Jessi's Big Break (RS#115)

Original Publication Date: 1998

Ghostwriter? Yes, Peter Lerangis


As the title would suggest, Jessi gets a big break in this book. After an audition, she's invited to a three-and-a-half week ballet course at Dance New York, a prestigious company. She stays with her (adult) cousin Michael and his wife, Marian (Aunt Cecelia's son and daughter-in-law). And who is in the same program but Quint, the closest thing Jessi's had to a boyfriend. She's worried that he wants to heat up again. He is operating under the assumption that since they're spending so much time together, they can go ahead and be in a relationship, but Jessi explains that she's just not ready for a boyfriend. He's willing to wait until she is, at least for now. Back to dancing. Jessi does very well under the watchful eyes of her teachers, well enough to earn a second audition and an invitation to join the program full-time. Aunt Cecelia really comes through for her; she jumps at every opportunity to help Jessi be in the New York City school and really wants to see her niece succeed at her dream. Jessi thinks long and hard about it, and agrees that she also wants to take advantage of this opportunity, but not just yet. She can wait several months and the offer will still be there, so she vows to enjoy the life she has now while working to become an even more accomplished ballerina for when she returns to the program.

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: Snickers

Jessi briefly imitates her dance teacher and of course he catches her in the act. She worries over a bit more than you'd expect, were it not for the plot of Jessi's Horrible Prank.

Mallory loves bagels.

Their Families:

Becca's all melodramatic and egocentric like she was in Jessi and the Jewel Theives. Squirt's sad too, but he just misses Jessi (and same with Mallory); he doesn't make it all about how terrible things are for him.

This book confirms that back in Jessi's Baby-sitter poor Aunt Cecelia was dealing with not only adjusting to living with a new family who hadn't really hashed out any rules, but the very recent death of her husband. Cecelia's married name, by the way, is Parker.

Jessi's father has two brothers older than his sister Cecelia, but no word if he's the youngest of four or if there are more siblings.

Cecelia thinks that her son Michael should be doing more with his. Jessi muses that she wanted him to become the first African-American president (of the US, of course: African-American). Leaving aside that you have to be at least 35 to run and I don't think he's old enough, he missed that boat! This book was published ten years before Obama won the presidency. In actuality, Cecelia's sad that Michael and Marian didn't follow their artistic dreams.

While Cecelia does make her daughter-in-law nervous and act a little bratty to her son, I have to give her credit that when she sort of complains about them not having a home-cooked meal ready, she directs the blame to her son and not her daughter-in-law, and not in a way that implies women should do all the cooking.

This book implies that Jeff didn't move back to California until after Richard and Sharon married.

The Club (and clients):

Claudia still has to take a sitting call outside of BSC meeting times now and then.

SMS: Jessi's in NYC for the most of the book; she has a tutor there.

PSA Time: nothing stood out.


This is Jessi's last book in the series.

Between pages 40 and 41 the description of two characters changes from past tense to present. It's not quite a mistake the way it's done but it's really awkward to read.

One of Jessi's dance friends explains to Mallory (who visits for a weekend) that dancers can't help being physical. My best friend did ballet for a long time, and she's confirmed that. She told me that you're so used to physical contact and studying the human form that you're very comfortable with touching people after years of ballet. I'm very happy that she's so understanding of my personal space because for the most part I don't like touching.

Jessi's cousin's apartment is described as having a downstairs. It's also explicitly stated to be a very nice apartment. How common are two-story apartments in New York City? They live in Brooklyn, for what it's worth.

This book references E-mail, with the capital E. That used to be standard back in the olden days. Now most people use lower-case (unless beginning a sentence, of course).

The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 10

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-5, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3

Summers after 8th grade: 10

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 67

Students (other than the BSC): 214: 120 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 29 7th graders, 48 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: 134

Mary Anne-2


The World of Lurlene Mcdaniel said...

I didn't know that Mallory loves bagels. Cool. I wonder does she like them plain or with cream cheese spread on it?

Sucks that this is Jessi's last book on the series. Would love to hear more about Jessi and more on Aunt Cecilia too.

I wonder if Jessi plans to go to Julliard in the future?

SJSiff said...

Jessi and her friends are trying to find Mallory at the train station, and Jessi says they should go up the deli because Mallory loves bagels. The book is sadly missing the critical information about what flavors or toppings. ;)

Jessi has some chapters in Super Specials, but that's about it for narration. Mallory just has one book left, too.