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llew30

     Hi all! I snuck out of my http://community.livejournal.com/1bruce1/profile Unicorn club meeting to pick up some snarking tips from Kristy and the other BSC members. I can check out any time I like but now Kristy says I can never leave! This is my first post to the BSC community, long time lurker who got bit by the recap bug and had this mad urge to join in the fun over here. 
     
     So, in this book, Karen gets a really BAD haircut by Gloriana, the the world's most horrible hairstylist and in a pathetic effort to draw attention away from it ends up making a complete ass of herself. Mary Anne even references the bad haircut for me in #60 Mary Anne's Makeover-They destroyed poor Karen Brewer's hair...it might as well be called Gloriana's House of Horror. Horror ??!! Oh, come on, Mary Anne, what's so horrible about taking a sharp object to the head of Karen Brewer? Gloriana is the patron saint to all Karen-haters! 

    In all fairness, if we look deep, deep, down inside ourselves, some of us might actually feel a bit of sympathy for poor Karen. We've all had some kind of bad haircut experience. I had really loooong Dawn-like hair when I was about nine or ten then my Mom took me to the salon, the stupid stylist hacked it all off before either one of us could say anything and I looked like a boy for the next few months till it grew out. It sucked. Needless to say, we never patronized them again and some people should NOT be allowed around scissors. However, in the case of Glorinna vs Karen, I'm fully prepared to make an exception!

 


      Ta-Da! I give you the greatest Little Sister cover art EV-AH. There's Gloriana admiring her handiwork (with a shit-eating grin I might add) the little freak in the chair is our exceptionally smart, bright, imaginative Karen, looking properly mortified, "I just got my hair cut by Morbidda Destiny and...SHE GAVE ME A MULLET!!!". Suck it Karen, your "OMG Beauty Salon!!!" has been getting on my nerves for far too long. Mine and Gloriana's, you deserved every snip of those sissors. 

         This book reminds me why I only own one Baby-Sitter's Little Sister book, but then, how many more do I really need? Seriously, it doesn't get any better, or should I say worse, than this!

    Our story begins with Karen playing Whorely Lovely Ladies (thank God they're not playing that gay Let's All Come In game) with Nancy Dawes. In case you didn't know, Nancy is Karen's "little-house on the prairie best friend". Did you know that Karen spends weekends at Watson's? He has a BIG HOUSE which makes Karen's "little house best friend" Nancy Dawes while "big-house best friend" is Hannie Papadakis. Why does she create two different nicknames for her friends? Because Karen is such a retard this is the only way she can remember her ONLY TWO friends in the megatropolis that is Stoneybrook.

     Karen and Nancy drink tea and clomp around the house in their dress-up attire but when they stop to admire themselves in the mirror all the Lover-ly-ness comes to a screeching halt. For Karen that is, see, Karen's recently lost some teeth so she has these huge gaping holes, her new front ones look like rabbit teeth, her hair is boring, she doesn't like her glasses, Karen suddenly has an epiphany which she passes on to Nancy, "OMG, look at me. I'm UGLY!!!!" and for a minute I mistake Karen for Mallory, who shatters every mirror she passes, or better yet, Kramer from Seinfeld. "Look away, I'm hideous." www.youtube.com/watch

    Nancy only shrugs, "I think you look fine," Is Nancy blind? Never mind that now because (sqeee-time!!!) it's Friday and Karen's going to Watson's for the weekend! OMG it's teh BIG HOUSE!!!!! 

     Five pages of exposition follow because, God forbid, we forget which family members live in which house! And, oh yes, let's not forget your precious pets, Karen, becuase do I really give a rat's ass? Well, I suppose a mere five pages of exposition is better than the 50 page nightmare we have to endure in every chapter 2 in a regualar BSC book. And why is everyone at the big house hugging and kissing and greeting Karen and Andrew as if they haven't seen them in months, aren't they over at Watson's, like, every other freakin day?

     So, in case you didn't know, I'll repeat for you again, every time Karen looks in the mirror she sees UGLY and has a complete meltdown. Watson and the rest of the family aren't helping either as they make comments all through dinner like how the corn looks like somebody's old teeth and calling Karen "Professor" because she wears glasses. Karen thinks glasses make her look ugly, (because she looks like Mallory) having loose teeth makes her ugly, (because she's a normal, developing child) wearing a side ponytail makes her look ugly (and dated). Karen is so ugly, everyone carries brown paper bags to cover their heads with before they'll be seen with her in public. Karen is so ugly, her doctor is a vet. Karen is so ugly she'll have to trick or treat by phone this year. 

   Ok, I'll spare you any more "You're so ugly..." jokes but, sheesh, I was never this obsessed with my looks at seven. I lost teeth and even sported the jack-o-lantern look for awhile but I never developed a complex about it. That doesn't happen till you're thirteen, an age I thank God daily I'll never have to repeat.

    Ok, this chapter looks promising: Chapter 4, Karen's Loose Tooth, foreshadowing anyone? 

     Karen wakes up the next morning and discovers she has two loose teeth, one of which is quite wiggly. Karen is so afraid she might swallow one of her loose teeth during breakfast, she attempts to eat her cereal with one hand while (I am not kidding) holding onto her TOOTH with the other! This is described as being difficult and messy, but heaven forbid she should accidently SWALLOW said tooth. Karen, you are such a wonder child!

She's a small wonder, pretty and bright with soft curls. She's a small wonder, a girl unlike other girls. She's a miracle and I grant you, she'll enchant you at first sight. She's a small wonder, and she'll make your heart take flight, la la-la la la...sorry, got caught in an another 80's loop again. Just typed that whole thing from memory! 
    
   So, after the family finishes applauding Karen-the-wonder-child, who did NOTswallow all her loose teeth while eating, she shares her tooth worries with the family and Sam offers to play dentist and pull that offensive tooth out for her. He says he knows all kinds of ways to do it, starting with using pliers on Karen. Karen freaks and hurries off to call Stacey

   Ok, agrees Sam, no pliers but you just can't fail with the old tie-tooth-to-doorknob cliche'. Karen gets as far as letting Sam tie the string around her tooth as he's just about to slam the door when Karen again changes her mind and cries halt. Sam teases her and clucks like a chicken. Karen is highly offended and runs to daddy. Cue Watson who steps in with Kleenex and calmly removes the offensive tooth. Multiple talents, that millionaire. 

    And that's how Karen lost her first tooth, but instead of feeling all grown up and tooth-fairy-excited about it, like I did at seven, she STILL feels--say it with me now--UGLY!!!. Excuse me while I go grab a Kleenex of my own.

    Karen goes over Hannie's house to show off her new hole (and I mean the one in her mouth). That second loose tooth is dangling percariously, it should be falling out any minute now. Karen and Hannie play tag with some other kids. Karen does a spectacular Jackie Rodowsky, trips, falls flat on her face and *ding* that second loose tooth gets knocked out. Now, If there's anyone here who can't stand the sight of blood I suggest you cover your eyes while reading this next paragraph. How you will manage to do this, I don't know. I don't make the rules, I just type the jokes.

    There's blood everywhere. It's pouring out of Karen's mouth. She spits her bloody tooth into her hand, "Gross, that is so disgusting!" sqeals the others who have obviously never lost a tooth in their pathetically short lives. Karen goes inside and Hannie's mom helps Karen get cleaned up. She rinses her mouth with salt water until the bleeding stops. Karen happens to glance at herself in the Papadakis's bathroom mirror. She decides she looks like, you guessed it, a freak. An UGLY FREAK. At that moment Karen decides she's so ugly, she might as well compare herself to the ugly duckling in the story. Karen thinks, "I am the ugliest duckling of all." Hey, look at that, the mirror just shattered.

     Tired of playing tag, Karen and Hannie go inside and decide to play another round of Whorely Lovely Ladies. Karen makes the mistake of looking in the mirror. That's it, game over! Karen wads up her dress up clothes, throws them on the floor and trudges out of the room in a cloud of depression. Natuarally, Hannie can't help but notice this odd behavior and inquires what is the matter with Karen? Karen runs down her "I'm so ugly" list once more for Hannie, just like she did for Nancy except Karen also adds her parents won't let her ditch the glasses and get contacts until she turns fourteen. "Fourteen!" shrieks Hannie, "You won't be fourteen for years." Oh, it's gonna be a lot longer than that, sweetie. You're, both of you, stuck at age seven. FOR-EV-ER!!! *echoes from The Sandlot*. 

      Hannie is not as blind as Nancy. "Maybe you need a change," she tells Karen "something new and special and different," Hannie suggests a new haircut or a manicure. That's it! Karen should go get her hair cut at that new beauty parlor in town, Gloriana's House of Hair. You can almost hear the heavenly chorus as Hannie speaks the name-GLORIANA!!!!! and, what luck! They even do manicures and as we all know, for Karen nothing says "I'm so lovely" like going to a beauty salon and getting a manicure.

     To my utter delight, Karen references my favorite BSC Super Special, the time she maxed out Watson's credit card during the cruise for her manicure at the ship's beauty salon. "Hey, if it worked then..." Karen, excited at the thought of becoming beautiful at last, squees and tells Hannie she'll do it. She'll ask daddy for permission to get a beauty treatment at Gloriana's House of Horror Hair.

    Perfect timing for Karen because Hannie's getting married to Scott Hsu and now Karen will look all beautiful for the big wedding. Um, wait let me double check this...MARRIED? Since when did Stoneybrook became a third world country? Ah, I see, it's just a PRETEND wedding and what's a pretend wedding in Stoneybrook like without including a set date and a guest list AND sending out formal invitations, hiring a caterer, getting David Michael to play the minister and...guess who the wedding photographer is? That's right, give Karen a camera and set her free as the world's youngest paparazzi. Hannie is going to have REAL pictures taken at her PRETEND wedding. And I thought Sweet Valley won the prize for overcompensating. 
Luckily for Hannie, what happens in Stoneybrook stays in Stoneybrook. 

    So, Karen loves Hannie's idea of getting made over by Gloriana. Hannie, returning the favor, tells Karen that now that she's getting a makeover, Karen is no longer a lowly wedding photographer but has just been promoted to BRIDESMAID!!! which means Karen gets to stand in the ACTUAL WEDDING LINE!!! Suqeeeeee for Karen!!! Except...

   "Do you think your haircut will look good, Karen?" Hannie asks, "I want you to be the most beautiful bridesmaid ever. You'll look pretty, won't you?" Gee, Hannie, way to be a "Debbie Downer". But Karen's not worried. She knows, by the time Glorinana gets through with her, she'll be the most beautiful bridesmaid in all of Stoneybrook.

   Karen hurries back to the mansion and finds Watson busy hoeing his herb garden. Woah, Watson has a herb garden? Yes, and this is a direct quote, Daddy was hoeing, he stopped, leaned on the hoe and looked at me (insert your own joke here) Karen pleads her ugly case and begs him for a Gloriana beauty treatment, "Puh-LEASE, daddy?"

      But, before Watson can give Karen permission, he has to OK it with...darn you Karen always calling your mom "Mommy" why can't you just TELL me her name?!! *sighs, opens new browser to look it up* can't expect me to keep track of all these stupid character names... Ah, here it is! 

     But, before Watson can give Karen permission, he has to OK it with LISA!!! The whole thing's arranged in just one sentence. He gives his permission AND his credit card to Karen. He even makes the appointment for her! Watson, have we learned nothing from Baby-Sitters on Board? 

    That night, Karen puts her two baby teeth under the pillow anticipating what the tooth fairy might leave her. The black and white drawing shows Karen lying on her bed and this gets me EVERY FREAKIN TIME I see this. She's grabbing her pillow with this anguished look on her face. Karen totally looks like she's CRYING! I always have to stop and check the book to make sure she hasn't had her horrible haircut yet or maybe she's just a little hung over from playing one of Sam's drinking games. No, turns out Karen is just checking UNDER her pillow, discovering what the tooth fairy left her during the night in place of her two lost baby teeth.



 

    

 
     And what does she discover? A blue barrette. Not a hundred dollar bill. Not even a stinking quarter! One. Blue. Barrette. Karen is supposed to look thrilled here. For loosing two teeth? The man's a millinonaire and a fancy new blue barrette is the best he can do? No wonder Karen looks miserable. 

     At last!!! We've reached Chapter 8, Karen's Beauty Treatment. This is the climax, people, you can just FEEL the earth trembling in anticipation. Look out world! Karen's gonna be hot shit after Glorianna gets through with her. Lisa drives Karen along with Andrew (What, the BSC's too busy organizing the next Baby Parade to watch him?) to the salon for teh BEAUTY TREATMENT! Ever notice Lisa never calls the BSC to book a job? They probably keep hanging up on her, at Kristy's insistance, for ruining her life by divorcing a perfectly good millionaire, forcing her to move into a freakin MANSION and sticking Karen on her 24/7.

    The building that is home to Gloriana's is described as being all fancy silver and glass with a silver colored door and bright pink neon lights that spell Gloriana's House of Hair. Karen is going ape-shit. She squees over all the neon-pink decorations. My God, they're EVERYWHERE!!! It's all so beautiful. So magical. Gloriana-is-the-most-beautiful-name-in-the-universe! OMG, BEAUTY SALON!!! Until I'm begging someone will PLEASE dunk Karen in the nearest shampoo bowl to shut her up. They make their way over to the receptionist's desk who confirms Karen's appointment with Gloriana. Geez, even I'm getting antsy now because we all know what's about to happen! 

     A woman named Sally gives Karen her manicure painting her nails with bright pink polish and Karen is bummed it's not Gloriana. While her nails dried, Karen tells us, a man washes her hair. Dammit, where IS this woman? I thought Gloriana ran the whole show here! At this point, I'm beginning to suspect Gloriana's real name is Dalia and for Karen things are about to get sticky.

    A woman appears with a towel for her wet head. OMG, there she is! It's HER!! That woman approaching Karen it's...the woman with strange poodle hair? She introduces herself as Gloriana and leads Karen to her haircutting chair of torture it's BEAUTY TREATMENT TIME!!! 

    Karen's a little suspicous of Gloriana's choice of hairstyle Some of it was short, some was long, some was dark, and some was light. But it shouldn't really matter what Gloriana's hair looks like, should it? As long as Gloriana gives Karen a decent cut. Right? Right. Heh heh heh

   
Karen hands Gloriana a picture of the kind of haircut she wants. Gloriana takes one look at the picture, tosses it aside and begins snipping away. As Gloriana works it slowly it dawns on Karen that something is not quite right in beauty-land. She whimpers, "Mommy" as she watches all her long hair fall into a pile on the floor while Gloriana, ala Mrs. Sharon Schafer, continues merrily snip-snip-snipping away.

    When it's all over Karen tells us this "Was not the cut I had asked for." I'm assuming Karen was still all OMG BEAUTY SALON!!! to notice Gloriana whipping out the electric clippers for the buzz-cut part? Too awe-struck by Gloriana-the-most-beautiful-name-in the universe!!! to wake up and tell Cruella to put the scissors down and step away from the chair? Rhetorical, I know, just thought I'd point it out.

    And what is Lisa's reaction after returning from taking Andrew to the potty? She takes one look at Karen and duhs, "Was this the cut you asked for, Karen?" while a practically bald Karen whimpers "No." and bursts into tears. Gloriana merely purrs, "It's the latest cut, trust me, Karen's very fashionable now." Gloriana, you may be the worst hairstylist in the world and I'd never let you within a mile of my hair but, YOU ARE AWESOME! 

    Apparently, Lisa is satisfied, Mommy said my hair would grow back, while I'm betting the bitch is thanking God it wasn't HER money wasted on this haircuting trip while she packs Karen off to the car without another word and that's the last we ever see of Gloriana, a woman to whom we owe a great debt. Goodbye, Gloriana, we the Karen-haters of the world, are now vindicated and we thank you!! 

    Poor Karen cries all the way home. After much thought Karen also decides Gloriana no longer has the most beautiful name in the universe. Yeah, take that, Gloriana, you, you...rotten haircutter, you! 

    Karen dreds going to school the next day because she just KNOWS all her classmates are going to make fun of her horrible new haircut. Well, guess what, Karen? That's exactly what they do. Kids can be so mean. And what does Karen do to retaliate? She overcompensates, making it all the more harder on herself! 

   So it's the next day and Karen struts into class (sporting only her new mullet she hasn't gone all out yet) and everyone can only stare in shocked silence because, dude, the eighties are, like, so OVER. Hannie takes one look at Karen's new hairstyle and stammers "I-you-I-Karen, I don't know how to tell you this..." Yeah, Karen's out. Banned from the wedding. Demoted from bridesmaid to untouchable. Like, right now. Photographer? No way you're even showing your ugly face at MY wedding, girlfriend! Hannie, you now rate as the WORST bff EVER! The rest of the kids tease her, laugh at her and call her the Bride of Frankenstien but Karen feels Hannie's rejection is the worst thing that's ever happened to her.

     That night, Karen takes drastic measures to prove to Hannie that she CAN be glamorous and beautiful and Karen-charm her way back despite looking like a seven year old David Bowie with glasses (but without the heroin becuase this is a G-rated book). She paints over her Gloriana pink nails with sparkly gold polish, (take that Gloriana!) decks herself out with cheap plastic jewelry-rings, bracelets, necklaces, the kind you get at the dentist's office or the 99 cent store-changes her name to Tiffanie and picks up the phone. Watch out, Hannie, the new Karen/Tiffanie is making her debut . 

     "The name's Tiffanie." Karen informs Hannie, "Miss Brewer if you're nasty. It's my new image. I am beautiful AND glamorous (because we're talking on the phone and you totally can't see me???) so...I can be one of your bridesmaids again now, right?" 

   Hannie: "Um, let me think about that for a minute...NO WAY!!!" click

         Is Karen discouraged by Hannie's rejection? Heck, no! She begins a campaign to show everyone if they thought she was ugly BEFORE her trip to Gloriana's, well, this mullet was just the beginning. Karen/Tiffanie continues to pimp herself out for the rest of the week. She finds her mother's old lipstick and smears it all over her mouth, admires her new sparkly nails and annouces to everyone she meets: "My name is Tiffanie." 

     Be glad I'm not including the post-haircut pictures of Karen, seriously, they are awful. With her cheap, plastic jewelry, too much lipstick, and her huge square-framed glasses along with the mullett, Karen looks like an extra in a lesbian porn movie. Not that I've ever seen one... 

   Oh, all right, I'll give you ONE! But don't say I didn't warn you. Big Susan Tang FAIL here...



   Sorry for the bad quality. I no longer have access to a scanner so I had to use my digital camera to include these but here's our bespectacled Karen proudly sporting her new look--painted nails, crown of ribbons in her hair and waaaay too much lipstick for any seven year old to be wearing. Let me tell you, if I had a seven year old, I'd never let her leave the house looking like that.

    I love that all kids keep calling her Taffy instead of Tiffanie or they forget and call her Karen and it drives Karen mad. "It's Tiffanie! I'm Tiffanie, dammit, call me Tiffanie!!! I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and gosh-darn it, people like me!" 

    While all the kids snicker at her behind her back, Nancy is invited to be in the wedding in Karen's place. Hannie, that bitch, is not even speaking to her just becuase Karen has big holes in her mouth and a funny haircut. At home her family can't remember Tiffanie and keeps calling her Karen. No one's taking Karen's new image seriously. But does Karen give up? Never!

     Karen goes through several name changes over the next two weeks. Now it's Krystal. That's Krystal with a K, mind you, not Crystal with a C becuase Karen starts with a K. Her friends and family should be able to remember THAT (um, lest anyone get confused and call her Caren?) Nancy goofs it up anyway and calls her Kristy. Guess it's better than Mallory.

   Of course, no one can remember Krystal any more than they could remember Tiffanie. A week later she's Gazelle. The kids call her Godzilla. LOL! It's quickly changed to Desiree and by the next Friday it's Chantel. Does this woner child have ADD? She's changing her name every five seconds. Her accessores keep multiplying till she's wearing 5 bracelets, 8 rings, 5 necklaces and 6 hair ribbons. She raids Lisa's cosmetics for blusher and lipstick and joins Insane Clown Posse totally overcompensating to make everyone forget about her bad haircut. Things spiral so far out of control that from here on KarenTiffanieKrystalGazelleDesiree shall hereby be referred to as The Artist Formally Known as Karen.

    Hannie's the only second grader who's not going along with Karen's game. She's barely speaking to Karen because only PERFECT people can be in her wedding while Karen threatens to crash the wedding with her new look just to make Hannie mad. As The Artist Formally Known as Karen prances by Hannie shouts, "You still can't be in my wedding...KAREN!" Acting their age for once, they stick their tongues out at each other and the fight continues. You'd think Hannie wouldn't have a problem with a lot of ugly bridesmaids surrounding her as the beautiful, blushing bride. Let the poor girl be in your stupid wedding already, Hannie! Selfish bitch.

    It's Friday again and Karen is dumped at the Big House for the weekend. I can just picture Lisa phoning Watson "I can't take it anymore, I'm bringing her over, hell, I don't even know what to CALL her..oops, she probably makes that phone call EVERY Friday.

    It's Saturday morning. Karen (or whatever her name is now) is outside the Big House, playing with Andrew and Emily Michelle. Hannie comes outside to ride her bike. Karen calls out a friendly hello and come play but Hannie ignores them. Suddenly Karen sees Hannie takes a nasty spill and rushes over to help because Karen's a true friend. Hannie has knocked out her two front teeth! They were baby teeth and getting loose anyway, nevertheless, Hannie is mortified. She covers her face and wails, "I'm uglieeeee. Scott will never marry me now!" runs inside and barricades herself in her room vowing never to come out till all her grown up teeth have come in, she's just too embarrassed. Wish Karen would've done that. 

    After lunch, Karen, at Watson's suggestion, goes back to visit Hannie in her most desperate hour to show she's ready to bury the hatchet and be friends again. After all, she's been there. Karen KNOWS how hard it is to break free from the psycholgical damage caused by a life of ugliness once lived. Andrew must've spread the word fast about Hannie's accident because Scott Hsu arrives at the exact same time Karen does to visit Hannie. He's there to RSVP for their big day tomorrow. They knock on her bedroom door and Hannie shrieks, "Go away, I'm uglieeeee!" but she relents and lets them in. Karen lurks in the doorframe while Scott talks to his embarrassed fiancee.

    Scott turns adult all of a sudden and tells Hannie, "I'm not marrying your face, (you moron) I'm marrying you. See you tomorrow at our wedding." Scott's a thirty year old man stuck in a seven year old's body. Creepy.

    Scott leaves. Hannie, so moved was she by Scott's passionate declaration of loyalty, invites Karen in and the two girls have a nice little heart to heart, BSC-style. Hannie admits maybe she was wrong to bump Karen out of the wedding and stop being her friend just because she got a bad haircut (at HANNIE's suggestion I might add) and restores her to bridesmaid status again. Meanwhile, Karen, in the space of just a few minutes, has discovered her hair and teeth have defied the time warp and grown (almost) back to normal. Now she won't look like such a freak in the wedding line.

    Karen, in turn, admits to Hannie maybe she didn't need all that extra bling to impress everyone. Maybe she didn't even have to go and overcompensate so much just to make everyone forget about her haircut. Maybe she just needed to *gasp* BE HERSELF!!! Yeah, I'm thinking Karen's lesson here was inspired more by the fact she's a bridesmaid again thanks to some quick noblesse oblige by Hannie.

     They have the wedding and it's not nearly as cute as the one in Kristy's Big Day. David Michael's the minister. Karen's the bridesmaid and we even get two outfit descriptions: Karen is wearing her pink party dress, lacey white socks with rosebuds, and party shoes with dandelions stuck in the almost grown-out mullet. I'm wondering which idiot was in charge of flowers. Dandelions are UGLY WEEDS!!! Hannie is wearing her mom's wedding dress (which I find hard to believe Mrs. P would even allow) and high heeled shoes.
     
      Linny is the best man. Sari is Hannie's flower girl. Mrs. P. is Karen's replacement as offical wedding paparazzi photographer. She clicks away as her daugher, Hannie, walks down the isle to the tune of "Take me Out to the Ballgame" (yeah I don't get it either). The boys are groaning because they have to wear suits, except Scott that is. His grin is twice as big as Gloriana's (anticipating that wedding night already? Whoo, go Scott!). David Michael makes the ceremony short and sweet. "Do you?" yes. "Do you?" yes. "Ok, you may kiss." the bride and groom look at each other and shriek "No kissing!'" and run away (Scott, you disappoint me) all to the clicking of Mrs. P's camera. 

     Thus ends Hannie's wedding. The next day at school everyone is crowded around Hannie demanding details while Karen gets pulled aside for a marriage proposal of her own from "Yicky Ricky". Now, if I'd been Karen, I would've boxed his ears and told him to drop dead because Ricky Torres was one of those kids who called her names, like the Bride of Frankenstien, and threw spitballs at her throughout the whole book. But Karen is all blushing and flattered, guess there's something to be said for Ricky being the only boy in Stoneybrook who managed to remember all of Karen's glamorous names. Karen tells Ricky that maybe someday, yes, they can also get married like Hannie and Scott did.

    Ricky grins happily, "Thanks, Chantel."

    No, no, it's Karen now, Ricky. Just Karen. They grin awkwardly at each other and I breathe a sigh of relief as we've finally reached...

THE END

 
 
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: draineddrained
Current Music: U2
 
 
llew30
23 October 2008 @ 10:56 pm
My library may have weeded out all the old school Sweet Valley but there's still SVK books in circulation! It's been awhile since I've posted anything so I thought I'd try my hand at recapping one. 

Thank you, thank you, just let your appluase die away, quite naturally, as if you really mean it!



This scene never happend! *spoiler alert* A ghost DOES appear at the party but the kids don't run away from the Wakefield house screaming in terror while the twins pat themselves on the back for a job well done-"Wow, cutting holes in that bedsheet really fooled them!"

Ballerina Ellen wins the prize for Most Freaked Out Expression. Princess Lila is runner up and I have no idea who the indian is. Kisho? Great idea, artist, let's dress the Japanese boy up as an American Indian to further encourage humiliating sterotyping, just like in that Adams Family sequel... 

Ch.1
We're Having a Party!

That's right, everyone in Sweet Valley has gone mental and are celebrating Halloween for the
FOURTH TIME this year! Maybe the Wakefield's didn't get a chance to host their Halloween party yet so its a do-over.

This entire book is told from Jessica's POV and, yes, it gets downright irritating with Jessica reminding us how wonderful her seven year-old-egotistical-self is on EVERY FREAKIN' PAGE!

She informs us she's seven and in 2nd grade in Mrs. Otis's class. She describes her general outward appearance but, guess what? There's
another seven year-old in her class with straight blonde hair, bangs, blue-green eyes, AND she has dimple in her left cheeck too, just like Jessica. Could it be magic? An imposter? No, it's just Margo Elizabeth, her twin sister! (But wouldn't it be awesome to have Margo in Sweet Valley for Halloween?)

The twins are having a party, as if you haven't already guessed. As they pass out invitations, Jessica assures her classmates that their party will be the spookiest of spooky Halloween parties EVER. They plan to serve great food, set up a spooky haunted dungeon in their basement and play spooky games. (due to a limited 2nd grade vocabulary, Jesica just can't get enough of saying the word, "spooky" ) They've invited
everyone in their 2nd grade class, even bullies like Charlie Cashman get to come. They tried to invite their brother Steven but he wouldn't  be caught dead at what he calls a "lame little kids' party". He's going to another Halloween party across town with his friends.
Wow! Two Halloween parties on the same night in Sweet Valley. This town ain't big enough for the two of 'em, you know so this means WAR! But, sadly, that's not what happens.

Ch. 2
Winston's Scary Story

Winston initiates the idea of telling scary stories during lunch recess to help everyone get in the proper mood for Halloween. He leads it off by jumping onto a bench, the perfect stage to tell this whopper of a tale. He claims this is a true story. It REALLY happened to him!

Once he and his family were vacationing in a cabin up in Piney Woods, California, supposedly a state park not far away. Outside the wind was howling, leaves were blowing around, everything was all creepy-like, THEN he hears a strange yodeling/moaning sound! Like this, he demonstates, "OOOOOOHHHEEEEEOOOOHHH" His audience shivers and gasps "
That's so scary, Winston!" in genuine awe (They're very dramatic for second graders). Then Winston's dad reminds him he needs to go outside. Yes, OUT THERE! Into that big, black, creepy night, all by himself, to the top of yonder creepy hill where Winston stupidly left his new birthday bike just lying there, out in the open where the rain and wind could damage it.

So, Winston's all alone on top of the hill. He comes to his bike when suddenly he hears the moaning sound again. He turns around and there's a man there! He's coming right at Winston! The man throws back his head and moans again. Then, right before Winston's eyes, he drops onto all fours and sprouts hair, turning into...a warewolf! 

His impressed audience gasps, 
"Oh, my gosh, what did you do?"

Without even blinking an eye, Winston replies, "I grabbed my handlebars and pushed my bike and ran as hard as I could all the way back to the cabin." 

*snort* I don't get it! Can Winston not ride his bike without training wheels? The creature-warewolf-thing is about to get you, Winston, why didn't you just jump on your bike and ride like the wind to get away? Don't you know "You got to ride, ride like the wind. To be free again!"
I'd also be demanding Winston show me his shin marks from tripping over the pedals while he ran. 

So, anyway, the other kids breathe sighs of relief that Winston, thanks to some pretty impresive olympic bike-sprinting, managed to escape the clutches of the warewolf.

"
Wow," Lila's eyes are huge, "you saw an actual warewolf!" (and lived to tell about it). They totally believe him and award his story "the scariest one told at recess today" Really? Compared to who else's? I'll admit Todd snuck one in before Winston's where the stranger he thought he heard tapping on his bedroom window outside turned out to be scratching tree branches and that's just lame, not even worth my time to recap. (Which I just did!)

All this time Jessica's been sitting here, listening to Winston's dumb story, fuming, because nobody's talking about
her fabulous party anymore. Even her best friend is ignoring her. How DARE they even forget, for one second, about HER PARTY? 
 An outraged Jessica jumps to her feet and confronts Winston,
"
That's nothing!" she shouts, "I know a much scarier story and it's a million times scarier than yours!"

Ch. 3 
Jessica's Scary Story or "Jessica one-ups Winston"

The kids scoff that Jessica even KNOWS any scary ghost stories. Jessica is so outraged smoke is practically pouring out of her ears. They don't believe her? Well, she'll show em'!

So, Jessica launches into her tale about their Wakefield ghost. He comes and haunts their house every Halloween. 
"
Oh, really," the others snark, "then, what's his name? Where did your ghost come from?"

"
It's the ghost of..uh..." Jessica pulls up the first name she can think of, "Jeremiah Wakefield!"
Yeah, you know the one I'm talking about, the famous gold miner in the Wakefield family. 

Who? Exactly. I've read both Wakefield family saga books and don't seem to recall anyone named Jeremiah but I did have a good friend once named Jeremiah, had some mighty fine wine. He was a bullfrog.

Anyway, Prospector Jeremiah was spirited off a cliff after being seperated from his camp and his donkey. What happened was this: he'd come into town for suppiles, was warned by the townsfolk, 'there's evil spirits in them thar hills' but when Jeremiah returned to his camp by the stream, his donkey got spooked and ran away and Jeremiah got lost looking for him. The spirits surrounded him and hustled him right off that cliff!

Jessica is such a talented story-teller, some of the more gullible kids believe her.
"
Did he...was he?" some tertiary character named Sandy can't even bring herself to ask it.
"
Boom! Flat as a pancake, all the way to the bottom!" Queen of Drama Jessica answers.
They found Jeremiah the next morning where he managed to tell his story about the spirits who fooled him into running off the edge of the cliff. The spirits had made him think his camp and his donkey were right there in front of him, (becasue everyone knows spirits can drive you crazy with their mind altering images!) Then he DIED and no one ever found his camp, his gold and his donkey were
never seen again! 
Now he haunts Casa Wakefield every Halloween still looking for his lost camp and his beloved donkey.
Yup, makes perfect sense a ghost would come haunt a house in suburbia which probably has a gold camp hidden in it SOMEWHERE.

The kids just look at each other, not sure what to think of this
tall tale ghost story. Elizabeth looks worried for her twin because she knows it's all cock-a-bull but is too much of a doormat to call her twin out. Winston suddenly shouts he doesn't believe her, he's read that story before. Jessica got it from a book!

Ch. 4
Needed: One Ghost

Confident becasue she got everyone to believe her, Jessica's sure SOMEHOW she can find a way to create a real ghost for the party. She tells them, "You'll see, the ghost of Jeremiah Wakefield will haunt you at our party!" and then recess is over.
Sad huh? Jessica's story has potential yet no one points out the fact that Halloween falls on Sunday this year and the Wakefield party is on SATURDAY so technically...yeah it's a mess.

That evening, Elizabeth kindly points Jessica to their brother's Wild West book. The one Winston was talking about and had obviously read. Jessica sheepishly admits she must have been unconsciously inspired by the story in the book. Liz innocently asks Jessica how she's going to manage to find a ghost to haunt their party? (Oh, so it's YOUR party now too, is it Liz?)

They reject several ideas: Steven can't be their ghost, he's going to another party, Ned can't, he'll be in the basement making scary noises for their haunted dungeon, hire an actor to play the ghost? Too expensive. Too bad, since we all know the twins have every celebrity's number from here to Hollywood on speed dial.

Also, Jessica sneaks a rubber spider from her brother's closet and is mysterious when Liz asks what she's up to, more on that later.

Bedtime for twinsies!
As Alice is tucking them in, Jessica confesses her made up ghost and whines to Mom about the mess she's gotten herself into. Everyone is expecting to see the Wakefield ghost at their party now so Jessica's got a MAJOR problem!

Alice is all nonchalant, "
Oh, really? Well, now that IS a problem. Let me think about it."  And basically tells Princess Jessica not to worry about it (now shut up and go to sleep).
Nice brush-off Mom. In one ear and out the other, eh? No punishment, no scolding her child for telling lies and demanding she march right back to her classmates and tell everyone the truth first thing tomorrow. God, I love Sweet Valley partenting. *
head desk*

Ch. 5
Gotcha! or "Jessica's practical joke"

At morning recess the next day, Jessica notices Lila seems sad about something but Lila isn't talking.

With Liz's help, Jessica plants the rubber spider in Winston's lunch box and shrieks with laughter when a surprised Winston yelps and his chair tips backward falling onto the floor in the luchroom. Jessica tells the lunch table group that's how scared they'll be at the party. After regaining his dignity and brushing himself off Winston says he STILL doesn't belive her ghost REALLY exists. Jessica says, "
You'll see."

Ch. 6
Gotcha Back! or "Winston's practical joke"

The next day is Wednesday, 3 days to go till the party. Jessica is at her cubby, hanging up her coat. She's about to question Lila, why is she so sad again this morning? When she hears scratching noises coming from a nearby broom closet. She goes to the broom closet door, opens it, and jumps back screaming as Winston in a Frankenstien mask scares seven years off Jessica's life. He laughs, "
Gotcha back!" 
An infuriated Jessica makes a mental note to get revenge on party night.
I say, you started this Jessica, serves you right!

During dinner the next night, Jessica thinks Alice should just serve Steven his meal on the floor out of a dog bowl, (I chuckle at the picture) he can't even use his knife and fork to cut his chicken properly!
I told you boys are yucky, Jessica tells the reader.
Suddenly Steven screams and throws his fork onto the floor because a large hairy spider is now dangling from it.
I dunno HOW Jessica pulled this off at the dinner table in front of her entire family but she cheerfully admits she had to test her joke out on a boy so she can try it on Winston tomorrow. She doesn't complain when Alice makes her get a towel to clean up the mess as punishment. She'll get Winston good tomorrow! Guess she had a memory lapse about the party revenge plan.

Ch. 7
Ghostcapades

It's still Thursday evening and Jessica is lying on her sister's bed still gloating over her joke on Steven. Elizabeth, seated at her desk, is busy whisking off some multiplication problems (in second grade?). Liz reminds her twin again about their promised party ghost, they can never show their faces again in Sweet Valley if they don't have one. Jessica gets an idea. All they need is a plain white bedsheet, Ned's biggest flashlight and a balloon.
Elizabeth is excited about Jessica's idea.
But first, Jessica needs some adult help (yeah, better to get permision first before slashing holes in all of Alice's best bedsheets) so she shares her idea with the parents. And does Jessica get grounded for fabricating stories about the Wakefield family tree? No! Ned and Alice's resonse to Jessica's idea is, "
Hey, that sounds like fun, let us help you."
I'M SERIOUS!! and Ned offers to help rig the whole thing up for them!!!! There must be some foreshadowing going on here, the parents obviously know something but the twins don't suspect a thing.

The girls spend the rest of the evening happily making party plans until bedtime.

Ch.8
Going too Far

It's Friday. Jessica, who's wisely been buying her lunch all week, carefully checks her cubby for any tricks from Winston. Finding none she goes to her desk and there's a fake bloody finger inside it. She tosses it at Winston and is properly pissed off.

At recess Lila finally admits to Jessica the reason she's looked so depressed. She has no costume yet for Halloween! Her mom can't/won't take her (to the most expensive costume-rental place in town if I remember the other books correctly) out to get one and Lila doesn't give us any reasons. Jessica generously invites Lila home with her that day where Alice will "fix everything".
Lila looks hopeful and agrees to come.
Wow, this is a first. Lila isn't even offended by Jessica's
noblesse oblige. 
Not to mention Jessica's confidence in her mom's ability to find instant Halloween costumes on demand. 

Now it's lunch recess. Jessica, Lila and Ellen are playing when Winston, minus the Frankenstien mask, jumps out and startles Jessica so badly that she's REALLY mad now (for being so jumpy?) but not to worry, she has her revenge plan ready!

She waits until Winston and Tom not-yet-gay McKay are having a contest to see who can hang upside down longest on the jungle gym. She climbs up to drop the rubber spider, the same one she scared Steven with dangling on a string, down into Winston's face below. Winston yells, looses his leg grip and falls to the ground scraping his knee. Winston is mad. Jessica is sorry. "
I'm going to get you for this!" he threatens her before limping off to the school nurse. The thought occurs to Jessica that maybe, just MAYBE she's gone too far.

I think this book should've been nambed "The Practical Joke War" instead of "The Halloween War". 

Ch. 9
Petrifying Party Props

It's Friday afternoon and Ned is painting corny lines on fake tombstones "Here lies Lester Moore. No les, No More." *snort* The twins are also helping with the painting. Lila is inside the house with Alice who is indeed "fixing everything" as promised by Jessica. She's making Lila a Halloween costume. They come outside where a happy Lila, now clutching a brown paper bag, will be driven home by Alice. 

Much to my chagrin, Alice hands the twins a can of spray-on cobwebs before driving off with Lila. Liz and Jess promptly go to town on the front yard and the interior of the house including the stairs. Passing the family room they see Steven asleep on the couch in front of the T.V. With an impish "
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"  they finish off the spray-on cobweb can on their brother and go to dinner, innocent as angels. 
That must've been a pretty big can to go so far!

Upon waking to find himself covered in sticky cobwebs, Steven yells and starts knocking over all the lamps in confusion while the twins stay in their seats giggling. Steven shouts that he's going to get them! Alice scolds and makes the twins promise, no more jokes. Jessica and Elizabeth promise, but Liz sneaks a wink at her twin behind Mom's back!
Shut up Liz, you may have helped with this one but you've done nothing but be a nerd this whole book. Jessica's the QUEEN of practical jokes today.

Alice tucks the girls in later that night and Jessica thanks her for helping Lila find a costume. Alice tells them Lila's parents are having some problems (
foreshadowing!) so they should be nice to Lila, and that parents and grown-ups fight sometimes.

They fall asleep with Jessica reasurring a worried Liz that she'll keep her promise to her Mom about no more jokes (on Winston) and that her Wakefield ghost isn't going to hurt anyone at their party tomorrow night.

Ch. 10 
Party Time

The twins dress as identical skeletons which Alice made for them by painting bones on their black turtlenecks and black leggings. With their hair pulled back into identical ponytails they now have identical spooky, scary, skeleton Halloween costumes.
Which reminds me of this
cute songCollapse )about spooky scary skeletons, take a moment to enjoy!

Steven staggers into the room to show off his mummy costume to the twins (which Alice, who obviously has LOTS of unlimited free time on her hands, also made) before he leaves for his party.
Downstairs, the party food is all set out, a cassette is playing scary Hallowen sounds, the basement dungeon is decorated and ready (where Ned will supposedly hide and make scary noises), the Wakefield ghost is all rigged up and waiting. The doorbell rings announcing the first party guest !

Ch. 11 
The Haunted Wakefield House

Witch cookies are enjoyed by all at the party as more people arrive. Winston is Frankenstien, Charlie Cashman is a football player. Ricky Capaldo is a cowboy.

Then Lila shows up wearing a fancy princess dress with seaquins and shiny beads all over it. Alice even made a pointy hat with a scarf for her princess hat.
And to think she put it all together in just a few hours! Who knew Alice was actually a closet seamstress while that aspiring interior decorator student was just a front?

Elizabeth announes it's time to enter the haunted dungeon! Elizabeth and Jessica lead the way down to the basement. Her sister's white smile is so bright Jessica can see it in the dim light...and it just makes her want to t
odd punch all those perfectly white teeth out ONE BY ONE!
Kidding, there's no punching in this book, Todd or otherwise, its G-rated, you know.

So, the twins lead the way down the basement stairs and all the guests follow. Jessica anticipates how spooked everyone's about to be by their haunted dungeon! The twins glance at each other, surprised, as creepy organ music starts to play. That wasn't in the plan! Jessica's foot brushes a string and she gasps when a paper cutout of a monser falls from the ceiling. "
Don't act so surprised, Jessica," says Ken Matthews, "we know you helped set all this up."
"I didn't help set up that monster," she answers.

The twins hold hands in fright as they approach a large black curtain with a hole and a sign that reads, "
Put your hand in here." the twins are nervous, this wasn't planned either!
(Yeah, Dad was just supposed to hide down here and make scary noises!)
So, who wants to put their hand in? Ricky Capaldo is the only volunteer shallow enough to do it. He's completely grossed out by the squiggly stuff in a large glass jar labeled "Rejected brain sample".
"
We didn't do it!" the twins swear.
Lila suggests this might be a good time to get out of here and everyone agrees.

Going back upstairs a dozen bats suddenly drop down around their heads. Jessica screams and swats at them and everyone runs the rest of the way out. Elizabeth says she's completely weirded-out here and Jessica says maybe it's because its Halloween (or did Todd try to put his hands on Liz down in the haunted basement?)

Jessica ushers everyone into the foyer at the bottom of the stairs and announces it's time to meet Jeremiah Wakefield! Elizabeth gets the lights and Jessica plays the cassette tape of scary sounds again. Caroline squeals as a glowing ghost appears to float down the stairs, moaning. Winston, to Jessica's glee, looks VERY scared. Kisho is practically clawing the front door trying to escape. The lights come back on and the twins laugh, "
Fooled you," then Jessica shows them the secret of her helium balloon, flashlight and bedsheet trick . 

While the other guests complement Jessica on her genius, Winston, looking totally scared with big eyes and open mouth suddenly interrupts with, "
Uh, Jessica, if that's just a joke, then what's THAT?" and with perfect Abbott and Costello-farce he points, everyone turns around to look, and Jessica and Elizabeth grab each other. Oh my gosh, it a real ghost! And it's headed their way!

Ch. 12
The Uninvited Ghost

ALL the lights go out! The ghost-like figure is dressed in flowing robes, it glows green and white, it looks taller than Ned as it lurches through the living room toward the guests huddled in the foyer. It's holding out its arms and moaning,

"I am Jeremiah Wakefield."

It can't be Steven
, Jessica and Liz squeak in small voices, he's at a party.

"
Why have you disturbed my rest?" the ghost moans, "I was asleep until you called me here ,Ooooooh!"

"Wh-Who is that?" a scared voice questions,

"
I'm soooo lonely! I need a ghostly friend!" wails the ghost.
I'm cracking up over this part in the book because I haven't seen Ned yet and I'm sure it's him under that sheet acting like a total pervert!

"
I need a friend and I choooose...Jessica!"

The ghost comes right for her and Jessica runs shrieking, "
Daddy, Daddy, save me!" into the dining room to grab her father around the waist and bury her face in his shirt. Ah, bummer, Ned's been over there this whole time! So who's the ghost? It's Steven of course!
Steven, who'd been sitting on his friend Bob's shoulders joined forces with Winston to get back at Jessica for her jokes. Jessica declares defeat by calling for a truce and everyone is friends again.

The next day is Sunday and the twins get a FIFTH Halloween! Boy, if I were a teacher I'd be all for cancelling school Monday to let the kids get over their weekend sugar rush.

While out trick-or-treating Jess and Liz come to the Fowler mansion. The housekeeper, Mrs. Purvis answers the door and gives them their treats. As they turn to leave, Jessica can hear loud yelling coming from inside. The twins hope everything is OK with Lila and her parents.

That's right, let's skip Thanksgiving in Sweet Valley this year. Now hurry and go read the recap of
Lila's Christmas Angel before Sweet Valley celebrates Christmas AGAIN!
Joy to the world, all the boys and girls, Joy to the fishes...







    
 
 
llew30
23 September 2008 @ 11:35 am

Here's one made of win snark on Loving the 1st book in the Loving trilogy
http://whitebrookfarm.blogspot.com/2008/05/caitlin-manipulating-everyone-for-her.html
Here's another
four snarks: two from the promise trilogy and two from Loving trilogy all four are hilarious!
check em out
http://thedairiburger.wordpress.com/category/caitlin/

Guess I'll have to quicksnark True Love                                                     A New Promise
                                                     Dreams of Forever
and when/after I buy it Together Forever
 
 
llew30
18 June 2008 @ 09:10 am

These recaps are addicting! I thought I could stop when I wanted until someone requested Claim to Fame which turned out to be just loaded with snarkable stuff. Hope no one is tired of me yet!



 Sorry it's so small, the teaser cover line reads: Which twin will go down in history?

Why are Elizabeth and Jessica dressed so retro on this cover, you ask? Because, my children, in this book we travel back in time to an era of buoffants, Beatles, bell bottoms, peace signs, flowers, love beads, and doin' the twist! Oh, yeah, and we get a sobering reminder of Vietnam and how it turned grown men into post traumatic stress depressed fathers...

 
 
llew30
10 June 2008 @ 09:50 pm
I love to mope about this. I indulge in self-pity on this subject. I also know wayyy to many women my age who are also unmarried. It's soooo depressing! My hero, Bono of U2, loves to rant and rave about the "emergency" (the AIDS epidemic in Africa) but I love to do my own ranting and raving about the bigger issue, the fact that there wouldn't BE a problem in Africa (or in the rest of the goddamn world) if today's men would just stand up and BE MEN and take back their god given responsibility which is to be husbands, fathers and providers of the traditional family. That's the true epidemic here, people! That's the emergency!
Ok, so I just read this story on Yahoo News  
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080611/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/mexico_half_ton_man
Bad enough the man is 43 and never married but that he managed to find a woman to actually say "I do"! She's that desperate. What I want to know is: Where's all the feminist outrage? I say: "Girlfren' you can TOTALLY do better for yerself!" Suddenly my single, never married/never been asked, lot in life doesn't seem so bad.
When fretted by this single life which seems to be my lot
I think of all the
many men whose wife I'm glad I'm not!
quite appropriate, eh? I can't take credit for that little rhyme though. I read it somewhere and always loved it. 
But, to end on a positive note, I did witness something today that proves that there is hope for this sick, crazy world in which we live.
I was in the kitchen, preparing my usual "dinner for one" this evening when I heard outside my kitchen window the shouting and laughing of young children, two backyards over as well as an older deeper voice. I peeked out and saw a grown man running and chasing the squealing kids all around his backyard in play. This warmed my heart. "Imagine that," I thought to myself, "there are still dads in this world who play with their kids!" With Father's Day approaching, this seemed quite appropriate.
 
 
 
llew30
21 May 2008 @ 04:05 pm
 



I have to admit it. This is an awesome Lila story! And doesn’t she look fabulous on the cover? I always loved her hair. The horse doesn’t look bad either. Oh yeah, that other girl in the riding outfit is our Saint Elizabeth who’s so jealous that Lila has something she doesn’t deserve, it’s enough to make her use (gasp!) foul language!
 
Hilarious opening as the twins are sitting in their last class of the day, History, struggling to pay attention to Mr. Nydick’s boring lecture on the ancient Greeks. Jessica scribbles furiously in her notebook. Twin sister Elizabeth is suspicious since Jessica is never interested in school. Jess passes her a note about Mr. Nydick which says “He was probably there when it all occurred!” Liz can’t help it, when their eyes meet; both giggle thus distracting the teacher who’s all “Huh? Did someone say something?” then absentmindedly returns to his lecture.
 
In today’s plot Elizabeth has suddenly turned into a HUGE horse freak, which we all know is just a stage every young girl goes through. I was all into drawing horses when I was eleven but I never fantasized about having one of my own, I was practical, I knew horses cost a lot of money and are a lot of work. I bet my drawings were better than Liz’s, though, who is currently doodling them in her own loose leaf, because Jessica leans over to whisper, “What are those?”
“Horses, can’t you tell?”
“What?”
“Horses!”
“Duh-uh, forces? Did someone ask about forces?” and as Mr. Nydick is about to launch into the fascinating topic of ancient Greek armies, the class is saved by the bell. Whew!
 
Once outside the classroom door, the twins explode into laughter. Jessica does her impression of Mr. Nydick right down to his squint and stammer making Liz double over again.
Aside from being identical twins, Jessica and Elizabeth are also best friends. Awww.
 
The twins see AwesomeLila Fowler over at her locker, surrounded by fellow horse-loving 6th grade girls all vying to be AwesomeLila’s next best friend because awesomelyloadedDaddy Fowler, after a causal mention from Lila, went out and bought her a horse of her very own.
 
Lila’s horse’s name is Thunder and apparently after that one little mention about wanting a horse, now that she’s got one, Lila’s already bored with it! Elizabeth is feeling a just a teeny bit envious of AwesomeLila. Why should Lila have a horse when she doesn’t care about them as much as Elizabeth? We all know Elizabeth is already friend to all whales, spotted owls, and anyone who weighs over 90 pounds in Sweet Valley. Now she can add horses to her list!  
 
Elizabeth has started taking riding lessons so she leaves to go to her first one while Jessica joins Lila and her new “groupies” at her locker. Lila greets Jessica by throwing back her shoulder-length light brown hair and flashing a self-satisfied smile. The “groupies” no doubt trying to score more points with Lila, enthusiastically greet Jessica too but only one girl is today’s winner. Since she let Lila see her math homework last night, Lila suggests she come over this weekend to ride Thunder.
“That’s all.” She dismisses the others. Hopes shattered, they all trudge off, except for the lucky girl, she’s smiling.
 
Jessica teases Lila about all this attention she’s getting from girls they wouldn’t hang out with even if someone paid them, and all because Lila’s the new owner of her very own horse! She’s Miss Popularity now. AwesomeLila pretends not to care about all this extra attention, “Who, me?” she asks Jessica, and both laugh. Still, Jessica can’t believe Lila’s casual attitude over this new horse after all, her father went to all that trouble to buy it for her.
 
Now Lila’s all, “Yawn! It’s just so much WORK taking care of a horse! You have to brush them, groom them, clean up after them, and those stable boys are so…CREEPY, they have no class at all!” she says this “in her most snobbish voice.” (Geez, Lila, horses aren’t cheap, you know. Starving kids in China would be happy to have one!)
Lila changes the subject to the new necklace Daddy bought her that was just MADE for her new yellow silk blouse…
That's why I'll be referring to her as AwesomeLila throughout this recap.
At the Wakefield residence, the twins fourteen year old brother, Steven, master of the unneeded comment, calls Elizabeth “bowlegged” when she returns from her riding lesson. Since Steven just got a very short haircut, Liz retorts by calling him “skinhead” thus hitting him right where it hurts. (Woah! Good thing this book was published in 1987, Liz could get arrested for calling someone that today.)
 
Amy Sutton has already arrived, ready to do homework with her best friend. Liz talks about the piebald she got to ride during today’s lesson and they go up to Elizabeth’s room now completely decked out in all things Horse: a framed picture of Man-of-War adorns one wall, a poster of wild ponies of Chincoteague running on the beach hangs over her bed, and an open copy of National Velvet is beside it.
 
Jessica finds Liz and Amy hard at work on their book reports (Liz is NATURALLY doing hers on National Velvet!) and mentions she’s been invited by Lila to come see Thunder this Saturday.
HorsefreakLiz is again reminded of her jealousy of AwesomeLila. (You should be jealous Liz, you suck!)
 
Lunchtime the next day finds Liz stuck trying to think of a good headline for a Sixers story. Overhearing Lila in the lunch line saying to the serving lady “No, take the cream sauce OFF my cutlet, do you want me to develop cellulite at MY age?” inspires Liz to use the words “hot air” in her headline. “Thank you, Lila.” and she smiles to herself.
I love that AwesomeLila, at the innocent age of…twelve? (yep, her birthday slumber party was in book #6, I just checked) actually knows what the word cellulite means!
 
Lila and “groupies” take seats right next to her and immediately the non-unicorn girls begin hounding Lila for more details about her new horse. Finding it impossible to concentrate, Liz starts to pack up and move to a different table when Lila notices her and suddenly gets all friendly.
 
She gushes to Liz about how much she just LOVES the school paper, what articles will be in the next one, and does she ever take ideas from students, because Lila just had a fantastic idea, Liz should write a story about Thunder! She even invites Liz to come and see Thunder this Saturday with Jessica. Liz is thinking “No way! You just want to see your name in print, you stuck up snob!”
 
I’d like to point out AwesomeLila DOES have a good idea here, since so many girls want to know about her new horse, why not print all his vital statistics in a school newspaper where everyone can read it and thus get off AwesomeLila’s back? But Liz is so offended she turns Lila’s invitation down flat and storms out of the cafeteria nearly running into her twin.
 
Jessica finds Liz in her room later that day and confronts her on what happened. Liz declares she will “never, NEVER write an article about Lila and her crummy horse!” Her face is red with anger, Liz is so offended at Lila, that phony! Jessica puts her arm around her sister, tells her to cheer up, sleep on it and maybe she’ll change her mind. After all, she points out ,now her and AwesomeLila have SOMETHING in common. (Just don’t count on any awesomeness rubbing off on Liz!)
 
Elizabeth relents and agrees to write the article. She says so to Lila at school on Monday, “Morning, Lila.”
“Another Monday, what a pain in the-Oh hi, Elizabeth!”
 
So it is that Elizabeth is invited to come see Thunder after school that day and write the article. Liz can’t help but be excited at the prospect of meeting this famous horse. “Is he a quarter horse?” she asks Lila,
“Uh, yeah, I think that’s what they call him at the stable.”
Ha! Lila has no idea what Liz is talking about! (Neither do I. Black Beauty is the only horse book I ever read, sorry)
 
After school, tired of waiting for Lila who is twenty minutes late, Liz is about to leave when Lila finally shows up and is all, “You said meet by the phones at three o’clock, it’s only twenty after three now. Honestly I don’t know WHY I just spent all time fixing my hair when all I’m going to see are those awful stable boys.”
Direct quote. Isn’t Lila just too awesome for words?
 
They walk to Carson Stables which are clear across town. Lila complains a few times that they should’ve taken a cab, but Liz loves long walks from the city into the country and when the undeniable pungent aroma of you-know-what, reaches their nostrils Lila says, “Yuck, I can NEVER get this stink out of my clothes.” In order to put up with present company, Liz just makes herself think about what’s waiting for her at the end of this ordeal, the HORSES! Hee.
 
Elizabeth can hardly take it all in. Carson Stables is HUGE. Liz exclaims, “It’s nothing like where I take lessons!” (Um, I think Sweet Valley only has ONE equestrian stable. In following books Elizabeth is always returning from riding lessons at Carson Stables! So I dunno which one she’s talking about.) Anyway, there’s white fences, lush pastures, beautiful buildings with redwood planking, sloping roofs and raised midsections. There’s a paddock, an outdoor grooming area, and competition rings with white bleachers and jumps. Inside the stable, the smell of hey and leather is intoxicating to Elizabeth and when a stable hand presents them with Thunder, Liz’s jaw drops.
 
For all horse and equestrian lovers out there, here is the word for word description of Thunder the Wonder Horse:
His sorrel coat glowed like the embers of a waning fire, and his broad chest heaved evenly with his footsteps. He gave a regal nod, and Elizabeth admired the perfect slope of his neck, rising like a tree trunk from his forequarters. His long shoulder muscles glistened as they stretched tightly up to the withers. And his legs, which tapered beautifully to their hooves, seemed graceful yet powerful. With one glance of his steady brown eyes, he seemed to peer into Elizabeth’s soul. “Yes, you’re the one.” He seemed to be saying to her.
“Stunning” is the only word to describe him.
For Elizabeth, it was love at first sight!
 
Lila offers to let her ride him.
Would I!” Elizabeth says with gleaming eyes and a huge smile.
Elizabeth changes into borrowed riding clothes, courtesy of Lila, even though she’s only ridden English, the riding outfit still seems a bit over-the-top to me. It consists of “a Stetson, a wool-challis shirt with a matching silk bandana, riding pants, a belt with mother-of –pearl buckle, a buckskin vest, shotgun chaps, and custom-made calfskin polo boots, all of it hardly ever worn.”  
I don’t care how wonderful your horse is, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that getup.
 
Her ride is exhilarating. It seems Liz and Thunder were made for each other as she squeezes her legs and makes clicking noises all the while mentally reviewing everything she’s learned after just one week of riding lessons: shoulders back and open, weight on heels, toes up, fingers closed on the reins, thumbs to the sky, separate the hands, bend the elbows, carry the forearms, knees in, tuck the seat under, have positive rein contact and drive with the lower leg…so much to remember!
(Yeah, I just did a lot of direct book quoting here because I don’t know beans about horses or riding so please feel free to insert your own snarks in the comment area below. Thank you for your patience.)
 
Elizabeth trots Thunder around the pasture. With encouragement from one of the stable boys she takes him into a canter even though she’s never done it before. Only from watching another riding class do it does she remember it’s easier to go into a canter from a walk so she slows Thunder down, gives him a good hard kick and off they go!
 
As they approach the bend in the pasture Liz frantically tries to remember what the instructor had said about taking a turn, “Outside leg, inside rein!” Thunder performs the move gracefully and Elizabeth dismounts feeling like she’s ten feet off the ground and declares it to have been wonderful!
 
Walking back to Lila’s house, Elizabeth is bored already with Lila’s chatter about their classmates. She decides she can tolerate Lila’s gossiping, it would be worth it if only so she’ll be invited to see Thunder again. Then Lila mentions how she just can’t let ANYONE ride her new horse, some of the grossest, nerdiest girls at school have already asked her, I mean, the NERVE of them! Lila says, “Before you know it, people like Lois Waller and Amy Sutton will be on my back.”
“Um, Lila, Amy IS a friend of mine.”
Well, excu-u-u-se ME! You have to admit, she IS kind of strange.” Actual quote! It still makes me laugh! HA! Liz is pissed but instead of blowing up at Lila for talking that way about her best friend, Liz clams up, she REALLY wants to see that horse again…
 
And so, Lila and Elizabeth begin spending more and more time together. The Unicorns notice this and mention it to Jessica, Jessica tries to just blow it off saying it’s nothing, Liz is just really into horses right now, that’s all. But inside she’s beginning to get suspicious too and she’s feeling a bit hurt. Lila’s supposed to be her best friend!
I mean, one week later, Liz is even going so far as to get together with Lila so they can do their math homework together (that is, so LIZ can do the homework for them!) Elizabeth invites Jess to join them.
 
At the Fowler mansion, Lila has a surprise, she shipped Thunder over from Carson Stables for the afternoon, which is incredibly expensive but AwesomeLila just charged it to Daddy’s account and he never says anything!  
 
Liz is thrilled seeing her favorite horse again. She feeds Thunder carrots and picks up a currycomb and begins grooming him. Lila sighs, if only she had someone who could be her “Horse Nanny” you know, take care of Thunder on a daily basis for her, take him out for his workouts, groom him…Liz immediately pipes up, “I’ll do it!”
Elizabeth has just unknowingly walked right into Lila’s trap.
 
In the house, Elizabeth patiently helps Lila and Jess work their math problems. They’re just finishing up when the doorbell rings. It’s Ellen Riteman. Elizabeth hears urgent whispering and it dawns on her, Ellen had come for the math homework! Lila had this all planned out but since Liz is still here Lila can’t let Ellen copy her answers yet.
 
Liz decides going outside to visit Thunder might make her feel better about all this dishonesty. She’s surprised to find a strange boy quietly untying Thunder from his tree and cries “Thief” but the boy is just Ted Rogers, the new Carson Stable hand. Jessica thinks he’s cute, AwesomeLila is her usual snotty self and sensing Ted’s nervousness around all these girls does her best to make Ted feel uncomfortable since everyone thought he was trying to "steal" Thunder. Ted awkwardly invites them to come to the stable so they can watch him return Thunder but AwesomeLila, with her nose in the air, says, “No, I must return to my Sexy Stableboy magazine.” And she and Ellen prance back into the mansion, snickering.
Oh, Lila, you’re just too much!
 
Jessica would LOVE to go see Carson Stables with him while Ted assumes Liz is Thunder’s owner. Ned Wakefield pulls up in the maroon van and the twins talk him into a quick trip to the stables before going home for dinner. Steven is in the van, too.
 
At Carson Stables, they discover Ted is also a freshman at SVH and he and Steven hit it right off. Ted is invited to come over for dinner sometime. Jessica, still fawning over the blue eyed, handsome freshman, follows Ted for what she hopes will be an intimate tour of the tack room but all Ted wants to do is talk about how pretty and nice Elizabeth is!
Feeling like chopped liver Jessica says, “We’re identical twins, dork, can’t you tell?” (OK, I added the “dork”) and Ted knowing he just said the wrong thing is so flustered he backs right into some equipment and everything comes crashing down. Unhurt, Ted and Jess start to giggle which turns into uncontrollable laughter but when Elizabeth pokes her head in to see what’s going on in here, Ted gets all serious and Jessica is jealous. How DARE Ted prefer Elizabeth over HER?
 
Almost a month passes here. Elizabeth sprints across town almost every day after school to Carson Stables to ride Thunder, (she probably keeps a horse in her locker!) and soon all the employees at the stable are stopping to watch their daily workout. All, like Ted, have assumed Thunder is Liz’s horse. When Liz sees the sign for an equestrian jumping competition with prize money for the winner, she’s tempted! Already she’s been taking Thunder out on some jumps, her seat with him is picture perfect and Thunder obeys her every cue, almost as if he were her own horse! They make the perfect team. She could enter him and no one would have to know. Not even Miss Lila Fowler.
 
One morning before school, the phone rings. Jess answers it and is dismayed when Lila immediately asks for Elizabeth and doesn’t even want to talk to HER. At school Jessica runs into Lila who promises to make it all up to Jess by inviting her to an exclusive slumber party she’s throwing. Jess is starting to feel better now about her former jealousy to Liz and her best friend’s budding relationship when everyone knows they have nothing in common and Lila is only using Liz as a horse nanny!
 
Little does Jess know her own twin has also been invited to said slumber party! She finds out during dinner in the presence of dinner guest, Ted, and she loses it. Forgetting all about making a good impression on her current crush, Jessica storms upstairs to her room. Alice talks to her giving some good counsel that if AwesomeLila wants to be friends with BOTH twins, that’s Lila’s business and Jessica should be a good sport about it and not be so jealous of her twin’s new friendship. Jess agrees to try and understand.
 
Arriving at the slumber party with her twin, Elizabeth is a bit nervous. All she sees are Unicorns. “Well duh,” says Jessica, “most of Lila’s friends ARE Unicorns. But don’t worry, you and Lila have common interests now so you’ll have LOTS to talk about, I’m sure!” Hee.
 
For Elizabeth, the Unicorn slumber party is pure torture. All the others want to do is watch boring (to Liz) rock music videos with screaming skinny men who wear too much makeup, clutch their guitars and stick their tongues out at the camera. (*sigh* I miss the 80’s and MTV!) All the girls squeal over their favorite singers who have names like Zeke Paranoia who plays in Frontal Lobe, and who can forget that great 80’s band, Hyper Ventilation? I love all these names the ghostwriter came up with.
 
Elizabeth (the party pooper) is so bored she’s not sure if she can take much more of this iniquity. She tries to make polite conversation and act interested but the other Unicorns just look at her as if she were from Mars and go back to fawning over their rock idols.
 
Later, Liz is relieved when TV time finally over but, just as Elizabeth suspects, quiet time is gossip time for the Unicorns. They all adjourn to Lila’s room and promptly begin raking all their nerdiest classmates over the gossip coals and shriek with laughter. One Unicorn suggests they fix Amy Sutton up with one of them. Janet cries, “No, he might think Amy’s hair is mop and dunk her in a bucket!”
She’d probably clobber him first with her field-hockey stick!”
Like a fly on the wall, Liz burns inside as the girls all shriek with laughter and make fun of her best friend.
Poor Amy,” gasps one Unicorn, “You think ANY guy will ever like her?”
Liz finally explodes, “Well, someone DOES! You all weren’t at Julie Porter’s party where Ken Matthews KISSED HER!”
Oops, shouldn’t have said that.
 
Elizabeth begs the Unicorns not to let that juicy bit of gossip ever get out of this room. All nod their heads and agree to keep Amy’s secret. Liz is doubtful of their sincerity.
So am I.
 
Lila suggests to Elizabeth she make some changes to her article before submission. Liz thinks its fine just as she’s written it. Lila threatens, “Write it how I want, or no more Thunder.” Horsefreak Liz gives in. See, I told you, Liz’ll do anything to keep Lila’s friendship just so she can keep riding Thunder.
 
Amy finds Elizabeth and makes her feel worse by mentioning how GLAD she is to have a best friend to share her deepest, darkest secrets with because if anyone knew about her and Ken’s make out session…well, she’d just DIE!
 
Ted comes over to Casa Wakefield again for dinner. When Jessica tries to flirt, (again unsuccessfully) with Ted he quickly changes the subject to Liz, what a great rider she is and how he feels she should seriously consider entering the owner’s competition being held at the stables. Jessica, unaware of anything amiss, blurts that Liz isn’t Thunder’s owner, Lila is! Liz wants to slide under the table in humiliation.
 
Strangely it isn’t until the next day at Carson Stables that Ted and Elizabeth clear up this little misunderstanding with each other. Liz enters the stall and begins her confession to...THE HORSE! “I felt so proud when everyone thought you were mine!” Ted eavesdrops and nearly scares Liz out of her shotgun chaps. She can't believe he just caught her baring her soul to a horse!
 
Ted understands why she did it. He isn’t angry at her for letting him believe she was the owner and he offers to coach Liz in preparation for entering the beginners’ event in the competition this Friday, behind Lila’s back. But, hey, she can make it up to Lila by presenting her with the prize money. Liz thinks this is a great idea. The competition is this Friday. They have about a week to prepare Thunder.
 
Liz is just bursting with her secret so she takes Amy into her confidence. She’s feeling much better about everything now. A few days have passed, Amy doesn’t appear to suspect anything so it looks like the Unicorns really ARE going to keep a promise for once!
 
School on Friday is torture for Elizabeth, the hands of the clock move so slowly! By the time the last bell rings, Liz seems to be in a state of shock as she walks down the hall. It’s like she’s underwater, the voices around her are muffled as she seems to just float down the hall until Amy snaps her out of it. She leads Liz outside to some bushes, takes her by the shoulders and they have a moment (Are they about to have a prayer meeting?) 

Looking her in the eye Amy tells her she’s rooting for her and to go out there and show ‘em who’s best! They hug and Liz takes off for the stables. Amy returns inside for a quick visit to her locker before she has to leave.
 
Lila and the other Unicorns are waiting for her. They snicker, point and make slurpy kissing noises. Amy tells them off good, “You think you’re so special because all you do is talk about boys and gossip but you’re NOT! “Why don’t you guys GROW UP?” she says.
 
Guess you’re WAY past the stage of just TALKING about them.”
Oh, it’s so hard to be as grown-up as Hot-Lips Sutton.”
“Excuse me? What are you idiots talking about?”
Lila steps forward and announces they can’t all be as cool as Amy who actually KISSED Ken Matthews, the midget! Oh, yes, don’t look so innocent, Amy,
“Elizabeth told us all about it at my slumber party, hee hee!”
Amy’s jaw drops. Oh, yeah? Well you’re too stupid to know that Elizabeth is about to ride YOUR horse in a competition today AND she’s gonna win it too!
Oops, shouldn’t have said that.
Lila’s all “What? I don’t think so!”
And the race is on to Carson Stable. Who will reach Liz first?
 
Amy will. Elizabeth is just finishing Thunder’s last grooming and prepping when a breathless and furious Amy arrives to warn her of Lila’s coming to stop her from entering and to confront her on what Lila just revealed. Liz hangs her head in shame. It was an accident.
 
Before any more can be said, AwesomeLila arrives on the scene, righteous indignation and all. Elizabeth can hardly speak. Meeting Amy’s eyes, she gathers her courage and finally tells Lila exactly what she thinks of her in a passionate speech, she’s tired of playing Lila's games, pretending to like her and be her friend and stay on her good side because now she’s dropping out of the competition despite Thunder being a winning horse. It’s Lila who should ride Thunder!
AwesomeLila’s eyes nearly pop out of her head.
 
“Ok,” Awesome Lila tries to laugh it off, “you’re right, maybe I HAVE been unfair to you, Elizabeth, but I’ll make it up to you. Go ahead, ride Thunder in the competition, I insist!”
 
Liz just throws her head back and LAUGHS! "You phony! You just want that blue ribbon and all the credit as the owner! Nope, won’t do it, sorry."
 
Score one for Elizabeth! Exit stage right as Lila calls weakly after her that she’ll never get to ride Thunder again and Amy follows going “Wow! Who are you and what have you done with the real Elizabeth?” They have a tearful make up and are best friends again but…
 
It’s just such a damn shame that Thunder won’t be in that show.” Says Liz.
*twelve year old me does double take and clutches her pearls*
Was that Elizabeth, MY Saint Elizabeth, who just said a BAD WORD????!!!!!
It took me years to get over that line. How could you, Elizabeth? Cussing in a Sweet Valley Twins book! Oh, the horror! Sadly, such blatant profanity in SVT hasn’t occurred since.
 
Luckily Ted has been secretly practicing the advanced jumps with Thunder (behind both Liz and Lila’s backs no less!) and is ready to step in and take Elizabeth’s place as rider. Lila agrees to this, the judges are apparently Ok with these last minute changes and Thunder will compete after all.
 
The event’s about to start and Elizabeth hurries to the payphones to tell Jessica to get her butt over here for the biggest, most exciting event Sweet Valley has ever seen! The boy Jessica loves is about to ride Thunder in the advanced competition and could win the biggest prize of the event!
 
How did we ever survive without cell phones? The Wakefield’s phone rings TEN TIMES and no one picks up! Liz decides to try again; maybe she dialed the wrong number. (Yeah right. Her own HOME NUMBER? The same one they made you memorize in kindergarten? Come on!) She dials again and it rings and rings until FINALLY Jessica answers. She just got home from a Unicorn meeting but no one showed up! Liz breathlessly explains why, tells her to get her butt over here and hangs up before Jessica can respond.
 
Apparently everyone in Sweet Valley (except the other Wakefields) is at this event. The bleachers are all packed with the owners’ family, extended family, (even all the horses’ extended family!) and all their friends. Somehow, Elizabeth finds a seat just as the beginners’ event is about to begin!
 
Elizabeth watches the other owners take their horses through all the routines she’d been practicing Thunder with: walk, trot, and canter. They all try jumping the cavaletti (gee, this ghostwriter really knows her equestrian lingo; cavaletti isn’t recognized by my Microsoft Word spell check! I wonder if Joanna Campbell helped write this?) Then all beginners take their turns jumping the post-and-rail.
 
Elizabeth heart sinks as the winner is announced. She and Thunder could’ve easily won it (yeah, considering Ted was giving Thunder extra practice sessions all this time!).
 
Halfway through the intermediate competition Liz is worried that Jessica and family STILL haven’t arrived. She dashes to the phones to call home for the third time. Jessica regrets to inform her Alice is working late that night and Ned is stuck in meeting with a client. No one will bring her. She can’t ride her bike over because Dad insists she stay home and help with dinner and he doesn’t understand! Elizabeth promises to tell Ted Jess is at least rooting for him in spirit.
 
Ted looks worriedly at the front gate, he catches sight of Liz in the crowd who signals Jessica isn’t coming. Ted looks downright crushed that Jess isn’t there to share in all the excitement. AW!
 
The advanced event begins. Thunder has a rocky start clearing all jumps except a knock-down on the chicken-coop jump. The jumps are raised and all horses do it again but, Oh noes! Thunder has another knock-down.
 
Now it’s down to Thunder and a bay named Chester. Chester clears the post-and-rail, sails over the brick wall, brush fence and the chicken coop but as he’s approaching the in-and-out jump HE BALKS nearly throwing his rider off! Since this was the second time Chester balked, he’s eliminated. Now it’s up to Thunder to make all the jumps, if he can’t do it, then, according to stable rules, they’d have to do it all over again to determine a winner. Sweat drips down Elizabeth’s forehead while fear is written all over Ted’s face. Can Thunder do it? Is there any hope?
 
Suddenly a maroon van pulls up and out jumps Jessica and family. Her parents relented and she made it after all! Ted’s grin looked as if it would split his face. Actual quote. Aw!
 
Thunder takes all the jumps beautifully clearing them with inches to spare until he comes to the dreaded in-and-out tjump the same one Chester wouldn’t take. The double jumps seems to scare him and he refuses, TWICE! Only one more chance to get it right or it’s all over!
 
But not to worry, Jessica’s here now and her presence spurs Ted’s incredible strength and confidence. Ted kicks Thunder, snaps the riding crop, and like a beautiful brown bird, Thunder glides over the first rail, takes one powerful stride and majestically takes the second. The stone silent crowd suddenly goes wild and Thunder wins the blue ribbon!
 
AwesomeLila softly congratulates Ted on his win. Ted graciously comments on Thunder and suggests Lila may want to give him a rubdown now (no, not Ted, the HORSE!)
Lila’s all “Ewwww” when Liz tells her what a rubdown is and Lila begs her to do it for her but Liz has learned her lesson and is all “No way,” then Ted offers a $700 down payment to take Thunder off her hands. Lila accepts saying, “I was getting pretty tired of horses and was thinking of selling him anyway.” Ted is so thrilled he jumps in the air and promises Liz she can come and ride Thunder any time she wants.
 
Jessica shares a joke she probably got off a Laffy Taffy, “What room did the Black Stallion check into when he went to a hotel? The bridle suite!
*groan*
THE END (except for trashy Sophia Rizzo and her VCR stealing juvenile delinquent brother whom you can read all about in the next SVT book
 
 
llew30
02 May 2008 @ 11:21 pm
SVH #25 Nowhere to Run
 
 
Emily Mayer is the troubled girl with brown hair and long face in the pink shirt. Elizabeth “St. Liz” is, once again, playing her familiar role of meddling caring friend (for the 137th time I might add). 
Hee, I love covers where Liz’s barrettes match her shirt!
 
Ever notice 99.9% of all school scenes in SVH take place in the cafeteria? It’s like everyone comes to school and immediately goes to lunch. But hey, aren’t we all mentally “at lunch” for most of our days anyway? Whoa, that’s deep.
 
Anyway, as you might have guessed, our story begins in the SVH lunchroom with Jessica and Elizabeth, eating lunch and anticipating tonight’s arrival of Grandma and Grandpa Wakefield, traveling all the way from Michigan, for a three week visit!
 
It’s been one whole year since Ned’s parents came to Sweet Valley. The twins love it when Ma and Pa Wakefield come because with every visit they get spoiled rotten with shopping trips, new outfits, dinners at fancy restaurants, hot air balloon rides and, best of all, lots of one of one time-just the four of them!
 
It’s enough to make any mother jealous of her own in-laws (“Hot air ballooning? How can I possibly compete with THAT?”) and start to question her own parenting skills! (oops, spoiler alert!)
 
Looking at her sister’s face across the table was like staring into a mirror
Blah, blah, blah-you know the rest!
 
Jessica has now finished her carton of yogurt and is tearing into an ice cream sandwich, (since fat doesn’t apply to eternal size sixes I guess Jessica’s only worried about osteoporosis) Jess has a neato idea! Immediately after school they should go home and decorate the house to surprise their Grandparents, but Liz can’t join her, she’s got Oracle duty after school today. Bummer.
 
As Jessica continues to chatter on about how much she’s looking forward to the “Big Visit” Liz can’t help but overhear the conversation taking place farther down the cafeteria table, which has been growing more and more intense.
 
Emily Mayer is the Droid’s drummer. She’s described as 5”2’ petite and slender with long, dark, wavy hair and hazel eyes flecked with green that sparkle when she gets emotional, especially when involved in her music or, like now, as she’s talking with the Droid’s lead singer, Dana Larson.
 
Dana just won’t shut up! She keeps going on and on about cute, sweet, adorable, babies! Emily is THIS CLOSE to loosing it, it’s not that Emily doesn’t like babies, it’s that this particular baby (named Karrie) isn’t her sister, she’s her stepsister which makes a big difference, Dana.
 
Dana pulls Liz into the conversation, “Help me convince Emily about the wonderfulness of babies.” Elizabeth takes the safe route by lightly switching the topic back to Emily commenting on what a big adjustment it must be suddenly having a new baby in the house.
 
Emily is convinced Karen, her new wicked stepmother, hates Emily’s stinking guts! Ever since her father remarried and they had the baby, Karen has been slowly elbowing her way in and making sure Emily is always OUT. Karen is not the sweet, giving person everyone in Sweet Valley believes her to be, she really has it in for Emily who grips the table so hard her knuckles turn white, she’s that upset, and know what? She’s not gonna take it anymore! Distraught, Emily leaves as Dana chases after her while Jess and Liz wonder what’s really going on in the Mayer home. As if its any of their business.
 
It’s four o’clock and Liz is hard at work in the Oracle office writing on the tenure system, when the door swings open and who should appear over the threshold but Mr. Collins (YES! I finally get some “Mr. Collins if you’re nasty!” snarking!) faculty advisor for the school paper, popular among all his students, always taking time to help everyone out and he was one of the most all-around generous teachers in the school. (“Generous” huh??? Yeah, bring it on baby! Hee.)
 
Mr. Collins needs Liz’s help because Emily Mayer recently talked to him and she’s interested in joining their happy little Oracle family so he told her to come by the office after school today where he was hoping Liz could take Emily under her wing, show her around, give her a tour of the office, (is the Oracle office so big she might get lost?) maybe give her a little “moral support”since Liz is so patient, as usual, Liz is glad to help out, (Anything for YOU Mr. Collins! That's why she's his favorite student you know.) Meanwhile, he’s got to run over to the school office and is just about to turn and leave when…
 
Emily appears at the door. She looks awful, red-rimmed eyes, it’s obvious she’s been crying. Upon seeing her Mr. Collins gives Emily a long look, “Can you stick around when Liz is done with her tour? I’d like to talk to you.”
We all know what that means.
Bow chicka BAW BAW!
 
“He’s so nice,” Emily says softly, pulling up a chair after Mr. Collins leaves and sitting down, “He reminds me of…”
Jason? Freddy? Richard Simmons?
“Of what?” asks Liz gently
 “My father, before he married Karen.”
Oh.
 
Liz is a bit puzzled over why Emily is here. She’s a musician not a writer and no one in Sweet Valley is allowed to have TWO hobbies, it would totally mess up all the character profiles for the ghostwriters! Except evil, wicked, stepmother Karen will ship Emily off to boarding school far, far away from Sweet Valley and all she loves unless Emily changes her ways so Emily thought maybe by going along with Karen’s idea of her joining the squeaky clean newspaper staff Karen won’t hate her so much. Apparently her wild rocker friends, the Droids, with their screaming guitars and drums are a “bad influence” on baby Karrie, so by giving that up hopefully she can stay on stepmom’s good side and ultimately STAY in Sweet Valley. She really has no other choice. Since her Mom died years ago, Dad’s been so blinded by his new love, he takes Karen’s side in everything now. Poor Emily.
 
Hearing Emily’s sob story, St. Liz’s soft heart is just breaking into pieces for her but there’s nothing anyone can do.
 
After her meeting with Mr. Collins, (dang, no details!) Emily walks home. We get about seven pages of boring plot exposition as Emily reflects on what life was like, just her and Dad back in the “pre-Karen days”. They had a special daddy-daughter relationship back then, he encouraged her in her music, and to take up the drums and get involved in the Droids, back when it was just the two of them and no one else. Wicked stepmother has made sure it’s all about HER now. Her and baby Karrie.
 
Meanwhile, at Casa Wakefield, Alice has managed to put an entire seven course home cooked meal on the table after working all day. She’s getting her first signs of jealousy as the twins eagerly talk with their Grandparents at the dinner table and make plans for the upcoming weekend, plans that don’t include HER. Maybe she’s (GASP) loosing touch with her children!
 
At the Mayer home, Karen has been bitching about Emily’s late night habits, they disturb the baby, so her Dad pops into her room to let her know from now on, Emily’s got a curfew. The color drains from Emily’s face at this news. She’s NEVER had a curfew before!
 
The phone rings and Karen bitches some more to Emily-the phone wakes the baby up every time it rings, doesn’t she realize that? “I had no idea a baby was such HARD WORK!” she complains. (I could totally picture Jessica saying that in some future Sweet Valley Estates book) Karen has never had to do anything for herself, she never learned to cook, clean or manage a household. Since she and Mr. Mayer have made plans to go out this Friday night Wicked Stepmother is making Cinderella Emily stay home and baby sit.
 
Except that phone call was from Dan, the Droids bass guitar player, the boy Emily’s “sort of” dating right now. They’re just friends, but Emily is hoping it will progress to something more. She’d just barely made plans for him to come over this Friday evening to check out her new cymbals. They'd made their FIRST DATE! Now she’s stuck babysitting. Remembering the curfew issue with her Dad earlier, Emily meekly holds her tongue and tells Karen she’ll cancel her Friday night plans with Dan . Karen’s word is law around here now and no one will stand up to her. Bummer for Emily.
 
At school the next day Emily finds Liz in the Oracle office and pours out the whole story to her about her current, depressing, home life situation. “She makes me babysit all the time now and I don’t have a life anymore!” 

And you know that story she’s told everyone, about her mother dying when she was a girl? (as if anyone at SVH would care) Well, she LIED! The truth is her mother abandoned her and her dad! “Please don’t tell my secret,” she begs Liz. (It’s a cardinal sin in Sweet Valley to have an absent parent, you know.) "So, Karen is really my wicked stepmother, would love nothing better than to ship me off to boarding school and Dad doesn’t seem to care."
 
“You poor kid,” St. Liz puts her arm around Emily, feels badly about the whole thing, and, as only St, Liz can says, “Hey, Mi casa is su casa! You are welcome to come over anytime; whenever things at home get too much for you, our door is always open.”
Or something to that effect.
It’s the least St. Liz can do and, by the way, she won't tell anyone about Emily's deadbeat mom.
Emily is eternally grateful.
 
Alice arrives home with steak and potatoes all gung-ho ready to cook a “See what a great mom I am!” meal for her family. Ah, shoot! Liz and Jess have already made plans with the Grandparents to eat out at a Chinese restaurant tonight. We’re told Ned can’t stand Chinese food anyway so now Alice can stay home tonight and enjoy a nice, quiet evening with her husband. (Ned hates Chinese food? Since when? Continuity sluths can help quote me on this because I KNOW there’s a previous SVH book with the entire Wakefield family sitting down to enjoy their favorite meal-CHINESE TAKEOUT!!!) 

Sorry Alice, but round one goes to the Grandparents! The twins just don’t need you anymore.
 
Uh oh, brochures from boarding schools keep turning up in the Mayer’s mailbox. One more wrong move and Emily may have to leave Sweet Valley and her father for good.
 
Karen screams some more at Emily, her drumming just woke up the baby, AGAIN! But Emily is not breaking any newly set house rules, it was already established that between 4 o’clock and later she’s allowed to practice in her special studio in the basement. 
Karen's put a stop to that now.
Bitch.
She keeps changing the rules on Emily and that is just SO unfair!
 
Phone interrupts this discussion. It’s Dan and Emily fights back tears as she admits she won’t be able to see him at Droids practice tonight. She doesn’t want to get into the details. If Dan knew the truth about how things really were at her house, he’d want nothing to do with her. 

I love how everyone in Sweet Valley freaks out at the thought if anyone, especially BOYS, find out their silly secrets, no one will like them! Talk about insecure.
 
On the phone, Dan says he still wants to see Emily and this makes her feel better. Since Karen has to take baby Karrie to the doctor tomorrow afternoon Emily realizes they’ll have the house all to themselves. They make a new date for him to come over and check out those new cymbals. 
I feel a sense of foreboding here.
 
Emily and Dan meet up after school and walk home together. They’re having a great time laughing and chatting. Emily is crushing on him even more now. Dan is really impressed with her basement studio where she keeps her drum kit. Like Ringo Starr on a good night, Emily’s banging away for him when suddenly Karen and a sobbing baby are home!
 
Karen yells at Emily for making so much noise and upsetting Karrie, is offended because she invited a boy over UNCHAPERONED, she spills the beans about Emily’s mother walking out on her father when she was young (Oh no, Karen, not THAT!) and, to top it all off, calls Emily’s mother a TRAMP and accuses Emily of being a bad influence on the baby! At the conclusion of this little tirade, Karen bursts into tears and runs back upstairs still carrying a sobbing baby. The woman is PHYCHO! And she said all of this in front of Dan. Yeah, I’d be embarrassed as hell too, just like Emily is. A red faced Dan makes a hasty exit while Emily is too numb to even cry, she can only do that in front of a Wakefield!
 
Emily calls Liz (her number’s on everyone’s speed dial in Sweet Valley, you know) and is now crying so hard she can hardly choke out the words to explain why she’s even calling. Liz tells her to come on over.
 
When Emily rings the bell, the Wakefields and their Grandparents are all sitting down to eat that steak dinner Alice finally got to make. As Liz goes to let her in, Jessica stage whispers to the family that “Emily is having problems at home.” This news upsets Grandma Wakefield “I just don’t know what’s happening to the American family these days,”
“Parents don’t have enough time for the children any more, that’s what it is,” says Grandpa. (Yeah, way to rub in the salt for your daughter-in-law, Ma & Pa!)
They share their steak dinner with Emily who bursts into tears when prodded to share her troubles. Grandma jumps up to comfort her “You poor, poor thing!”
 
Yeah, this is the THIRD TIME Emily is sharing her sad, sad story with people she hardly knows! She pleads with the Wakefields to let her stay here for the night. After all the horrible things Karen said to her, she just CAN'T go back there. Lawyer Ned reminds her of the moral and legal boundaries they’d be crossing but if Emily at least calls her Dad and lets him know where she’ll be, then she's welcome to stay at Casa Wakefield tonight. Emily agrees.
 
Mr. Mayer is a real jerk on the phone to his only daughter. As usual, he’s taken Karen’s side of the story right off. If Emily hadn’t been “banging around on those drums with no chaperone in the house” this would never have happened. Emily’s all, “Um, did Karen mention one very important detail about Mom?” Course not. Does Emily tell him? Heck, no. It’s obvious he’d never believe her word against Wicked Stepmom’s anyway. Emily’s eyes fill with tears. Mr. Mayer insists he’s coming get her, but a rightfully peeved Emily WON’T TELL HIM where she is! Hee. 
“Fine!” says Mr. Mayer, “if you’re not home in one hour, I’m putting your drums out in the STREET!”
 
Wow, I’d be all calling his bluff if these were MY parents, (“Fine, do it! I’m STILL not coming home.”) but Emily’s made of sterner stuff than I am, I guess, and besides this is Sweet Valley parenting. This method WORKS! Emily meekly agrees to come home. She really loves those drums.
 
Yeah, she loves those drums so much she’ll put an ad in the Oracle with Liz the next day to SELL them! I’m not kidding. She figures, “this’ll show em all how desperately I want to stay in Sweet Valley!”
 
Meanwhile, Dan has been feeling really bad since the big scene with Wicked Stepmom. He really likes Emily and it makes him furious every time he remembers what happened, but it makes him feel helpless too, he doesn’t think there’s anything he can do to help Emily, wicked stepmom's spell over Sweet Valley is too powerful.  So much for a Prince Charming to come rescue Emily.
Dan is a really boring, secondary character in this drama.
Spineless too.
 
Seeing Emily in the hall at school Dan hurries to catch up to her and tell her his feelings for her. Emily coldly tells him she’s quitting the Droids and brushes off his weak, “But what about US?” and hurries away before he sees her cry.
 
Meddling Liz finds Dan, and they pow-wow about Emily. Since she really is going through with selling her drums and quitting the Droids, Liz is agonizing over what they can do to stop her from going through with it. Dan has an idea. Run the ad. He’ll buy the drums, give them back, and when he does Emily will realize they’re her friends with only her best interests at heart.
 
Emily is minding the baby, having a “big sister” moment. Tears sting her eyes, she’s suddenly feeling very protective of her soft, cuddly, vulnerable, yet fragile 8 month old stepsister (who has no idea what a wicked bitch of Mom she has) Karen then calls out “phone” for Emily, it’s “that boy” again!
 
Dan feigns a “friend” is interested in buying her drums, Emily agrees to sell them and Dan comes right over to pick them up and take them off her hands.
 
When Dan arrives, Emily is still so embarrassed about that Big Scene and she’s so paranoid Dan has already told everyone at school the truth about her deadbeat Mom (Oh, come ON, Emily, this is Dan, not Caroline Pearce!) she turns him down for a movie date tonight. Besides, she has to baby-sit tonight, so she can’t even go out with him anyway. She accepts the $200.00 or Best Offer payment, as stated in the ad, and leaves Dan out by the curb with her beloved drums. She can’t bring herself to look back at him.
 
Later, Emily is awakened from a late afternoon nap by Mr. Mayer. Suddenly he’s showing his old soft side, the one he had before getting re-married. He actually seems concerned for Emily. He even asks her if she’s been able to work anything out with the Droids practice time so she can continue her hobby and keep her curfew AND thus the peace in the Mayer house. Emily bluntly states, “I sold my drums,” Great dad that he is, Mr. Mayer changes face and is now all accusing Emily of being rash and calls her a martyr. This hurts Emily’s feelings and makes her cry. (Way to go Dad!) “I’m GLAD I sold my drums.” She says woodenly, “In fact, I never want to play the drums again as long as I live.” Emily insists she knows what she’s doing and Dad says, “Fine, the number for where we’ll be is on the desk in the study.” And so, “Emily the Martyr” settles in for an evening of baby sitting and reminiscing some more about the good old days when she had a real mother and a father who both loved her.
 
 Emily is bathing the baby when Wicked Stepmother passes by “Aren’t you done yet? I’ve just about had it with you! I want to go to the mall this afternoon and buy a new party dress to wear, so guess what? You’re babysitting for me again! And. Cinderella  Emily, maybe you could fix dinner for all of us tonight too…”  When Emily tries to stand up for herself, Karen gets all annoyed and snappish. Man, if Karen keeps pushing Emily like this she’s REALLY going to do something drastic: like tell Daddy what Karen said about her Mom!
 
So she does. After Karen has left and Mr. Mayer gets home and is relaxing with a beer, Emily broaches the subject of Karen and her evil ways to him. “Well, we need to consider Karen’s feelings here” is his heartless answer. “But what about MY feelings?” Emily asks and tears run down her cheeks as she finally tells her father what Wicked Stepmother said about their Mom during the Big Scene, “She called her a TRAMP! In front of Dan!” this makes Dad so angry he slams his beer glass on the table, startling the baby so she begins to cry. 

Instead of being upset at Karen over this news, it's Emily! He doesn’t believe his OWN DAUGHTER! He tells her she’s being disrespectful to Karen, doesn't want to hear another word, and storms angrily out of the kitchen. Emily’s face is wet with tears as she tries to soothe the still crying baby.
 
Know what? I think her Dad is psycho too, or maybe this is Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Sweet Valley style! (That’d be sooo COOL)
 
At Casa Wakefield, Ned takes the twins aside, tells them Alice has been feeling left out and Jessica comes up with a great idea. They’ll enlist their Mom’s help to throw a big surprise going away dinner for the Grandparents. They act so helpless at planning this, Alice is delighted her twins came to HER for advice on something, so she agrees to help them with the menu and guest list, ect. Now Alice doesn’t feel like such a looser Mom and everyone feels better about themselves. And that’s how the B plot is resolved.
 
Emily is in the living room doing homework and keeping an eye on baby Karrie at the same time when Karen enters with a new doll for her little daughter. Emily notices the doll has a questionably loose bead for an eye sewn onto its face and tries to take it away. Karen snarls and shows her teeth, “Back off!”
 
The phone rings, It’s Karen’s mother. Karen sits on the couch to argue over the phone with Karrie next to her. As Karrie investigates her new toy, she manages to get the loose bead off, pops it in her mouth and promptly starts choking.
 
All hell breaks loose as Psycho Karen begins SHAKING her baby (Idiot! Haven’t you ever heard of Shaken Baby Syndrome??!!!) and can only scream Karrie’s name over and over while sobbing hysterically.
 
Emily jumps up, she knows immediately what to do, but Phycho Karen won’t relinquish her grip on her child, she’s that hysterical. What does Emily do? She slaps her own stepmother as hard as she can right across her face! (YES!)
 
Shocked, Karen lets Emily snatch the baby from her. Emily performs the Baby Heimlich Maneuver by placing Karrie in front of her, forming a double fist, and pushing on her stomach which pops the bead out. (Three cheers for first aid courses!) Baby Karrie takes in a lungful of air and starts to scream.
 
Mr. Mayer storms in demanding to know what’s going on. He assumes the worst, seeing all three girls crying, an overturned chair, and a dangling telephone receiver and immediately blames Emily! “What have you done now?" he screams at her, "GET OUT!” 
So Emily runs away from home.
Hope someone remembered to hang up the phone.
 
Emily hides out at the Box Tree Café and decides she will set off on her own to find her real mother, all she has is an old phone number in Chicago to go on. She’ll get to Chicago somehow and make a new life with Deadbeat Mom.
 
But instead of calling social services or even a teen hotline for runaways Emily calls…Elizabeth Wakefield! who drives the Fiat Spider she and Jessica share right over to pick her up from the café. As Emily tells her what happened in the car on the way to Casa Wkefield St. Liz is SHOCKED hearing her story. Emily is a hero yet her Dad blamed her!
 
Making a quick pit stop at the store for some milk, Elizabeth learns Heroically Deaf Regina Morrow is back in town but saving Regina from a questionable hostage situation will have to wait until later. Liz’s first duty right now, is to help Emily!
 
Emily is taken upstairs to Liz’s room to rest. She’s too exhausted from stress to even TRY and explain this latest Mayer family argument to the Wakefield Family Counseling Service! 

So Liz tells everyone FOR her. Everyone promptly feels bad and tries to decide what they can do to help Emily. Jess thinks it would be “tattling” but Liz suggests maybe they should call the Mayers and let them know where Emily is. (Maybe you should call Social Services too, Liz, cause it's really none of your damn business, ever think of THAT?) Alice thinks Liz should be the one to call Emily’s house so Liz picks up the phone and makes the call. Alice is feeling like a better mother already.
 
A numb Emily has just tried the number in Chicago. Deadbeat Mom remarried and moved to Mexico over two years ago! NOW what will she do? Running away to Chicago was the only plan she had. She tries hard not to cry.
 
Now that Elizabeth has blabbed the whole story to the family downstairs, Grandma Wakefield enters to share some of her own Wakefield family history with Emily. (Continuity sleuths, help me here, because this story sounds suspiciously made up by a ghostwriter!) When she first met her husband, Bob, (Robert Wakefield) she knew he’d been married before (To WHO?) and had a little boy named Louis, now eleven. (Who the hell is Louis?) Louis didn’t really trust his new stepmother at first so their relationship together those first few years was a bit rocky. Then Grandma had Edward (aka “Ned” the twins father) so she can sympathize with Karen the new stepmother stuggling to fit into a new family AND she can even understand Emily’s feelings too. But, as her own stepson, Louis, grew older their relationship began to grow stronger AND it got better. Now Grandma Wakefield considers BOTH Louis and Ned to be her very own sons and Louis calls her “Mom” now, ain’t that sweet? So, everything is going to be alright now for Emily in the Mayer family.
 
Hearing this makes Emily start to sob so hard she throws her arms around the plump, kindly woman “I wish I had a grandmother like you.” (Grandma Wakefield’s kinda like a fairy godmother here, huh?) Grandma stokes her hair and Emily cries in her arms as if she would never stop.
 
Karen, Mr. Mayer, and baby Karrie arrive downstairs. After Grandma W’s inspiring story, Emily is ready to face them. The Wakefield’s silently hover in the background, observing the scene.
 
Karen is a changed woman, she’s seen the light and Emily can’t believe what she’s hearing as Karen APOLOGIZES to Emily and admits she’s been very a selfish, pigheaded stepmom. She was jealous of Emily, all this time because Emily knows so much more about homemaking and saving baby’s lives than she does. Karen breaks down in tears so grateful her baby is OK now, thanks to Emily. Emily breaks down too and throws her arms around her stepmother who's holding Karrie and, crying, they kiss and make up. Mr. Mayer steps up and completes the sandwich hug. Thanks to Grandma’s Wakefield Legacy story, another struggling family has been saved!
Yeah, I’m still scratching my head over that.
I think this is what is known in literature as Ghost in the Machine.
 
For the Grandparents big surprise-going-away-dinner, the Mayers were invited to Casa Wakefield and all are enjoying a toast before dinner while Elizabeth is busy sneaking the Droids AND all their instruments through the back door and into the dining room to surprise Emily.
 
In ten minutes they’ve managed to set up Emily’s drums and the rest of the speakers and equipment without arousing any attention at all! (Another Sweet Valley miracle!) 

Guess everyone forgot this was supposed to be a farewell dinner for the Grandparents not Emily and the Mayer family! Emily is so surprised as Liz leads her into the room to see her drums back and the Droids including Dan, all waiting for her. They play a song and everyone smiles and claps along to the music. Emily and Dan smile at each other as they play. 
Everything’s cool now in Sweet Valley.
Finally, after 149 pages where Emily has cried FOURTEEN times (yes I took the trouble of counting) she’s just sooo flippin’ HAPPY now!!!
 
 
llew30
09 April 2008 @ 10:57 pm
 
SVT #28 April Fool
                                  
As requested, here is the recap for April Fool. Incidentally, I received SVT #1 Best Friends for my twelfth birthday in 1986, the same year this series came out, and since the twins were also twelve that made me an immediate sucker fan, I was hooked! For two years I faithfully followed the series; I’d pester Mom to drive me to B’Dalton so I could buy the next installment. It was the highlight of my month! Sadly, as I was re-reading this SVT #28 April Fool for this recap, I realized this was the LAST book, the one where I’d finally decided “That’s it! I’m DONE following this series!” (I know! What was I thinking?) and I STOPPED buying SVT! So I’ll try not to make this recap into a “personal epitaph” : >)
 
 
 
The Cover: This is one of the best covers in the series. I think the twins look really cute here. The artist actually got the outfits right for once, just as they’re described in the book! It's all there, from Jessica’s “hot pink t-shirt”, right down to Elizabeth’s “jeweled horse pin”. 
“Elizabeth” appears to be smirking at “Jessica” because she has no idea what she’s just gotten herself into today! IOW Elizabeth is getting punk'd!
 
 
Our story opens with “Elizabeth the thinker” as she’s sitting on the lowest branch of the pine tree in the Wakefield’s backyard which is, as all SVT fans know, Elizabeth’s very special and very private “thinking seat” (it’s that special place where Elizabeth goes whenever she needs some “alone time” *hem*) and today Elizabeth has a LOT to think about! Tomorrow is the day the winner of the sixth grade essay contest will be announced. The winner will receive a free one year magazine subscription. Ever the budding writer, Elizabeth’s essay is entitled Saving the Whales (That’s our Saint Elizabeth!) and she’s so confident her essay will win she’s already planning which subscription she’ll ask for! 

“Let’s see, I’ll tell Mr. Davis to put me down for Mysteries From Around the World, but, Oh no! I want Horse Lover’s Journal too! What to do…? Hey, I know! I’ll ask Mom and Dad for the Horse subscription for my birthday. There, problem solved!”
 
Moving on, tomorrow is April Fool’s Day and Elizabeth reflects on how her and Jessica always do the same old, boring, predictable thing every year. They switch places. BIG FAT DEAL! But, Jessica had recently mentioned to her twin sister that for this year’s April Fool prank she had an “absolutely, positively, great idea”.
 
Cue 2-3 very looong paragraphs “Although the twins looked exactly alike, their personalities and interests were worlds apart!”
No! Really? After 28 books I would NEVER have known that!
 
Speaking of look alike twins, here comes Jessica now “skipping happily across the lawn with a wide smile on her face” to tell Elizabeth about her terrific new idea for April Fools Day. 

“We’ll just pretend to switch identities!” Jessica will wear her wildest outfit, lots of jewelry, makeup and perfume and everyone will TOTALLY think she's Liz who went just a bit extreme today in "pretending" to dress like Jessica while Liz will wear her plainest and most conservative outfit and hairstyle and no one will even care WHO she is! Then, at the April Fools Day party that evening (because it just wouldn’t be Sweet Valley without a party at the end of every day!) they’ll “reveal” themselves and everyone will totally get it and congratulate them on the greatest April Fools day joke ever pulled!
 
A slightly confused Liz asks, “But won’t everyone be totally confused-including US?” I thought Liz was supposed to be the smart one here, but for some reason Liz is afraid even LIZ and JESS won’t be able to keep straight who’s who tomorrow! Although her head is spinning, Elizabeth agrees to go along with Jessica’s idea. Jessica is so excited she jumps up and down, (very mature Jess) “Exactly,” she says, “we want everyone so confused they’ll think they’re seeing double!”
 
Jessica then suddenly remembers something she needs to speak to Alice about, and rushes off; leaving Liz to settle back into her tree branch still contemplating what tomorrow’s switcheroo will be like…it boggles the mind!
 
Ok, it’s tomorrow now. April Fools Day begins with Steven psyching Liz out with a “fake” heart attack, Alice wearing a red wig over her natural blonde, and Ned puts his tie on backward. (that’s an April Fools day joke?) Just like the cover shows, Elizabeth is wearing her gingham blouse and neatly pressed jeans while Jessica wears her hot pink t-shirt, denim miniskirt, pink sneakers with pink and yellow socks and *Liz sniffs* just a shade too much of Jessica’s favorite Wild Rose perfume. Elizabeth laughs at her sister’s outfit. Jessica pushes back her wavy hair and generously complements Liz on hers. They both look great! No one in family believes the twins when they announce, “We are not backwards, We’re ourselves!” 
"Sure, sure," says the other Wakefields. 
Happy at how they “fooled” even their own family, the twins set off for school.
 
Apparently, April Fools Day is a big event in Sweet Valley, especially at SVMS. Two boys pull pranks on everyone all day by wearing a Groucho Marx nose and mustache, shake everyone’s hand leaving it all gooey, and take everyone’s picture with a fake camera that squirts water. At lunch they put a fake ice cube with a bug in Lois Waller’s drink. Ken Matthews tricks Amy Sutton by switching her hot dog wiener for a rubber one and the principal, Mr.Clark, announces a bunch of bad news over the intercom: a bus strike so everyone will have to walk home, an upcoming 6th grade event has been postponed, and the freezers broke down, all the ice cream MELTED so there will be no dessert today. (Oh the horror!) Oh, and by the way…April Fool! “Pandemonium broke out as kids pounded each other on the back, shouting with laughter.” Okaaaay. Like they didn’t see THAT one coming! 
 
In homeroom Lila Fowler, Jessica’s best friend, marches up to Elizabeth and demands to know why “Jessica” isn’t wearing purple today, “Aren’t you proud to be a Unicorn?” she asks snobbishly (hee) and then reminds “Jessica” about the special Unicorn project immediately after school she’s involved in and better not be late for. Lila, naturally, doesn’t believe Liz when she tries to explain she’s not Jessica today. Then Lila, “stuck her nose in the air and flounced away.” (Great job, Lila, you should be an actress.)
 
The homeroom teacher, Mr. Davis, arrives. First order of business? A pop quiz! Except…he gives everyone PLASTIC paper to write on, (right, like no one noticed shiny plastic paper which would look and feel different from real paper) April Fool, everybody!
 
Now, it’s time to announce the big essay contest winner. With dramatic flourish Mr. Davis opens a sealed envelope “And the winner is…” (What is this, the Oscars?) 
“And the winner is…”
Wait for it.
“Elizabeth Wakefield!” 
*happy theme music plays* with a big sigh of relief, Liz rises out of her seat to accept her award…but wait! 
*scraaaatch*
Mr. Davis is calling JESSICA up to accept the award! He’s not about to be fooled, today of all days, by the famous twin switch, so come up here, “Elizabeth” and get your award!
 
With a “What-else-can-I-do” look at her twin, Jessica marches up to the front and gets the award, going all the way in playing her role by announcing for her magazine subscription she’d like Mr. Davis to put "Elizabeth" down for an entire year of Teen Rock! The class shouts with laughter. Mr. Davis shrugs but he will be mailing this off today so if that what “Elizabeth” really wants…Oh no! Now Elizabeth will have no time to explain. Poor Liz slumps down in her seat, she can’t believe she’s stuck with an entire year of Teen Rock!
 
Well, "April Fool" on me as well. My last recap was SVT #10 One of the Gang which I ended saying Pamela Jacobson kind of disappears from the world of Sweet Valley but apparently she DOES make an appearance 18 books later, RIGHT HERE! 
Oops.
 
As everyone leaves homeroom, Pamela tells “Jessica” how great she’s doing playing Liz, really, she ought to be an actress. Again, Elizabeth tries to explain “ But I’m NOT Jessica…” and of course, Pamela doesn’t believe her. Liz just laughs, but she doesn’t laugh for very long. Mr. Davis calls her back in. Still believing she’s Jessica he shows her a note he found, addressed to Lila, snarking about Mr. Davis’ taste in clothes and what he wore that day (an awful green shirt and purple tie suddenly Mr. Bowman isn’t the only sloppily dressed teacher at this middle school, yeah, I don't get it either).

Since no one else dots their i’s with little round circles it’s obvious Liz/”Jessica” wrote this note and as punishment she must report to the classroom immediately after school today and write an essay about respecting other people’s feelings. Then she can feed the gerbils. 

Since he STILL won’t believe her, Elizabeth takes Jessica’s punishment like a real soldier. Liz thinks, if she really WERE Jess today she sure wouldn’t want to be in her twin’s shoes right now! Jess would be horrified at her punishment; she HATES those little rodents known as gerbils. The whole absurdity of the situation makes Elizabeth giggle as she leaves the classroom. Wait till she tells this to Jessica, their joke is working better than they expected!
 
Elizabeth isn’t giggling for long. Talking to Mr. Davis has made her LATE for her first class! She begins running…and runs smack into the vice-principal who just last week had to reprimand “Jessica” for running in the hallways. As punishment “Jessica” must report to his office immediately after school today to help the secretary file some paperwork. 

“But…” Elizabeth tries to explain, and of course, it’s no use. “Jessica” has detention this afternoon in his office and that’s it. Not sure whether to laugh or cry at what a crazy day this is turning out to be, Elizabeth heads to her first class.
 
Home Ec. today features the cooking of soufflés. Jessica is already alarmed that the teacher just marked HER late. As Liz takes her usual place in her assigned work area she whispers to Jess about the two detentions she just got slapped with but Jessica just grins broadly, their joke is working perfectly!
The teacher smiles kindly at Elizabeth “pretending” to be Jessica. She’ll even overlook the fact that "Jessica" is working in Elizabeth’s area and wearing Elizabeth’s apron today. She warns “Jessica” a soufflé is one of those “delicate” foods so be sure not to slam the oven door while doing today’s assignment, the recipe is on the blackboard.
 
This part of the recap was fun. While Martha Stewart Elizabeth carefully measures her soufflé ingredients, making sure her sauce comes out golden and creamy smooth, Jessica haphazardly tosses everything into her pan while excitedly telling her cooking partner, Nora Mercandy, about what she’ll wear to the next Johnny Buck concert. 
Elizabeth slowly and carefully folds her eggs into her sauce while Jessica is so involved in describing the latest plot of her favorite soap opera to Nora, she stirs her eggs in any which way while munching on a handful of grated cheese. 
Forty minutes later Liz peeks in at her baking soufflé. Perfect, it’s done. Suddenly, BANG! Can you guess who accidentally closed her oven door a bit TOO hard?

Jessica is acting "Elizabeth playing Jessica" perfectly. Dramatically she declares to Nora, "I'll never get the hang of cooking! Never. No matter how hard I try!"

As class is ending, the teacher comes around to give grades for today’s lesson. To Elizabeth’s dismay “her” soufflé, as baked by Jessica, is heavy as a brick and tastes terrible. “Elizabeth” may deserve an acting award for playing Jessica so well today but she certainly won’t be getting any cooking awards. The teacher puts a C down by Elizabeth’s name in her grade book. Elizabeth is dazed, DAZED! This isn’t fair. She’s NEVER gotten a C in cooking class before! Jessica gets the A as “her” soufflé is so light and delicious the teacher declares it’s the best she’s ever seen in all her years of teaching. Blinking back tears, Liz gathers her books and leaves class wondering who the REAL April Fool is here!
 
By lunchtime Elizabeth is starting to get tired of having to correct everyone “I’m NOT Jessica, I’m Elizabeth!” she says for the 100th time! Even her best friend Amy Sutton won’t take her seriously. Amy makes sure “Jessica” knows to tell “Liz” that after they go for a quick swim in the Wakefield pool, she’s invited over to Amy’s house for dinner this evening before they leave for the April Fools Day party. Elizabeth thanks Amy saying it all sounds like fun and she’ll be glad to come over for dinner too. Amy squirms uncomfortably. Sorry, “Jessica” YOU are most certainly NOT invited!
 
By the way, Elizabeth also spies Jessica over in the corner of the lunchroom talking to Mr. Davis who is laughing so hard he’s clutching his sides. 
Now WHAT could be so funny?
 
After school Elizabeth is let off the hook from both her detentions. She arrives in Mr. Davis’ classroom to find a note on the blackboard about a sudden dentist appointment and he’ll have to reschedule. The vice-principal is in a meeting and the secretary has to leave so they’ll have to do the filing another day. 

Whew! Now Elizabeth can go help decorate for the party that evening. She was on the decorating committee, you see. She heads for the gym where all her friends are hard at work hanging decorations and blowing up party balloons.
 
But Elizabeth is firmly escorted OUT of the gym by Pamela who STILL insists Elizabeth is really “Jessica” today and is certainly NOT welcome here when everyone knows ELIZABETH is the twin who's on the decorating committee and she better get here soon, everyone’s getting a little mad at her!
 
It’s “out of the frying pan and into the fire” as the saying goes for Elizabeth because here comes Lila and Ellen and boy do they look furious! 
“Jessica! Where have you been? You were supposed to help us with our project this afternoon!” 
Taking up where Pamela left off, they grab Elizabeth and practically frog march her out of the school and across the street to a service station. The Unicorns are supposedly having a “car wash” to raise money for their next party. They shove a hose and brush in her hand and order “Jessica” to get to work!
 
Not wanting to cause trouble for her twin with her friends, Elizabeth decides not to rebel by outright refusing to do the chore (although she SHOULD) but gets to work, as ordered. 
Ladies and gents, may I present, "Liz the doormat".
 
Arms and back aching, her clothes soggy and stained, she’s finally done washing the fancy gray Mercedes while the other Unicorns all stood around talking about clothes and boys-they already did their share of the project half an hour ago or so they claim. The Unicorns compliment "Jessica" on her work then shout “April Fool, Jessica!” There was no car wash after all!
 
Now that they played their joke on "Jessica", everyone’s going for ice cream and they even invite “Jessica” to join them (which is quite decent of them, unless they’re all just playing friendly for Liz’s sake, who knows?) but Elizabeth begs off. She’s just too tired for ice cream. All she wants now is to go home and take a bath and get changed for the party.
 
Ever the good sport, by the time Liz gets home she’s STILL able to see the humor in how her April Fool’s day has gone. (Liz does a lot of head shaking and inward chuckling throughout this book.) But, once again, her humor is short lived. Steven gleefully reminds “Jessica” about the Oberman plans she was supposed to mail for her mother and now Jessica is in big trouble because they never got mailed! Liz is all, “HUH?”
 
Enter Alice Wakefield, “Where have you put the Oberman plans, Jessica? Oh, you don’t know do you? Then go to your room and try to remember where you put them.”
“But Mom, I’m not--”
 
Now, I don’t want to give any spoilers or anything at this point but, the absurdity of Elizabeth’s OWN MOTHER not believing who she says she is might indicate to the reader that either Elizabeth is having another Super Edition "Twilight Zone" episode OR this book is just One Big April Fools Joke!
 
Naturally, Elizabeth can’t remember what she supposedly did with these Oberman plans. Now she’ll have to miss swimming and eating over at Amy’s and work on her homework instead and if she STILL can’t find the plans by then she’ll have to miss out on the party, Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield are making "Jessica" come to a town council meeting with them as punishment for her carelessness! (If I were Liz I'd be totally screaming "The F---!")
 
One hour later, Jessica breezes into her own bedroom where Elizabeth has been sitting, hunched over Jessica’s desk doing her homework, dutifully obeying her “phycho” parents who still refuse to believe she’s Elizabeth. "This is crazy." she declares. Liz is ready to come clean right now and call this whole thing off. Jessica is unconcerned as she runs a comb through her hair and checks her makeup in her bedroom mirror, Not a chance, she declares happily, they’re seeing this joke through until the end. 

“Think of how everyone will laugh when they see how fooled they were by our joke and I’m sure Mom will do something extra special to make it up to you.” And she bounces out the door just in time to go downstairs to answer the doorbell. 

Liz overhears Jessica greeting Amy as “Elizabeth”. Jessica TRIES to explain to Amy she’s not really Liz today but Amy insists she can tell the difference and since Liz stood her up “Jessica” might as well take her up on her dinner invite. Still evesdroping, Elizabeth can't help but feel a little hurt that her own best friend isn't calling Jessica out on her joke. Sounds like someone’s taking this whole April Fools joke a little too seriously.
Jessica hurries to change into (what else?) Elizabeth’s brand-new bathing suit while Liz has to stay behind and take JESSICA'S punishment and miss out on all the fun. (Ha!)
 
When Mrs. Wakefield pops in to see if "Jessica" has remembered where she put those plans, she does show SOME sympathy to Liz at least, and for a moment you think she actually knows WHO she’s really talking to as she strokes Elizabeth’s hair and asks her, “You haven’t had a good day, have you?”
“No.” replies Liz.
Well cheer up, things are bound to go better tomorrow. Mom tells her to go get changed for the town council meeting and, by the way, it’s being held at the Middle School!
Elizabeth is dumbfounded, she’s going to have to walk right past the PARTY, where all of her classmates will certainly see her! What will they think? 
Poor, Elizabeth. She feels just terrible.
 
She feels even MORE terrible following her parents into the school when they suddenly stop outside the gym where the party is going on and make Elizabeth take a brown paper bag, which supposedly contains one of Jessica’s shirts, to give to her sister. Now she has to enter, let everyone see her, then LEAVE! How embarrassing.
 
Heart pounding, Elizabeth decides she might as well hurry up and get this whole ordeal over with! She steps into the gym, where everyone is all dressed up to par-TAY! The gym looks great too. Crepe paper streamers and colorful balloons are everywhere. A stack of tapes and a tape player have been put out and the teachers and some of Elizabeth’s friends are busy setting up the refreshment table, adorned by a huge bouquet of flowers, with punch and cookies. Elizabeth is wishing with all her heart she never agreed to this "wacky scheme".
 
She finds Jessica, hands her the bag and is ready to just get the hell out of there when Jessica stops her. “Wait, where are you going?” she asks her twin. It's then Elizabeth realizes she’s standing in the middle of a circle of students, the room has suddenly gone quiet, all stare at the unfolding scene, some are snickering. “To the town council meeting, of course!” a weary and emotionally battered Elizabeth answers.
“No, you aren’t,” her smiling parents step forward and say, “You can stay at the party, Elizabeth, actually, it’s really YOUR party.”
“But…”
 
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for,
As if we never saw this coming…
 
“APRIL FOOL, ELIZABETH!” shouts Jessica.
“APRIL FOOL, ELIZABETH!” shouts Mom and Dad.
“APRIL FOOL, ELIZABETH!” shouts the whole class.
(*Loud groan from a fourteen year old who DIDN’T see this coming*
That’s it! I’m sick of EVERY Sweet Valley book ALWAYS ending with a stoopid party for one of the twins! I’m never buying one of these stoopid books again!)
 
So, it was all part of Jessica’s elaborate joke on her twin sister AND she had to take not only the entire school into her confidence but her own family as well just to pull it off! That's a lot of work for the "lazy twin".

So, everything Elizabeth had to go through today? It was all part of the joke, everything: the soufflé mix up, the Unicorn’s car wash, the Oberman papers, and Amy’s fake invite for dinner was part of the joke too. Instead of dinner, Amy and Jessica came to the school to help ice her cake. (Yes, yet ANOTHER Sweet Valley Twins ending with a “specially decorated cake” for the party) This time it’s a “large, delicious looking cake with blue and white frosting spelling out ‘April Fool, Elizabeth!’ in swirling letters.” 

Elizabeth got the A in cooking class, Jessica will have to do a make up soufflé AND she still has to do both her own detentions! Those were for real. Jessica admits she might have gone a little overboard in making this day as difficult as possible for her twin!
 
But the joke really did get a little out of hand today. Mr. Davis, not being in on the joke, totally believed the twins really DID switch places today but luckily Jessica managed to catch Mr.Davis at lunch and fix the magazine subscription and get Liz out of detention. The brown bag with “Jessica’s shirt” was unplanned too. They open it to find a purple unicorn scarf instead of a shirt of Jessica’s. Lila immediately seizes the scarf and ties it (loosely, darn it!) around Elizabeth’s neck announcing that for being such a good sport, from this April Fools Day forward, Elizabeth will be an honorary Unicorn every year…on April Fools Day!
Wow, I’m sure Liz will LOVE having this honor three years from now when she’s in high school!
That is, IF she ever gets there! (ha ha)
 
Finally, as Elizabeth and Jessica are tying up the rest of the loose ends of the day, Elizabeth suddenly remembers something else that happened to her. While playing “Jessica” and dutifully doing her homework this afternoon, the phone rang. It was Bruce Patman calling to ask Jessica out on a date. Jessica squeals excitedly as the other Unicorns exchange envious glances, (Unfortunately, in this SV universe, 1Bruce1 is top dating material and not a rapist) “SO? What did you tell him?”
“Oh, nothing much, really,” shrugs Liz who doesn’t care about dating ANY boys at the tender age of 12, “Just that he is a stuck-up snob and that I never wanted to speak to him again as long as I lived.”
Jessica is, of course, HORRIFED at this news, 
“You didn’t!”
“April Fool!”
So Elizabeth gets the last (lame) laugh. The twins hug, and Elizabeth races Jessica for the first piece of cake and it all ends hunky dory.
 
The next book is about the Sixth Grade Fair. Running the gypsy fortune-teller booth is WAY cooler than getting stuck as, say, the dorky victim in the water balloon toss booth. But, oh noes! Jessica and Lila BOTH want to run the gypsy booth! What will they do? Find out in #29 Jessica and the Brat Attack. Hmmmm, I wonder what “Bratz” dolls have to do with Sweet Valley? I never read this one and my curiosity is peaked. Guess I’ll go read the recap!
 
 
 
 
llew30
31 March 2008 @ 02:47 pm


Cover: Jessica’s hair is fun to snark at here. It gives the reader the impression that it’s a really windy day outside. Anyway, it looks like she used too much conditioner on it or something. Where’re those famous “natural waves”? She has a crutch under one shoulder due to a sprained ankle. The other girl is Pamela Jacobson. Extra points to the artist for making Pamela look ‘special’.
 
The book opens at the Wakefield residence. Jessica is doing her homework at the kitchen table with older brother Steven. Elizabeth is baking cookies but before she can come over to help Jessica, who is struggling with her math problem, she must clean up her cookie mess first. That’s our mature, responsible Liz! Jessica’s blue-green eyes flash with impatience because she NEVER cleans up after herself; that’s what an identical twin is for!
 
There’s a nice long paragraph about how the identical twins “…weren’t one bit identical when it came to personalities.” Elizabeth likes to work hard at school namely on the Sixers newspaper (and that’s considered schoolwork?) while Jessica’s entire world revolves around the Unicorn club and other non-school related activities. Right now Jessica’s especially concerned with impressing the 8th grade Unicorn president, Janet Howell, as much as she can.
 
Steven annoys the twins by proclaiming he has ESP-extrasensory perception-(Wow, ghostwriter! I’m impressed you knew that!) and has already “foreseen” everything the twins will do and say today. (Cool! Steven’s actually snarking along with me!) For example, he already “knew” Jess would ask for Liz’s help with her homework and he also happened to have “predicted” that Jessica would be appointed sixth grade chairman on the committee for the upcoming Mini Olympics. (Wow! What're the odds?)
 
The Mini Olympics are a traditional event in Sweet Valley (which wouldn’t be traditional unless it involved the SIXTH grade class) in which the sixth graders are in charge of organizing the day long festival for the younger grades. The fifth graders also get to help plan and organize and both grades get to participate in the activities and athletic events.
 
Always modest Jessica just tosses her hair and declares since she’s perfect for the job, it's only natural the teachers chose HER to help organize and lead this event.
 
Steven has to get to basketball practice. Before he leaves he teases Jess that his ESP is tingling again and she may want to consider staying in this evening, otherwise…and both girls groan. Their mother, Alice, who is really just “a grown-up version of the twins” enters with groceries.
 
Jess and Liz both whine to their mother about their annoying older brother and his equally annoying ESP. “Can’t you tell him to stop?” but Alice just smiles and suggests maybe the twins should find a way themselves. Jessica’s eyes shine with inspiration. She’s got an idea! Liz can tell. Gee, she must have ESP too! Oh wait, that’s in another book.
 
With a couple hours to kill before Mom needs St. Elizabeth’s help with dinner, she mounts her bike and rides off to the public library for (what else?) the latest Amanda Howard mystery. There Liz meets the “new” girl who just transferred to SVMS, Pamela Jacobson. She’s described as “a small, pretty girl with soft brown wavy hair which came down to her shoulders. She had a slightly pale complexion and blue-gray eyes.”
As anyone can see from this description, Pamela is *speaks in whisper* handicapped!!!
 
But at least she knows how to read. Turns out Pamela loves Amanda Howard as much as Liz, and she expresses interest in writing for the Sixers. Liz excitedly tells Pamela all about the upcoming special edition the Sixers will be doing to cover the Mini Olympics.
 
This subject makes Pamela sad, as she explains to Liz, she has a heart condition, and can’t exert herself with a lot of physical activity. She just transferred from a “special kids” school called Ridgedale, twenty miles away from Sweet Valley. Because everyone there is ‘special’ Pamela was beginning to feel like she was ‘special’ too (this is BAD?) and despite her parents and teachers concerns that she wouldn’t be able to keep up and would feel left out, she wanted break free anyway and try a "regular school" (SVMS is a "REGULAR SCHOOL"?) Her eyes shine with pride as she declares she doesn’t want any special treatment, she’s just a “normal girl” and LIKES it when people forget she’s “different”. Elizabeth is quite distraught to learn there’s a girl her age with a DISABILITY actually residing in Sweet Valley who can’t participate in the upcoming athletic activity!
Saint Elizabeth feels like the world’s biggest heel for even bringing up the subject.
 
The next day at school, Jessica is in the girl’s locker room surrounded by Unicorns including BF (frenemy in this book) Lila Fowler. President Janet is also there along with three 7th grade unicorn members (so why are they joining a SIXTH grade gym class volleyball game? Why do I even ask?)
 
We are told the Mini Olympics consists of all the students being divided up into four teams to compete: Blue, Red, White, and Black. Janet suggests to Jessica they should consider a PURPLE team this year and everyone laughs.
 
Jessica is full of plans and new ideas for this year’s Mini Olympics: there should be individual trophies this year, more physical activities involving lots of running and jumping. She even suggests a triathlon (Wait a minute, that’s a long distance swimming, bicycling and running event! For kids who are only 10-12 years old? That’s a bit extreme, Jessica.)
 
Lila groans that Jessica is just rigging the activities (she’s just named all the physical things she’s especially good at) to her own advantage. Lila “a tall, slender girl with auburn hair and a pretty face” (and don’t forget STINKING RICH!) is already a little pissed off because Jessica has been appointed head chairman of the committee and Lila is the less-than-glamorous “assistant chairman” Yes, she’s jealous as hell.
 
 “You know I have some really good ideas...” Lila is about to say when Ellen Riteman, who will always and forever be “just another Unicorn” strolls up to remind the girls there’s a gym class they need to get to but no one seems to notice her (HA!) everyone is still locked in on Jessica and Lila’s battle of wills. Lila criticized Jessica’s ideas in front of her friends , how DARE she! Jessica thinks Lila is acting like a spoiled, rich snob who always wants everything focused on her (well DUH) while Lila thinks Jessica is being unfair to everyone who doesn’t happen to be as good at jumping and running as she is. Tamera Chase, a 7th grade Unicorn and Janet end it by saying it’s more important to focus on the fact that there are TWO Unicorns on the committee and that no matter what happens during the Mini Olympics the Unicorns get all the glory!
 
Next comes two pages of exposition from Pamela’s point of view, her “sob story” if you will. Here’s what you should know about her:
She was born with this rare heart condition which required two life saving surgeries when she was a baby but they didn’t cure her. She should live a full, long life the doctors say, but she’ll always have a weak heart. The only handicap I can see is that she tires easily and has to take all physical activities SLOW-LY. Her new teachers are aware of this and excuse her tardiness to class because she can’t speed walk and if she tries to run she will overexert herself and DIE! She has to take medication, and worst of all she has “helicopter parents”.
 
Pamela’s father, Dr. Jacobson, is the worst of the two. He’s threatened that if Pamela shows any sign of being tired or depressed at SVMS, she’ll be shipped back to Ridgedale, pronto, “where everyone has a some sort of handicap” Heck, that’s where Sweet Valley sends anyone in a wheelchair! Later these kids go on to Parker Academy, the high school for disabled students. Gee, can anyone say segregated?
 
Now Pamela is in the class she dreads most, gym. She COULD go attend a study hall, she doesn’t HAVE to sit here on the sidelines feeling sorry for herself and watching the Unicorns (who have all managed to get on the same team) playing volleyball and having fun. (Oh, yeah, I SO remember how hot and sweaty and physically exhausted I'd get playing volleyball in gym class! I wish I'd had a 'heart condition' like Pamela's!)

 Pamela really admires the Unicorns as she’d recently overheard Janet oh-so-modestly explaining to some random person: “We’re called Unicorns because Unicorns are special and so are we.” But Pamela’s kind of ‘special’ is not the kind Janet was talking about. Pamela is painfully aware of this. Poor Pamela, she should’ve been put down at birth.
 
It’s lunchtime. Saint Liz and Amy notice Pamela is sitting all by herself and decide to be Good Samaritans and go talk to her. Pamela has been crying (poor dear) she hates “not being able to do what everyone else does” at this new school but actually the one wish Pamela REALLY has and REALLY wants is to convince her father that she can make it here at SVMS and doesn’t need to go back to the “special school”.
Elizabeth and Amy, apparently now members of the “Make a Wish Foundation,” vow to make Pamela’s wish come true.
 
After school that day the twins begin their ESP revenge scheme to get back at their brother. First, they ask Steven about any ESP “hunches” he may have had today about them and Liz and Jess totally pretend that today's “hunches” actually happened! Steven, who is, (what’s the correct term?) “denser than a doorknob” doesn’t even ask Liz to produce the money he saw her “find” or make Jessica produce a witness that she really did have a "brush with death" during gym class. The twins grin at each other as a slightly pale Steven staggers off believing his ESP may be REAL after all!
 
Now that she and Jess are alone, Elizabeth quickly takes this opportunity to try and persuade Jessica to make some changes to the Mini Olympics so that EVERYONE can be included. People like Pamela, for example.
 
What ABOUT Pamela? Jessica asks, “If she’s sick, I assumed she wouldn’t even bother showing up for the Mini Olympics, but if you really want to include her we could let her type up flyers or something, anyway, your point is…?”
 
Horrified Liz exclaims, “The point is (you halfwit!) she’s not sick, she can't even COMPETE in the Olympics, she might hurt herself. She has a HEART CONDITION!”
 
“Well, she’s going to have to get into much better shape if she wants to win anything.” 
Liz bangs forehead on the table in frustration (kidding). Instead she replies,
“Jessica! Think for a minute what it would be like for YOU if you suddenly lost the ability to do normal, everyday, physical activities…”
 
Jessica is all, Look I can only feel sorry for these kind of people once a year on Handicapped Awareness Day, I’m REALLY sorry, but it’s too late to change anything and I like the events the way I planned ‘em.
Dun Dun DUUUUUN!
 
During dinner that night the twins put the scare into Steven, They recently read people with ESP have night visions and even see spirits, Steven believes this because he’s just a stupid high school freshman who doesn’t read. It’s a perfect setup for when Liz and Jess sneak outside that night, while everyone is asleep, with a ladder to climb up to Steve’s bedroom window and totally psyche him out. Jessica puts on a white sheet with holes cut for her eyes and is scratching and pressing her face against the window. Steven wakes and seeing something outside his bedroom window, nearly wets himself! He’s about to freak out completely when…Jessica loses her footing on the ladder and with a bloodcurdling scream has a spectacular crash and ends up spraining her ankle!
 
The parents come running. Mr. Wakefield is all concerned and picks up his daughter in his arms and takes her to the ER. He figures this injury and Jessica having to miss out on such physical activities as cheering with the Boosters at the next game and hobbling around on crutches for the next few weeks will be punishment enough for her. 
Not bad parenting, Mr. Wakefield, I actually agree with your methods here.
 
Jessica does indeed learn her lesson the next day. Her ankle, wrapped in an ACE bandage, throbs. Everything takes twice as long now like: getting ready for school, maneuvering downstairs with her crutches, and just making it to school while using crutches and trying to carry her books at the same time. How DO those handicapped people manage it?
 
To make matters worse for Jessica, Steven has decided the embarrassing prank the twins pulled was all Jessica’s fault, therefore he’s not speaking to her anymore. When Lila discovers Jessica is injured "suggests" she's obviously not capable of leading the Mini Olympics committee anymore. Jessica's all: "HUH?"
Thus Lila begins her campaign to “nudge” Jessica out of the spotlight.
 
By the second day Jessica realizes having a sprained ankle today wasn’t nearly as much fun as it was yesterday when all her friends gave her the VIP treatment, all dripping concern and sympathy and Bruce Patman even carried her books for her! But today, as she struggles through the crowded hallway to get to class on time, the novelty has worn off. No one really notices her anymore and Jessica sighs in self pity. Then Jessica sees Pamela…
 
During gym class, Jessica really gets her come-uppance. Just a few days ago that was HER out there happily participating in the volleyball game and scoring points for her team. Today she gets to experience life from the sidelines. Yeah, not much fun being left out, is it Jessica?
 
Pamela joins her, striking up a conversation. And Jessica really LISTENS to what Pamela is saying (this is a first!). She never really considered life from Pamela’s point of view until now. Jessica’s situation, after all, is only temporary while Pamela is stuck on the sidelines for LIFE.
 
Later that day, Jessica attends a Mini Olympics planning meeting with the teachers, Lila, and the fifth graders all organizing the event together. But everyone’s IGNORING her! Lila’s ambition to nudge Jessica out has succeeded. Lila even got “Daddy” to “take out a full page ad in the paper about the Olympics” and she’s gone behind Jessica's back and managed to trump Jessica on all her ideas. The supervising teachers all agree with Lila's new ideas. Jessica should be GRATEFUL to have a friend like Lila who just saved her ass while she was laid up with a hurt ankle.
Lila smirks, Jessica fumes. She’s lost control over the Olympics just because she’s injured!
 
Afterwards, Jessica whines to Liz who reminds Jess that with her sprained ankle she can’t even participate in the events now. She reminds her again of people like Pamela and those who basically suck at sports and suggests (again) she consider thinking about including them and making some changes.
 
Jessica is disgusted, “Are you suggesting we plan the Mini Olympics so that every single weakling has the same chance to win that some big strong athlete has?”
Um, yes, Jessica, that’s exactly what Liz is saying.
 
Only until her sister reminds Jessica that if she took this “idea of change” to the committee that JESSICA would get all the credit and glory making her look like a model citizen (thus making Lila look the fool) does Jessica start to accept this idea. Not to mention if they gave the Olympics a complete overhaul she would actually get to participate and could even help her team win!
Jessica likes this idea of Liz’s very much.
Her work here done, Saint Elizabeth heads off to the public library (yet, again).
 
Having just come off a big row with “helicopter parents” Pamela is in the reading room of the library, crying her eyes out behind a book, when Liz finds her. Pamela's now convinced her Dad is right, she needs “special help” and “special attention” she really is *sob* HANDICAPPED! He's right, she doesn’t belong at Sweet Valley (Handicapped People Needn’t Apply) Middle School. She just can’t seem to fit in here.

Liz explains the way things are run at SVMS. In a nutshell: “Unless you’re really pretty or really good at sports or really smart, no one notices you.” (Way to rub in the salt, Liz!) She tells Pamela about Lois Waller who’s one of those “naturally bad athletes” and Jimmy Underwood, “the smallest boy in their class” (hence the name) both are probably dreading the Mini Olympics just as much as Pamela is.
Pamela says: “It’s one thing to be bad at sports; its another to be HANDICAPPED.”
Only in Sweet Valley, dear.

Back at Casa Wakefield, meddling Liz succeeds in talking Jess into enlisting Pamela's help in changing the format of the Olympics and get her on the planning committee with Jess. Still thinking of how easy it will be to take all the glory for herself, Jessica agrees. St. Liz congratulates herself that by getting Pamela involved she’ll NOW want to stay at SVMS.
 
One week to the Mini Olympics, Jessica hobbles over to the Jacobsons’ house.
"Hey there, cute older brother of Pamela’s!" Jessica, the queen of flirtation, gushes. "Oh, THIS silly ankle? I fell while learning a new Booster’s cheer" (Liar!)
 
Pamela enters and invites Jessica to her room. Convincing Pamela to join the committee is easy as Jessica shifts all the blame on Lila, favoring the athletes was all HER idea, the BITCH! Pamela totally falls for this and eagerly starts teaching Jessica how Ridgedale did their own “Special Olympics” with wheelchair races and events that included more brains than brawn.
 
Jessica is all “Quick, I’ve got to get you to the committee meeting tonight so they can hear all this great stuff and we can convince them to change this prejudiced Mini Olympics into EVERYONE’s Mini Olympics *hem* and make Lila look like a real creep! 
 
It works! With Pamela as Jessica’s “Exhibit A” at the meeting, Jessica does such a great snow job the two teachers supervising the student committee are all reaching for their hankies and ready to nominate Jessica for the PTA Civic Service Award. (Um, Pamela's sitting RIGHT THERE!)
 “Why didn’t we ever NOTICE those less fortunate people BEFORE? Of course you girls can make the changes you want for the Mini Olympics.”
 Lila’s all “But…but!”
Shut up Lila, can’t you see Jessica is a model citizen?
“Lila pouted, her lower lip sticking out,” (sorry, Lila fans, but I've permently freeze-framed that picture in my mind. HEE!)
Jessica smirks and it’s Lila’s turn to fume.
 
At school, all the students know what happened and think Jessica’s totally awesome in speaking up for change in the Mini Olympics. Jessica's only thinking about getting to see "cute older brother of Pamela's" again next time she goes over to the Jacobson's.
 
Pamela tries to sidle up to Jessica as they work hard one evening together poring over records from past Mini Olympics and getting ideas. She’s all misty eyed as she shyly tells Jessica how great it is that her and her sister have befriended and included her like this.
Jessica’s all: Uh, you and me? FRIENDS? Yikes, next she’ll be asking me to get her into the Unicorns! I don’t think so. Bye now, and say hi to your brother for me.
Jessica takes off as fast as she can. After all the hours she and Pamela have spent working on these new plans, Jessica knows she will be getting all the credit anyway.
 
She goes back to Casa Wakefield to meet Janet, Ellen and...Lila! What are YOU doing here? 
Lila “looked straight out of Seventeen magazine in a suede skirt and boots.” She’s come to see just how much damage Jessica has done overhauling the Mini Olympics.
 
They go up to Jessica’s room where she proudly explains all the new events and changes they’ve made: they will draw numbers for each event so it’s totally fair, there will be an hour of Brainpower with games, puzzles, a spelling bee, Password competition (whoa, anyone remember THAT old TV game show?) and a Junior Wheel of Fortune (COOL!). There will be a Houdini event called “Untie Yourself” where two teammates will be tied together and whichever team can untie themselves the fastest wins, a three legged race, egg races, water races in the pool, which involve balancing a bowl of water on a kickboard and whoever knocks the least out wins, and (I totally LOVE this one) a bed making contest! With hospital corners! (but seriously some of these event sound more appropriate for an American 4th of July event than an elementary school track and field day!)
 
Lila thinks everything Jessica has just said, SUCKS! Jessica is about to snap back when she sees Janet’s facial expression and decides she “didn’t want to hurt her position with the Unicorns” (she must be sitting on their horn). So she keeps quiet and lets eveyone congradulate her on being a "model citizen"
 
Finally, it is Friday, the day of the Mini Olympics. Tying a purple ribbon around her ponytail in honor of her Unicorn status, Jessica takes up her crutches and heads off to the elementary school where parents, teachers and all the students from both schools have gathered for the big day.
 
Dividing everyone into the four color teams is apparently the only procedure that survived all the cuts they made to the Mini Olympics. Jessica and Pamela are both on the Blue team, Elizabeth and Amy (who shrieks with joy) are on the Black team, Lila and Janet are on the Red team (apparently Janet is the only 8th grader participating today, what a geek!) and Ellen makes the White team (as if we care).
Let the first event of the Mini Olympics begin!
 
The Talent Block is first on the day’s schedule of events in which the four teams must make up a short skit and compose a song with points awarded for creativity.
 
For their skit, the Blue team makes up a real winner called “The Butler Did It” poking fun at the lower school’s gym teacher, Mr. Butler. Their song is called “The Blue Team Blues” written by Pamela, which is not only a catchy title but every time I read this I can hear an equally catchy blues tune in my head:
 
Haven’t you heard the news?
We’ve got the Blue Team Blues.
You wake up in the morning and you’re
 feeling out of sorts; you don’t like
 dancing and you’re tired of sports…
What are you going to do?
What are you going to choose?
You know what you’ve got,
You’ve got the Blue Team Blues.
 
Seriously, it’s brilliant, how could the other teams even COMPETE with that?
Naturally, the Blue team wins first place in the talent competition, that’s 100 points for them. Jessica and Pamela are “practically delirious” at the announcement.
 
The Black team, obviously led by Elizabeth, did a skit about news reporters covering the Olympics and a cute song about “Black Magic” (No, they didn’t steal it from ‘Ol Blue Eyes, or Ella Fitzgerald, or anyone else. I Googled to see which artist originally sang That Old Black Magic but so many artists have covered it, I gave up. I have a recap to write, you know!). 
The Black team wins second place, mainly for their cute rhyme on “tragic” and “magic”.
 
Lila’s Red team did a really silly skit that makes fun of a bed making contest and an even sillier song called “Dread the Red” that Jessica thought sounded more like a Boosters cheer. They get stuck with third place.
 
The poor White trash team had a fifth grader do a stand up comic routine (he was dying up there) and their song was really a chant with none of the rhymes in the right places. Really, how hard is it to make up a RHYME?
 
After lunch (this ONE event took ALL MORNING? Well, ok, when you stop to think about it there WERE four individual shows that everyone had to suffer through and then the points to award) things REALLY start to get serious now with the Brainpower events.
 
Jessica is heartbroken when the Red team beats them in Brainpower Events by taking first place and the Blues come in THIRD! Whites manage to pull it together to come in second, and the Black team LOST (Liz the Brianiac’s name must not have been drawn for any of the events). The last set of events are going to prove crucial now!
 
The tension is mounting, everyone is cheering loudly in the bleachers. First event? The bed making contest! To Jessica’s joy, Lila’s name is drawn. Remember, Lila’s never made anything in her life, let alone her BED! She can’t even get past putting the top sheet on and storms angrily off the field having placed DEAD LAST in the race! Poor spoiled Lila.
Naturally, Elizabeth won this race for her team as if she’s been making her bed all her life, (wait a minute, she HAS!) for Jesscia making her bed is, at best, a once a week activity. Anyway she is glad for her twin since the Blue team took second place (Caroline Pearce was their bed maker) and she knows she’ll cream everyone in Crutch Croquet, her own original idea for a race. She even convinced the teachers to let HER do the drawing for this event.
 
As if we didn't see this coming, Jessica draws herself for Crutch Croquet, “Wow, isn’t that weird?” she asks.
“Oh, sure, what a coincidence.” a scathing Lila growls.
Lila looks fit to be tied when Jessica does indeed win the race for her team, knocking the croquet ball expertly around the field with her crutch, completing the course in less than ten minutes. She’s a pro, who has logged in LOTS of practice time!
 
Pool events, Untie Yourself (which the audience especially enjoyed), three-legged race, water balloon throw, and Pineapple Bowling all fly by then it’s time for the very last event, the Wheelchair Race. Here are the scores:
Reds and Blues are tied for first with 250 points, Blacks-210, and Whites trailing at a pitiful 200 points (because they have Ellen on their team, NAH NAH!)
 
Names are drawn for the race and the crowd is cheering wildly. Red team gets Ken Matthews, a small but very good athlete. The Black team got some nobody from the lower school. So did the White team.
But, for the Blue team, the lucky person drawn is…Pamela!
 
A hush falls over the crowd. “Aw, this isn’t fair-letting me take on two little kids and a…” Ken can’t even think of a good snark for Pamela, she’s a freak.
But Pamela isn’t intimidated, she can handle this race. She even winks at Ken with no hard feelings, “I wouldn’t get overconfident if I were you.” She tells him.
 
And they’re off! Pamela leads Ken by a foot. Jessica is screaming herself hoarse until she’s suddenly aware of someone else in the bleachers who cheers so loudly “the whole field seemed to reverberate” (Wow, Dr. Jacobson has the voice of God!).
 
It looks as if Ken is going to pass Pamela and win the race, he’s getting closer and closer…he’s PASSING her! Suddenly Ken's fingers get caught in the spokes and he looses control and veers to the right. Pamela crosses the finish line, winning the race AND the Mini Olympics for the Blue team! YAY!
 
Pamela’s dad rushes the field along with everyone else. He lifts his daughter up on his shoulders, he’s a changed and humbled man. From now on, he’ll never doubt his daughter’s ability to do physical things (like attend SVMS) again, he declares: “it’s obvious she can take perfectly good care of herself.”
“Oh, Daddy!”
Hugs and cheers all around.
 
So everything worked out just the way Jessica wanted it to *hem* (and for Pamela too, of course!) and best of all Lila Fowler and her team lost while Jessica, Sweet Valley's new "Citizen of the Year" got all the glory! 
Man, I LOVE how these Sweet Valley books end! I just feel all warm and tingly inside...*runs to the toilet to puke*
 
One week later, Saturday, Jessica comes down to breakfast crutch-free. Steven finally forgave her a couple chapters ago, so they’re friends again. Pamela wrote a great article about the Olympics for the Sixers and Liz is glad to have a new friend to add to her group, one who’s finally learned to come out of her shell and speak up for herself! Except we never really see Pamela again after this. Oh, she gets mentioned in passing once or twice in the next few SVT books until eventually she fades out and takes her place in the corner, where she belongs, with all the other Sweet Valley minorities!
 
Steven gets one last ESP tease in, (he was never TOTALLY cured you know!) Today, he predicts Jessica is going to have an incredibly DULL day. Jessica has made plans to go over to Ellen’s and watch the latest music video and practice new dance routines. Yep, sounds pretty dull to me too.
 
But Jessica’s day is far from dull. Four pages later a mysterious metal box is dug up by Jessica and Ellen in the Riteman’s backyard. Whatever could it contain…???
Sorry, someone else will have to recap #10 Buried Treasure.
My work here is done!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
llew30
29 March 2008 @ 11:54 am



Cover: Jessica’s hair is fun to snark at here. It gives the reader the impression that it’s a really windy day outside. Anyway, it looks like she used too much conditioner on it or something. Where’re those famous “natural waves”? She has a crutch under one shoulder due to a sprained ankle. The other girl is Pamela Jacobson. Extra points to the artist for making Pamela look ‘special’.

 

The book opens at the Wakefield residence. Jessica is doing her homework at the kitchen table with older brother Steven. Elizabeth is baking cookies but before she can come over to help Jessica, who is struggling with her math problem, she must clean up her cookie mess first. That’s our mature, responsible Liz! Jessica’s blue-green eyes flash with impatience because she NEVER cleans up after herself; that’s what an identical twin is for!

 

There’s a nice long paragraph about how the identical twins “…weren’t one bit identical when it came to personalities.” Elizabeth likes to work hard at school namely on the Sixers newspaper (and that’s considered schoolwork?) while Jessica’s entire world revolves around the Unicorn club and other non-school related activities. Right now Jessica’s especially concerned with impressing the 8th grade Unicorn president, Janet Howell, as much as she can.

 

Steven annoys the twins by proclaiming he has ESP-extrasensory perception-(Wow, ghostwriter! I’m impressed you knew that!) and has already “foreseen” everything the twins will do and say today. (Cool! Steven’s actually snarking along with me!) For example, he already “knew” Jess would ask for Liz’s help with her homework and he also happened to have “predicted” that Jessica would be appointed sixth grade chairman on the committee for the upcoming Mini Olympics. (Wow! What're the odds?)

 

The Mini Olympics are a traditional event in Sweet Valley (which wouldn’t be traditional unless it involved the SIXTH grade class) in which the sixth graders are in charge of organizing the day long festival for the younger grades. The fifth graders also get to help plan and organize and both grades get to participate in the activities and athletic events.

 

Always modest Jessica just tosses her hair and declares since she’s perfect for the job, it's only natural the teachers chose HER to help organize and lead this event.

 

Steven has to get to basketball practice. Before he leaves he teases Jess that his ESP is tingling again and she may want to consider staying in this evening, otherwise…and both girls groan. Their mother, Alice, who is really just “a grown-up version of the twins” enters with groceries.

 

Jess and Liz both whine to their mother about their annoying older brother and his equally annoying ESP. “Can’t you tell him to stop?” but Alice just smiles and suggests maybe the twins should find a way themselves. Jessica’s eyes shine with inspiration. She’s got an idea! Liz can tell. Gee, she must have ESP too! Oh wait, that’s in another book.

 

With a couple hours to kill before Mom needs St. Elizabeth’s help with dinner, she mounts her bike and rides off to the public library for (what else?) the latest Amanda Howard mystery. There Liz meets the “new” girl who just transferred to SVMS, Pamela Jacobson. She’s described as “a small, pretty girl with soft brown wavy hair which came down to her shoulders. She had a slightly pale complexion and blue-gray eyes.”

As anyone can see from this description, Pamela is *speaks in whisper* handicapped!!!

 

But at least she knows how to read. Turns out Pamela loves Amanda Howard as much as Liz, and she expresses interest in writing for the Sixers. Liz excitedly tells Pamela all about the upcoming special edition the Sixers will be doing to cover the Mini Olympics.

 

This subject makes Pamela sad, as she explains to Liz, she has a heart condition, and can’t exert herself with a lot of physical activity. She just transferred from a “special kids” school called Ridgedale, twenty miles away from Sweet Valley. Because everyone there is ‘special’ Pamela was beginning to feel like she was ‘special’ too (this is BAD?) and despite her parents and teachers concerns that she wouldn’t be able to keep up and would feel left out, she wanted break free anyway and try a "regular school" (SVMS is a "REGULAR SCHOOL"?) Her eyes shine with pride as she declares she doesn’t want any special treatment, she’s just a “normal girl” and LIKES it when people forget she’s “different”. Elizabeth is quite distraught to learn there’s a girl her age with a DISABILITY actually residing in Sweet Valley who can’t participate in the upcoming athletic activity!

Saint Elizabeth feels like the world’s biggest heel for even bringing up the subject.

 

The next day at school, Jessica is in the girl’s locker room surrounded by Unicorns including BF (frenemy in this book) Lila Fowler. President Janet is also there along with three 7th grade unicorn members (so why are they joining a SIXTH grade gym class volleyball game? Why do I even ask?)

 

We are told the Mini Olympics consists of all the students being divided up into four teams to compete: Blue, Red, White, and Black. Janet suggests to Jessica they should consider a PURPLE team this year and everyone laughs.

 

Jessica is full of plans and new ideas for this year’s Mini Olympics: there should be individual trophies this year, more physical activities involving lots of running and jumping. She even suggests a triathlon (Wait a minute, that’s a long distance swimming, bicycling and running event! For kids who are only 10-12 years old? That’s a bit extreme, Jessica.)

 

Lila groans that Jessica is just rigging the activities (she’s just named all the physical things she’s especially good at) to her own advantage. Lila “a tall, slender girl with auburn hair and a pretty face” (and don’t forget STINKING RICH!) is already a little pissed off because Jessica has been appointed head chairman of the committee and Lila is the less-than-glamorous “assistant chairman” Yes, she’s jealous as hell.

 

 “You know I have some really good ideas...” Lila is about to say when Ellen Riteman, who will always and forever be “just another Unicorn” strolls up to remind the girls there’s a gym class they need to get to but no one seems to notice her (HA!) everyone is still locked in on Jessica and Lila’s battle of wills. Lila criticized Jessica’s ideas in front of her friends , how DARE she! Jessica thinks Lila is acting like a spoiled, rich snob who always wants everything focused on her (well DUH) while Lila thinks Jessica is being unfair to everyone who doesn’t happen to be as good at jumping and running as she is. Tamera Chase, a 7th grade Unicorn and Janet end it by saying it’s more important to focus on the fact that there are TWO Unicorns on the committee and that no matter what happens during the Mini Olympics the Unicorns get all the glory!

 

Next comes two pages of exposition from Pamela’s point of view, her “sob story” if you will. Here’s what you should know about her:

She was born with this rare heart condition which required two life saving surgeries when she was a baby but they didn’t cure her. She should live a full, long life the doctors say, but she’ll always have a weak heart. The only handicap I can see is that she tires easily and has to take all physical activities SLOW-LY. Her new teachers are aware of this and excuse her tardiness to class because she can’t speed walk and if she tries to run she will overexert herself and DIE! She has to take medication, and worst of all she has “helicopter parents”.

 

Pamela’s father, Dr. Jacobson, is the worst of the two. He’s threatened that if Pamela shows any sign of being tired or depressed at SVMS, she’ll be shipped back to Ridgedale, pronto, “where everyone has a some sort of handicap” Heck, that’s where Sweet Valley sends anyone in a wheelchair! Later these kids go on to Parker Academy, the high school for disabled students. Gee, can anyone say segregated?

 

Now Pamela is in the class she dreads most, gym. She COULD go attend a study hall, she doesn’t HAVE to sit here on the sidelines feeling sorry for herself and watching the Unicorns (who have all managed to get on the same team) playing volleyball and having fun. (Oh, yeah, I SO remember how hot and sweaty and physically exhausted I'd get playing volleyball in gym class! I wish I'd had a 'heart condition' like Pamela's!)

 Pamela really admires the Unicorns as she’d recently overheard Janet oh-so-modestly explaining to some random person: “We’re called Unicorns because Unicorns are special and so are we.” But Pamela’s kind of ‘special’ is not the kind Janet was talking about. Pamela is painfully aware of this. Poor Pamela, she should’ve been put down at birth.

 

It’s lunchtime. Saint Liz and Amy notice Pamela is sitting all by herself and decide to be Good Samaritans and go talk to her. Pamela has been crying (poor dear) she hates “not being able to do what everyone else does” at this new school but actually the one wish Pamela REALLY has and REALLY wants is to convince her father that she can make it here at SVMS and doesn’t need to go back to the “special school”.

Elizabeth and Amy, apparently now members of the “Make a Wish Foundation,” vow to make Pamela’s wish come true.

 

After school that day the twins begin their ESP revenge scheme to get back at their brother. First, they ask Steven about any ESP “hunches” he may have had today about them and Liz and Jess totally pretend that today's “hunches” actually happened! Steven, who is, (what’s the correct term?) “denser than a doorknob” doesn’t even ask Liz to produce the money he saw her “find” or make Jessica produce a witness that she really did have a "brush with death" during gym class. The twins grin at each other as a slightly pale Steven staggers off believing his ESP may be REAL after all!

 

Now that she and Jess are alone, Elizabeth quickly takes this opportunity to try and persuade Jessica to make some changes to the Mini Olympics so that EVERYONE can be included. People like Pamela, for example.

 

What ABOUT Pamela? Jessica asks, “If she’s sick, I assumed she wouldn’t even bother showing up for the Mini Olympics, but if you really want to include her we could let her type up flyers or something, anyway, your point is…?”

 

Horrified Liz exclaims, “The point is (you halfwit!) she’s not sick, she can't even COMPETE in the Olympics, she might hurt herself. She has a HEART CONDITION!”

 

“Well, she’s going to have to get into much better shape if she wants to win anything.” 
Liz bangs forehead on the table in frustration (kidding). Instead she replies,

“Jessica! Think for a minute what it would be like for YOU if you suddenly lost the ability to do normal, everyday, physical activities…”

 

Jessica is all, Look I can only feel sorry for these kind of people once a year on Handicapped Awareness Day, I’m REALLY sorry, but it’s too late to change anything and I like the events the way I planned ‘em.

Dun Dun DUUUUUN!

 

During dinner that night the twins put the scare into Steven, They recently read people with ESP have night visions and even see spirits, Steven believes this because he’s just a stupid high school freshman who doesn’t read. It’s a perfect setup for when Liz and Jess sneak outside that night, while everyone is asleep, with a ladder to climb up to Steve’s bedroom window and totally psyche him out. Jessica puts on a white sheet with holes cut for her eyes and is scratching and pressing her face against the window. Steven wakes and seeing something outside his bedroom window, nearly wets himself! He’s about to freak out completely when…Jessica loses her footing on the ladder and with a bloodcurdling scream has a spectacular crash and ends up spraining her ankle!

 

The parents come running. Mr. Wakefield is all concerned and picks up his daughter in his arms and takes her to the ER. He figures this injury and Jessica having to miss out on such physical activities as cheering with the Boosters at the next game and hobbling around on crutches for the next few weeks will be punishment enough for her. 
Not bad parenting, Mr. Wakefield, I actually agree with your methods here.

 

Jessica does indeed learn her lesson the next day. Her ankle, wrapped in an ACE bandage, throbs. Everything takes twice as long now like: getting ready for school, maneuvering downstairs with her crutches, and just making it to school while using crutches and trying to carry her books at the same time. How DO those handicapped people manage it?

 

To make matters worse for Jessica, Steven has decided the embarrassing prank the twins pulled was all Jessica’s fault, therefore he’s not speaking to her anymore. When Lila discovers Jessica is injured "suggests" she's obviously not capable of leading the Mini Olympics committee anymore. Jessica's all: "HUH?"
Thus Lila begins her campaign to “nudge” Jessica out of the spotlight.

 

By the second day Jessica realizes having a sprained ankle today wasn’t nearly as much fun as it was yesterday when all her friends gave her the VIP treatment, all dripping concern and sympathy and Bruce Patman even carried her books for her! But today, as she struggles through the crowded hallway to get to class on time, the novelty has worn off. No one really notices her anymore and Jessica sighs in self pity. Then Jessica sees Pamela…

 

During gym class, Jessica really gets her come-uppance. Just a few days ago that was HER out there happily participating in the volleyball game and scoring points for her team. Today she gets to experience life from the sidelines. Yeah, not much fun being left out, is it Jessica?

 

Pamela joins her, striking up a conversation. And Jessica really LISTENS to what Pamela is saying (this is a first!). She never really considered life from Pamela’s point of view until now. Jessica’s situation, after all, is only temporary while Pamela is stuck on the sidelines for LIFE.

 

Later that day, Jessica attends a Mini Olympics planning meeting with the teachers, Lila, and the fifth graders all organizing the event together. But everyone’s IGNORING her! Lila’s ambition to nudge Jessica out has succeeded. Lila even got “Daddy” to “take out a full page ad in the paper about the Olympics” and she’s gone behind Jessica's back and managed to trump Jessica on all her ideas. The supervising teachers all agree with Lila's new ideas. Jessica should be GRATEFUL to have a friend like Lila who just saved her ass while she was laid up with a hurt ankle.
Lila smirks, Jessica fumes. She’s lost control over the Olympics just because she’s injured!

 

Afterwards, Jessica whines to Liz who reminds Jess that with her sprained ankle she can’t even participate in the events now. She reminds her again of people like Pamela and those who basically suck at sports and suggests (again) she consider thinking about including them and making some changes.

 

Jessica is disgusted, “Are you suggesting we plan the Mini Olympics so that every single weakling has the same chance to win that some big strong athlete has?”

Um, yes, Jessica, that’s exactly what Liz is saying.

 

Only until her sister reminds Jessica that if she took this “idea of change” to the committee that JESSICA would get all the credit and glory making her look like a model citizen (thus making Lila look the fool) does Jessica start to accept this idea. Not to mention if they gave the Olympics a complete overhaul she would actually get to participate and could even help her team win!

Jessica likes this idea of Liz’s very much.

Her work here done, Saint Elizabeth heads off to the public library (yet, again).

 

Having just come off a big row with “helicopter parents” Pamela is in the reading room of the library, crying her eyes out behind a book, when Liz finds her. Pamela's now convinced her Dad is right, she needs “special help” and “special attention” she really is *sob* HANDICAPPED! He's right, she doesn’t belong at Sweet Valley (Handicapped People Needn’t Apply) Middle School. She just can’t seem to fit in here.


Liz explains the way things are run at SVMS. In a nutshell: “Unless you’re really pretty or really good at sports or really smart, no one notices you.” (Way to rub in the salt, Liz!) She tells Pamela about Lois Waller who’s one of those “naturally bad athletes” and Jimmy Underwood, “the smallest boy in their class” (hence the name) both are probably dreading the Mini Olympics just as much as Pamela is.

Pamela says: “It’s one thing to be bad at sports; its another to be HANDICAPPED.”

Only in Sweet Valley, dear.

Back at Casa Wakefield, meddling Liz succeeds in talking Jess into enlisting Pamela's help in changing the format of the Olympics and get her on the planning committee with Jess. Still thinking of how easy it will be to take all the glory for herself, Jessica agrees. St. Liz congratulates herself that by getting Pamela involved she’ll NOW want to stay at SVMS.

 

One week to the Mini Olympics, Jessica hobbles over to the Jacobsons’ house.

"Hey there, cute older brother of Pamela’s!" Jessica, the queen of flirtation, gushes. "Oh, THIS silly ankle? I fell while learning a new Booster’s cheer" (Liar!)

 

Pamela enters and invites Jessica to her room. Convincing Pamela to join the committee is easy as Jessica shifts all the blame on Lila, favoring the athletes was all HER idea, the BITCH! Pamela totally falls for this and eagerly starts teaching Jessica how Ridgedale did their own “Special Olympics” with wheelchair races and events that included more brains than brawn.

 

Jessica is all “Quick, I’ve got to get you to the committee meeting tonight so they can hear all this great stuff and we can convince them to change this prejudiced Mini Olympics into EVERYONE’s Mini Olympics *hem* and make Lila look like a real creep! 

 

It works! With Pamela as Jessica’s “Exhibit A” at the meeting, Jessica does such a great snow job the two teachers supervising the student committee are all reaching for their hankies and ready to nominate Jessica for the PTA Civic Service Award. (Um, Pamela's sitting RIGHT THERE too!)

 “Why didn’t we ever NOTICE those less fortunate people BEFORE? Of course you girls can make the changes you want for the Mini Olympics.”

 Lila’s all “But…but!”

Shut up Lila, can’t you see Jessica is a model citizen?

“Lila pouted, her lower lip sticking out,” (sorry, Lila fans, but I've permently freeze-framed that picture in my mind. HEE!)

Jessica smirks and it’s Lila’s turn to fume.

 

At school, all the students know what happened and think Jessica’s totally awesome in speaking up for change in the Mini Olympics. Jessica's only thinking about getting to see "cute older brother of Pamela's" again next time she goes over to the Jacobson's.

 

Pamela tries to sidle up to Jessica as they work hard one evening together poring over records from past Mini Olympics and getting ideas. She’s all misty eyed as she shyly tells Jessica how great it is that her and her sister have befriended and included her like this.

Jessica’s all: Uh, you and me? FRIENDS? Yikes, next she’ll be asking me to get her into the Unicorns! I don’t think so. Bye now, and say hi to your brother for me.

Jessica takes off as fast as she can. After all the hours she and Pamela have spent working on these new plans, Jessica knows she will be getting all the credit anyway.

 

She goes back to Casa Wakefield to meet Janet, Ellen and...Lila! What are YOU doing here? 
Lila “looked straight out of Seventeen magazine in a suede skirt and boots.” She’s come to see just how much damage Jessica has done overhauling the Mini Olympics.

 

They go up to Jessica’s room where she proudly explains all the new events and changes they’ve made: they will draw numbers for each event so it’s totally fair, there will be an hour of Brainpower with games, puzzles, a spelling bee, Password competition (whoa, anyone remember THAT old TV game show?) and a Junior Wheel of Fortune (COOL!). There will be a Houdini event called “Untie Yourself” where two teammates will be tied together and whichever team can untie themselves the fastest wins, a three legged race, egg races, water races in the pool, which involve balancing a bowl of water on a kickboard and whoever knocks the least out wins, and (I totally LOVE this one) a bed making contest! With hospital corners! (but seriously some of these event sound more appropriate for an American 4th of July event than an elementary school track and field day!)

 

Lila thinks everything Jessica has just said, SUCKS! Jessica is about to snap back when she sees Janet’s facial expression and decides she “didn’t want to hurt her position with the Unicorns” (she must be sitting on their horn). So she keeps quiet and lets eveyone congradulate her on being a "model citizen"

 

Finally, it is Friday, the day of the Mini Olympics. Tying a purple ribbon around her ponytail in honor of her Unicorn status, Jessica takes up her crutches and heads off to the elementary school where parents, teachers and all the students from both schools have gathered for the big day.

 

Dividing everyone into the four color teams is apparently the only procedure that survived all the cuts they made to the Mini Olympics. Jessica and Pamela are both on the Blue team, Elizabeth and Amy (who shrieks with joy) are on the Black team, Lila and Janet are on the Red team (apparently Janet is the only 8th grader participating today, what a geek!) and Ellen makes the White team (as if we care).

Let the first event of the Mini Olympics begin!

 

The Talent Block is first on the day’s schedule of events in which the four teams must make up a short skit and compose a song with points awarded for creativity.

 

For their skit, the Blue team makes up a real winner called “The Butler Did It” poking fun at the lower school’s gym teacher, Mr. Butler. Their song is called “The Blue Team Blues” written by Pamela, which is not only a catchy title but every time I read this I can hear an equally catchy blues tune in my head:

 

Haven’t you heard the news?

We’ve got the Blue Team Blues.

You wake up in the morning and you’re

 feeling out of sorts; you don’t like

 dancing and you’re tired of sports…

What are you going to do?

What are you going to choose?

You know what you’ve got,

You’ve got the Blue Team Blues.

 

Seriously, it’s brilliant, how could the other teams even COMPETE with that?

Naturally, the Blue team wins first place in the talent competition, that’s 100 points for them. Jessica and Pamela are “practically delirious” at the announcement.

 

The Black team, obviously led by Elizabeth, did a skit about news reporters covering the Olympics and a cute song about “Black Magic” (No, they didn’t steal it from ‘Ol Blue Eyes, or Ella Fitzgerald, or anyone else. I Googled to see which artist originally sang That Old Black Magic but so many artists have covered it, I gave up. I have a recap to write, you know!). 
The Black team wins second place, mainly for their cute rhyme on “tragic” and “magic”.

 

Lila’s Red team did a really silly skit that makes fun of a bed making contest and an even sillier song called “Dread the Red” that Jessica thought sounded more like a Boosters cheer. They get stuck with third place.

 

The poor White trash team had a fifth grader do a stand up comic routine (he was dying up there) and their song was really a chant with none of the rhymes in the right places. Really, how hard is it to make up a RHYME?

 

After lunch (this ONE event took ALL MORNING? Well, ok, when you stop to think about it there WERE four individual shows that everyone had to suffer through and then the points to award) things REALLY start to get serious now with the Brainpower events.

 

Jessica is heartbroken when the Red team beats them in Brainpower Events by taking first place and the Blues come in THIRD! Whites manage to pull it together to come in second, and the Black team LOST (Liz the Brianiac’s name must not have been drawn for any of the events). The last set of events are going to prove crucial now!

 

The tension is mounting, everyone is cheering loudly in the bleachers. First event? The bed making contest! To Jessica’s joy, Lila’s name is drawn. Remember, Lila’s never made anything in her life, let alone her BED! She can’t even get past putting the top sheet on and storms angrily off the field having placed DEAD LAST in the race! Poor spoiled Lila.

Naturally, Elizabeth won this race for her team as if she’s been making her bed all her life, (wait a minute, she HAS!) for Jesscia making her bed is, at best, a once a week activity. Anyway she is glad for her twin since the Blue team took second place (Caroline Pearce was their bed maker) and she knows she’ll cream everyone in Crutch Croquet, her own original idea for a race. She even convinced the teachers to let HER do the drawing for this event.

 

As if we didn't see this coming, Jessica draws herself for Crutch Croquet, “Wow, isn’t that weird?” she asks.

“Oh, sure, what a coincidence.” a scathing Lila growls.

Lila looks fit to be tied when Jessica does indeed win the race for her team, knocking the croquet ball expertly around the field with her crutch, completing the course in less than ten minutes. She’s a pro, who has logged in LOTS of practice time!

 

Pool events, Untie Yourself (which the audience especially enjoyed), three-legged race, water balloon throw, and Pineapple Bowling all fly by then it’s time for the very last event, the Wheelchair Race. Here are the scores:

Reds and Blues are tied for first with 250 points, Blacks-210, and Whites trailing at a pitiful 200 points (because they have Ellen on their team, NAH NAH!)

 

Names are drawn for the race and the crowd is cheering wildly. Red team gets Ken Matthews, a small but very good athlete. The Black team got some nobody from the lower school. So did the White team.
But, for the Blue team, the lucky person drawn is…Pamela!

 

A hush falls over the crowd. “Aw, this isn’t fair-letting me take on two little kids and a…” Ken can’t even think of a good snark for Pamela, she’s a freak.

But Pamela isn’t intimidated, she can handle this race. She even winks at Ken with no hard feelings, “I wouldn’t get overconfident if I were you.” She tells him.

 

And they’re off! Pamela leads Ken by a foot. Jessica is screaming herself hoarse until she’s suddenly aware of someone else in the bleachers who cheers so loudly “the whole field seemed to reverberate” (Wow, Dr. Jacobson has the voice of God!).

 

It looks as if Ken is going to pass Pamela and win the race, he’s getting closer and closer…he’s PASSING her! Suddenly Ken's fingers get caught in the spokes and he looses control and veers to the right. Pamela crosses the finish line, winning the race AND the Mini Olympics for the Blue team! YAY!

 

Pamela’s dad rushes the field along with everyone else. He lifts his daughter up on his shoulders, he’s a changed and humbled man. From now on, he’ll never doubt his daughter’s ability to do physical things (like attend SVMS) again, he declares: “it’s obvious she can take perfectly good care of herself.”

“Oh, Daddy!”

Hugs and cheers all around.

 

So everything worked out just the way Jessica wanted it to *hem* (and for Pamela too, of course!) and best of all Lila Fowler and her team lost while Jessica, Sweet Valley's new "Citizen of the Year" got all the glory! 
Man, I LOVE how these Sweet Valley books end! I just feel all warm and tingly inside...*runs to the toilet to puke*

 

One week later, Saturday, Jessica comes down to breakfast crutch-free. Steven finally forgave her a couple chapters ago, so they’re friends again. Pamela wrote a great article about the Olympics for the Sixers and Liz is glad to have a new friend to add to her group, one who’s finally learned to come out of her shell and speak up for herself! Except we never really see Pamela again after this. Oh, she gets mentioned in passing once or twice in the next few SVT books until eventually she fades out and takes her place in the corner, where she belongs, with all the other Sweet Valley minorities!

 

Steven gets one last ESP tease in, (he was never TOTALLY cured you know!) Today, he predicts Jessica is going to have an incredibly DULL day. Jessica has made plans to go over to Ellen’s and watch the latest music video and practice new dance routines. Yep, sounds pretty dull to me too.

 

But Jessica’s day is far from dull. Four pages later a mysterious metal box is dug up by Jessica and Ellen in the Riteman’s backyard. Whatever could it contain…???

Sorry, someone else will have to recap #10 Buried Treasure.

My work here is done!