudia thinks it looks cool until she puts a clip on ring in her nose and says it hurts. Kristy also complains that a piercing is FOR LIFE, which is insane. I've now had one eyebrow pierced twice and one pierced once. Don't wear one anymore and have just a tiny scar in one eyebrow.