Original Publication Date: 1999
Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles.
Kristy and Cary Retlin are assigned to interview each other for a class biography project. When interviewing Cary's brothers, Kristy snoops a bit at Cary's journal and reads something that indicates Cary did something that forced his family to move away from their previous home in Illinois. She accidentally admits to Cary that she read his journal, which obviously ticks him off. Turns out that it was actually notes about a work of fiction Cary's writing, but he let Kristy feel bad about it because he was still upset that she invaded his privacy.
Related to the project is a list of fiction books from which students are read and report on. Some of the titles are controversial, and some parents are up in arms trying to get the teacher (a sub) removed from the school. He's temporarily suspended, but eventually reinstated. Kristy makes an impassioned speech at a community meeting about what a great teacher he is, which seems to be the reason for the book title.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: Mallomars
All the members of the BSC, past and present, are reunited at the end of the book at a party, even Shannon and Logan.
I find it ironic that Mrs. Kishi speaks against book banning, since she won't allow Claudia to read Nancy Drew books (although I am fond of the fan theory that the Kishi parents only pretend to be against the books to make the forbidden fruit and therefore encourage Claudia to read them secretly).
The Club (and clients): nothing new.
Mr. Morley is subbing for Mrs. Simon, who's on maternity leave. She had her baby a month or month and a half early; Kristy assures us that the baby and mom are fine.
New-to-us students: Merrie Dow, Jessica ? (8th)
New-to-us teacher: Ms. Breer (English department head)
So, I guess the teachers at SMS aren't unionized? It seems like Mr. Morley gets suspended pretty quickly. Maybe because he's a sub...I don't have much knowledge of how teachers' unions work. Still seems weird that SMS doesn't really stick up for him.
Since this takes place a public (and therefore government-run/sponsored) school, it was entirely accurate to cite the First Amendment of the US Constitution. But a lot of times people cite it inappropriately, like claiming the right to free speech in a private forum when other private people are telling them to be quiet. In the US, the government can't tell you shut up, but a private individual can (and even in the case of the government, there are laws about inciteful speech, slander, etc).
One of the books on the controversial list is Steinbeck's The Red Pony. I read it once with high expectations since I like Of Mice and Men, but was majorly disappointed in the ending. Then I found out that the copy I'd read was missing the last chapter.
Kristy hosts a Christmas party. This is the sixth time Christmas has been celebrated since the BSC started eighth grade.
Oh, of course the parents who want to ban books are religious. I'm very observant about my religion (and have some conservative viewpoints as well), so it bugs me how over-the-top the portrayals are in this book. My parents are the same way, and they never said "No" to any books, or movies, although a couple times they said "Not yet." And for good reason; I wasn't ready for some graphic scenes in a handful of books or movies when I was in elementary school. That's the same way it'll be with my kids: if the books or movies have graphic scenes, then I want them to be old enough to not be too horribly disturbed by them. It'll only be about whether the child is mature enough for the content, not whether the content fits with my beliefs. And I'll never petition for those books or movies to be removed from anywhere. Not everyone who goes to church is close-minded.
(I edited the above to add "never" to the second-to-last sentence. That was a massive typo, and thank you to commenter Anonymous for pointing it out !)
Starting 8th grade: 12
Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)
Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 5
Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate in the plot of a book, not just reference): Christmas-6, Hanukkah-2, Kwanzaa-3
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 5
St. Patrick's Days in 8th grade: 1
Summers after 8th grade: 12
BSC Fights: 13
SMS Staff and Faculty: 69
Students (other than the BSC): 217: 123 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: 150