July 15, 2014
SVT #12, Keeping Secrets: Thithigis Bithigook IthigIs Stithigupithigd
Summary: Just so you know, I hate everyone in this book except Elizabeth.
Ned takes the twins out to dinner to tell them some super-big secret they’re not allowed to tell anyone. By the way, if you’re a kid and anyone ever says something like that to you, get a grown-up. Anyway, the super-big secret is also super-stupid: It’s a made-up language Ned and his best friend spoke as kids, and he wants to teach it to the twins so the three of them can speak it together and exclude Alice and Steven for no good reason. If I were Steven, I’d be ticked.
The language, Ithig, basically involves inserting Ithig into every syllable of a word, or in front of the word if it’s short. The problem is that no one sticks to those actual rules, and it’s incredibly difficult to read in the book, so it just bugs me. Also, why is it such a big secret? Why does Ned place so much importance on it? Why can’t Steven learn it, too? Why does Ned have to be so exclusionary? I could write pages and pages of everything wrong with this book, but I don’t have the energy or the interest, so we’ll move on.
The twins pick up Ithig quickly, and are thrilled to have something just they and their father share. Caroline Pearce overhears them speaking Ithig and gets overly interested in what they’re doing. The Wakefields give her the brush-off. This is bad. Caroline quickly tells everyone at school that the twins have a secret language, and for some reason, everyone cares. Amy and the Unicorns are especially mad that the twins have something that’s only between them and won’t share it with their friends. I…don’t get that. Like, they’re already sisters and already have a special bond because they’re twins, but THIS is what ticks everyone off?
Everyone turns on the twins, since they refuse to break their promise to Ned and teach anyone their language. Lila and Amy do that whole “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing and are suddenly BFFs. Lila’s allowed to bring a bunch of friends to a party her father’s throwing, which will feature a benefit match with a famous tennis player, and she invites pretty much everyone she knows except Jessica. She agrees to invite Jessica if Jessica teaches her Ithig. Jess has no willpower, so she caves.
This makes Amy even madder, I guess since Jessica was a good enough friend to Lila to break her promise, but Elizabeth wasn’t a good enough friend to Amy to do the same. Then things get worse, because Lila teaches everyone else in school Ithig. Amy soon gets over it, but a new problem crops up. The twins’ music teacher goes out on paternity leave, and when the sub, Ms. McDonald, arrives, the kids pull that middle-schooler magic only preteens can, and act like jerks in her class. They only speak Ithig, they don’t listen, and they misbehave so much that they drive her to tears.
Elizabeth feels bad, because she’s the only person in this book with any humanity. She learns that when the district supervisor comes to visit the class, the kids plan to only speak Ithig so they’ll drive Ms. McDonald crazy and she won’t be invited to keep teaching. Elizabeth warns Ms. McDonald, but the teacher is no dummy: Thanks to language immersion, she’s learned Ithig on her own. When Lila pulls the Ithig trick in class, Ms. McDonald speaks it back to her, telling the supervisor that it’s a secret language the sixth graders use with each other.
Lila is furious, which is hilarious, because she needed to be taken down about ten notches in this book. She and a couple other students try to tell the supervisor that they don’t like Ms. McDonald, but he’s like, “Maybe worry about your grades and not being little punks?” I love that their scheme totally backfired. Probably the best part is that they’re too dumb to figure out that Elizabeth talked to Ms. McDonald, or that she might have learned Ithig on her own. Stupid punk kids. Get off my lawn!
Thoughts: I was thinking that Amy and Lila were being unreasonable about the twins keeping secrets from them, but then I remembered that they’re 12-year-old girls, so they’re unreasonable about everything.
12-year-old girls also aren’t that interested in pro tennis players. Sorry, ghostwriter.
Elizabeth: “How did Ms. McDonald ever learn to speak Ithig?” Well, if Jessica could learn it, anyone can.
“Maybe Ms. McDonald wasn’t such a bad teacher after all.” She never was a bad teacher! Her students were just jerks! That’s not her fault!
Oh, and they’re idiots, too. How can they not figure out that Elizabeth was the squealer? I mean, who else would try to rain on their parade like that?