Original Publication Date: 1999
Ghostwriter? Yes, Suzanne Weyn.
It's time for yet another round of Short Takes. This time, the classes will be taught by professionals in various fields. Stacey takes a class from a documentary filmmaker (Kristy and Logan are in it, too). The class is split up into groups of four, each of which will make a movie. Stacey's group, which also includes Pete Black, Erica Blumberg, and Emily Bernstein, decide to make a documentary after their attempts at a horror movie don't go so well. Kristy's in a group with Logan, Anna Stevenson, and Alan Gray. They make a documentary about the funny things BSC clients do or say. But Kristy causes troubles by following around Jackie Rodowsky, waiting for him to slip up. She's not subtle about it either and he ends up feeling pretty hurt. Kristy also steps all over Alan's assigned role as director. Stacey talks to Kristy, and she begrudingly lets Alan be in charge, only to discover that he's really good at it.
Meanwhile, Stacey's team is doing well getting a lot of information from different students at SMS. Interesting revelations including Abby's epiphany that she's a lot like her mother (trying to do too much at once), Jessi admitting that she feels out of place at SMS because with Mallory gone there's no one left that she has much in common with which emphasizes how different she is from most of the students in terms of both race and her love of dance, Cokie pointing out that the BSC can be just as exclusionary and stuck-up as any group, Claudia reacting to the pressure on her to do really, really well in school despite how hard it is for her (as in, not just pass but get great grades), Alan Gray wanting to be taken seriously, and most relevant to the plot, Mary Anne exploding that she gets angry with her mother for dying. Mary Anne really wants to remove her interview from the film, but the rest of Stacey's group think it's such a great one that they refuse. They do let Mary Anne have a moment to speak about how she really feels, which is also in the film after her interview.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: carrots (for Stacey)
Good continuity with Stacey liking Cinderella as a young child.
Abby's seeming sort of burnt out and stretched very thin between her various commitments.
Mary Anne considers Sharon a mother figure but not her mother, which I think is totally reasonable. My mom has a very nice stepmother who her father married when my mom was an adult (right around the time of my own parents' wedding) and Mom calls her by her first name, but my aunt who was still a minor at the time calls the same step-mother "Mom." It's all about what you're comfortable with and mutual respect.
The Club (and clients):
When BSC members are interviewed, they slip in references to the club. It's funny to me that they're so indoctrinated, but it also makes sense because it's a big part of their lives.
This time students can sign up for what Short Takes classes they prefer.
Shouldn't the Short Takes teacher have told her class to secure written permission from anyone appearing in the films?
Alan Gray calls Kristy "Darth Vader" which amuses me more than it should.
New-to-us student: Sarah Gerstenkorn (probably 8th grade)
PSA Time: nothing stood out.
This is Stacey's last regular series book.
My copy of this book was sold at a used bookstore for fifty cents.
"[The documentary film maker] told us how she had gone into the Australian outback and spent time with a group of aboriginal people until they trusted her enough to talk about their beliefs..." There has GOT to be a better way to phrase that so it doesn't sound like she gained the trust of a group of animals.
Stacey mentions getting inspiration from an old Twilight Zone episode. From how she describes it--an upopular school-girl wishes everyone would leave her alone and her classmates disappear, only to return as zombies--I don't think she watched a real episode. I'm pretty familar with the Rod Serling era and since she specifies old, I'm pretty sure it's made up. It also doesn't sound like a Twilight Zone episode, which are, frankly, better written.
"You can't make math a career"? What nonsense. Math is intergral so many fields of study! I'm not a huge fan of it and I can admit that. Beyond the obvious like physics, medicine, and engineering, math is important in a ton of things like baking (if you want to halve a recipe for example), travel planning, budgeting...I've even used algebra to write knitting patterns.
Part of the book touches on something that annoys me, which is the insistence some people have to know EVERYTHING. Some things are okay to keep private, in my opinion, and not everything needs to be made public all at once.
Alan's interview raises a good question: would you rather be hated or ignored?
Starting 8th grade: 11
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 4
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: 5
St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1
Summers after 8th grade: 11
BSC Fights: 13
SMS Staff and Faculty: 68
Students (other than the BSC): 213: 119 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 30 7th graders, 48 6th graders, 16 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.
Clients: 38 families
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 144