Original Publication Date: 1996
Ghostwriter? Yes, Nola Thacker
Abby and Anna are preparing for the Bat Mitzvah, a ceremony which marks a Jewish woman's entry as an adult member of the faith. It's one of the few times that religion is mentioned in the BSC books, so it's an interesting read. I'm not Jewish so I don't know how accurate the book is, but there is an acknowledgement page that indicates some research was done. At any rate, it takes a lot of hard work and studying, which should precede any major decision.
Abby's worried that she hasn't devoted enough time to her Bat Mitzvah. She's spread pretty thin between school, the BSC, soccer, and her religious obligations. Math in particular has been giving her a hard time, so she's thrilled when a fellow student offers to sell her a study guide for the upcoming test, which counts for a quarter of her math grade. When the test is passed out, Abby realizes she actually bought a copy of the test. Panicking, she completes the test anyway, without telling the teacher what happened (she and the teacher aren't on good terms). Four other students are in the same situation, and all are suspended for three days. Feeling guily, embarassed, and indignant, Abby decides to hide her suspension from everyone but Anna. It almost works too, until her mom spots her out of school. She punishes Abby, but does believe her about the study guide. At school the next day, Abby sees Mary Anne buying one from the same student, and they go to the math teacher (Mary Anne takes math in a different class period) and things get sorted out. The Stevenson family has a huge party to celebrate the Bat Mitzvahs.
Subplot: the parents of several of the BSC charges ban television. The kids whine for a while, then use their imaginations to have fun and don't even miss TV.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: none mentioned
It's implied that Abby's birthday was recenly, which makes Abby the youngest of the eighth grade club members. Previously, Mary Anne had the latest birthday, mentioned in Logan Likes Mary Anne!
Abby's allergies would actually make keeping Kosher easier, if her family does that. She's allergic to shellfish, which aren't allowed. She's also allergic to milk and cheese, and under Kosher rules dairy can't be eaten with meat.
Claire has almost grown out of her "nofe-air" tantrums.
A criticism of this book is that Abby gets off lightly when her mom punishes her. She's grounded for a month, but can still baby-sit, play soccer, and I think attend BSC meetings. She can't have friends over or go visit, and no phone calls. I can see that her mom didn't want to punish the soccer team or the BSC for Abby's mistakes, but I would have been a little stricter, like she can only do the sitting jobs that are already lined up, she can't go to meetings, and if there any optional soccer practices she can't go to them.
According to Abby, her mother is an only child.
The Club (and clients):
Jessi still keeps her kid-kit stocked with office supplies, which she started back in Keep Out, Claudia!.
SMS has soccer in the spring (this book takes place in April). I'm used to fall soccer, but not all schools or districts do it that way. In fact, fall football (American football, that is) makes it more likely that at least boys' soccer will be in the spring, and we know from Logan's books that SMS has a football team.
Ms. Frost is still one of the SMS math teachers.
New-to-us 8th grader: Brad Simon
PSA Time: nothing stood out apart from the obvious moral.
Abby says her rabbi calls the speech she will have to give a "sermon." Ann M. Martin and the ghostwriter, Nola Thacker, had help with the Bat Mitzvah descriptions from friends and colleagues who had had Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, so I guess that's accurate? I've just never heard "sermon" outside of the context of a Protestant church service.
Starting 8th grade: 8
Halloweens in 8th grade: 5 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 2
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate, not just reference): Christmas-2, Hanukkah-1, Kwanzaa-1
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3
Summers after 8th grade: 8
BSC Fights: 10
SMS Staff and Faculty: 55
Students (other than the BSC): 180; 115 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 6 7th graders, 43 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 33 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 117