March 28, 2010
Summary: Dawn and Claudia have been taking sailing lessons, and they decide to have a little race. It ends in a tie, and for their rematch, they agree to race to an island a few hours away and have a picnic with Jeff, Jamie Newton, Becca Ramsey, and Haley Braddock. A storm hits while they’re racing and the six end up stranded on an island. Yes, really. We get everyone’s perspective on the event so Dawn can keep it all for posterity. Because I’m sure she would want to remember every detail of a traumatizing experience.
Dawn takes care of Jamie, who’s sick, while Claudia takes charge of the other kids (with lots of help from Jeff). Claudia also proves that she’s smarter than she seems by rigging up a system for collecting rainwater, which saves everyone from dehydration, and using a mirror to signal a plane, which rescues everyone.
Mary Anne has a big fight with Logan, accusing him of standing her up, which turns into a fight with Dawn, who was supposed to give Mary Anne a message telling her that Logan wouldn’t be showing up. Mary Anne tells Dawn that she never wants to see her again, so when Dawn vanishes, Mary Anne feels guilty. She manages to hold it together a lot better than you’d think Mary Anne would, though.
Jessi is left in charge of Becca and Squirt for the weekend while her parents go away (more on that later), and after the boating incident, she calls her aunt Cecelia, a really annoying woman who seems to think she should be in charge of her brother’s children. Jessi spends most of the rest of the book complaining about Cecilia, and will spend most of the next book, Jessi’s Baby-sitter, doing the same.
Stacey is in New York with her father when the six are shipwrecked, and she wants to go back to Stoneybrook to help everyone search for them, but her father won’t let her go. Even though his daughter’s best friend could be dead. Shut up, Stacey’s father. She winds up standing up to him and going home anyway. Yeah, that’s about it.
Kristy is her typical take-charge, let’s-solve-this-problem-ourselves self, but she gets stumped when she realizes that there’s an upcoming game between her Krushers and Bart’s Bashers. She decides to cancel the game, which makes Bart accuse of chickening out. Apparently that’s what passes for conflict here.
Mallory does pretty much nothing except help with the search effort. Once again, Mallory is the forgotten BSC girl.
Just like in SVH, a near-death experience makes everything okay.
Thoughts: I was more excited to reread this book than any other, because I absolutely loved this book when I was younger. I always thought it was SO exciting. If I’d ever gotten stranded on an island, I would have used tips from this book to survive. (Let’s be honest, that’s still the case now that I’m an adult.) I have a feeling this book is part of the reason I’ve always liked stranded-on-an-island stories (I liked The Swiss Family Robinson, too), which means it’s probably part of the reason I started watching Lost when it debuted.
Jessi’s parents let her sit for Becca and Squirt by herself for an entire three-day weekend. Um, NO. SHE’S 11. I don’t think I spent the night alone in my house until I was 15 or 16, and that was without any kids to look after, especially not a baby. There is absolutely, positively no way this would happen; I don’t care how mature Jessi is.
Mary Anne wishes she never had to see Dawn again just because Dawn forgot to give her a message from Logan. Oh, yeah, that’s completely reasonable. I never realized Mary Anne was such a drama queen.
Why does Kristy make Stacey write about her New York sitting jobs in the club notebook? I thought the notebook was used to tell the other sitters what they might need to know for future sitting jobs. The BSC girls will never sit for the kids in New York. Clearly the power has gone to Kristy’s head.
Claudia and Dawn aren’t sure if Jamie, who’s four, is old enough to know to stay away from a fire. Uh, he’s four, not stupid.
Logan and Mary Anne have this stupid fight about her believing he stood her up, and then after the boating incident, he calls to tell her he’s sorry her stepsister is missing but he still can’t forgive her for the fight. Logan kind of sucks.
Bart sucks, too, for accusing Kristy of cancelling a game because she thinks his team will win and not because she wants to look for her friends. Though at least he apologizes. Take a lesson, Logan.
March 26, 2010
Summary: Time for another book about random characters we know next to nothing about. Michael Harris and Maria Santelli’s parents in engaged in a family feud, but Michael and Maria are in love and, for some reason, engaged. (What 16-year-olds get engaged?) All of their friends are really excited for them, because it’s a boring week in the S.V., but Michael and Maria start fighting more and more, mostly because he’s jealous of her friendship with Winston Egbert. Yes, you read that right, someone’s jealous of Winston. It’s a turvy-topsy world.
Michael gets so jealous that he announces that he’s running for student council…something, which is what Winston was planning to do, and somehow this results in Maria giving back the engagement ring and figuring out that she likes Winston instead. I repeat – Maria leaves Michael for Winston. This happened, people. In the meantime, Maria and Michael’s parents have heard (from Caroline Pearce’s mom, proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) that they’re at a Lila-sponsored engagement party, and as they head over to deal with that, they miraculously work out their feud. Yeah, this wasn’t exactly Spencer/Cassadine-level stuff. Whatever, everyone has a happy ending.
The B plot is intertwined with the A plot – a bunch of the students at SVH are involved in a school project where they simulate married life. The ghostwriter really misses out on the chance to do something interesting with that situation.
Thoughts: Books and TV shows love to have high schoolers participate in fake-marriage projects, but has anyone ever actually done one in real life?
Annie remarks, “Ricky sure knows how to tire a girl out.” That’s what she – oh, wait, they used to date. Too easy.
Dang it, why couldn’t Jessica be fake-married to Bruce?
I’m so sure a 17-year-old earned enough money for a diamond ring by working part-time as a mechanic at a gas station. I’m not at all suspicious that it’s really cubic zirconia.
March 21, 2010
Summary: Charlotte’s parents go out of town for a week and leave her with Stacey and her mom. (This isn’t that important, it just explains why Charlotte’s in the book so much.) Stacey and Charlotte see some kind-of-but-not-really weird stuff around an old house in the neighborhood and get it in their heads that it’s haunted. Of course. They start looking into the house’s history, getting the other BSC girls involved as well, and learn that Stoneybrook was built on an ancient burial ground. Uh, of course. The house is being torn down, and the old owner, who the girls bug in his nursing home, thinks that “disturbing the earth” will make the spirits of the people buried underground freak out.
While there’s no word one way or the other if Stoneybrook really was built on an ancient burial ground (my guess: no), all of the “mysteries” surrounding the house are solved. And the old owner dies. Like we care. Then the book ends. Really, really anti-climactic.
Thoughts: According to Stacey, Charlotte “knew it was an honor to be invited to a club meeting. Not too many ‘outsiders’ had attended meetings.” One, you’re a babysitting club, not a gang. Two, who wants to tell her that that was a decision made voluntarily?
The Thomas/Brewer kids sing lullabies before bed (dorks), and David Michael’s favorite is the Ghostbusters theme. Rock on, David Michael.
Stoneybrook being built on ancient burial grounds isn’t nearly as cool as being located on a Hellmouth.
There’s no way Claudia would figure out that she could use tax records to find out who owned a piece of property. Sorry, but no.
March 16, 2010
Summary: Dana’s cousin Sally moves in after being given over to foster care after her mom got remarried (and seriously, who the heck does something that reprehensible?) and spending years living with a bunch of different families. No real word on why the Larsons didn’t have her move in before. Sally wants to stay put this time, so she goes all Stepford and tries to be the perfect niece/cousin. Dana and her brother Jeremy find her annoying and try-hard, not realizing that they should thank her for doing their chores and stuff. And that they should maybe be nice to the girl whose MOTHER BASICALLY TRADED HER FOR A NEW HUSBAND. I mean, really, what the heck is that about?
Sally thinks she’s not meshing well with the family and that they’re going to ask her to leave, mostly because Dana and Jeremy are such jerks. On their way to a family meeting that Sally thinks will contain the announcement that she’s being kicked out, Sally, Dana, and Jeremy stop to pick up hitchhikers (Jeremy’s an idiot) who rob them and then try to kidnap Dana. Sally offers to take her place so her ungrateful cousins can be safe, which makes then finally realize that they should probably be nicer to her, since she’s never done anything mean to them. So Dana and Jeremy go grab some friends, including Sally’s love interest, and get her back. And then they learn that Dana and Jeremy’s parents want to adopt Sally, not kick her out. Happy endings for everyone! Except the skeezy hitchhikers, of course.
In the B plot, Jessica adopts a puppy and hides him in the house, because she’s ten years old. Prince Albert (so named by Elizabeth, with no explanation for the name) runs away, apparently realizing before any human has that Jessica can be deserted, but Ned decides that Jessica’s begging for a dog should be rewarded, and he goes to the animal shelter and adopts…Prince Albert! Wow, I bet no one ever saw that one coming!
Thoughts: Dana wears skin-tight black stirrup pants, a black and white checked shirt, and a gold lamé dinner jacket. Claudia Kishi is soooooo jealous right now. (By the way, when I was a kid, I totally wanted stirrup pants. I don’t know why I thought they were so cool. Wouldn’t it be uncomfortable to walk around with straps under your feet?)
Emily Mayer thinks a song with a Romeo and Juliet theme would be great. Apparently Emily has never listened to music by a group other than the Droids.
Elizabeth tells Jeffrey that Jessica has a lot of good qualities, and he replies, “I guess I just haven’t seen them yet. Maybe she only brings them out on holidays.” Marry me, Jeffrey.
Actually, Jessica has some nearly likable moments in this book, like when she declares that Prince Albert “ate the washing machine” (he chewed on a hose) and when she tries to sneak out the basement window to do laundry so her parents don’t find out about the dog. The dialogue’s actually pretty funny, for once.
Cara and I appear to have the same attention span: “You will never believe what I just found— Hey, a puppy!”
March 13, 2010
Summary: In what’s essentially part 2 of Boy-Crazy Stacey, Mary Anne and Stacey again serve as mother’s helpers when the Pikes go to Sea City. They meet up with Alex and Toby, their kind-of love interests from the end of Boy-Crazy Stacey, only this time Mary Anne’s dating Logan, so she feels kind of guilty for hanging out with another guy. It’s a lot of drama for a 13-year-old, but ultimately she finds out that Alex also has a girlfriend back home, so they decide to be friends. Because Mary Anne just knows she’s going to be with Logan forever and ever. Which I would totally make fun of, except I was 13 once, too. Oh, and Toby dumps Stacey, and she proves that hell really hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Mallory and Vanessa also have guy issues – well, Vanessa more than Mallory. She develops a crush on a guy named Chris who works at an ice cream parlor, and she starts leaving him poems. However, he thinks they’re from Mallory, who has no idea what’s going on. Vanessa is very mature in her handling of the situation, leaving him one last poem (“from Mallory”) letting him down, knowing that their chances of seeing each other again are pretty slim. Why is the nine-year-old the most mature person in this bunch?
There are a couple of sitting jobs mentioned from the other sitters’ vacations, but the other girls aren’t in the book much. Dawn’s is one of the more important, only in that it introduces us to Carol, her dad’s girlfriend, who later has a bigger role in the series. Also, Jeff turns out to be really good with kids, which is kind of a surprise.
Thoughts: It’s weird to read a book about a beach trip right after reading one about a trip to the mountains.
Stacey wears khaki safari pants and a jungle-print blouse. No, sweetie. Just no.
I don’t think they let 12-year-olds work in ice cream parlors. Maybe child-labor laws are different in Sea City.
Mr. and Mrs. Pike want Mallory and either Stacey or Mary Anne around every night so they can go out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – why even bring the kids with you on vacation if you’re not going to spend any time with them? And why should Mallory have to sit while she’s on vacation? I hope she gets paid for that.
Is it bad that I consider Mary Anne a two-timer for setting up a date with Alex when she’s already dating Logan?
This book makes it clear that Stacey isn’t someone you want to mess with. You can take the girl out of New York….
March 9, 2010
Summary: Everyone’s all excited about Winter Carnival, a weekend the juniors and seniors of SVH spend at a ski lodge, doing lots of snowy stuff (think Baby-sitters’ Winter Vacation). Jessica starts getting on Elizabeth’s nerves (moreso than usual), accidentally messing up Elizabeth and Jeffrey’s relationship and leading Elizabeth to wish she didn’t have a sister. There’s also some stuff about Todd in there – he’s visiting for the carnival and wants to take Elizabeth to some banquet, so let’s be honest, she and Jeffrey probably would have fought even if Jessica weren’t involved.
Long story short, Elizabeth has the world’s longest dream in which Jessica is killed in a car accident while coming after Elizabeth to make up for one of their fights. Unfortunately, she’s actually okay (because the series, after all, isn’t called Sweet Valley Twin), and the girls make up.
Thoughts: Let me state for the record that I kind of take Jessica’s side in this book. All of her screw-ups are mostly by accident, and she does try to change and fix things (though one of her attempts involves making Jeffrey think she’s Elizabeth, so obviously it wasn’t going to work). Elizabeth’s pretty unreasonable at some points. Though, of course, I wouldn’t want to be related to either of them. Jessica’s just the lesser of two evils here.
Elizabeth is ticked about getting an honorable mention in a writing competition because it’s worse than third place. Someone needs to teach that girl what “honorable” means.
Alice buys Jessica a silver Lycra ski suit. Holy cow.
Elizabeth, why in the WORLD would you rely on Jessica to take an important message for you? And why would you be so surprised when she screws things up for you? And then you ask, “How could you just accidentially take the message with you?” Uh…accidentally? Do you not listen to yourself talk? Because if you’re not going to, I’m not going to, either.
Jessica goes out with her opponent in a trivia competition, hoping he’ll fall so in love with her that he lets her and Amy win. I take back what I said about her being the lesser of two evils. Also, I don’t get why that subplot was in there anyway, since it gets dropped and is never mentioned again.
Elizabeth, remember how you’ve had two committed relationships and Jessica has had zero? Do you not see the stupidity in taking relationship advice from her? Or any advice at all, really?
Why is this book called Winter Carnival? They don’t even leave Sweet Valley until 150 pages in, and then ten pages later, Elizabeth goes back home.
Once again, a near-death experience saves the day. Well, sort of. Jessica should just fake her death whenever she wants to get out of a jam. Or avoid setting the table.
March 6, 2010
Summary: Claudia gets the idea that she’s adopted, since she’s so different from everyone else in her family (especially Janine) and there aren’t many pictures of her when she was a baby. She goes on a search to find out who she really is and connect with her birth parents, even though she has absolutely no proof that she’s adopted. Which, of course, she’s not. Her parents were just too lazy to take pictures of her, or something.
Claudia is also working with Kristy’s little sister Emily, who supposedly is delayed for her age and has the added roadblock of having to learn English. Claudia proves to be a pretty good teacher, not that she’s teaching calculus or physics or anything. Anyway, she helps Emily make some pretty big strides to catching up to other kids her age.
Thoughts: Who knew Claudia’s imagination was as overactive as Karen’s?
Dear ghostwriter, everything you describe about Emily goes for every normal two-year-old. She’s not as delayed as you make her out to be. Try harder next time. Also, Gabbie Perkins is in no way a good example of a normal two-and-a-half-year-old. She’s more like a four-year-old. Please spend some time with real children.
What kind of crappy preschool wouldn’t accept Emily because she’s a little delayed and isn’t potty-trained? SHE’S TWO! Not every two-year-old is potty-trained. Not every three-year-old is potty-trained! Ug, why am I looking for logic in this book?
Emily calls Janine Nee-nee. TOO CUTE.
March 5, 2010
Summary: Jessica’s tired of being a twin, so she dyes her hair, starts wearing Lila’s expensive clothes, and talks with a vaguely British accent to stand out and get attention. It makes her even more annoying than normal, if you can believe it. Elizabeth is hurt by Jessica’s makeover because she feels like Jessica’s against her personally, when she really just wants attention. Of course, she never bothers to actually say so to Jessica’s face. Jessica tries to land a modeling gig, but her new look doesn’t appeal to the photographer or fashion-show director who want to work with her – they want someone who looks like Elizabeth. Jessica can’t convince them that they’re identical and that she can change her look back, so she gets Elizabeth to accept the job, then takes her place. She’s dumb enough to have her parents show up without telling them about the switch, though, so she gets busted, but no one cares, and Elizabeth makes the show, too. Because, as usual, beauty is everything in Sweet Valley.
The B plot is tied into the A plot – Elizabeth thinks Jeffrey is really interested in Jessica, which leads to a fight, which leads to a breakup. Somewhere in there Elizabeth loses her journal, which is a pointless development, but it allows Jessica to read the journal and realize that Elizabeth’s upset with her change. Eh, who cares?
Thoughts: Elizabeth says she takes it as a compliment when people say she and Jessica are exactly alike. Um, WHY? Who wants to be compared to Jessica??
Enid thinks Jessica had her makeover to get attention. Enid, Jessica does everything to get attention. Where have you been?
Jessica really thinks she can be a model at five-six? Oh, right. Logic. Never mind.
Jessica is offered $500 for six hours of work. I hate her even more now for making so much more money than me while being only 16 and having no marketable skills or brains.
Jessica makes a move on Jeffrey about five seconds after Elizabeth tells her they’re probably through. That’s a new low, even for Jessica.