November 4, 2014
SVT Super Edition #1, The Class Trip: Elizabeth Down the Rabbit Hole
Summary: The twins are super-excited for a field trip to an amusement park called the Enchanted Forest. Elizabeth wants to make sure Jessica remembers that she promised to sit with her on the bus ride, so Elizabeth doesn’t have to sit with Caroline. This is a Very Big Deal for Elizabeth. But Jess forgets and grabs a seat with Lila. All of Elizabeth’s other friends have already paired off, and she’s stuck listening to Caroline gossip for the whole trip. Elizabeth decides she’ll never forgive Jessica.
Once the kids get to the Enchanted Forest, it doesn’t matter, since everyone’s so excited to be there. Elizabeth hangs out with Amy and Julie in Fairy Tale Land, and though Jessica’s supposed to go around with Lila, she gets ditched for a guy. Now Elizabeth is the popular one and Jess is the one without a friend. They end up on the same ride, a boat at King Abelard’s Castle, and Elizabeth feels bad that her twin has no one to sit with. The girls get spooked on the ride, which is full of things jumping out at them, and one point, Elizabeth and Amy accidentally knock heads. Amy’s okay, and Elizabeth thinks she’s fine.
But then things get really weird. Elizabeth goes looking for Jessica, who seems to have disappeared. Even though it would be perfectly reasonable for Liz not to be able to find one person in an entire huge amusement park, she thinks this means something’s wrong. She starts to think Jessica never got off the boat after the ride, which means she’s still in the castle. When she goes back to the ride, it’s closed and the boats are gone.
Elizabeth finds a door to the castle and lets herself in. She comes across a girl named Princess Charity who tells her that King Nestor has staged a coup and locked her family in cages. At first Elizabeth thinks the girl is part of the ride, but things start to seem more and more real. Elizabeth and Charity hide from Prince Kendrick, Nestor’s son, who’s supposed to marry Charity when she’s older. Liz decides to help Charity rescue her family from their cages by creating a distraction.
Charity starts freaking out, and Elizabeth tries to calm her down by taking her picture. (I don’t know.) Since this is supposed to be the Middle Ages, I guess, Charity has no idea what a camera is, or why there’s a bright flash. So there’s Elizabeth’s distraction. The plan is successful and Charity’s family is freed, but they mention that someone who looks just like Liz was also captured. Elizabeth realizes that Nestor has Jessica and is taking her to the other side of the forest.
The fastest way across the forest is down the river, and there happens to be a boy willing to take Elizabeth on his raft. His name? Tom Sawyer. We know Liz likes guys named Tom. Tom thinks she’s even prettier than Becky Thatcher, and is happy to help her find her sister. Once they’re on the other side of the forest, they follow footprints into a cave, but they’re trapped by a cave-in. A mouse helps free them before they can drown in the water filling the cave. Unfortunately, they’re separated, and Tom has to go back the way they came while Elizabeth continues into the cave.
When she emerges, she sees Jessica up in the sky, being taken up a path of moonbeams. I mean, sure, right? Elizabeth feels hopeless, but the mouse, Allegra, tells her to try walking on the moonbeams herself. Talking mice, Tom Sawyer, walking on moonbeams – Elizabeth doesn’t seem to find any of this strange. She finally tracks Jessica to what’s basically the first scene of Les Mis, with a bunch of slaves being forced to break up rocks. The balls and chains on their legs are magical and can’t be broken. They’re overseen by the Queen of Drudgery, who quickly makes Elizabeth one of her slaves.
So who will save our heroines and the other innocent people of the trippiest fairy tale ever? The world’s weirdest deus ex machina: Johnny Buck. He swoops in with his flying limo and sings away the spell keeping everyone enslaved. But before the twins can escape, the Queen of Drudgery grabs Jessica and takes off with her on a flying boulder. (What a weird concept.) Johnny and Elizabeth follow in the flying limo and are about to help Jessica jump to them when a witch flies over on a broomstick and grabs her. So Jessica is kidnapped from her kidnapper. She’s having the worst day ever, huh?
Elizabeth falls out of the limo and into the Enchanted Sea, where she meets a sea serpent named Sidney. (Oh, and Allegra is still with her, having hitched a ride in Liz’s pocket.) Sidney and Liz play checkers, and he tells her that Jessica’s latest kidnapper is Grisolda, who rules Sorrowland, formerly known as Fairy Tale Land. He gives Elizabeth directions, and she gets a lift from a turtle (shades of Finding Nemo).
Sorrowland is aptly named, and full of fairytale characters after the magic has worn off. For example, Rapunzel is bald, Peter Pan is an adult (and an accountant), and Thumbelina is a giant. Elizabeth and Allegra find a house and meet Hansel and Gretel, who were turned into furniture. Hey, it’s better than being eaten, right? Hansel and Gretel tell them how to get to Grisolda’s house, which happens to be made of gingerbread.
Elizabeth finds Jessica in Grisolda’s oven, where Grisolda planned to cook her before she realized it was broken. She ordered pizza instead. But she’s mean, so she wouldn’t let Jessica have any. (I wish the whole book had been this light and playful.) As they’re about to leave, Jess takes a bite of a gingerbread wall, which summons Grisolda. She decides that since the twins love being together so much, she’ll let them be together forever. She performs a spell that welds their hands and legs together. This kind of backfires, though, since the twins are just happy to be reunited. Grisolda starts working on plan B for torturing everyone in Sorrowland.
Grisolda’s cat spots Allegra, who runs up Jessica’s leg, making her laugh. Elizabeth gets the giggles from her, and the laughter makes Grisolda angry. The twins realize that laughter is the witch’s weakness, so they tickle each other and yuk it up until Grisolda shatters. Sorrowland reverts to Fairy Tale Land, and everyone is happy. The townspeople even send Jessica and Elizabeth home on a magic boat.
The boat takes the girls through some rough water and into a dark tunnel. When they emerge and Elizabeth opens her eyes, she’s surprised to find Jessica leaning over her, crying. She’s back at King Abelard’s Castle, having been knocked out when she and Amy bumped heads. Everything that happened was a dream. (Dang, that was a long dream for what was supposedly just a few minutes of unconsciousness.)
Elizabeth is totally fine, despite blacking out, and she and Jessica decide to spend the day together. Everything is completely normal and realistic, until the end of the day, when a costumed (supposedly) mouse says, “‘Bye, Elizabeth.” Liz thinks she imagined it, but Amy also hears. She’s not sure why a character talked when they’re not supposed to, and how she knew Elizabeth’s name. Liz decides to keep the explanation to herself. Then that night, Elizabeth loses consciousness and has to be taken to the emergency room with a brain bleed. Okay, not really, but she should probably see a doctor.
Thoughts: This was one of my favorites when I was younger. Now I just see it as one long drug trip.
Remember how important it was who you sat next to on the bus in middle school? And yet I’d rather deal with adult problems than ever go back to junior high.
It’s referring to a donkey, but this book uses the word “ass.” Scandalous!
Sidney the sea serpent: “I’m almost a confirmed vegetarian. I only eat meat on Saturdays.” To me, this is the most Alice in Wonderland-like part of the book.