Original Publication Date: 1996
Ghostwriter? Yes, Peter Lerangis
Jessi and her family are excitedly making plans for Christmas and Kwanzaa (the book explains Kwanzaa pretty well, too). They're looking forward to having their family from Oakley, NJ visit for Kwanzaa. Jessi's even organizing a Kwanzaa festival with the help of the BSC. However, Aunt Cecilia's response to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is to become more strict, to the point that Jessi's father comes down on her hard. He insists that she lighten up and let the kids be kids. She tries to oblige in just about the worst way: when Squirt is crying and struggling in his car seat, she unbuckles him. Of course, they get rear-ended. Squirt gets thrown from the car seat and is rushed away in an ambulance. He might have a concussion, and has to spend a few days in the hospital. Since I have a toddler, it's horrifying to read--and think--about. And then I start thinking about the school shooting in CT and the parents who have already wrapped Christmas presents that their children won't be able to unwrap and don't even have the luxury of waiting for their children to come home from the hospital...
But this book is fiction. Squirt is in the hospital through Christmas, but he does recover and gets to come home. The family is still tense, but clear the air during the Kwanzaa celebration. The Kwanzaa festival goes well. Things settle back to normal.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
One of Jessi's (summer) chores is mowing the lawn.
Jessi says that next to Keisha, Mallory is her best friend. So Mallory is her second-best friend?
And by the way, Mallory is ten kinds of awesome in this book. She and her dad pick up a Christmas tree for the Ramseys, knowing that they're too busy to do it themselves. When Becca comes down with the flu and can't go to the hospital to see Squirt, Mallory volunteers to baby-sit on Christmas Day so the rest of the Ramseys can visit together. She also baby-sits the next day, when the family is bringing Squirt home, and helps Becca finish decorating the house.
Claudia willing asks Janine to explain something. Maybe moving down a grade and being able to help some of her classmates understand the material (now that Claudia herself gets it better) has shown her that asking for help is okay. Janine also explains using regular English, not inflating her vocabulary like she sometimes does.
Becca seems to have outgrown her stage fright.
The Club (and clients):
New clients: The Harrises, Omar and Ebon.
SMS: nothing new.
I DETEST it when people misuse handicapped parking spots. If you have a condition that warrants a permit, then get a permit. And don't park in them if you don't have a permit that applies to someone actually in the car. Even if it's only for a few minutes or you're tired or the parking lot is crowded (and I've been in all of those situations, sometimes with crutches for an injury). It's just rude. Plus my dad says that if you misuse a handicapped spot, my late aunt will haunt you (she was in a wheelchair).
Of course, a child having a tantrum is far preferable to a child being unbuckled and getting hurt in a car accident. There's another thing during that scene of the book that Jessi does a very good job of: when there's an emergency, designate jobs for specific people. For example, don't yell out, "Someone call 911!" Point to person and say, "You! Call 911!" You're far more likely to get a person to do it, because no one will be thinking that someone else will take care of things instead.
Freezing rain is super-cooled water (H2O that is below 32F/0C but still liquid) and freezes upon landing on the ground. Confusing sleet and freezing rain doesn't really make sense to me...
The BSC jumps down Kristy's throat when she asks if anyone thinks it's strange that Kwanzaa is only for one race of people. Given that this book is meant for grade-school age kids, I think that's a fair question, but maybe it should have been given to a sitting charge instead. On a similar note, this book is sort of uncomfortable to read...several of the African-American characters have "black-sounding" names and Jessi's family is eating soul food (the actual African foods make sense, though)...there's so much of it that it's like the book is saying "LOOK! ETHNIC!"
Starting 8th grade: 9
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate, not just reference): Christmas-3, Hanukkah-1, Kwanzaa-2
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3
Summers after 8th grade: 9
BSC Fights: 11
SMS Staff and Faculty: 60
Students (other than the BSC): 187: 118 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 9 7th graders, 44 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 37 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 123