Tuesday, July 14, 2009

“Sleeping Beauty’s sleeping on the job”…..BSC # 42: Jessi and the Dance School Phantom

Memory Reaction

The main thing I remember about this book is how Jessi keep talking about leg warmers. Because the “phantom” steals her leg warmers, or destroys them (or whatever), and she keeps buying new ones. But it always seemed strange because she never mentions wearing them to practice in other books. I think they just added it to this one so that there would be more things to get messed with. Also, I am trying really hard, but I can’t remember if I have ever actually see someone wear leg warmers.

I know that the basic plot of this one has some girl harassing Jessi hoping to get her to give up her part as lead in some ballet, and I am testing myself to see if I can remember which one it is. I want to say it is the “old” girl from her class (meaning, like 16), but I think she is only a suspect.

Revisited Reaction

So, we start this one with Jessi in the middle of yet another audition to a dance performance. This time it is Sleeping Beauty, and surprise, surprise, she gets the lead. She is super-happy about it, until the first rehersal. Someone steals her toe shoes from her bag. She knows she didn’t lose them, because she remembered packing them the night before, but she just can’t find them. Of course, Mme Noelle (her teacher) is very upset, but they get through the rehersal. Later, Jessi gets a note saying “Beware.” She figures out that the note is from a classmate that wants her to drop out of the show so they can take over the lead part.

As rehearsals go on, more things happen. Some of her leotards are stolen or ripped up. The same thing happens with her toe shoes and warm up clothes (including leg warmers). She also gets notes saying generic threats like “drop out, or else” and “beware.” At one rehearsal, Jessi even slips on some water and strains her ankle (but not badly enough to have to drop out of the show).

She recruits the BSC’s help and the girls sneak into a rehearsal to spy on her classmates and figure out who is guilty. They narrow it down to three: Katie Beth, the girl who was jealous of Jessi when she first joined the class, Carrie, the “old girl” who needs good parts on her resume when she graduates, and Hilary, this girl with a pushy stage mother. One day, Carrie is out sick and Jessi still gets a note, so Jessi decides it isn’t her. Then Katie Beth pushes Jessi out of the way of a piece of scenery that fell, so Jessi decides it isn’t her. That leaves Hilary.

She ends up confronting Hilary by having her write something and proving the handwriting matches the notes. Hilary confesses, and claims she did it because of all the pressure her mother puts on her. She apologizes and….Jessi lets her go. Seriously, what is up with that? These girls are all way too forgiving. Anyway, Hilary stops her tricks and decides to give up dancing after the performance. And the show goes well, Jessi is fantastic, yada, yada, yada.

Subplot: The BSC is putting on a pet show…or, they are having one for the neighborhood kids. This causes a bunch of arguments between families over who has the best pet and within families about who gets to enter each pet. But Jessi has the brilliant idea to give everyone a prize, so everyone is happy.

  • Jessi tells us how the room would be full of neon if the girls in her dance class were allowed to pick out their own leotards. I know we can’t see the girls in these books, but I think we should all be grateful that didn’t happen.
  • In this book, we are told that Dawn wears casual clothes in lots of bright colors. Is that what “California Casual” means?
  • So, clearly, I was wrong about Carrie being the phantom. But I realized it really quickly. The first day of rehearsals, when Jessi is missing her shoes Mme Noelle wants to end the rehearsal. Then Hilary is all, “no I think we should look one more time.” And of course, they find them two minutes later. So, it was pretty obvious at that point.
  • It is not really clear if Hilary actually causes Jessi to hurt her ankle, but she does leave a note that says, “I told you so. From now on, watch out.” But if Jessi thinks she did, she should really tell someone. Notes and one thing, but causing physical injury is another.
  • How come the parents of the kids these girls sit for are always so open-minded? Mallory is telling some story about how the Perkins girls and their dog were making a mess in the bathroom (washing the dog), but adds that Mrs. Perkins was okay with whatever the girls wanted to do. It is like they want to give the BSC funny stories without having them get in trouble.
  • Jessi makes a bunch of comments about the girls in her dance class being catty, but we don’t get to hear much of it. The worst is saying that one of the girls is “over-the-hill.” The only person we hear saying something even close to mean is Hilary, which should make it obvious she was guilty.
  • Linny Papadakis has a pet turtle that he paints for the show, and leaves him in the backyard to dry. Which of course leads to the turtle getting wet and ruining the paint job. But why is Linny letting his turtle loose in the backyard? Couldn’t he get lost that way?
  • Charlie drives the entire BSC to one of Jessi’s rehersals, helps sneak them in to watch, then drives them all home. Again, I have to ask. Does this guy not have a life?
  • Mallory thinks that one of the girls in Jessi’s class is so nice that she must be faking it, but Jessi refuses to consider her a suspect. Wasn’t the point of having the BSC watch her rehearsal to get a second opinion on her classmates?
  • If the BSC went to the trouble of going to a rehearsal, wouldn’t it make sense for one of them to hide in the dressing room to see if they could catch someone messing with Jessi’s stuff?
  • I am not sure why Jessi thinks that Katie Beth saving her from getting hit with scenery means she isn’t the one sending her notes. Just because she didn’t want you dead, doesn’t mean she doesn’t want you out of the show.
  • Jessi doesn’t tell any one but the BSC about what is happening because she doesn’t want her parents to worry and she doesn’t want to her dance teacher to think she is making trouble. But Madame Noelle actually comes out and asks her what is bothering her and she says nothing.
  • After Jessi has figured out Hilary is the one sending her notes, she comes up with a plan to corner her alone in the dressing room, and tell her that Madame Noelle needs her to write a sign. Then she spends two days obsessing over it while waiting. But when she puts it into action, she realizes she never thought of what she was asking her to write. Smooth.
  • At the pet show, Jessi, Mallory, and Kristy aren’t judges since they have siblings entering pets in the show. Which makes sense (although it doesn’t really matter, since again, everyone is getting a prize).
  • Now, Mary Anne isn’t allowed to be a judge because she “loves her kitten, Tiger, so much that she might be biased toward any cats that were entered.” That isn’t really giving Mary Anne enough credit, is it?
  • They give everyone at the pet show a prize. But I would think some kids would still be upset, since some of the prizes are “smartest” or “cutest” and others are things like “most unusually colored shell” and “shortest legs.”
  • Early in the book, they announce the parts and we are told Carrie is the Bluebird of Happiness. In the middle, Jessi tells the BSC that Carrie is the Lilac Fairy. Then at the end, Jessi tells us that she dances with Carrie as the Bluebird of Happiness. I almost didn’t notice that error, but it was definitely there.
  • When they go to the performance, Stacey wears a tuxedo. Isn’t there another book where she does that? Or was that Claudia?


maria said...

Claudia wears the tuxedo.

I never read this one so thanks for the recap.

Jessi's books were always boring, except when they focused on her dancing.

I always thought she was really smart and mature for her age (more so than Mallory) and it made me wonder if Ann M. Martin and ghostwriters plotted it that way in order to avoid any backlash from readers. You know. Making sure the "black" girl is smart and amazing.
We never heard many bitchy comments from Jessi. (except for with Aunt Cecelia and when they were leading up to Mallory having mono-but that was a "misunderstanding")

SJSiff said...

Hey...why DIDN'T a BSC member stake out the locker room? I never noticed that, and I read this particular book a lot, since it was one of my favorites.

Devika said...

"Also, I am trying really hard, but I can’t remember if I have ever actually see someone wear leg warmers."

I think you said you were from NJ earlier, and as a fellow NJ-er, I can guarantee you've seen leg warmers!!! They even had a brief resurgence amongst the Brooklyn hipster crowd (which thankfully died down).


nikki said...

Claudia wore the tux when she hosted her radio show.

And now I hate myself a little more for automatically knowing that...

BSC Snarker, aka Kristen said...

Thanks for that link Devika ...maybe I blocked out my memories of them.

Anonymous said...

Dancewear and shoes are sooooo expensive. Did she at least have to pay Jessi's parents back for taking/ruining her things?!

Marianna E said...

I had this book, and it was one of my favorites because I loved ballet and took lessons as a child. I remember wanting toe shoes soooo bad, but my ballet teacher advised me not to get them until I was older and more experienced.