In social studies class, they're working on a unit on the Civil War and the antebellum period. For some reason, this makes all the kids obsessed with Gone with the Wind. They need to do a final project, so Lila decides to throw a GWTW themed party. She naturally plans on dressing up as Scarlet and plans on holding a contest to see who can pull off the best Scarlet costume.
Jessica finds the section on voodoo fascinating and makes a voodoo doll of Steven. This happens after he ruins her favorite poster of Johnny Buck. She even cuts up his favorite shirt for the doll. Though Liz sees her, she makes her promise that she won't tell anyone. Before long, everything she does to the doll happens to him. Everything from spilling honey on his shirt to phantom pains in his leg. Jess plans on using her voodoo work for her project.
Meanwhile, Liz is volunteering at a shelter and gets along really well with this kid Benjamin. He has leg pain and can't find a reason for his pain. Benjamin gets to come over to Casa Wakefield for dinner one night and tells Jess all about his pain and how it keeps him from sleeping. She makes a voodoo doll of him that she coats with rosewater, Vitamin C, and a mixture of other ingredients as she recites a spell. Benjamin actually starts getting better and has so little pain that he doesn't even need his cane.
Todd volunteers he and Liz to do an antebellum cooking project and make a huge dinner for the whole class. Liz worries that neither of them have enough experience and picks out a “simple menu” of like six things to make. They make cornbread three different times that ends up being as hard as a brick, burnt to the bottom of the pain, and then somehow both salty and with the consistency of chewing gum. No matter how hard they work, Todd keeps messing things up with his cooking experiments.
Liz refuses to say anything bad to him because this happens not long after his dad came down hard on him for writing and he tried to run away. Jess convinces her to plan for all his mistakes and experiments and try to stop him. She changes the labels on ingredients and mixes up all the measuring spoons and cups. They make this huge meal that looks great. When they serve it in class though, it makes the teaches so sick that she has to leave school earlier and five other kids get really ill. Worried that he feels crappy about himself, Liz confesses what she did. Todd just laughs and asks her to be honest from now on.
Cut to the night of Lila's party. Since Lila had her dress flown in from some fancy museum in New York, Jessica thinks she'll lose until Liz reminds her of the curtain dress. Luckily, Alice has heavy green velvet curtains in the living room. Jess uses a temporary rinse to dye her hair brown and gives herself a perm. The chemicals react and turn her hair orange though. Liz steps up again and finds the perfect hat to cover her hair. They then pin the curtains together to make the perfect dress.
At the party, Jess wins as the best looking Scarlet against Lila, Ellen, and most of the girls in school. Aaron wins as the best Rhett and gets to dance with her. Liz makes Jess leave the party early to make sure they get back to the house before their parents get home. Not only do they get the curtains back up, but the orange color somehow washes out of her hair the next morning.
Jessica starts getting a little worried about Steven to the point where she walks him home from school. He seems really pale and tired all the time. She starts doing a healing ritual on him like she did with Benjamin. Nothing seems to work though. He even misses a few days of school and goes to the doctor. Jess finally sneaks into his room one night to watch him sleep and finds him laying in bed, not moving, with saliva all over his chin.
As all of us would, she runs screaming to her parents and says she thinks she killed him. The next morning, they try to figure out what the heck happened. As it turns out, Liz told Steven everything right away because she can't keep her mouth shut and her nose out of other people's business. He then played along the whole time and even had Joe lie to Jess to say he was acting like a zombie in class. Steven really did get sick though and had a minor case of the flu.
Ned and Alice make the whole family agree to never mention the word zombie again. Jess is super worried though because this was her final project. She convinces Steven to come to her social studies class and convinces Liz to help her send him secret signals. They blindfold him and do things like stab him in the leg, which causes him to grab his leg and scream. The teacher stops Jess in the middle of the demonstration. Though she says she doesn't believe in voodoo and never wants to hear the word again, she gives Jess a C- on her project.
*I hate Liz in this book at the end. Okay, so she tattles on Jess to Steven because she thinks voodoo is stupid, but then she admits that she didn't realize how seriously Jess took things. Except she totally did! She was there when Jessica was almost crying because she thought their brother was dying and did nothing.
*Also, Liz in the end was all “jeez, I didn't think about your project at all” when she knew the whole time that Jess's project was on voodoo.
*The “simple menu” she plans is fish gumbo, black eyed peas, cornbread, hush puppies, and peach cobbler. Yup, totally simple!
*Since when does Elizabeth not have cooking experience? I thought there were multiple books before this where the twins cooked?
*While I can see all the girls becoming obsessed with GWTW, I can't see guys in the sixth grade being that into the movie too. I've literally never seen it though. That movie is hella long!
*Janet dresses up as Melanie because she likes her better than Scarlet. I can't imagine Janet not wanting to be the center of attention.
*Steven replaces the poster he ruined in the end, and Jessica replaces his shirt that she destroyed.
*While I get that the voodoo didn't work, what's up with Benjamin? He has intense leg pain, goes to multiple doctors who find nothing, and can barely function. Jess does a “healing ritual” a few times, and he's up and moving around like nothing is wrong. They never explain it!