Author Archive

Sweet Valley Twins #44: Amy Moves In

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

SVT044The Moral of the Story: Tell the truth and be yourself! Otherwise, you have to be friends with the Unicorns.

The Big Deal: Fire!

Synopsis:

The Suttons’ house burns down and Amy moves in with the Wakefields while her parents look for a new place to live. Since this is the biggest thing to happen in Sweet Valley since the latest kidnapping/murder, Jessica is thrilled to have Amy in her house. She calls the Unicorns to come over and makes Amy tell them her story. Everyone is convinced Amy had to jump out the window and that’s how she broke her arm, and Amy is interrupted every time she tries to dispute the story (she actually broke it when she tripped over her shoelace). When Amy realizes the Unicorns are actually interested in what she has to say, she starts playing into their drama and embellishing her story. Only Liz knows the truth.

When Liz sends Jessica away so she and Amy can get ready for bed, Jessica starts feeling all hurt and jealous. Liz was spending all her time with Amy even before the Suttons’ house burned down and now she’s trying to hog all of Amy’s time. She sends Liz downstairs to make breakfast the next morning while she braids a purple ribbon into Amy’s hair. Then she calls Lila and arranges to have Mr. Fowler take her and Amy to school. There’s no room for Liz in Mr. Fowler’s car, of course, but she insists Amy take the ride because she needs to “take it easy” right now. You know, because she has a broken arm.

The Unicorns make Amy sit with them at lunch so she can tell them her super exciting story. When they start asking what might have caused the fire, Amy squirms because she’s pretty sure it was all her fault. She had made a fire in the fireplace that night and apparently shoveled the ashes into a paper bag because she’s so smart. So that’s why she acts kind of bitchy when Liz says she wants to interview Amy for the Sixers. Amy says she’d rather not work with Liz; she wants to write the story herself.

Things are tense between Liz and Amy, and it gets worse when Jessica brings home a ton of clothes for Amy donated by the Unicorns. She’s also eating lunch with them every day. The only time she hangs out with Liz is when she needs someone to do something for her. Because, you know, she can’t do anything for herself with the cast on her arm. She feels crappy for the way she’s been treating Liz, especially when she accidentally lets it slip to the Unicorns that Liz sleeps with a stuffed koala bear.

Liz yells at Amy about the way she’s been acting, and Amy moves into Jessica’s room that night. But Jessica’s room kind of sucks because Amy’s sick of hearing about how Liz’s sleeping with a stuffed animal has ruined Jessica’s life. Then she gets roped into spending the entire weekend with the Unicorns, but now they seem to be growing tired of her and her stupid fire story. They’ve moved onto other things, like helping Brooke Dennis prepare for her upcoming party.

Liz notices that the Unicorns have kind of ditched Amy, and she feels bad. She starts speaking to Amy again, and Amy apologizes and everything is okay again. The very next day, Amy’s parents come over and say they’ve found a new house that they can move into that week and it’s only a block away from the Wakefields’ house. Also, they’ve found out the cause of the fire was faulty wiring, so Amy’s off the hook for that. Everything is back to normal.

Quotes:

“Why don’t you go downstairs and help Mom with breakfast, Elizabeth?”

“Good idea. Is cereal OK, Amy?”

Does Alice really need help making cereal?

Elizabeth felt her face flame. Slob was the very worst name she had ever called anybody.

That’s the worst thing she’s ever called anyone and she feels bad about it? Ugh, such a goody-two-shoes.

The Cover: Lila and Amy have weird faces. Actually, Amy looks like Diana Scarwid, who you may remember as Isabel from Lost, the mom from Wonderfalls, Mother Superior from Pushing Daisies…or really any of the other ten million things she’s been in.

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Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #3: The Carnival Ghost

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

SVTSC03The Moral of the Story: Don’t befriend weird carnie kids.

The Big Deal: Carnival, party at Lila’s

Synopsis:

It’s the day after Christmas. The Wakefields have some Chinese food for lunch (I guess Ned isn’t allergic to Chinese food today), and the twins don’t like the fortunes in their fortune cookies. Jessica’s says vanity is her greatest weakness, and Liz’s suggests she avoids high places. Only one of those fortunes comes into play later in the book.

The Caldwell Carnival comes to town and the twins get there as soon as it opens. At the end of the haunted house, there are two paths. Jessica takes the Vampire door, leaving Liz to take the Ghost door. Liz is scared, but she meets a girl named Claire who tells her not to be afraid. Claire says her father owns the carnival and she’s been through the spook house a thousand times. She goes ahead of Liz and disappears. No big deal. Liz goes into the ghost room. At the end of the room is an open grave, and the haunted house’s exit is through it. There’s a tombstone with the initials C.C. and the dates 1882-1892. The whole experience makes Liz feel all creeped. Myself, I think that sounds like an awesome haunted house.

Jessica goes to the fortune teller, who tells her a happy event will happen to her soon. That night, the Wakefield parents announce they’re raising the kids’ allowances, and Jessica is amazed that Mademoiselle Z could really see the future. She goes back that night with the Unicorns, and Lila makes fun of the fortune teller. Mademoiselle Z tells her a great misfortune will fall upon her, and as soon as Lila’s outside the tent, she falls in the mud and ruins the Johnny Buck t-shirt she just won.

The next morning, Jessica wakes up to find Liz has already left for the carnival. She didn’t even make her bed, and that’s just bizarre. Amy comes by looking for her, and she tells Jessica she found out some strange stuff about the carnival and she wanted Liz’s help researching it. Liz is busy hanging out with Claire at the carnival. Claire’s weird. She can read Liz’s mind, which you’d think would make Liz freak out, but she just thinks it’s a neat trick. Mademoiselle Z sees Liz and Claire together and makes a face at them. When Jessica gets to the carnival later, she stops in to see Z, and Z (thinking she’s Liz) tells her she’ll have no future if she doesn’t stay away from the carnival. Jessica gets freaked out and runs away. That night, the twins see a man in a black hat and black raincoat standing across the street, staring right into Jessica’s window. Maybe call the cops, kids. That’s just inappropriate.

Liz goes off to the carnival again the next morning. She runs into Julie Porter at the gate and tells her all about Claire, and they go into the carnival hoping the three of them can spend the day together. But Julie suddenly gets freaked out and says she has to leave. As soon as she’s gone, Claire shows up. Claire takes Liz through a private entrance in the fun house, and they’re able to watch the people going through it. Then Claire turns Liz’s lemonade black. Liz is grossed out and thinks it’s a terrible magic trick. That night, Jessica wakes up to something tapping at her window, and a voice telling her to stay away. She figures it’s a nightmare.

The next day, Claire makes some game tickets appear in Liz’s pocket and then takes her to the shooting gallery. The attendant doesn’t seem to notice Claire at all. Liz is talking to her parents that night about Claire being the carnival owner’s daughter, and Ned says he thought the carnival was owned by a corporation or something. The parents tell Liz to invite Claire over for dinner on New Year’s Day. Jessica wakes up again that night and hears a weird moaning. It’s coming from Elizabeth’s room. Liz is having a nightmare. She’s in front of an open grave. The tombstone says C.C., but then it changes to E.W. A skeleton pops out and says, “I declare, declare, declare, clare, clare…” And then Jessica wakes Liz up.

So we’re pretty sure Claire’s a ghost, right?

At the carnival the next day, Liz is trying to remember what her mother told her to ask Claire, but she seems to forget a lot of things these days. Mademoiselle Z comes along and tells Claire to stop what she’s doing. She’s obviously afraid of Claire. Liz wants to know what’s going on, and Claire tells her Z is just a crazy old woman.

On New Year’s Eve, Lila has a carnival themed party. And it.is.awesome. She’s got tents and rides and games and everything. Liz is completely out of it all night. All she can think of is Claire and how she should really be at the carnival with her. Amy tries to talk to her about the article they’re supposed to be writing about the carnival, but Liz blows her off. For some reason, the haunted house (Lila’s pool house) really creeps Liz out. Jessica is the fortune teller. She and Lila wrote up a bunch of fortunes and put them in a couple of fishbowls, and Jessica reads one for each kid. When it’s Lila’s turn, the fortune Jessica reads for her tells Lila she’s going to go bald. Neither girl wrote that fortune and they don’t know how it could have gotten into the bowl.

Mrs. Wakefield asks Liz the next day if she remembered to ask Claire to dinner, but Liz has trouble remembering anything she and Claire talk about. She thinks Claire said she would come, and she’s disappointed when she doesn’t show up. The carnival is closed for the holiday and Liz has been acting weird all day about not being able to see Claire. The next morning, Alice tells Liz she has to clean her room before she goes to the carnival, and they have an argument. Then Amy comes over to try to talk to Liz about the Sixers article, and Liz snaps at her and tells Amy to leave her alone.

Jessica wants to know what’s happening to Liz, so she decides to help Amy with her research. They visit a man named Mr. Melman. He designed the haunted house. Mr. Melman tells them the original haunted house was burned down, possibly by a local kid who went crazy because of it. The story was never really clear. When Mr. Melman designed the new haunted house, the ghost room Liz went through was the last part he built. When he built it, the open grave had a wooden tombstone that said RIP, but when he went to work the next day, it was a solid granite tombstone with the initials C.C. and the dates 1882-1892.

The Wakefield parents tell Liz she can’t hang out with Claire anymore until they get to meet her, so Liz sneaks out. Jessica sees her leaving and follows her to the carnival. She gets there just as Patrick Morris comes running out the gate in a panic. He tells Jessica he was on the Ferris wheel and had a car to himself. His car got stopped at the very top, and he heard a girl’s voice asking him to come and play with him. He looked out and saw a white, wispy figure in midair.

Jessica is afraid to go inside the gates because of Mademoiselle Z’s fortune, but she doesn’t have to. It’s starting to storm and the carnival is closing. Liz comes out all upset that she hardly got to say hello to Claire. Jessica tries to tell Liz what Patrick said, but Liz thinks Jessica is just jealous of Claire and trying to scare her away from the carnival. Jessica says she doesn’t like the way Liz is sneaking around behind their parents’ backs, but Liz tells her Claire just today suggested Liz be nicer to her parents. Jessica thinks Claire is up to something.

The next morning, Liz kisses up and does a bunch of chores, so the parents tell her she’s allowed to go to the carnival as long as she’s home by five. The parents are out that evening, so Steven and Jessica are the only ones who notice that Liz still isn’t home at eight. Steven insists Liz is fine, but Jessica is freaking out. The phone rings, and someone tells Jessica to get the girl away from the carnival because the evil one is about to strike. Thanks for the vague threat.

Jessica gets to the carnival just as it’s about to close, and she goes running around the place looking for Liz. Finally, the last place to look is the haunted house. It’s shut down for the night, but unlocked. A voice tells her to leave through the ghost room, so she tries to go through the vampire room instead. It’s locked, and the front entrance is locked, so she has to go through the ghost room. She’s terrified at this point and she’s pretty sure one of the sheets hanging from the ceiling actually has a ghost inside it. She tries to leave, but the exit inside the grave won’t open. Suddenly, Mademoiselle Z is there with her assistant, and they take her back to Z’s tent.

Z says she knew Jessica was in terrible danger, and that’s why she sent her assistant, who’s also her fiancé, to Jessica’s house to tap on her window and scare her away from the carnival. Then she tells Jessica all about the little girl whose parents used to own the carnival. The girl decided to sneak out one night and ride the Ferris wheel, and she managed to fall from the very top and die. The little girl, of course, was Claire. When Z tells Jessica the girl she’s been spending all her time with has been dead for a century, Jessica finally figures out that Z thinks she’s Liz.

So Liz is still in danger, of course. Jessica, Z, and Nicolai the fiancé find her on the Ferris wheel. Jessica manages to jump into Liz’s car before it leaves the platform and she tries to talk to Liz, but Liz is staring into space and not responding. When they’re at the top, the wheel stops and Claire floats up to ask Liz to play. Liz tries to get up, but Jessica is holding onto her. She breaks free and starts putting a leg over the rail. Jessica superstrengths her away. Claire suddenly turns into a gross skeleton, and one of her eye sockets launches some kind of light at Jessica. Seeing that Claire hurt Jessica snaps Liz out of her trance and she tells Claire she’s not going to come play with her, dammit. Claire disappears and the twins go home.

By the way, it was brother Steven who slipped the fortune about Lila going bald into the fishbowl, so Lila retaliates by showing up at the house in a bald cap. Steven goes to his room and slams the door.

Quotes:

“I have you, Elizabeth. And you’ll be my friend forever and ever,” Claire said confidently.

Never trust someone who says you’ll be friends forever and ever.

The Cover: It looks like Liz is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and it gives this cover a ridiculous feel.

Sweet Valley Twins #43: Elizabeth’s First Kiss

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

SVT043The Moral of the Story: Once one kid has a boyfriend, they’re all gonna want one.

The Big Deal: Bowling. And love is in the air.

Synopsis:

Liz has a crush on Todd Wilkins, but Jessica is interested in him, too, and it seems like he likes her. Jessica and the Unicorns are calling him Jessica’s boyfriend, which is kind of weird but whatever. So basically, this is a middle school version of Double Love. Liz asks for Jessica’s advice about boys, and she doesn’t like it when Jessica tells her to pretend to like the same stuff the boy likes. Jessica begs Liz to tell her who she likes, but Liz doesn’t want to tell her it’s Todd because ain’t nobody got time for that drama.

Jessica listens in on a phone conversation brother Steven has with a girl named Candice Stapleton, and she’s grossed out by their flirting. Later that night, Steven brings home a girl named Lindsay so they can watch the hockey game. Jessica wants to know why, since he doesn’t even like hockey, and Steven gets all embarrassed. Liz thinks it’s interesting that her brother is pretending to like stuff to impress a girl. Then Jessica sees Steven at the mall with Candice, and he’s got Lindsay over the next day to hang out. He doesn’t really like Candice but he doesn’t know how to get rid of her. Oh, Steven. I’ll save you the suspense and tell you he ends up with Lindsay.

Liz asks Jessica to give her a makeover, and she goes to school looking like Jessica. She doesn’t really like it, but, I mean, what did she expect? The Unicorns are in awe of Jessica’s work, and they watch as all the boys flock to Elizabeth. They see Jim Sturbridge handing Liz a piece of paper, and they get it into their heads that Jim is the boy Liz likes. Liz tells Jessica it isn’t Jim, but she still won’t say who it is and Jessica is FURIOUS.

The Unicorns spread a rumor that Liz is looking for a boyfriend, so Liz stops curling her hair because she’s humiliated. She doesn’t want anyone to think she’s changing her look to find a boyfriend. Liz tells Jessica she’ll never speak to her again unless she gets the Unicorns to stop spreading rumors about her. The Unicorns stop talking about her, but it’s too late. Liz’s milkshake brings all the boys to the yard and they won’t leave her alone. Randy Mason even gives her a bracelet, and Liz wants to cry when Todd sees them together. She’s really concerned that he thinks she’s actually out trolling for a boyfriend.

Jessica is super smart and she’s starting to think that maybe Todd really isn’t that interested in her. Whenever they talk, he always asks her about Liz. But she does manage to talk him and his friends into going bowling with her, Lila, and Ellen on Friday night. When they get to the bowling alley, pretty much everyone in school is there because these kids have a serious groupthink mentality going on. The Unicorns end up in a lane next to Bruce, Aaron, and some other guys, and Aaron starts flirting with Jessica. And by the way, isn’t Bruce in seventh grade? Doesn’t he have any friends in his own class? Just wondering.

When Liz gets to the bowling alley with Amy and Julie, the only lane open is the one next to Todd, Ken, and Tom McKay. Todd is being super nice to her, so Liz assumes he thinks she’s Jessica. When they have a minute alone, she tells him he’s got the wrong twin, but he tells her it was really Liz he liked all along, and he never believed the Unicorns’ rumor. They go to Casey’s Place to have milkshakes because that’s what adorable sixth graders do on dates. On the way back to the bowling alley, Todd kisses her cheek. Then Liz remembers that Jessica likes Todd and she feels totally guilty. Not to worry, though. They run into Jessica along the way, and she’s holding hands with Aaron.

Quotes:

She had known Todd since kindergarten. But since fourth grade, she really hadn’t seen much of him.

He’s probably been hanging out with Minkus and Mr. Turner in the other hallway.

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The Cover: That shoe looks gigantic. I hate Todd’s face.

Sweet Valley Twins #42: Jessica’s Secret

Monday, May 5th, 2014

SVT042The Moral of the Story: Elizabeth Wakefield is more mature than you. Because she’s gotten her period.

The Big Deal: Trip to San Diego

Synopsis:

Well, it’s finally happened. A Sweet Valley resident is having a normal bodily function. Elizabeth Wakefield has gotten her period. Blossomed into womanhood and all that. She assumes Jessica’s gotten hers, too, because they’re twins, but alas, Jessica is still just a little girl. Jess is bummed for a minute, but when Alice makes a big deal about the twins being so grown up now, she decides to make the best of things and ask if she and Liz can go to San Diego to visit their cousin Robin.

I guess the idea of being around two preteen girls on their period is rather frightening to the Wakefield parents, so they immediately agree to let the twins go to San Diego by themselves. Lila and the rest of the Unicorns are totally jealous, and they gush about it at lunch. (Gushing pun not intended, but I’m keeping it there.) Suddenly, however, the eighth-grade Unicorns start talking about PMS breakouts and junk, and Jessica gets all aggravated and resentful of people who have already gotten their periods. Jessica expresses this aggravation by making fun of Liz’s clothes.

When the twins get to San Diego, they find Robin has turned into another Jessica. She’s all into boys and makeup and she’s been invited to join a super exclusive club at school called the Jaguars. She tells the twins she has a sixteen-year-old boyfriend named Johnny who drives a red convertible, but it’s obvious to me that she’s lying. Then she starts yapping about how she sure could use a cigarette right about now. Oh, she’s just the coolest.

Robin’s parents tell her she can have a slumber party on the condition that she invite her old friend Becky. Becky was Robin’s best buddy before Robin was asked to join the Jaguars, but now Robin is much too mature for a goody-goody like her. I predict Becky and Liz will get along splendidly.

The “Jags” show up and act like snotty bitches. They haven’t brought sleeping bags or anything because slumber parties are sooooo lame, and they make fun of Becky for no reason. The only reason they bothered to show up at all is because they’ve decided tonight is the night for Robin’s initiation into the Jaguars. She has to sneak into Johnny’s house and get him to drive her to the park, where the Jags will be waiting for them. Liz thinks that doesn’t sound too difficult, considering Johnny is Robin’s boyfriend, but Robin seems awfully nervous.

Becky and Liz stay behind while Jessica and Robin leave with the rest of the bitches. Becky tells Liz a mysterious story about another Jag initiation; the girl being initiated was out of school for the next week and wouldn’t tell anyone what happened. Now Liz is afraid something will happen to Robin. Thanks, Beck. Meanwhile, Jessica and Robin walk to Johnny’s house, and Robin confesses along the way that Johnny doesn’t actually know who she is. She sneaks into his house anyway, only to discover that it is not, in fact, Johnny’s house.

Back at Robin’s, Liz is worrying herself sick. Robin’s little sister, Stacey, comes out for a glass of water, and she wakes up her parents when she discovers Robin and most of her friends missing. Robin’s parents take off to go look for them, and when they bring Robin and Jessica back to the house, Jessica is furious that Liz tattled (Liz doesn’t explain that she didn’t do the tattling). Liz and Becky sleep in the family room that night, and Liz sits outside with her while Becky waits for her dad to pick her up the next morning. This is where they would promise to find each other on Facebook, if such a thing had existed back then.

Jessica doesn’t speak to Liz until they’re about halfway home to Sweet Valley. They have to change buses, and Jessica, naturally, messes things up by wandering around the bus station while the bus pulls away. Luckily, I guess, Liz got off the bus to look for Jessica, so they’re stranded together. They make up because there’s really nothing better to do. Jessica apologizes for being so snotty. She confesses that she never got her period, and then she goes to the bathroom to discover she’s just gotten it. Hooray?

Quotes:

How much longer can I go on pretending? Jessica wondered. She knew that sooner or later someone was bound to figure out the awful truth.

She makes it sound like she’s murdered someone.

Robin: So, what do you think of the Jags?

Liz: Well, it’s awfully soon to judge. Besides, what I think isn’t important. It’s what you think that matters, Robin.

Oh, just say you hate them and be done with it.

The Cover: Ironically, that’s the face I make when I know my period is about to start.

Sweet Valley Twins #41: The Twins Get Caught

Friday, April 18th, 2014

SVT041The Moral of the Story: Your grandparents are probably cooler than you think.

The Big Deal: Big Party

Synopsis:

Mrs. Wakefield’s parents are coming for a ten day visit, and Jessica is pissed that she has to move into Elizabeth’s room. She’s also concerned that she’s going to have to spend a lot of time with the old folks. There’s a ton of super fun Unicorn stuff coming up over the next week and Jessica doesn’t want to miss any of it. And Jessica is still angry that her parents won’t let her get her ears pierced because they think she’s too young. Which is just silly to me. In sixth grade I had three holes in each ear and a super cool pair of earrings that had three studs connected by a chain. The Wakefield parents are so uptight sometimes.

The grandparents get to town and everything they do and say makes the twins worry about how old and decrepit they’re getting. It’s stupid. Then brother Steven comes home from a party at the Hangout (super cool new teen club in town) and he’s got a black eye. Apparently a bunch of guys from Big Mesa were there and they were mad about a basketball game they lost to SVH a week ago. There was a big fight, and now Steven isn’t allowed to go to the Hangout anymore.

On Saturday morning, Liz gets up early to make a breakfast of oatmeal and soft boiled eggs for the grandparents (nobody else will eat it), and then the grandparents surprise her by asking her to go jogging around the block with them. And their frailty is never mentioned again. And in other news, Jessica hates Liz’s boring room, so she decides to decorate the walls with a bunch of purple ribbon and pictures cut out of magazines. Liz hates it. It’s never mentioned again and I don’t care.

Jessica goes to the mall with Ellen and Lila so Ellen can get her ears pierced. Jessica wants nothing to do with it so she wanders away by herself and runs into Todd Wilkins. I’m pretty sure this is Todd’s first appearance, but apparently Jessica has “always” thought he was cute, even though he never talks to girls. He asks if Liz is around, and then leaves in a hurry when Jessica says she’s not. Lila and Ellen are totally jealous that Todd talked to Jessica.

Aaron Dallas is going to have a party. It’s going to be the BIGGEST EVENT IN SWEET VALLEY HISTORY. Everyone is invited. Todd asks Jessica if she and Liz will be there, and seems happy when she says they will. Jessica assumes he’s in love with her. The problem with the party is that it’s going to be at the Hangout. As soon as the Wakefield parents find out, they forbid the twins from going.

Jessica is feeling horribly mistreated by her parents, so she gets her ears pierced. (I’m going to interject here just to ask if twelve-year-olds were really able to go to the mall and get their ears pierced without parental permission. Even back in 1990 when this book came out, I would think there would be rules about that sort of thing.) Her parents try to ground her, but Grandma saves the day when she says it was her fault for telling Jessica she thought twelve was old enough for earrings. Grandma also tries to get Mrs. Wakefield to let the twins go to the party, but Alice is being all parental for once and she won’t budge.

Lila goads Jessica into trying to sneak out to the party. While Jessica is trying to convince Liz to sneak out with her, the grandparents come in and overhear everything. And that’s them “getting caught.” Instead of getting them into trouble, the grandparents tell the parents that they should really let the twins go to the party. For some reason, the parents are more receptive this time and they let them go.

The party is marvelous. Todd asks Jessica to dance and now everyone thinks they’re going to be a couple. The grandparents finally go home and Jessica gets to move back into her room.

Quotes:

“Steven!” she cried. “Are you hurt?”

Steven was standing at the entry to the living room. The sleeve of his shirt was torn. There was a scratch on his face. And his left eye was beginning to turn several shades of purple.

Yes, I think it’s safe to say he’s hurt.

The Cover: I don’t even know what scene this is. I guess it’s Jessica on the phone with Lila. I wanted her hair so badly.

Sweet Valley Twins #40: Danny Means Trouble

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

SVT040The Moral of the Story: Celebrities fix everything.

The Big Deal: Big track meet, Parents’ Night

Classmate with a Problem: Danny Jackson, trouble

Synopsis:

Danny Jackson is the best runner on the track team, but he’s a pain in the ass who’s always getting in trouble. After cutting off some of Julie Porter’s hair in class one day, the principal tells him he won’t be able to run track if he keeps screwing around. The next day, Danny is assigned all new classes, and now he’s in the twins’ homeroom and almost all of Jessica’s classes. In social studies, he draws a picture of Mrs. Arnette on the chalkboard while she’s out of the room, and in science class he and Ken get into a big fight. Somehow, he does not get kicked off the track team.

There’s a big track meet against Pinecrest, “the best school in the area.” Danny manages to break a school record, and Liz asks him some questions for the Sixers. When she mentions that his parents must be proud of him, Danny gets all pissed off and tells her to mind her own business. Jim Sturbridge tells Liz that Danny’s parents are scientists and they don’t really like sports.

In social studies one day, Danny tries to tell Mrs. Arnette that a good way to learn about the judicial system is the watch The Citizens’ Court, which sounds like a Judge Judy kind of show. Mrs. Arnette says television isn’t a good way to learn and she and Danny have a heated discussion that ends in a detention threat. And when he’s called on to read in English class, he suggests to a substitute teacher that they discuss what they’ve already read. When Mrs. Winderhoven (lol) doesn’t agree with him, he pretends there’s a mouse under his desk and makes everyone freak out. So, Danny is smart and cares about learning, he’s just got an issue with authority? Principal Clark says if Danny gets in trouble one more time, he’s off the track team. The next meet is three weeks away, and the twins are sure he won’t be able to stay out of trouble that long.

Meanwhile, Jessica notices that Bruce Patman is interested in one of the girls on the track team, so she decides she’ll be more appealing to him if she starts doing aerobics. She spends all weekend working out and by Monday morning she can barely move. And in other news, Lila is getting her ears pierced, so Jessica asks her parents if she can get hers pierced, too. Her parents decide she and Liz can both get their ears pierced when they’re fourteen. Jessica is not happy. Liz couldn’t care less.

And now it’s Parents’ Night at the middle school. It seems to consist of students and their parents roaming aimlessly around the school and stopping into whatever classroom they feel like visiting. The Wakefields go to their math classroom and overhear Ms. Wyler talking to Danny and his parents about his B grade. His parents are disappointed he’s not getting an A, and Ms. Wyler says he’s just having some trouble with the word problems. And then Liz hears them telling Mr. Bowman they think Danny should quit track so he’ll have more time for studying.

Liz asks Danny to look over her track article for the Sixers so he can make sure she’s got all his facts straight. It becomes immediately obvious that Danny doesn’t read very well. Liz tries to talk to him about it because she just can’t help herself, and Danny starts freaking out and ripping pages out of books and generally being a weirdo. Mr. Clark comes out of nowhere and takes him away to the principal’s office. Liz feels like it’s all her fault. She goes to Mr. Clark after school to tell him there’s a reason for Danny’s behavior, but she doesn’t want to tell him what it is so it’s kind of out of Mr. Clark’s hands. Danny is suspended from the track team.

Elizabeth has never felt more guilty about anything in her life, and she just has to tell someone Danny’s secret, so she chooses Jessica. Seems like a bad plan, but maybe Jessica won’t tell anyone. Liz also tells her father. Both Jessica and Mr. Wakefield tell her to let Danny sort it out on his own because it’s not her place to tell his teachers.

The twins read an article about Greg Voynow (lol), an Olympic runner who couldn’t read until he was nineteen. Liz writes him a letter and of course he calls right away and offers to come to Sweet Valley the next day and talk to Danny. So this grown man comes to meet Danny at school, talks to him for a minute about running, and then lures him away in his car to get some ice cream so they can talk. Seems legit. They go to Casey’s Place and eat sundaes while Greg tells Danny all about his own learning disability. Danny agrees to talk to Mr. Bowman the next day. Meanwhile, Liz is upset that Jessica got to meet Greg and she couldn’t because there was a Sixers emergency. Greg is gorgeous and Liz has her first crush.

Danny tells Mr. Bowman about his troubles and starts getting tutored. Mr. Clark lets him back on the track team and they win the next big meet. Greg Voynow comes to school to give a lecture about education and learning disabilities, and he calls Liz on stage to thank her for getting in touch with him. He kisses her on the cheek and Jessica is furious.

Update on Jessica’s workout obsession: She runs through the park one day in her super cool purple aerobic tights. Bruce Patman and Jake Hamilton are there and they make fun of her clothes and of how slow she’s running. Another day, she runs to the beach and discovers she has a blister. Jake Hamilton happens to be there and he offers to have his mom drive her home. Jessica is embarrassed, and when she gets home she weighs herself and discovers she’s gained three pounds. She decides to give up on working out.

Quotes:

“That’s funny. You don’t look like you gained any weight,” Lila remarked.

“I didn’t!” Jessica said.

“Then why would you want to exercise?” Lila asked.

My thoughts exactly.

 

“Do you have trouble reading?” she asked. “Because if you do, I—“

Danny scowled. “Just leave me alone, will you?” he almost yelled. “Stop being such a pain!”

For real, just leave everyone alone.

The Cover: That kid looks ANGRY! And he looks like he’s about five, which is weird. Loving Liz’s floodpants.

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #2: The Ghost in the Graveyard

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

SVTSC02The Moral of the Story: In trouble? You can always rely on your twin to know you’re in danger and come save you. Also, ghosts are real. This is a weird book.

The Big Deal: Spring break, sixth grade boat ride, pool party at the Wakefields’ house, birthday party

Classmate with a Problem: Sam Sloane, telepathic

Synopsis:

Sam Sloane has just moved into the Wakefields’ neighborhood and he’s weirded out because everything in town seems familiar to him. He wonders if it’s because he was born in Sweet Valley, but he hasn’t been back since being adopted as a baby. His first day in town, he rides his bike to a crumbling old mansion on McClarendon Street that feels important to him. He stands there getting creeped out for a minute and then goes home. That night he has a nightmare about being at sea during a storm and an old man trying to talk to him. He’s been having the same dream for years.

The next day is the sixth grade boat ride. The twins met Sam the day before and invited him along because it’s a real shame he moved to town during spring break. If he doesn’t go on the boat trip he’ll have to wait until school starts again to meet other kids. He rides to the marina with the Wakefields, and starts to feel better because nothing seems familiar. But at the marina the feeling comes back. An old fisherman says hello to Sam and acts like he knows him, but Sam has never seen the man before. Sam tells Liz what’s going on but she’s got nothing helpful to say because, you know, she’s twelve. Sam excuses himself from the girls once they’re all on the boat, but none of the boys seem interested in talking to him. He annoys Lila by sitting on the Unicorns’ bench, and Jessica is irritated when Lila makes fun of him.

It’s the twins’ turn to cook the next night and Elizabeth is making a dinner of broiled flounder. Because twelve-year-olds can totally do that. Jessica doesn’t help with the cooking and promises to do all the cleaning up, but she skips off after dinner to watch a Kent Kellerman movie about reincarnation. Then she has to call Lila to discuss who they were in their past lives. Lila is convinced she was Cleopatra, and she’s really snobby about it and it pisses Jessica off. Jessica wants to get back at her for being such a pain in the ass all the time. The next time Lila spends the night, Jessica pretends to talk in her sleep. She starts talking about gold and says her name is Lillian Barnes. Lila is all freaked out when Jessica pretends to wake up. They look in a history book and Lila finds out Lillian Barnes hid some gold somewhere in Sweet Valley and some guys shot her but never found it. Lila is convinced Jessica is the reincarnation of Lillian and she wants to find the hidden gold. Jessica is delighted her plan to trick Lila is working out so well.

The twins host a pool party Tuesday afternoon. It seems every kid in town watched that Kent Kellerman movie and they’re all talking about reincarnation. Sam tells Liz he believes he was reincarnated and thinks he lived in the mansion on McClarendon Street. The twins go with him the next day to see the house. On the way there, Sam tells the twins he was born in Sweet Valley and his birth name is Sam Burroughs. When they get to the house, Sam insists he sees someone at an upstairs window, but the twins don’t see anything. They talk to the next door neighbor and find out an old man named Jeremiah Seever lived in the house until he died a few months ago. Apparently old man Seever was a miserly jerk.

Sam tells the twins he wants to be alone, and then he starts wandering toward the cemetery. He knows how to get there even though he’s never been there before, and he finds his parents’ graves the same way. Buried near them is a Michael Burroughs, who died thirty years ago at the age of eleven. While he’s looking at the grave, Sam hears footsteps. It’s getting dark and he’s freaked out. He looks up and sees a kid who looks just like him, so he gets the fuck out of the cemetery. Sam finds Liz and tells her he saw the ghost of Michael Burroughs, and the twins agree to go with him to the cemetery the next day.

Meanwhile, Jessica is still letting Lila believe in the Lillian Barnes/hidden gold story. She pretends to let Lila hypnotize her, and in a flash of inspiration she tells Lila she used to live on McClarendon Street. Lila drags her over there to look at the house, but Jessica starts to feel scared and they leave. More on this story later.

At the cemetery the next day, the ghost makes an appearance. Liz is the only one who notices he’s wearing a Johnny Buck t-shirt and is therefore probably not a ghost, so she goes chasing after him when he runs away. She catches up with him and our gang finds out the ghost is really just a kid named David Barton. Sam and David find out they have the same birthday and the same parents, and so conclude they must be twins. Excellent detective work, everyone.

Sam takes David back to his house, and his parents are shocked. The lawyers never told them Sam was a twin. Then the boys go to David’s house, and they’re surprised when his parents know all about Sam. They tell the boys that after their parents died, their great-aunt Bea took them in, but she was too old for two babies. She gave Sam up for adoption and then realized she was also too old for one baby, so she gave David up, too. David’s adoptive parents wanted Sam as well, but it was a closed adoption and there was no way to find him. So here we are.

Sam spends the night at David’s, and before going to sleep Sam tells David about his recurring nightmare. David’s been having the same dream, and they have it again that night. The next morning, David shows Sam a picture he has of their birth parents, and Sam is all excited that the picture was taken in front of the house on McClarendon Street. And in the picture there’s someone standing in the same window where Sam thought he saw someone the other day.

Liz and Jessica meet David and Sam at the mansion later that day. They wander into the backyard where there’s an old man doing some gardening. Sam thinks it’s the guy from his dreams, but David isn’t so sure. The man introduces himself as PJ the caretaker and tells the kids that the Burroughs family used to own the house. The last Burroughs to live there was Sam and David’s great-grandfather, Peter. He and Jeremiah Seever were friends and business partners, but things went wrong, the partnership was dissolved, and through some assholery, Jeremiah wound up with the house. Sam asks about the eleven-year-old boy who died, Michael Burroughs, but PJ gets all angry and walks away. When Sam tries to follow him around the side of the house, PJ is gone.

The next morning Jessica wakes up thinking about her plan to get even with Lila. She digs an old wooden box out of her closet, puts a “Fooled you, Lila!” note in it, and takes the box to the McClarendon house to hide it under a tree in the backyard. While she’s there, she feels like she’s being watched.

Sam asks Liz to help him look up some stuff about his family. He finds Michael Burroughs’s death certificate, and it turns out Michael had the same birthday as David and Sam. Also, he died the day before his twelfth birthday. Tomorrow is the day before David and Sam’s twelfth birthday, so he’s convinced either he or David is gonna die. The cause of death on the certificate is illegible, so Liz and Sam go to the library to look up old newspapers. Unfortunately, the library is closed.

While that’s going on, Jessica is luring Lila to the McClarendon house. Lila finds the box, and is super pissed when there’s just a snarky note and no gold inside. She storms off, leaving Jessica alone in the spooky backyard of this spooky old house. Jessica runs to the gate, but it’s locked and she can’t get out. Meanwhile, Liz is on her way home from the library when she gets a weird feeling. She turns her bike around and lets herself be pulled to wherever her ESP is telling her to go, and she ends up at the McClarendon house. She lets Jessica out of the backyard and they go home.

At the library the next morning, Sam finds an article about Michael Burroughs’s death. Peter J. Burroughs took his grandson Michael sailing and they both drowned in a sudden squall. There’s a picture attached to the article; Peter J. Burroughs looks exactly like PJ the caretaker. Sam tries to call David, but Mrs. Barton says David and his dad are out sailing. That’s a problem.

Sam goes to the Wakefields’ house and tells the twins what’s going on. They call the marina, but David and his dad are already out on the water. The kids hop on their bikes. By the time they get to the marina, the storm is ridiculous. They see Mr. Barton’s boat get totally fucked by a huge wave, and Sam passes out. When he wakes up, the sky is clear and David’s father is there, but the Coast Guard hasn’t found David yet. The Sloanes and the Bartons hang out for a few hours while the search goes on, and eventually Sam falls asleep. He has the nightmare again, except this time he gets to finish it.

In the dream, the old man is walking against the rain as usual, but this time his hat blows back and Sam can see it’s PJ. You know, the caretaker? PJ makes his way into the ocean and starts swimming. He eventually finds David and carries him to shore, but it’s not the Sweet Valley beach Sam recognizes. PJ carries David into a boathouse and Sam wakes up. He describes the boathouse and manages to get the Coast Guard guys to believe he knows what he’s talking about, and Sam sets off with them and the Wakefield twins, who are still hanging around because this is a series about them, remember? They find David safe and sound in a boathouse just like Sam described.

Sam stays at David’s that night and they look again at the old picture of their parents in front of the McClarendon house. The person that was in the upstairs window is gone. They figure it must have been their great-grandfather, aka PJ, who is finally at peace after saving David like he failed to save Michael. The boys also notice a door that wasn’t there before. They go to the house the next day and find the door, which has been hidden by ivy all this time. They find a room filled with junk, and the Wakefield twins show up while the boys are looking through it all. Because this is a series about them.

Inside a desk, Liz finds some legal documents. She remembers PJ’s story about how old man Seever used phony papers to get ownership of the house, and the kids take the papers to David’s lawyer parents. They prove that the house really belongs to the Burroughs family, and Sam and David have a joint birthday party there the next day. Which seems fast, right? Anyway, it’s a great party, and Lila gets Sam, David, and Liz to help her scare Jessica to get back at her. Fun times.

Quotes:

The twins had given their mother four No-Cooking Mondays for her birthday. They were supposed to do all the cooking and cleaning up so that Mrs. Wakefield could take it easy. Everyone in the family agreed that it was a wonderful present. Mrs. Wakefield worked part-time as an interior decorator and she was frequently tired in the evenings.

I absolutely can’t ever stand that Ned and Steven are always incapable of cooking. It’s always Alice or the twins. I also can’t ever stand that Alice is always so exhausted from her PART-TIME job.

“Sam! Telephone for you!” Mrs. Sloane called.

Sam’s heart sank. He was just about to leave the house. It’s probably Elizabeth, he thought, backing out of coming with me.

Sam isn’t really a whole lot of fun.

How can there be another person in the world who looks just like me? he wondered.

Sam asks this question even after days of hanging out with a pair of identical twins.

“You must go to the other school. That must be why we never met,” Elizabeth remarked.

What the fuck, there’s another school? What’s it called? We never find out. The only other time it’s mentioned, it’s just called “David’s school.”

The Cover: When I was a kid, I always thought Sam looked kind of like the Karate Kid. I loved this cover because it looked spooky. But I hate Liz’s face.

In conclusion: This was my absolute favorite book for a while when I was a kid. I read this book more than any other in the entire series, and I’ve been looking forward to blogging it. Which might explain why this recap is wayyyy too long.

Sweet Valley Twins #39: Jessica and the Money Mix-Up

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

SVT039The Moral of the Story: Your parents totally won’t mind if you lose five hundred dollars.

The Big Deal: Just some roller-skating. Nothing to see here.

Classmate with a Problem: Jessica, stupid.

Synopsis:

The first thing that happens here is Jessica spends an hour trying to decide what to wear roller-skating, and after all that time she comes up with a yellow t-shirt and jeans. Crisis averted. She had to call Lila for her input, and Mr. Wakefield is pissed that the phone was tied up for so long. He was expecting important business calls. The man is an idiot, so in order to let Jessica make it up to him, he asks her to take an envelope with five hundred dollars in it to the home of one of his associates. So stupid.

Jessica gets stopped by Caroline Pearce on her way to the guy’s house, and she spends half an hour talking to Caroline about the possibility of Bruce bringing a date roller skating that night. When Jessica finally gets to Mr. Hopper’s house, the next door neighbor tells her Mr. Hopper has gone out for the evening and he’s leaving town at six the next morning. Jessica figures she’ll get up early and bring the money then. In the meantime, she decides to hide the money in a tennis racket case in the utility closet.

Unfortunately, Mr. Wakefield goes on a cleaning kick that night, and Steven takes the tennis racket back to his friend Peter Moore, from whom he borrowed it. When Jessica finds out the next morning, she ropes Liz into going to Peter’s house with her. But the racket actually belongs to Peter’s dad and he’s out using it right now.

The twins go to the country club, and after Jessica is caught under a table groping in the racket case, Mr. Moore tells her he never saw the money. The twins go home in defeat. They decide to do some odd jobs around the neighborhood and make up the money before Mr. Hopper gets back from vacation next week.

The odd jobs go badly, of course. Jessica clearly has ADD and can’t concentrate on anything for more than a minute, so Liz ends up doing all the work, as we all could have predicted. Jessica’s only real hope is to win some radio contest she’s entered. The prize is a thousand dollars. The contest involves writing to the radio station and telling them who your favorite artist is. If the radio station announces Jessica’s name, she’ll have to call and identify five Johnny Buck songs based on a few seconds of music.

Jessica’s name actually does get announced on the radio, and she gets four songs right, but fucks up on the last one. Naturally. She goes downstairs to finally tell her father what happened, and gets down there just in time to see an envelope fall out of his pocket as he’s walking out the door. When he gets home that night, Jessica tells him she lost the money. He looks all smug for a minute and reaches into his pocket and looks worried when the envelope isn’t there. Jessica gives him the envelope and they both apologize to each other and all is right with the world again. Jessica agrees to always go to her parents when something like this happens. Yeah, right.

Also in this book: Ellen tries to change the official color of the Unicorns from purple to red. What is she thinking? Also noteworthy, Alice is out of town for most of this book. You’d never know. She’s not much of a presence in the twins’ lives even when she’s around.

Setup for the next book: Some kid named Danny Jackson keeps getting into trouble at school.

The Cover: High-waisted elastic-band shorts. How awesome was 1990?

Sweet Valley Twins #38: Lois Strikes Back

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

SVT038The Moral of the Story: Fat people can win bike-a-thons! (But only if skinny people drop out.)

The Big Deal: Bike-a-thon

Classmate with a Problem: Lois Waller, fat

Synopsis:

The school is doing a bike-a-thon to raise money for something or other. When Lois Waller says she’s excited to enter, Liz and Amy are surprised because Lois is usually too fat to do shit like that. Jessica is in a crisis because she thinks nobody will sponsor both her and Liz, and she really wants the super cool bike that’s being given away as a prize to the person who raises the most money. Lila and the other Unicorns decide they don’t really want to bike for thirty sweaty miles, so they drop out of the bike-a-thon. Jessica drops out, too, because she figures she’ll never win the bike anyway. She knows her parents will be disappointed in her, so she promises herself they’ll never find out.

One day at lunch, Bruce Patman accidentally trips over Lois’ backpack, and the whole lunchroom watches him clean up his fallen tray. Humiliated, Bruce vows to get revenge on Lois for having such an offensive backpack. Lois gets way more sponsors for the bike-a-thon than anyone else. Bruce realizes this contest must be really important to her, so naturally, this is the perfect means of getting back at her. He gets his parents to pledge twenty dollars a mile, and tells Lois the next day that there’s no way she’ll make more money than him. So Lois goes and gets a few more sponsors, and she’s up to twenty-one dollars a mile.

Finally, it’s bike-a-thon day. Lois and Bruce are the frontrunners, so Liz and Amy shadow them so they can report to the Sixers. Liz sticks by Lois as she rides twenty-two miles. Amy loses Bruce after only eight miles, and nobody has any idea whether or not he went the whole thirty. At school on Monday, he shows off the check his parents have written and brags about how he finished the race faster than anyone else. But when someone mentions the Casey’s gift certificates that were given out to everyone who finished, Bruce looks confused. Liz’s reporter’s instincts kick into high gear and she spends all day wondering whether or not Bruce actually finished the marathon.

By the way, Jessica only rode four miles and then she headed over to Lila’s to listen to the new Johnny Buck album. When Liz starts asking around about Bruce, Jessica mentions he was at Lila’s too, and showed up not long after she did. However, she thinks Liz is being unnecessarily mean to Bruce, so she makes a bet with Liz that he really did finish. Loser has to do the winner’s chores for a week.

OMG, this is so boring. Long story short, Liz gets Bruce to admit that he crashed his bike after eight miles, and then she has a great time watching Jessica do her chores.

Quotes:

Elizabeth looked at her. This was the first time she had ever seen Lois out of her school clothes, and she was surprised to note that in a T-shirt and shorts, Lois didn’t look so heavy.

Well, what the hell has she been wearing to school? A muumuu?

“I’m trying to stick to a diet,” Lois said shyly.

Elizabeth turned and looked at her friend. “That’s wonderful.”

That’s wonderful? I mean, you don’t have to pretend your friend isn’t overweight if she really is, but don’t act like you’ve been sitting around wishing she’d go on a diet.

Since she was going to be the center of attention, Lois had taken care to dress nicely. She and her mother had gone shopping, and because she had lost a few more pounds, she was able to fit into a pretty blue dress.

Because they don’t make pretty blue dresses for fat folks.

The Cover: I thought Lois was supposed to be fat…

Sweet Valley Twins #37: The War Between the Twins

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

SVT037The Moral of the Story: Things always work out for Wakefields.

The Big Deal: School dance

Classmate with a Problem: Twins, fighting

Synopsis:

The Unicorns have been getting pissy with Liz because she never prints anything about the Unicorns and their shopping trips in the school paper. Liz tells Jessica she can write an article and she promises it will appear in the next issue, but apparently there’s just too much news going on right now and she has to leave the article out. Jessica is spending the night at Lila’s that night, so Liz has to wait until school the next morning to tell her the bad news. She thinks this conversation is much too important to have over the phone. So of course she isn’t able to get to Jessica before Jessica sees that her article is missing from the paper. Jessica is furious. She says the Unicorns are going to start their own newspaper. God, that’s going to be so awful. Can you imagine?

The Unicorns have a meeting to discuss newspaper business. Janet appoints herself editor-in-chief and lays out all the other decisions they’ll have to make, like who the other editors are and how many pages the paper will be. At the end of the day, the only thing they’ve decided on is that it should be printed on purple paper. At the next meeting, Janet, sick of the indecision, just assigns positions and tasks to everyone and decides on the name The Unicorn News, which everyone hates. Janet appoints Jessica as news editor, her second-in-command. Jessica is really happy about it until Janet starts giving her everyone’s articles and telling her to correct their spelling. Janet has a super important dance to plan, so she can’t be bothered with newspaper stuff right now.

Mary and Jessica are the only ones really taking things seriously, and they spend all weekend putting the paper together while the rest of the Unicorns go shopping and whatnot. And then they’re told they can’t use the ditto machine on Monday, which sucks because they wanted their paper to come out on Tuesday, the day before the Sixers. They aren’t able to use the machine until Thursday, and that’s when they discover the purple paper Lila bought is almost the same color as the ink and the paper is impossible to read. Still, the girls are sure everyone will want to read their paper, and they’re flabbergasted when almost nobody takes a copy.

Most of the Unicorns want to give up on the paper, but Jessica convinces them not to. Janet reluctantly agrees, but appoints Jessica as editor-in-chief because Janet herself is much too busy with the dance committee. Jessica actually seems to have a grasp of how things should be going. She decides to change the name to The Middle School News, print it on white paper, and make it four pages instead of eight. She also decides they won’t post just Unicorn stuff (they printed the minutes from their last meeting in the first paper, complete with a ten minute argument about what the Unicorns’ least favorite color is), but nobody can think of what they actually should print. Then Lila comes up with the idea of a fake interview with Donny Diamond, some famous rock star.

The Donny Diamond interview is a huge success. The Unicorns have to print more copies of their paper, while almost nobody is reading the stupid Sixers with its article about the cafeteria staff. Liz and Amy are feeling pretty crappy about it, and then Nora tells them the Unicorns are hanging posters advertising their next issue, in which Donny Diamond will be answering students’ questions. Liz is surprised Jessica never mentioned an interview with Donny Diamond, but she knows Lila works in the music industry and figures it’s all above board.

While going through questions for Donny’s column, the Unicorns find a letter that says the sender doesn’t think Donny actually knows the Unicorns and they should print a picture of them and Donny together in the next issue to prove it. Jessica manages to find a picture of all the Unicorns posing with Janet’s brother, Sam, and she pastes a picture of Donny’s head over Sam’s head. The Unicorns charge fifteen cents for the paper and end up making forty-five dollars. Meanwhile, Lila is in charge of the music for the upcoming dance, and she’s been advertising a mystery guest because she hasn’t come up with any ideas for music yet. Ticket sales are going crazy, and I’m guessing it’s because everyone thinks the mystery guest will be Donny Diamond, seeing as how he’s an honorary Unicorn now.

Letters keep coming in with questions for Donny. Even Ms. Langberg, the gym teacher, asks Jessica all kinds of uncomfortable questions about how they met Donny and what he’s like. But the Unicorns have already answered all the easy ones and these questions are harder. They also get another letter from the person who doesn’t believe Donny knows the Unicorns. This person says he/she knows the photo was a fake. Jessica is convinced it’s the Sixers staff sending the letters. I think it’s probably Ms. Langberg.

Liz starts hearing rumors that Donny Diamond will be at the dance. She knows that ain’t never gonna happen, and she tries to tell Jessica how disappointed people are going to be when Donny isn’t there, but Jessica just accuses her of writing those letters and runs off to find Lila. She tells Lila about the rumors and Lila freaks out because she still hasn’t found a mystery guest for the dance. Jessica and Lila try to talk to Janet, but she just says rumors are good for business. That’s not helpful, especially since brother Steven tells Jessica the news is all over the high school and the students there are getting their younger siblings to buy tickets to the dance so they can hear Donny Diamond. Then Lila tells Jessica her music industry uncle just called. He completely forgot he was supposed to be looking for someone for Lila’s dance, and it’s too late now to get anyone.

Ms. Langberg pulls Jessica and Lila aside the next morning and asks them point blank if they know Donny Diamond. Since they’re being asked by a teacher, they have no choice but to tell her the truth. Ms. Langberg tells them she understands how things got carried away and aggressively suggests that the dance is the perfect place to apologize to the whole school for lying. When she asks Lila who the mystery guest actually is and Lila tells her there isn’t one, Ms. Langberg says she’ll get her accordion-playing cousin and his band, Donald Kaminsky and the Polka Dots, to play and everything will be fine. The girls feel like they have to agree. I’m taking bets now on what Donny Diamond’s real name is.

At the dance, Lila and Jessica get up on stage and explain everything. It does not go over well. The crowd is booing and hissing, so the girls run off stage. Then the curtains sweep back and there’s a weird looking guy with crazy red hair and nerdy glasses playing the accordion. The crowd starts chanting, “WE WANT DONNY.” So Donald Kaminsky takes off his wig and glasses, grabs a guitar and starts playing. He was Donny Diamond all along, guys.

After Donny’s set, Ms. Langberg calls Jessica and Lila backstage and introduces them to Donny. He chastises them for telling lies about him and says he was the one who sent the letters. He showed up tonight because Ms. Langberg told him lots of people were expecting him and he didn’t want people to be disappointed. He approves when the girls tell him they’ll use the money they made from the newspapers for something the whole school can use and that they won’t be printing anymore newspapers. Then he tells them to round up the rest of the Unicorns so they can get a real picture taken with him. What a really nice guy.

Oh, the twins have made up at some point during all this, and Liz offers to let Jessica write an article about Donny’s appearance at the dance for the next issue of the Sixers.

Quotes:

How did all this begin? And where is it going to end? Elizabeth wondered.

Melodramatic tween is melodramatic.

“This list is much too long,” Janet said authoritatively. “The editors can come up with a shorter one.” Since there were no editors, it was not clear just when there would be a shorter list. Nobody seemed to mind.

This cracked me up because it reads like Douglas Adams. I’m sure that was unintentional.

“Editor-in-chief, huh?” asked the twins’ fourteen-year-old brother, Steven. “I guess we’ll have to call you Big Chief Jessie.” He put his hand to his mouth and did an Indian war-whoop. “Woo-woo-woo-woo.”

You’re hilarious, Steven. No, really. Super funny.

The Cover: I always loved the way Jessica looked on this cover. High-waisted jeans notwithstanding.