Sorry about the delay posting. I read this a week or two ago, thinking I’d be posting the week of Christmas, but the holidays ended up being a bit of a time suck for me. I never read this as a kid, but I picked it thinking it would be a light, fluffy holiday book. However, it’s really kind of a downer (and is really boring), but I’ll get to that below.
It’s December in Stoneybrook, which means it’s almost Christmas. It’s also almost Kwanzaa, which is important to Jessi, since apparently, her family’s black. I know, you never would have known if not for this book, right?
Anyway, Jessi and Becca are super-excited about the holidays, and Becca particularly has a super long Christmas list. Aunt Cecelia refers to her as spoiled, and Mr. Ramsey flips out, and he’s all, “I’m letting you live in my house, but you don’t get to decide how my children are raised.” So, Cecelia makes a point of being nice. While driving back from the mall, Squirt’s whining because his car seat strap’s bothering him. Becca wants to take it off for him, and Cecelia finally agrees to this a couple blocks from home – and she tells Jessi to unhook it. Jessi does, and they are immediately in a car accident. Aunt Cecelia slowed down when a traffic light changed to yellow, but the car behind them doesn’t and crashes into them.
Everyone’s fine except Squirt. He does seem to be okay, but since he hit his head and might have a concussion, the doctors want him to stay in the hospital for a while. This kind of sucks all the Christmas spirit out of the Ramsey house. This is exasperated by the fact that Aunt Cecelia, Jessi, and Becca all blame themselves for their part in Squirt’s car seat getting unhooked. In addition, Aunt Cecilia and Mr. Ramsey seem to blame each other for the accident. Every one keeps snapping at each other, and it’s rather depressing even it wasn’t a holiday story. Squirt finally gets out of the hospital on the day after Christmas, but everyone’s still in a bad mood. Finally, a few days into Kwanzaa some of Jessi’s relatives come to visit. After some more squabbling, the Ramsey’s finally starts to cheer up and get past the accident. What finally turns them around is Squirt laughing at himself for burping….somehow this gets everyone else to laugh, even Cecelia. But one chapter of people being happy doesn’t make the other fourteen chapters retroactively good.
Meanwhile, Jessi’s planning a Kwanzaa festival at the Stoneybrook community center. She enlists the help of a bunch of African-American kids in Stoneybrook (that we’ve never met before and will probably never hear from again). The rest of the BSC’s also helping, as well as some of their regular clients. Jessi’s happy that they are all showing an interest in Kwanzaa.
- At a BSC meeting, the girls are trying to figure out the difference between sleet and freezing rain (it’s doing one of them outside). So, Claudia’s all, “I’ll ask Janine.” Which makes sense, but I think it’s one of the few times Claudia’s actually happy to use Janine’s brain.
- After Janine answers the question, Abby refers to her as a walking CD-ROM. Which feels half out-of-date and half too modern for a BSC book.
- At the mall, Cecelia parks in a handicap spot. Which seems out of character. Isn’t she all about rules?
- Jessi says how she’s glad that organizing the festival lets her meet other African-American families in Stoneybrook. But, it also seems like she already knows them. She tells Becca to call the Fords, the Ingrams, etc., which suggests they know each other, since Becca wouldn’t call random strangers. Also, the kids are all making a present for Jessi before their first scene together, and they want to go visit Squirt in the hospital.
- I have a hard time believing Aunt Cecelia would tell Jessi to unstrap Squirt from his car seat. And that a “talented” baby-sitter like Jessi would do it.
- I think this is one of the few Christmas-themed BSC books. There are a few that happen in December, or that reference the school’s winter dance, but not a lot that actually cover Christmas itself.
- The accident happens after Cecelia and Jessi took Becca and Squirt to see Santa at the mall. Jessi says it was supposed to be a “quick visit” so that she’d be back for a festival planning meeting. But, who thinks that seeing Santa at a mall’s going to be a quick visit?
- Aunt Cecelia gets all upset at the store because she finds out her favorite kind of blender is now being made with plastic (or something). But do people really have favorite blenders? They may have a favorite brand of kitchen appliances, but it isn’t like you buy a blender every month and always get the same one.
- Becca gets the flu, so she has to stay home on Christmas when the rest of her family goes to visit Squirt (Mallory volunteers to sit for her). However, this seems kind of mean to me. I mean, I can certainly understand why you would want to be with your baby in the hospital on Christmas. But wouldn’t you also want to be with your eight-year-old? I think it would have made more sense for them to go in shifts or something.
- Jessi thinks Mallory was really nice to volunteer to sit for Becca on Christmas. However, I think if I had seven loud younger siblings, I’d want a break from them trying out new toys they just got.
- One thing I like about the Jessi books, is that when you see her with her family, she’ll actually act like a kid. Mallory and Kristy seem to always act like parents of their younger siblings, but Jessi will actually joke around with Becca.
- The Kwanzaa festival prep chapters are really boring…so is the chapter when it actually happens. Not because Kwanzaa itself is boring, just because it has the exact same arc as every book where the BSC puts on some “event” with kids. They round up a bunch of kids, they make some food, they rehearse a show, they get a little overwhelmed, the kids do “cute things,” and it all ends up okay.
- Now, why the BSC’s running the entire festival’s a whole other question. I think it’s fine that they have all their talent shows in Mary Anne’s barn, but this is an event happening at the town’s community center. I would think at least one or two adults would be involved.
- At one of the planning sessions for the festival, a bunch of kids are cooking at Mary Anne’s house. And apparently, Richard and a bunch of other parents are sitting in the other room the whole time….Which seems even weirder.
- I was trying to figure out why I found this book so boring, and I think it’s because there’s almost no interaction with the other BSC members, except a little bit of Mallory. Yeah, they show up, but none of them do anything noteworthy. Any of the five older girls could have been doing/saying each thing.