This is another book where Jessi gets a “special issue” to deal with. This time, it is a little girl with cancer, which about as depressing as the BSC ever gets. Actually, I remember the girl coming back in a later book, and really liking her then. I probably just liked the character, because even when I was eight my tolerance for the “special issues” books was not really high.
So, Becca is involved with some club at school where they do a bunch of volunteer work. One of the advisors is taking a leave of absence and Jessi volunteers to help out in her place. Apparently, an 11-year-old is fully qualified to take the place of a teacher advisor. She does baby-sit, you know. I also don’t know how Jessi has time to do this when she is always talking about how busy she is with ballet, but I guess we are not supposed to think about that.
Since the BSC is too much of a clique to do anything alone, Jessi gets the rest of the girls to agree to all do volunteer work for a month instead/in addition to sitting. They are not really clear on that part. Of course everyone thinks that is great and claims they are going to keep volunteering but none of it is ever mentioned again.
But the real story is that while helping out at the club, Jessi meets a fourth grader Danielle, who is friends with Becca and has leukemia. She is back at school after being in the hospital for months, and pretty much is portrayed as a cliché cancer patient: she wears a shirt that says bald is beautiful, she has a wish to graduate elementary school, she is super-optimistic about life despite having cancer and living in the hospital. Danielle bonds a lot with Jessi, who helps her to go to Disney World by contacting a Make-a-Wish-Foundation rip-off (I guess they couldn’t use the name). But, at the end she ends up back in the hospital, so no miracles or happy endings this time. Which, is kind of sad, but realistic.
- What kind of 11-year-old complains about not having to take care of their siblings as much (because of Aunt Cecilia)?
- Jessi wants to help out the Kids Club, which is cool. But why make it a BSC project? Why do they all have to volunteer? I HATE when they do that. I guess it is somewhat realistic, but I don’t think all teenagers are that bad about it. And it is good that they are volunteering, it is just lame that they do everything in packs.
- Don’t all teachers get paid to help with clubs and stuff? The club Becca is in makes a point of saying how the teacher advisor's are volunteers. I know several teachers, and when they are teacher advisor's they get extra money. It is often WHY they do it. That is not to say there could not be exceptions, but still.
- Kristy is kind of annoying. She goes on about how there are so many different things she could have done to volunteer, because of how talented she is.
- Here is where the other girls volunteered –
- Kristy: Some after-school center for kids whose parents work. Claudia: Helping out at an art class. Karen was in the class, so don’t think she got off easy. Stacey: volunteering at a diabetes clinic for kids. Mary Anne: Helping a family who have a brain damaged little boy. Dawn: Helping at a center for kids who are physically disabled. Mallory: Working at some playground where kids can go after school.
- I find it amazing that there are all these places where kids can go after school when their parents work. (see: Kristy and Mallory). Isn’t that what the BSC is for?
- Shouldn’t Charlotte be a year a head of Becca? They are the same age and Charlotte skipped a year in school. Hence, not the same grade.
- Jessi hears about kids with cerebral palsy at the foundation Dawn is volunteering at, and starts mentally comparing who is more unfortunate….them or the girl with cancer. Yeah, that is a fair comparison.
- Okay, so this book is from 1991. Keep this in mind when you read this next part. Kristy talks to a fourth grade boy asking how to spell “Leonardo” and “Donatello.” She is amazed at what he could possibly be working on where he needs to know how to spell such advanced words. She finally asks him if she if he is writing about famous artists, and (as I am sure you can guess), the kid tells her it is a story about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Because that is what fourth grade boys were into back then. Kristy has a little brother, she should know that.
- Danielle writes a bunch of postcards from her three day trip to Disney World….how does she write one while the plane is landing. Don’t they make you put up those tray tables? And aren’t planes kind of shaky while landing? And I get that she is sending postcards to be nice, but isn’t she going to beat them all home?
- Jessi calls the family to find out about Danielle being back in the hospital and only talks to her six-year-old brother. That is informative.
- Four cents from this book went to the real Make a wish foundation. Apparently that raised enough money to send a real kid to Disney World. At least something good came out of this book.