July 14, 2015

SVT Super Thriller #1, The Christmas Ghost: With Many Apologies to Charles Dickens

Posted in books tagged , , at 8:14 pm by Jenn

I wish we'd gotten to see the unicorn poster

I wish we’d gotten to see the unicorn poster

Summary: The twins are at the mall, doing some pre-Christmas window shopping. They see a carousel horse for sale that reminds them of the carousel they used to ride as kids. Jessica thinks Elizabeth should put the horse on her Christmas list, but Liz has already asked for too many things. Plus, the horse is pretty pricey. Jessica decides to ask for the horse herself, even though she knows Liz would like it more. Elizabeth’s feelings are hurt.

Elizabeth, Amy, and Julie are participating in a fundraiser so the local hospital can buy a piece of equipment for their children’s ward. The local middle- and high-schoolers are holding their own mini-fundraisers to help out before the big event after Christmas. The kids have a rummage/bake sale, but the proceeds are barely a drop in the bucket. Time to start selling your plasma, kiddos!

Elizabeth learns that teenage movie star Beau Dillon is going to be in Sweet Valley in a few days. He’s known for participating in children’s charity events, so Elizabeth wonders if he’d make an appearance at Sweet Valley’s big fundraiser. She writes him a letter, even though Jessica scoffs that someone as famous as Beau Dillon will never give her the time of day. If this book took place today, Elizabeth could just hit up Beau Dillon’s Twitter and get an answer right away. Beau would come to the fundraiser, post photos of himself with cute kids, and get himself some instant good publicity. Win-win.

Liz catches Jessica searching for her Christmas presents (I’ll admit, I did this, too) in their parents’ room. She turns up the carousel horse, which upsets Liz. Girl, if you wanted it that badly, you should have asked for it. Whatever. Things start looking up for Elizabeth when Beau writes back to say he’ll stop by the Wakefields’ house the afternoon of Christmas Eve so they can talk about the fundraiser. Jessica can’t believe that he’s actually going to come.

At Lila’s Christmas party, the twins spread the news about Beau’s visit. Lila calls B.S., and Liz gets upset when Jessica doesn’t back her up. When they get home, the twins fight. Jessica says she didn’t speak up because she’s worried about staying on Lila’s good side. Elizabeth calls Jessica selfish and warns that she’ll lose all her friends if she doesn’t start being nicer to people.

The twins kind of make up in time for Beau’s visit…which doesn’t happen as planned. They wait around for him, but he doesn’t show. Eventually Elizabeth has to leave. Jessica’s fuming that her favorite actor is such a jerk. But then Beau shows up, claiming his limo broke down and he didn’t have his car phone with him. He offers to take her to lunch  the day after Christmas to make up for his lateness. Jessica’s thrilled. As Beau is leaving, he calls her Elizabeth, and Jessica realizes that he thought he was talking to Liz the whole time.

Now Jessica has a dilemma – tell Elizabeth the truth and let her have lunch with Beau, or keep quiet and have him to herself. (I’d like to state for the record that Beau is 17, so it’s not like a 40-year-old wants to go to lunch with a 12-year-old. I mean, it’s still a little weird, but less weird than it could be.) It’s Jess, though, so of course she doesn’t tell Liz that Beau showed up. Fortunately, she actually feels guilty about it. Not so guilty that she comes clean, but at least it’s something.

Jessica goes to bed feeling horrible, and thinking the purple unicorn on her new poster is judging her. It probably is. Jess notices that her lamp has changed – it now looks like the clown lamp she and Elizabeth had when they were kids. Jess hated it and purposely broke it, then pretended she was sad it was gone. The lamp changes back to Jessica’s current lamp, and she tries to sleep, but the guilt keeps her awake.

In the middle of the night, Jessica sees a little girl in her room. This is the Ghost of Christmas Past. It’s actually Jessica as a kid, and she wants to show Jess how she used to be. She takes Jessica to the carousel, where Jess sees herself and Liz playing as seven-year-olds. Instead of fighting or resenting each other, the girls get along, happy when the other is happy. Jessica sees them at school, dressed alike and wanting to do everything together. Back then, Elizabeth was her favorite person to be with, but they’re not as close as they used to be.

Jessica ends up back in bed, thinking she dreamed the whole thing, but she realizes her unicorn poster is missing. The unicorn is now hovering outside the window. What is this, Stephen King’s A Christmas Carol? The unicorn is the Ghost of Christmas Present, and it wants to take Jessica for a ride. Yeah, that seems normal. They fly to a hotel, where Jessica listens in as Beau talks about how awesome she is (though he thinks she’s Elizabeth). She feels bad that she was selfish when Liz wanted to do something charitable.

Jess and the unicorn return to the house, where the family is opening Christmas presents. Jessica’s mean to Elizabeth for no reason, and I can’t believe Ned and Alice let her get away with that, but then again…Ned and Alice. The real Jess can hear Liz’s thoughts, and she realizes how upset Elizabeth is that Beau didn’t come through for her. Next, the unicorn shows Jessica a scene from Best Friends, when Elizabeth complains to Alice that Jessica wants to join the Unicorns. The real Jess is upset that Liz was so unhappy about them growing apart.

Jessica’s back in bed again, with the unicorn back on the wall. Now it’s time for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. She takes Jessica to the woods, where she sees herself at about 16, hanging out with a bunch of friends. She’s super-popular and everyone loves her, but they all hate her sister. The teens are putting someone through an initiation for their sorority, and waiting for the girl to make it back to them.

In the woods, Jessica comes across the initiate, who happens to look just like her. She’s gotten lost in the woods and won’t make it back in time to complete her task. After a minute, Jessica realizes that the girl is her, not Elizabeth. Liz is the popular one with all the friends. Jessica is the loser everyone hates.

The real Jessica sees herself at a basketball game and at the Dairi Burger, alone and miserable while Elizabeth is the center of attention with her friends. Jess is such a jerk that she won’t even be nice to Lois Waller, the only person considered lamer than she is. Lila uses Bruce to get revenge on Jessica for something, making him pretend he wants to go out with her. He tells her he’ll take her to a dog show, where she’ll be one of the contestants. You can do better, Patman.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come then takes Jessica to Elizabeth’s room, where Liz is writing in her journal. Jessica learns how miserable Elizabeth is because of Jess’ unhappiness. She wishes they were still close. Liz blames the stunt with Beau for the downfall of the twins’ relationship. Little does she know that this is one of the least harmful tricks Jess will pull in her life. In fact, knowing what we know about Jessica’s actions later in life, this is really tame.

Now that she knows that her actions can have negative effects on other people, Jessica realizes that she needs to do something to ensure she and Elizabeth don’t end up hating each other. She tries to talk to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who ignores her. Jess rips off the ghost’s cloak, revealing that it has no face. She starts screaming, which is totally understandable.

Jessica wakes up in bed on Christmas morning, just as her family is wondering where she is. She immediately makes up with Elizabeth and tells her what really happened with Beau. Elizabeth is so happy that Beau’s a nice guy after all that she doesn’t care what Jessica did. She also doesn’t think it would have spelled doom for the twins’ relationship. So basically, everything with the ghosts was a waste of time because Elizabeth would have gotten over it anyway. Awesome.

Jess isn’t sure if her experiences the night before were just a dream, but Alice notices scratches on her legs that Jess thinks could have only come from being in the woods. Whatever. Elizabeth gets a letter from Beau apologizing again for missing their meeting, and formally inviting her to lunch. The Wakefields open their presents, and Jessica gives Elizabeth the carousel horse. Enjoy it, Liz – that’s probably the last selfless thing she’ll ever do for you.

Thoughts: This book is amazingly dumb. I imagine that the ghostwriter wanted to do something special for Christmas but ran out of ideas and just decided to adapt A Christmas Carol for ten-year-olds. Kids, read the real thing. Watch one of the movie versions. This story has been adapted hundreds of times, and every single other version is better than this book.

“She wore a lavender sweater and black miniskirt with leggings and dangling earrings. ‘I think I look great,’ she said.” You put on a shirt and a skirt, Jessica. Calm down.

“The big chandelier was draped in mistletoe. Elizabeth giggled as she saw how the boys all avoided being caught underneath the ‘kissing’ plant.” Okay, that’s pretty funny.

I really doubt that cool teenager Steven Wakefield sings Christmas carols with his family.

This book mentions that future Jessica will try to steal Todd from Elizabeth, which we know she actually deos, so I guess Jessica doesn’t remember this book when that time comes. Way to learn, Jess!

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