Jessi and the Dance School Phantom (RS#42)

Original Publication Date: 1991

Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles


This was always one of my favorite books in the series. I'm not sure why...I'm very good at spraining my ankles (and injuring other things, which is why I stuck more to non-contact sports), maybe that had something to do with it. And I just now figured out that the titular Phantom is a reference to the Phantom of the Opera. I am so smart, S-M-R-T--I mean S-M-A-R-T!

Jessi is dancing the lead in her ballet school's production of Sleeping Beauty. She's thrilled, but soon things go south. Someone takes her toe shoes and her spare dancing clothes, she finds threatening notes in her bag, she's pushed during rehearsals, she slips on a wet spot that shouldn't have been there and strains her ankle, and so on. Someone doesn't want her to be in this performance. With help from the rest of the BSC, she creates a suspect list and eventually narrows it down to one, Hilary. She tricks Hilary into revealing that she has the same calligraphy pen and handwriting the notes were done in, and Hilary confesses. After that, the ballet goes on to be a success. Hilary quits ballet when it's over; she was only dancing for her mom, not because she enjoyed it.

At the same time, the BSC hosts a pet show for its charges. There are some spats between the kids over who has the better pet and who will win first prize. Jessie solves this by suggesting the prizes not be first, second, third, but prizes for things like "Longest Tail" and "Shiniest Fur." Hooray for Jessi!

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: none mentioned

I like that Jessi was surprised that she got the lead, but at the same time wasn't surprised to have gotten a big role. She wasn't thinking, as she had before, that she might get the spot of a peasant. It shows that she's realizing she has talent.

Their Families:

Shannon (the dog) must not be a puppy anymore; she wins "Biggest Pet" over the Perkins's Labrador. Also, we meet Emily Junior, Karen's rat that she named after her sister. (On a related note, my daughter shares a name with my cousin's dog, but she's not named after it. We picked the name first, and they're spelled differently.)

The Club: nothing new


8th grade student: Jennifer Cooke

PSA time: nothing new


Jessi's ballet classmates include Mary Bramdstedt (who moves a bit roboticly), Carrie Steinfeld (still the oldest in the class), Katie Beth Parsons (the one with a sister who's deaf), Hilary Morgan (with a pushy, rich mother), and Lisa Jones (a worrywart, but a nice one), all of whom have been mentioned in previous Jessi books. Carrie wins the part of the Bluebird of Happiness, Lisa the Lilac Fairy. Then halfway through the book, Carrie is the Lilac Fairy. By the time the performance rolls around, Lisa has her part back again.

I never understood why Hilary had to get her hair done to have a French braid. My mom put my hair in French all the time, and by the time I was in middle school I could do it myself.

The music Jessi's class dances to is played on a record player.

Jessi needs new toe shoes every week? Is that right?

Kristy and her younger siblings laugh at the thought of Emily Michelle entering Boo-Boo the cat in the pet show, since "he's almost as big as she is!" My eight-day-old daughter was at one point about half the weight of my husband's cat...and more than twelve inches shorter.

The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 3

Halloweens in 8th grade: 2 (plus one in seventh)

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 1

Summers after 8th grade: 2

BSC Fights: 5

SMS Staff: 17

Students (other than the BSC): 57; 34 8th graders, nine sixth-graders, nine unspecified

Clients: 24

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 47 (bubble gum, Butterfingers, butterscotch candy, candy hearts, Cheese Doodles, Cheetos, a chocolate bar, chocolate-covered cherries, cookies, Cracker Jacks, crackers (unspecified and whole wheat), cupcakes, Ding-Dongs, Doritos, Fig Newtons, Fritos, gumdrops, Gummi Bears, Heath bars, Hershey's kisses, Ho Hos, jawbreakers, licorice, licorice whips, Lifesavers, M&Ms (regular and peanut), Mallomars, marshmallows, Mentos, mini candy bars, Necco wafers, Oreos (Double Stuf), Planter's Peanut bar, popcorn, potato chips, pretzels, pretzel sticks, red hots, Ring Dings, root beer barrels, salt water taffy, Snickers, taco chips, Tootsie Roll Pops, Tootsie Rolls, Twinkies)

Crushes: Claudia-7 (Guy, Terry, Austin Bentley, Timothy Carmody, Woody Jefferson, Trevor Sandbourne, Will Yamakawa), Dawn-3 (Travis, Lewis Bruno, Parker Harris), Mary Anne-2 (Alex, Logan Bruno), Stacey-6 (Toby, Kelsey Bauman, Pete Black, Pierre D'Amboise, Scott Foley, Sam Thomas), Kristy-1 (Bart Taylor), Mallory-1 (Ben Hobart)


Amanda said...

Pointe shoes wear out pretty quickly. Lots of different factors play into it--the type of shoe, style of dancing, size of the dancer, strength of the foot, the break-in methods used, ect. As a general rule, pointe shoes tend to have about 10-24 hours of dancing in them, so Jessi needing new shoes every week isn't unreasonable given the number of practice hours we see she probably has.

BSC AG said...

Thank you, Amanda. I was trying to figure out if they were at all similar to track and field spikes, which you only use for competition and the last tiny bit of practice and warm ups.

nikki said...

Eight day old daughter!!! I was wondering if you'd had that baby.

Congrats. And blogging with an eight day old? I bow down to your awesomeness.

BSC AG said...

Thank you, Nikki! Since she sleeps so much, it's not too difficult to get a post in here and there. Newborns sleep 18-20 a day (though not in a row). They're like lions that way.

LauraTheWonderTart said...

I went through a pair of pointe shoes about once or twice a month, which is reasonable for a non-professional. A professional dancer can wear a pair out over the course of a weekend or even overnight if she is being particularily ballerific. I had a friend doing the Odette/Odile role who managed to destroy both pairs of shoes per perduction. It's quite the investment, seeing as how a cheap pair of pointe shoes is still about $70.

BSC AG said...

This is why I ask. I know track and field, cross country, soccer, football, and basketball. All I know of ballet is that it's demanding, beautiful, and it makes me fall.