The Moral of the Story: If your parents won’t let you do what you want, threaten to defect to another country. The Big Deal: Ze Germans are coming. Townsperson with a Problem: Christoph, doesn’t like gymnastics Synopsis: Ten
The Moral of the Story: If your parents won’t let you do what you want, threaten to defect to another country.
The Big Deal: Ze Germans are coming.
Townsperson with a Problem: Christoph, doesn’t like gymnastics
Ten East German gymnast boys are coming to Sweet Valley for some kind of gymnastics exhibition. Caroline Pearce has been bragging that one of the boys, Christoph Beckmann, will be staying with her family. But wait! Caroline’s grandmother gets sick so Christoph will be staying with the Wakefields instead. Steven is upset because he thinks the East Germans are spies. The twins think he’s an idiot.
Sweet Valley is apparently important enough to have its very own international airport, and the mayor – along with almost everyone else in town – is there to welcome the gymnasts. There’s a stage and everything, so Jessica is feeling pretty self-important. The Wakefields take Christoph home and feed him a typical American dinner of hamburgers and French fries (the twins’ idea, natch). Liz asks Christoph about his family and he tells them his father was a gymnast who never made it to the Olympics because of an injury. He seems really down about the whole conversation, so I imagine Elizabeth will want to do something about that in the near future.
While the twins argue the next morning over who’s going to hang out with the kid, Steven steals Christoph away to play basketball. He’s gotten over his fear of spies and has decided to take Christoph to the SVH football game, ruining Jessica’s plan for Christoph to meet the Unicorns at the Dairi Burger and Liz’s hopes of an interview for the Sixers. The twins reluctantly go to the football game because at least that way they’ll get to hang out with Christoph and maybe he’ll answer some of Liz’s interview questions. After the game, they take Christoph out for his very first ever pizza, then they explore every store in the mall and have some ice cream. Christoph says this is way more fun than practicing gymnastics, which makes Liz worry about him again.
The next day, the kids are all hanging in Steve’s room listening to records. Christoph says he wants to be a drummer in a rock band but his dad won’t let him do anything besides gymnastics. Liz feels sorry for him. A couple of Christoph’s teammates, Bruno and Konrad, come over. Konrad seems okay, but Bruno disapproves of listening to records when a person could be working out and practicing gymnastics. What a downer. He’s also a jerk the next day at school. The boys put on a mock competition for all the gym classes, and Bruno shoves Christoph when Christoph scores better than he does.
After school, we meet more of Christoph’s teammates: Viktor, Dieter, Hans, Oskar, and Max. Everyone’s having a great time until Bruno comes along and yells at Christoph in German. Christoph gets pissed and storms out, so Jessica follows him to make sure he doesn’t get lost on the way home. Along the way, we learn that Bruno has threatened to tell Christoph’s parents that he hasn’t been working very hard, and that would be terrible because Christoph’s dad is a total Nazi about gymnastics. (You all knew that joke was coming.) They pass a music store and Christoph gazes wistfully at the drum set in the window and Jessica feels sorry for him.
Two days later there’s an exhibition at the high school. Bruno lies and tells Christoph the time of the exhibition has been changed to eight o’clock, so Christoph is late. His coach is a dick and won’t let Christoph perform. Because he was unable to practice, he performs very badly the next night at a big important competition. He mopes around, worrying about his father’s reaction, until the big dance the next night, when Liz arranges for him to play drums with the band.
The boys are supposed to go home the next day, but Christoph is feeling sick. His coach comes over and says Christoph will have to stay where he is for a few days. Coach will come back on Thursday to take him home. Christoph spends the next few days in bed, until the twins find out he’s been faking. They confront him and he says he doesn’t want to go back to East Germany. His mother calls and he tells her he’s defecting to America.
The twins talk to their parents, and they say they’ll have a chat with Christoph, but Jessica has a Big Plan. Christoph’s birthday is the next day, and Jessica wants to throw him a party that will make him homesick. So, at the party they serve strudel and play some German music and then Christoph’s dad calls and tells him he doesn’t have to do gymnastics anymore if he doesn’t want to. His sister tells him he’s getting a new drum set for his birthday. Crisis averted.
Setup for the next book: The twins have won tickets to the Melody Power concert next week.
“Hi, girls.” Mrs. Wakefield greeted them cheerfully when they entered the kitchen. Then she took a sizzling roast from the oven.
The Cover: Argh, Elizabeth does not wear purple! Also, not sure why Christoph is her new hero. I don’t recall him doing anything heroic.
And now some funny German stuff: