December 16, 2014
SVT #22, Out of Place: Ginny the Slack-Jawed Yokel
Summary: This is basically your standard there’s-a-new-kid-in-Sweet-Valley-and-no-one-likes-her book. Ginny Lu Culpepper hails from Stony Gap, Tennessee, and has come to live with her aunt, Ms. Waldron, who’s a teacher at SVMS. It’s never explained why she comes to Sweet Valley, since her parents are back in Tennessee, but I guess it’s because Stony Gap only has a one-room schoolhouse, and Ginny Lu’s family wanted her to learn about things like electricity and running water.
Ginny Lu makes a less-than-favorable debut, bursting into a class and loudly asking where her aunt is. Everyone thinks she’s weird, because she has a southern accent and wears old-fashioned dresses. Ellen brands her a hillbilly, a stereotype the ghostwriter happily plays into. Ms. Waldron takes Ginny Lu shopping, and they run into Ellen and Lila. The girls offer to help Ginny Lu find the latest fashions so she’ll fit in at school. Then they put together a horrific combination of clothes and laugh in her face. Ginny Lu’s too naïve to realize that she was just mean-girled.
The students learn about an arts and crafts fair, which Ginny Lu considers entering. The other kids make it clear that this wouldn’t be a cool thing. Word has spread that Ginny Lu is weird, so everyone teases her and talks trash about her. Ginny Lu ends up skipping school and wandering around town. She winds up at Carson Stables, where she immediately takes a liking to a pregnant horse named Snow White.
When Elizabeth shows up for a riding lesson, the two girls bond over their love of horses. She compliments Ginny Lu’s artistic talents; she carves wooden dolls, which are what she thought of entering in the arts and crafts fair. Elizabeth later learns that this talent is for Appalachian folk art, and in high demand. Unfortunately, Elizabeth has bad news for Ginny Lu: Snow White belongs to Ellen.
Ellen is ticked when she finds out Ginny Lu has been spending time with her horse. She even has her father put up a notice to keep people off of their private property. Elizabeth helps her get around it and keep visiting Snow White. Ellen ups the rivalry by daring Ginny Lu to ride Mr. Riteman’s untamed mustang. She goes so far as to not attach the saddle properly, which Ted the stable boy notices. Ellen is an awful, awful person, you guys.
Ginny Lu enters her dolls in the fair, and they are clearly impressive. She even gets some admiration from other students. Suddenly Ginny Lu isn’t weird – she’s cool. But things get screwed up when Ginny Lu recites a poem and the SVMS mean girls make fun of her. Ginny Lu runs off in tears, ready to admit defeat and return to Stony Gap. First she swings by the stables to say goodbye to Snow White, and she discovers that Snow White has had her foal. The foal is premature, and if Snow White doesn’t nurse him, he’ll die. But Snow White won’t let Ted near the foal.
Of course, Ginny Lu gets to be a hero. Thanks to her bond with Snow White, she’s able to get to the foal, and thanks to her experience with farm animals, she saves the foal. Ellen arrives and realizes that Ginny Lu is a good person. So you see, kids, you shouldn’t make fun of people because they’re different from you. You should be nice to everyone. Except Ellen, who is Satan’s own spawn and deserves to be shunned.
B-plot: Jessica loans Ned’s tennis racket to Janet, who leaves it in her yard, where it’s run over by her brother Joe while he’s mowing the lawn. Now, if it were me, I’d make Janet and Joe pay for a new racket, but Jessica decides she’ll have to get the money herself. First she wants to sell some of her clothes, but she realizes that that would mean getting rid of her stuff. Then she tries to steal some of Elizabeth’s clothes to sell. Jerk. Jess also makes a deal with Steven, doing his chores in exchange for his allowance. Hilariously, Ned and Alice are so impressed with Jessica’s work ethic that they give her extra allowance money.
Jessica learns of Ginny Lu’s whittling skills and appoints herself Ginny Lu’s agent. Ginny Lu will sell her dolls and Jess will get a cut of the profits. Jessica is like a younger, female Zack Morris. Even without ever discussing the arrangement with Ginny Lu, Jessica manages to sell some dolls and collect 10 percent of the money. She successfully replaces the racket and lives to scheme another day.
Thoughts: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You couldn’t pay me to go back to middle school.
Elizabeth, you probably shouldn’t sign things with your initials, since they’re EW.
“If you show your dolls at the Arts and Crafts Fair, people will get a chance to see how talented you are. And no one will make fun of you for that.” Right, Liz. No one who’s got at something is ever teased. It’s like a rule.
Since when is Ellen’s family rich enough to have two horses?
Also, maybe all the rich people should keep their horses in stables that employ actual adults? Because when Snow White has her foal, there’s no one around over the age of 14.