Original Publication Date: 1994
Ghostwriter? Yes, Peter Lerangis
Jessi signs up to be part of the Sixth Grade Plot Device, I mean, Sixth Grade Follies. It's a sketch show the class puts on annually to rib the SMS faculty and staff. One sketch will be making fun of her current Short Takes teacher, Mr. Trout, and Jessi isn't sure it will go over well as he seems particularly awkward and not really the type to take a joke well. Jessi decides to portray him despite how poorly the class treats him, justify it by telling herself it will make him feel included and it's not that mean of a joke, and besides, she doesn't want to ostracize herself from her (white) classmates when she's fitting in so well. The other sixth-graders and the teachers in charge of the show agree that it will be funny and the Mr. Trout won't take it the wrong way. They couldn't be more wrong: it's the final humiliating straw after so many pranks and the total lack of respect that Mr. Trout leaves without notice. Jessi feels awful and even tries to start a petition to invite him back, but it goes over like a lead balloon. As it turns out, he's decide (correctly) that he's not cut out for teaching. Jessi is able to write him an apology letter at least, and he writes back, assuaging her guilt.
Subplot is the BSC charges putting on a similar thing about the BSC members.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: tortilla chips
I didn't realize how long Jessi's "joker" personality stuck with her. I thought she had become the black ballerina caricature by now.
Having had hair the color of Shannon's at one point (mine got darker as I got older) I am thrilled that hers is described as dark blonde instead of dirty or dishwater blonde.
There's a scene when one of Jessi's classmates is dropped off at her house for a meeting and his dad walks him to the door and meets her parents before leaving. Jessi isn't sure whether he'd do that if her family were white, and I can see that she'd be concerned. That she wonders about this sort of thing regularly makes the part with Mallory and Jessi's extended family in a later Super Special make a bit more sense.
Jessi does a vocal prep exercise she says she learned from Shannon, and it is indeed one that Shannon did a few books ago (saying "you-ee" up and down scales).
Jessi's family has a rhododendron bush in their yard, which I only mention because the Coastal Rhododendron is my state's flower (Washington).
Karen and Andrew now switch houses every month, a change which occurred in the Little Sister series. Which I am not subjecting myself to reading.
The Pike boys have learned to clean up their own spilled milk! Hooray!
And we're back to keeping official BSC time with Claudia's clock.
Jessi seems oddly observant of exactly what time it is, and other BSC members have shown that in the past. At first it's weird, but consider how Kristy has them trained.
Students: Ben Abbott, Lauren Aronsen, Jeff Atkinson, Craig Avazian, Sanjita Bates, Ashley Bedell, Tom Block, Jimmy Bouloukos, Liz Cohen, Maria Fazio, Sarah Green, Bobby Gustavson, Sandra Hart, Renee Johnson, Lisa Mannheim, Justine Moss, Mark O'Connell, Randy Rademacher, John Rosen, Mara Semple, Jamie Sperling, George Weiss (6th); Kate Condos--possible sister to sixth grader Maya Condos? (7th). Janet O'Neal, from Poor Mallory! also reappears, still a jerk. 22 new sixth grade students in one book!
I'm not counting Mr. Trout in my faculty/staff tally since he's only here for this one book. Those who do count are teachers Ms. Bernhardt, Mr. Jazak, and Ms. Vandela.
PSA Time: Nothing stood out, aside from the obvious "Don't be horrible to another human being" lesson.
Jessi internally thinks of nose piercing as an African style. While I kinda see what she means, I tend to think of it originating in South America, but not for any good reason beyond seeing a couple Discovery Channel documentaries.
Starting 8th grade: 6
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 2
Halloweens in 8th grade: 3 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 1
Summers after 8th grade: 6
BSC Fights: 8
SMS Staff and Faculty: 45
Students (other than the BSC): 165; 101 8th graders, 6 7th graders, 42 6th graders, 15 unspecified
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 94