I don’t really remember a lot of this book. I know it is one of those “very special episode” type books, all about Matt Braddock, who is deaf, and the various issues he deals with. Jessi turns her ballet show into this special performance for the deaf, and I am pretty sure it made me cringe at the sappiness then. Of course, maybe I liked it then, and just blocked out the fact that I liked something so sappy. But I am thinking I really found it awkward back then.
So the basic plot is that Jessi gets a regular sitting job for the Braddocks, including Matt, who is deaf, and his sister Haley. The Braddocks are new in town, and the kids are worried about whether they will make friends and whether kids will accept Matt. Jessi solves this problem when she introduces Matt and Haley to the kids in the neighborhood, and tells them sign language is “a secret language,” so they all want to learn it. Matt is accepted, Haley makes friends, and everyone is happy.
Meanwhile, Jessi has the lead in Coppelia at her ballet school, and the other kids in her class are jealous. Actually, they were jealous before that because she is the youngest kid in her class. But in the end, she does a great job and gets accepted at the dance school. It also helps that, by sheer coincidence, her rival at the dance school, Katie Beth, has a deaf sister. This girl’s family sounds pretty awful, because they don’t bother to try communicating with this deaf child. They just ship her off to boarding school (a decision that is basically glossed over in the book). Not that I am judging how any one should react to having a handicapped child. But, Jessi inspires the rival to learn sign language too (of course).
She also invites Matt and his classmates at his school for the deaf to her Coppelia performance, which is actually really sweet. But the cringe-worthy part is how she gives a little speech about it at the beginning of the performance telling everyone the kids are there, how they add narration (spoken and in sign language) to the production to accommodate them, and most of all, how, when Matt gives her flowers at the end, she talks to him in sign language and then translates to the audience. Who, of course, is “touched.” Like I said, it is all very “special episodey.”
- Some of these early books really have the narrator talking to the reader. This book starts with Jessi telling us how “If I weren’t so good at languages, this story might never have happened.” Later, she actually says, “I know you met some of the Pikes in the last chapter.” I don’t think they were like that in the later books, so it is very odd to come across it here.
- I don’t understand how the BSC supposed wrote those joint notebook entries. Did they just sit side-by-side taking turns writing? Because that seems like a really awkward way to do it. But, judging by what they write, they must.
- So, this is the first Jessi book and she first mentions her race on page…3.
- I have never heard this one: According to Dawn, if you can touch your nose with your tongue, you will eventually need a very big bra. The only BSC member is Kristy, but in my experience if you don’t need a bra by 8th grade, you’ll never be that big.
- Props to the continuity people- I totally remember the names of the students in Jessi’s ballet class from all her other dance school books. Katie Beth was the one who became her friend, Mary Bramstedt was the one who was anorexic, and Carrie Steinfeld was featured in that book where someone is sabotaging Jessi. I can’t remember if she is the guilty one, but she was definitely a suspect. I guess this is one of those rare things that was actually consistent.
- Jessi doesn’t understand why Haley would sometimes be annoyed at Matt. Um, because he is her little brother? Who gets a lot of attention? But that is just a guess.
- Even if you didn’t learn sign language to talk to your deaf sister, wouldn’t you at least learn some of the basics? Like, say, “bathroom?” When Jessi finds out that her rival’s sister is deaf, it is because she sees the poor girl desperately signing to ask where the bathroom is.
- It is kind of weird that Jessi takes a regular sitting job. Normally, doesn’t Kristy try not to assign them because then sitters won’t be available?
- I guess it is just lucky that whenever Jessi needs to be in a ballet performance or whenever the BSC is going on a huge trip somewhere, the Braddocks end up not needing her.
- Okay, now there is no excuse for THIS typo. Matt is playing baseball with the Pikes and the scene is supposed to be about how at first the other kids forgot to sign and were leaving Matt out. And in the middle of this conversation, we are told what Matt added to the argument. As in, what he spoke in response to other spoken words. The whole book is about how Matt is deaf and they have him talking. How the hell does a mistake like that get missed?
- Ha, I totally remember how dorky Mal and Jessi used to raise hands when they wanted to talk at BSC meetings.
- Jessi gets TEN tickets to opening night at the ballet? That seems like a lot. If they gave everyone in the show that many, there would hardly be any to sell. But it works out, because she gets to invite the whole BSC.
- Jessi visits Matt’s school and observes that the teacher puts a lot of colorful signs up, which she thinks is to counter the fact that the students can’t hear. I would agree except for the fact that it is a second grade classroom. I think most of them are full of posters and colorful crap.
- I don’t think it is really fair to compare being the only black person in your school to being the only person wearing jeans at a fancy party (which Kristy does). Or to compare being black to being deaf (which Jessi does).
- Wow, they actually acknowledge who sits for Squirt while everyone else is at Jessi’s show. It is Logan if you are interested.
- Do people really walk on stage to give flowers to the performers? I’ve never seen that happen. In fact, when I was a kid and took ballet, they would ask people not to do that. But I also haven’t seen it done at any professional shows I have attended.
- All the stuff with Matt at the performance is sweet, but awkward. I don’t want to sound insensitive to the deaf, but it just seems like there is something off about making a big deal about deaf children at the performance. Like they are putting them on display or something. I’m trying not to offend here, but I don’t think it really helps a deaf person to make such a big deal about their deafness.