Original Publication Date: 1992
Ghostwriter? Yes, Suzanne Weyn
It's one of Mallory's worst nightmares come true: her gym class will join the boys' gym class for a volleyball session, and within the first few minutes, she's targeted as a poor athlete. Her team is annoyed with her, and other teams know all they have to do to win to serve to Mallory. By the way, this problem could have easily been avoided by the gym teachers' saying "Competitive players over here and non-competitive players on the other side." I can sympathize with Mallory here, because it sucks to be the one person who's bad at something when everyone else on both teams is at least competent.
But Mallory takes it too far (I know, shocker), refusing to play and earning herself detention. She also decides to learn about self-fulfilling prophecy and confirmation bias. Since some boys the BSC sits for have been acting up, and she's having trouble with boys teasing her in gym class, she decides that something is wrong with Stoneybrook boys. After asking Ben Hobart about Australian gym classes, Mallory concludes it's gym that ruins boys. She is quickly disabused of this idea when Ben's younger brothers spend the night at the Pikes' and the Pike boys go to the Hobarts. Ben's brothers are nightmares, Mallory's are on their best behavior. Maybe sometimes people are just having off days. About this time, Mallory also goes to talk with her gym teacher at her mother's suggestion. They work out a plan for Mallory to survive the volleyball unit, and soon it's time for the next rotation: archery. Much to her surprise, Mallory is great at it, and even tries out for and makes the SMS archery team.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: none mentioned
It's well-established that Mallory's not pleased with her looks, but she actually narrates that she doesn't "consider [her]self pretty." That's sad to read.
When Mallory first voices her theory that boys are pains and girls aren't, Stacey and Logan are first dissenting opinions. Considering Logan's a boy and Stacey's good at math (and therefore understands statistics better) that makes perfect sense.
Byron Pike slouches more than the other two triplets.
Vanessa is seen flipping through a mail-order toy catalog, which is a nice reference to the ordering frenzy of last book.
Mallory's parents still enjoy tennis.
The Club: nothing new
Sixth grade students: Chris Brooks, Glen Brown, Noah Fein, Helen Gallway, Tom Harold, Glen Johnson, Robbie Mara
Ms. Walden is still the sixth-grade girls' gym teacher, and this book introduces Mr. De Young, the boys' gym teacher.
PSA time: nothing stood out
Anachronism: Mallory claims there are five boys' sports events for every one girls'. Maybe there is one more basketball team for the boys than the girls if there's more interest on the boys' side, but since Title IX had been in effect for twenty years when this book was published, I doubt the ratio is as high as Mallory thinks.
Starting 8th grade: 4
Halloweens in 8th grade: 2 (plus one in seventh)
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 2
Summers after 8th grade: 3
BSC Fights: 7
SMS Staff: 30
Students (other than the BSC): 92; 60 8th graders, 2 7th grader, 18 6th graders, 11 unspecified
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 62 (bonbons, bubble gum, Butterfingers, butterscotch candy, candy hearts, Cheese Doodles, Cheetos, a chocolate bar, chocolate-covered cherries, chocolate marshmallow cookies, Chunky bar, cookies, Cracker Jacks, crackers (unspecified and whole wheat), cupcakes, dark-chocolate caramels, Ding-Dongs, Doritos, Fig Newtons, Fritos, fruit pie, gumdrops, Gummi Bears (regular and sweet-n-sour), Heath bars, Hershey's kisses, Ho Hos, jawbreakers, jellybeans, Kit-Kats, licorice, licorice whips, Lifesavers, M&Ms (regular and peanut), Mallomars, malt balls, marshmallows, Mentos, Milky Ways, mini candy bars, Necco wafers, Oreos (Double Stuf and chocolate-dipped), Payday bars, 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, tortilla chips, Triscuits, Twinkies, Yodels)
Crushes: Claudia-8 (Guy, Terry, Austin Bentley, Timothy Carmody, Arthur Feingold, Woody Jefferson, Trevor Sandbourne, Will Yamakawa), Dawn-5 (Travis, Lewis Bruno, Parker Harris, Price Irving, Richie Magnesi), Mary Anne-2 (Alex, Logan Bruno), Stacey-7 (Toby, Kelsey Bauman, Pete Black, Ross Brown, Pierre D'Amboise, Scott Foley, Sam Thomas), Kristy-1 (Bart Taylor), Mallory-1 (Ben Hobart), Jessi-3 (Daniel, Curtis Shaller, Quint Walter)