Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #3: The Big Camp Secret

The Moral of the Story: Run away to camp if you want your parents to stop fighting.

The Big Deal: Summer camp

Classmate with a Problem: Grace Oliver, fighting parents


The twins and all their friends are excited because it’s suddenly summer and they’re all going to Camp Laconda. Well, not everyone: Grace Oliver can’t go because her parents are thinking about getting a divorce. Mr. and Mrs. Oliver have decided to take separate vacations while they think things through, and instead of letting Grace go to camp and have some fun, they’re making her stay with her godmother. Lila can’t go either because she’s going to Paris instead. Jessica is determined to make summer camp more exciting than Paris. Good luck, Jess.

Mrs. Edwards, the camp director, tells a ghost story the first night at camp. It’s about an Indian girl named Crying Moon who died searching for her lost love, Running Bear. When Jessica sees a light on in the shack on Crying Moon Mountain later, she dares Liz and Amy to climb up there the next night. She goes with them, and in a creepy shack that reminds me of Jacob’s cabin on LOST, the girls find Grace Oliver. She didn’t feel like going to her godmother’s so she ran away to camp. Jessica and the rest of Bunk Seven invite her to hang around with them during the day. With so many girls at camp, they figure nobody will notice an extra one.

All the other campers find out, but they think it’s totally fun and they have a good time hiding Grace. But there’s a girl in Bunk Three named Barbara Fields who’s moody and lame, and Liz is afraid she’s going to tattle. Instead, Barbara covers for Grace one night when the counselors do a head count. Not out of the goodness of her heart, you understand. There’s an empty bed in Bunk Seven, and Barbara moves in to make everyone miserable. She blackmails the whole camp and makes everyone do whatever she wants, under the threat that she’ll tell Mrs. Edwards about Grace if they don’t.

Meanwhile, Jessica is determined to get Mrs. Edwards to let the girls have a dance with the boys’ camp across the lake. She’s been passing a petition around, and she takes a canoe out to where the boys are swimming one day and asks them to get some signatures at their camp, too. When Bunk Seven goes on an overnight camping trip in the woods, the boys show up with three pages of signatures. (They don’t even get in trouble, what kind of camp is this?) Jessica is about to present the petition to Mrs. Edwards when Barbara tells her to forget it because she doesn’t want a dance. Jessica is livid.

Grace has been spending a lot of time creating a clay sculpture of a horse. It’s pretty good and she’s sad she can’t enter it in the arts and crafts contest. She’s upset when she sees it on display with Barbara’s name on it. Everyone at camp gets mad at Barbara when she gets the first place trophy, and Grace doesn’t like that everyone has to put up with Barbara’s shit just because of her. The next morning, Barbara disappears for a while and comes back with an envelope with Liz’s name on it. It’s a note from Grace; she’s decided to go to her godmother’s. But now it’s raining and the girls are worried about Grace trying to walk to the bus station.

The twins tell Mrs. Edwards everything and the camp is divided into search parties. Barbara runs off when nobody wants her in their group. She goes to the shack on the hill and finds Grace there. Grace was on her way to the bus station that morning, but turned back when the rain started. She twisted her ankle on her way back up the hill, and while looking for something to wrap it with, she found some letters in a drawer. Barbara has been coming up to the cabin every day (I guess while Grace was having fun at camp) and crying over the letters her crappy divorced parents have been sending her. Grace mentions the letters and tries to bond with Barbara, but Barb’s pissed. She runs out the door, and then lightning strikes the shack’s roof.

The cabin is on fire. Barbara runs back inside and finds Grace motionless on the floor. Why is she motionless on the floor? Don’t know. Barbara wakes her up and drags her out just as the search party makes it up the hill. Grace’s parents are there and they tell her they’re going to stop fighting so much and then they tell her she can stay at camp. Grace tells everyone Barbara saved her life and Barbara opens up about her family problems. The dance is a success and everyone goes home happy.


After dinner the girls all lined up outside the auditorium for a special showing of Old Yeller. Elizabeth loved the book and couldn’t wait to see the movie. Everyone was excited.

I bet they didn’t feel so good about it after the movie was over. What an awful thing to show a bunch of kids at camp.

“You know, Barbara, you’ve really changed,” Elizabeth said seriously. “I wouldn’t have thought it a week ago, but I really think of you as a friend.”

Shut up, Liz, I hate you.

The Cover: The cover had me convinced there would be ghosts. There were no ghosts. Disappointment.

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  • Megan July 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    For whatever reason (maybe because I went to summer camp every year) I LOVED this book, despite its ridiculousness. Lemme tell you, though, as a former camp counselor, you would sure as hell notice an extra kid. You spend 17 hours of your day for a week or two seeing the same 20 kids! You’d notice.


  • Noemi July 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Who the kids on the cover? The girl on the right looks like she has some facial issue…looks creepy.
    “Shut up, Liz. I hate you.” Ha! Agreed, at least for that quote. (Haven’t read these books, would like to, but wouldn’t know where to find them.)
    Also, if your parents are contemplating a divorce, things will not suddenly stop just because you ran away. Actually, they might make things worse.
    Another issue: Lightning does not randomly strike a wooden shack in the middle of nowhere. That. Does. Not. Happen. Doesn’t lightning strike metal? More likely, tall, metal things? A wooden shack is not tall, a), and nor is it metal, b).

    Thank you for listening to my (second) rant on here! I am finished now, though I will return when you next post. Also, are you almost finished with the series? That’s what it looked like on the book list. That would be very sad. I wouldn’t have any of Shannon’s humor to make me laugh. Keep posting! Bye!

    I used way too many exclamation points. And this is way way too long. I will shut up now. Like Liz should.


    Shannon Reply:

    Oh, no, I’m nowhere near done with the series. There are soooo many books. I update the book list whenever I finish a recap. So right now I have a couple recaps ready to be posted, but I like to spread them out. So no worries, I’ll be around for a long time to come.

    I will always listen to rants about Sweet Valley! There’s so much to rant about. Thank YOU for reading the blog!


  • Suckie Stackhouse July 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I totally agree with Noemi’s observation about Liz’s face. I can just hear her going “Uuuuuuhhhhh” in a deep monotone. What a douche-face.

    Hey! Maybe that’s what a douche-face looks like. Mystery solved!

    Also, I bet the big camp secret is that Jess gave one of the boys a hand job in order to get those signatures and had nothing to do with Grace.


    Noemi Reply:

    I can totally see that!


    Shannon Reply:

    I bet you’re right!

    Totally agree about the face.


  • Whallie July 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    In a weird way, that face reminds me of a facial expression Brittany Murphy would make, um, you know, when she was alive. It has The Ramen Girl written all over it. Good movie.

    This book sounds like something I couldn’t read after a couple of chapters of Bitchy Barbara. Also, you said that Old Yeller would be dumb to show. I agree, and I also think that telling that story about Crying Moon dying (what a surprise, over a guy) is totally wrong and unacceptable for very young kids.


  • Kim July 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Why do they try to justify any kid in Sweet Valley who acts like a complete dickhead by pointing out that they have a “good reason” at the end? Oh, your parents are divorced? I COMPLETELY understand why you tried to ruin 200 kids’ summertime fun. We should have been more understanding of YOUR problems. I have a feeling that Barbara’s parents’ divorce was 100%, completely, totally her fault.

    I really love your reviews of these literary abortions, but remembering these plot lines make me want to start drinking a lot.


  • jennifer October 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Why aren’t you coming back with more recaps shannon!!!???


    Shannon Reply:

    I just posted one on Monday! More recaps are forthcoming, I promise!


  • kylie April 4, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Is it just me or are all Camp books the same? Maybe because we never had Summer Camp here, so I don’t find them interesting?


    Shannon Reply:

    I never went to summer camp either and I find the camp books super boring, too.


  • Sushi April 17, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Ugh, Barbara gets away with her horrible behaviour because her parents are divorcing, woe woe, but the whole thing happened because Grace’s parents were thinking about divorcing and you don’t seen Grace being a massive snot to everyone. Ugh.


  • lavender May 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    there’s that STORM again…somehow Francine made Sweet Valley a center of all natural disasters..good thing she didn’t put a volcano somewhere in there, or else she would have made it erupted worse than St. Helens!!

    *Dramatically convenient storm*- this so made my day!! LMFAO!


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  • Nicole June 27, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    So I know that this comment is coming WAY after this page was written, but I just had to chime in and say that as a former devotee of all things Sweet Valley, I am loving this blog. I started reading the SVT books first, then eventually progressed to SVH, but I think my heart was always with the Twins. The covers are soooo familiar – I used to study them for hours and wish I had blonde hair so badly. ANYWAY, I’m commenting here strictly to respond to the quote about Old Yeller – I went to summer camp as a kid, and I shit you not, one night they gathered all of the girls in the main cabin and showed this movie!! If that wasn’t traumatizing enough, I came down with a stomach bug that night and spent the whole night puking every fifteen minutes. Worst. Night. EVER.


  • Alex Kennedy November 29, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Grace’s parents are slightly odd. They are contemplating getting a divorce and instead of sending Grace to a camp where she will have fun, they wanted to send her to her godmother’s. This is ridiculous.


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