I always just think of this book as the one that introduced Derek Masters, the child star, who I always liked as a character. He makes a few other appearances down the line. The scene that really sticks in my head is the one where Jessi first meets Derek. I remember how shocked she was that he didn’t look anything like the character he played on his show. I think the main difference was that the character wore glasses, but Derek didn’t. And when he explained it to Jessi, he was all, “It’s only the character, I have twenty-twenty vision.” I guess this makes the BSC the only place other than Superman where glasses seem to make that big of a difference in someone’s looks.
Now, the reason this book’s a significant one, is that it was the starting point in the books I owned sequentially. I was missing a lot of the early ones, but starting at #27 I had every single one. However, at some point, I loaned out one and it made another hole (which drove me crazy).
The book starts with Jessi learning about the existence of Derek. The quick background’s that he’s an eight-year-old kid from Stoneybrook, who did some commercials/modeling. He ended up getting a role on a TV show called P.S. 162, which is about an inner-city classroom. The Masters family moved to L.A. when Derek got the role, but they kept their house in Stoneybrook. Coincidentally, right after Jessi learns about Derek, his mother calls the BSC. The family’s back in Stoneybrook while Derek’s show’s on hiatus, and of course they need baby-sitters.
Jessi gets many of the jobs and bonds with Derek. However, he’s having a hard time adjusting back to life in a normal school. The girls chase him around and the boys give him a hard time. Derek tells Jessi stories about what the kids do to him, and singles out one of them, named John, as the worst. He supposedly does things like throw books across the playground and push people down in the playground. Jessi nicknames John the “Superbrat.” After awhile, things get better for Derek. The turning point’s when Claudia’s sitting for him. They run into some other boys on the playground, and Claudia invites them back to Derek’s house. They end up getting along, but none of the boys is the Superbrat.
However, not soon after he makes friends, Derek gets a part in a TV movie, which is starting shooting fairly quickly. So, the family’s moving back to LA. I’m not sure why they bothered moving back to Connecticut and enrolling the boys in school if they were trying to get him other work during the show’s hiatus. But then we wouldn’t have a book, so I’ll go with it. Jessi gets the BSC to plan a surprise party to say goodbye. They do it as a breakfast party, which I always thought seemed like a cool idea. They invite Derek’s whole class, but can’t track down John (aka the Superbrat). Afterwards, Jessi asks Derek about this. Derek admits that there was no Superbrat and that when he talked about John, he was talking about things he did to other kids. Apparently, he thought acting like an asshole would help him make friends.
Now, while all this was happening, Jessi was auditioning to appear in a production of Swan Lake at the Stoneybrook Civics Center....aka the greatest theater ever. Or at least a practically “off-off-Broadway” theater. Derek suggests Jessi look into modeling and acting. His logic’s that then she could become an actress like him and move to LA, so he could still see her. So, Jessi decides out of nowhere that she doesn’t care about ballet anymore. She gets her supposedly strict parents to agree to her calling talent agencies about modeling jobs. However, she DOES end up getting a part in the ballet and realizes she doesn’t want to model after all.
I like that Jessi was only auditioning for (and only got) a smaller part in the ballet, she’s just a member of the corps. It makes sense that would be the case for this type of show, and it’s kind of annoying for her to always be the lead.
After Jessi finds out that a kid from Stoneybrook has a part on a TV show, she gets very excited and thinks, “wow, I can’t wait to bring this up at the next BSC meeting!” Because these girls can’t just talk to their friends, they need to bring it up at a meeting?
Jessi mentions that keeping track of Derek’s show business career’s an entire job for Mrs. Masters. But she never mentions what Mr. Masters does. In fact, he’s hardly mentioned. But what kind of job does he have that he can just move back and forth between Connecticut and California?
Claudia outfit: “She had two French braids pulled back into one…she was wearing a bright pink T-shirt, a short red flouncy skirt, and underneath the skirt she had on black footless tights that she had rolled up to mid-calf.” I always wished I could French braid my own hair.
Are we really supposed to believe that Stoneybrook Civic Center’s such a wonderful theater? And that all these dancers from New York City come to Stoneybrook for the audition? Really?
Jessi says that Derek lets his little brother win at Candy Land. Now, it has been a long time since I have seen a Candy Land board, but how do you let someone win? Don’t you just draw cards to move ahead spaces, and the person who gets to the end first wins?
Derek has some interesting insults in his vocabulary: “Anvil head, cactus brain, and pizza breath.” He’s talking to the triplets when he uses them.
When Derek talks about how going back to a “normal” school was hard he mentions that the teacher made him stand in front of room and talk a little about working on a TV show. Which, I really don’t think is that bad.
Now, having a reporter and photographer in the classroom when Derek enters is a bit obnoxious. At the very least, they should have given Derek (and his parents) a heads up.
Of course, when Karen hears about a kid from Stoneybrook getting famous, she thinks she can follow in his tracks. Then when she finally gets a chance to meet Derek, she’s too embarrass to introduce herself. Kristy ends up doing it for her.
Becca’s also pretty obnoxious around Derek. She has a crush on another kid on the show, so she keeps running around after Derek and asking questions about the other kid.
Apparently, P.S. 162’s the hot new family show. Jessi and Kristy’s families both watch it together (at least occasionally). But it sounds more like a junior Saved by the Bell to me. Derek even plays the part of a science geek named Waldo, which has me picturing Screech.
I guess the Derek is the Superbrat thing’s supposed to be a surprise, but it really shouldn’t be. There’s one point where Nicky specifically tells Mallory (who tells Jessi) that Derek threw a kid’s lunch all over him. And Jessi’s all, “oh, the Superbrat pushed him too far.” She never even considers that Derek could be doing something wrong.
There are some girls at the Swan Lake audition that stand around criticizing whatever dancer happens to be on stage. Jessi keeps referring to them as “cliquey” and “gossipy,” but what I think she really means is bitchy.
I also don’t think “Superbrat” is the best word to use when talking about someone who’s essentially a bully. But I guess “asshole” was too strong for a kid’s book.
Derek and Mrs. Masters pick Jessi up at her dance audition, and the’re apparently there long enough for Derek to write down a bunch of notes the bitchy girls were making about her performance. I remembered this part, but I thought there was some explanation for them picking her up, like they were on their way home from somewhere. But, no. Mrs. Master’s just offered to do it because with Derek’s show on break, she didn’t have enough to do.
The BSC knows something’s off about the Superbrat, because there’s no John in Derek’s class. I find that a little hard to believe. I think there were 4-5 Johns in my graduating class, so I would think an elementary school class would have at least one.
This book had another one of those scenes were I could envision the entire scene as soon as I read it. In this case, it’s the fact that the girls all wear bathrobes at Derek’s going away party (because it was in the morning). Kristy also wanted them to wear curlers in their hair, but everyone else refused.
The whole thing with Jessi and modeling is even more random than I remembered it. Derek mentions it, she thinks, “hey, yeah! I could model and act.” Then she starts calling all these talent agencies. I thought I remembered there being a little more build up to it, but there’s not.
7 months ago