Original Publication Date: 1998
Ghostwriter? Yes, Peter Lerangis. Angelo Tillery provided the illustrations in the book.
Kristy, Stacey, Abby, Jessi, and Mallory go on a school sponsored nine-day trip to London and Paris during the summer, There are SMS students as well as French-Canadian students from Toronto. Mary Anne, Claudia, Dawn, and Logan work at a playground camp. Shannon is away at camp, like most "other" summers that have taken place. Here's what happens to the girls:
Jessi goes to watch a Dance New York team coincidentally performing in London. She goes with a bit of mixed feelings, because if she had taken the offer to join the team, she would have been performing. Naturally, one of the dancers gets hurt before the performance, and Jessi fills in for her (a member of the corps; the understudy has food poisoning).
Abby apparently grew close to Vicki before she and her parents returned to England, and is the eyes through which we see the visit she, Stacey, Kristy, Jessi, and Mallory have with the Kents. It turns out that Vicki is supposed to be part of audience to greet the Queen, and needs someone to stand with her for it. She asks Abby since her parents and her nanny aren't able, and Abby readily accepts. She ends up accidentally stepping on the toes of a prince (I guess Charles, judging from when this was written?).
Stacey thinks the only wrinkle in her trip plans is that her mom is a chaperone. But something slightly bigger happens: her luggage gets mixed up with that of a WWII veteran...who brought an urn containing his friend's ashes to spread at Normandy (both were part of the Allied Forces on D-Day). While they wait for that mess to get sorted, Stacey's mom gets her two outfits to tide her over...from Harrod's. Stacey's mom is able to finally reach the suitcase's owner, who is staying in Paris, and arrange for them to deliver the urn personally when they arrive. Having learned some about World War II, Stacey asks if she and her mom can accompany the man on his journey, and he agrees. Stacey is very moved by the whole experience.
Kristy meets a Canadian student named Michel. At first they're acrimonious to each other, but before long they hit it off. Getting lost together in Paris helps, since it forces Kristy to rely on his knowledge of French. They even share a few kisses in Paris. They exchange addresses, and a letter or two.
Claudia "gets" to share her summer job with her sister. Janine was a last-minute fill in, suggested by her ex, Jerry. Janine is stressed with the suddeness of the job and with being around Jerry, and takes it out on Claudia. They finally have it out, and Janine reveals that Jerry's been hard on her, and that in turn has made her lash out at Claudia. Claudia advises Janine to ignore Jerry, and Janine promises to be fair to Claudia. Inspired by Claudia, Janine stands up to Jerry when he's being especially unreasonable, and Claudia backs her up.
Mallory meets up with her mother's cousin, who lives in England. Her first-cousin-once-removed is a writer as well, with a contract to have her manuscript published. Her cousin shows Mallory a family tree, which includes William Shakespeare (he's her great-times-seventeen grandfather).
Mary Anne doesn't see much action in this book, aside from Cokie trying to weasel her way into Logan's good graces. What finally helps is Janine listening to Claudia and standing up to Jerry, who had been letting Cokie do whatever she wanted.
Dawn ends up having to take the place of Janine's replacement at a different day camp briefly. This camp is for children with a variety of disabilities, mental and physical. One of the campers is Susan Felder, from Kristy and the Secret of Susan.
We also get a chapter from Robert, who's being annoyed by Jaqui until he finally tells her off.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: none mentioned
Abby knows what champagne tastes like: she says sparkling cider tastes better. I agree with her myself, but I'm not a huge fan of alcohol. I have nothing against it morally for most people (some people can't handle alcohol and shouldn't drink it). I just think most of it tastes bad.
Jessi thinks Quebec is a city. It's actually Canada's largest province.
Mallory's mother's maiden name is Bennett. She's the second of five children.
The Club (and clients): nothing new.
Cokie Mason's mom is on the Board of Education (which is how she got accepted as a playground camp counselor).
Jaqui Grant smokes.
There are only two chaperones for the 50 SMS students, Mrs. McGill and Mallory's writing teacher, Mr. Dougherty. The latter wanders off from time to time and doesn't really have any consideration for Mrs. McGill's time. Who at SMS thought it was a good idea to have fewer than five chaperones, and not more like 8-10?
Should you wish to discuss a veteran's military service, DO NOT ASK IF THE VETERAN KILLED ANYONE. No one makes this mistake in the book, but I remember someone's grandfather coming to speak my first-grade class about World War II and someone asked him that. He started crying and had to leave the room, and the teacher told us that during war, there are unavoidable casualties and it will have an impact on everyone, and that we shouldn't pry.
This is the last Super Special, not including two smaller pseudo versions of them in the Friends Forever series (which I will be getting to soon!).
Actually, yes, parts of Europe are older than parts of North America. Parts of the west coast didn't exist during the Mesozoic, which is why you won't find a lot of dinosaur fossils there. It was accreted later.
Alan Gray gets detained briefly at customs for purposely acting suspicious. Had this book taken place a few years later, I bet he'd have been held longer...
I've seen people get annoyed that we Americans call ourselves that sometimes, since "America" is also part of the name of two continents, and say we should have a name derived from United States. One suggestion is USian. I think this is nonsense for two reasons: one, I can call myself what I want to, thank you very much. I don't ask people from Germany to not call themselves Deutsch because it sounds like Dutch to me and it would be arrogant and rude of me to not let a country decide what to call itself. Two, practically no one insists that people from the United States of Mexico (its full name) stop calling themselves Mexican. (I don't mean that someone speaking a different language should switch to English for the word "American" or that language's equivalent; I mean I don't like being chided for calling myself American--which has happened.)
The D-Day invasion took place on five beaches, not just one as is implied at one point in the book (though it is clarified later). Fortunately the book gets it right that it was American, British, and Canadian forces; I think people tend to forget about the Canadian soldiers.
Kristy sarcastically suggests she can communicate with French speakers using sign language. Since American Sign Language is derived from French Sign Language, she might have had a bit of luck. Maybe as much as my dad who used his combined knowledge of Spanish and Latin...
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: 4
St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1
Summers after 8th grade: 11
BSC Fights: 12
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: 141