Portrait Collection: Abby's Book

Original Publication Date: 1997

Ghostwriter? Yes, Jeanne Betancourt.


This is Abby's autobiography assignment. She presents her life in the following categories:

From Birth to Backpack: Not surprisingly for twins, Abby and Anna were born a month early. They bonded quickly and became each other's best friend, even developing a secret language. They enjoy dressing alike until they hit first grade, when their independence starts show more.

Red and Blue Just Won't Do: Then, when first grade starts, their teacher finds identical twins to be problematic. She suggests that instead of dressing alike every day, that Anna always wear blue and Abby always wear red. The girls go along with it, but hate it. Their classmates also make no effort to learn who is who (in first grade, I had identical twin girls in my class, and while it was tricky sometimes, we at least TRIED to tell them apart). After talking with their parents, the girls agree to pick out separate clothes based on what they as individuals like, not on what twins can wear together. Anna also gets her hair cut shorter. Their classmates and teacher start to get to know the girls and are able to tell them apart better.

Without Dad: Abby's father is hit and killed by a drunk driver while the girls are at school. Their grandfather picks them up in the middle of the day, and the family grieves together for a long time. Abby, Anna, and their mother observe the Jewish custom of sitting shivah for a week. After that, the girls return to school, but their mother still stays home. Her parents stay to help, but they must leave at some point, because about a month later, the house is a disaster, with the girls too young to take care of it and their mother too distraught to notice. But Abby and Anna help her see, and, though still understandably devasted, she pulls herself together for her daughters and the three go on as best they can.

The Shooting Star: A year after her father's death, Abby's family has drifted apart some. Everyone seems to be staying busy to avoid thinking about the death. But Abby's mom comes up with a plan: a ten-day vacation to a little resort island in Florida. But the vacation starts with the three of them off doing their own separate things. But after a small outburst from Abby, they spend some quality time together and start to create new traditions that will help them have a good time without feeling guilty that they're doing what they used to do with their father.

New Places, New Faces: Abby's mom is doing a few odd things, like taking trips out of town, getting messages from a realtor, and taking to her friends and family about how it's hard to be around so many things that remind her of her late husband. Finally, the annoucement comes: the family is moving to Stoneybrook, CT. There's a brief recap of meeting Kristy's family, from Abby's point of view.

Abby gets an A- on her report.

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: none mentioned

Abby's parents knew that the girls were identical twins before they were born. If this book was published in 1997, they would have been born in 1984 (like me!). I know a pair of twins born a little earlier in the 80s, and while ultrasounds weren't routine for most pregnancies, a twin pregnancy did warrant it. I wonder if they could check for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome back then, which is a concern with identical twins. For what it's worth, it sounds like the twins were NOT a c-section, which is totally possible with cooperative twins (although in some cases twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome can make it risky).

Abby's allergies seem to have popped up between first and fourth grades.

Their Families:

Abby's mom is a book editor. I can't remember if that was specified earlier.

There is a picture of Abby and Anna as little girls with their dad and its really sweet. It sort of gets to me when I think that later in the book their father dies. I think it's part well-drawn pictures, part I have a daughter who hugs my husband the same way, and part pregnancy hormones.

Abby's dad died the month after her birthday. That proximity would be tough enough; it's a good think the twins were a month early.

I think it's really rotten of Abby's mom to spring the news of the move the way she did. Just out of the blue "I bought a house in a different state." I understand her reasons for moving, but the girls should have been involved from the start. Although, it's not like she just suddenly brought home an adopted baby with no notice.

The Club (and clients): nothing new.


New teacher: Ms. Belcher, eighth grade English. Wonder how often the kids make fun of her name.

PSA Time:

MONTHS AREN'T EXACTLY FOUR WEEKS LONG UNLESS IT'S FEBRAURY AND NOT A LEAP YEAR. Chapter 12 has cutout bits of calendar from four consecutive months, March through June, and they all start on a Monday. Not possible. This is the sort of thinking that prompts people I know, people with college degrees, to say that pregnancy is ten months long because it lasts 40 weeks, ignoring not only how calendars work but the fact that conception happens at week two (the start of the 40 weeks is the first day of the woman's last period).


This is the last of the Portrait Collections; Mallory and Jessi don't have them.

When young, Abby and Anna meet identical twin adult women who proclaim that they always dress alike and even live next door to each other in identical houses. My grandmother is an identical twin, but she and her sister dress according to how each prefers. However, her twin and their older sister DO share identical halves of a duplex. (Identical in floorplan only)

The numbers:

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: 63

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

Mary Anne-2


Unknown said...

No Claudia candy? We should make sure she wasn't abducted during this time period in another book...

Also, Jessi and Mal don't get to have portrait books because they are annoying and nobody cares.

X-D Hope you, Mr.BSC_AG, Wee-Tiny One and Wee-Tiny Two are all doing well!

Unknown said...

^^ That was me. Unfortunately, it did not sign me in like it was supposed to.

SJSiff said...

So far we're all good! I'm 21 weeks 1 day today (Jan 4) so even if I go later I'm more than halfway there.

I wish that Jessi, Mal, Logan, AND Shannon had gotten Portrait Collections. Would have been fun to read.

I should have a post up tomorrow, and I'm sure Claudia will be back in action. :)