May 17, 2016

SVT #54, The Big Party Weekend: May Day

Posted in books tagged , , , at 5:42 pm by Jenn

That's now how you use a broom, Steven

That’s not how you use a broom, Steven

Summary: Ned and Alice let their kids know in the last book that they’re soon going to be taking a vacation (just the two of them). The kids think that, at 12 and 14, they’re old enough to stay by themselves for a few days. Jessica decides to take advantage of the opportunity to throw a party. Elizabeth is worried about having people over without their parents’ permission, but she promises to keep quiet. Steven also wants to throw a party, so Jess suggests that they organize it together. Having high-schoolers there will make her even cooler anyway.

The kids don’t have any money for party supplies, but they quickly find a way to remedy that. Ned and Alice ask them to clean out the garage, so Steven and Jess ask if they can have a garage sale. They’ll donate half the proceeds to charity and keep the other half to pay for stuff for the party. Steven and the twins are really excited about the prospect of pulling off their plan, and of being allowed to stay home alone for a few days. Of course, Ned and Alice have to ruin everything.

After days of not telling their children who will be watching them – or even whether someone will be there at all – the Wakefields reveal that a woman named May will be looking after them. The kids protest, but for once Ned and Alice have resigned themselves to be good parents and not leave their preteens and high school freshman alone for an extended period of time while they’re out of the country.

Ordinarily you would think this means the kids can’t throw their party, but Jessica Wakefield has never been accused of being ordinary. She’s determined to throw the party, babysitter or no babysitter. The twins don’t mention the babysitter to their friends, thinking it makes them seem immature. I just hope their friends haven’t told their parents that the Wakefields are leaving the country and letting their kids stay by themselves.

May arrives for babysitting duties, and things are immediately off to a horrible start. She’s basically a drill sergeant, with a long list of rules and no patience for the Wakefield kids. There will be no cookies, no backtalk, and no complaining. Instead, there will be proper manners and lots of vegetables. The kids quickly throw their manners out the window (which is the same thing Steven does with his vegetable-filled dinner) and don’t bother hiding their disdain for May the dictator.

Jessica gets some revenge by putting purple dye in May’s shampoo and hiding her clothes. May yells at her and her siblings that their parents have raised them horribly, and since they’ve obviously never been disciplined, May will just have to whip them into shape. The kids just pull more pranks, waking May with an alarm at 3:45 and putting tabasco and a bunch of spices in her coffee. They hope she’ll get fed up enough to ditch them, but instead she bans them from talking on the phone. It’s Jessica’s worst nightmare!

The kids have their garage sale, and Elizabeth meets Amy’s new boyfriend, an eighth-grader named Rob. Amy is obviously thrilled to be dating an older guy, especially since her longtime crush, Ken, doesn’t seem to want to take their relationship beyond friendship. Too bad Rob is a total jerk, and Amy’s the only person (possibly in the whole world) who can tolerate him. Knowing what we know about future Amy, I’m not really surprised she’s okay with dating a jerk, as long as he pays attention to her.

The garage sale is kind of a bust, at least until a man asks to buy a carved wooden rose for $50. When Jessica hesitates, shocked by the amount of money, he ups his offer to $75. Of course, Jess makes the sale, daydreaming about all the junk food the kids will be able to buy for the party. She also comes up with the idea to get May to drive somewhere the night of the party so she’s not around.

But when Liz learns that Jess sold the rose, she’s upset – that rose belonged to Alice Larson and shouldn’t have been at the garage sale. Liz knows that their mother will be devastated to lose something with such sentimental value. The twins are unable to chase down the buyer, and Jessica doesn’t really care that much anyway. Why worry about her mother’s feelings when she has a party to plan? Once again, Elizabeth is left to clean up Jessica’s mess, so she goes to antique shops all over town, hoping someone sold the rose. Apparently there are a lot of antique shops in and around Sweet Valley. But Liz has no luck.

The night of the party, Steven blows up at May in a very angsty-teenager way, then storms out of the house with some of his things. The twins tell May that Steven has run away before – all the way to L.A. – but he’ll be back. May is genuinely worried that one of her charges has split. Steven calls, pretending he ran off to a town a couple of hours away, and asks May to come pick him up. May is nicer than I would be and agrees, instead of telling him to panhandle for bus fare and find his own way home.

As soon as May is gone, Steven comes home with groceries, and the kids get ready for their party. Things get off to a good start, except for the fact that Rob is there and everyone hates him. Amy admits to Elizabeth that she doesn’t actually like him. She was worried that Liz would start spending a lot of time with Todd and forget about her best friend, so she figured she should get her own boyfriend. Elizabeth promises Amy that she’ll always make time for her. So now Amy can feel free to ditch her hateful BF.

Because this is a book aimed at kids, the party can’t just go off without any problems. People show up uninvited, turn up the music, and make a huge mess. If this were an SVH book, someone would bring a keg. Instead, there’s a food fight, which is ridiculous. People start leaving (probably because the middle-schoolers have early curfews), but the kids can’t get the troublemakers to go.

Ken busts Rob trying to steal some of Jessica’s CDs, so Rob announces he’s leaving. Amy finally gets a backbone and refuses to go with him. Enjoy the backbone now, because it won’t last. She asks Ken to walk her home, and honestly, he doesn’t seem that excited, but whatever. All of the Wakefields’ friends leave, which is kind of crappy of them; it would be nice if they’d offered to help clean up. Now everyone left at the party is a troublemaker, and the Wakefields don’t know any of them.

After the kids make a few efforts to get everyone to leave, May returns home. She storms upstairs and starts packing her things. The twins and Steven are suddenly very remorseful, apologizing for sending her away. She kicks out the partygoers, though I’m surprised they didn’t leave as soon as an adult showed up. Then she apologizes for being so hard on the Wakefield kids – she’s not used to looking after teenagers, and she wanted to get them in line before they could cause trouble. The kids nicely clean up the whole house by themselves.

In the morning, May reveals that she’s managed to find the wooden rose. Apparently she saw Elizabeth searching antique stores and secretly decided to help her out. She had to buy it back, which sucks, and I hope Jessica reimbursed her (since Jess was the one who sold the rose in the first place and just got her butt saved). When Ned and Alice come home, May pretends that everything went great and no one threw any parties. The kids name her their honorary grandmother. If I were May, I’d get the heck out of there and never look back.

Thoughts: “We haven’t had a baby-sitter for at least five years.” You haven’t had a sitter since you were seven? Really, Jessica? Really?

“Honestly, I don’t know why you have to look so much alike.” Well, it’s not like they planned it. Blame nature.

Who has a yard sale during the week?

Steven: “Do you think it’ll work?” Jessica: “It worked on Days of Turmoil.” From now on, I’m testing ideas based on how successful they were on soap operas. First up: using the dagger used to kill my wife’s mother to stab a guy who could testify against me. (Enjoy Hell, Carlos Rivera.)

Todd thinks the rose could turn up at another garage sale. Why would someone buy it just to sell it at another yard sale? He’s certainly not going to be able to resell it for a profit there. Shh, Todd.

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