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09 April 2008 @ 10:57 pm
SVT #28 April Fool  
 
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!