This is another book I didn’t get to as a kid.
Stoneybrook Middle School’s testing their students for “health checks” – hearing, vision, and scoliosis. When Abby’s checked, she gets a letter telling her mom to have her checked by an orthopedist. Anna gets a similar note. Abby’s very upset and scared about what this means, but Anna seems a bit calmer.
When they go to the doctor, Abby’s told her scoliosis is very minor and she doesn’t need to do anything about it. Anna, however, is told she needs to wear a brace, although it’s a “low-profile” one that’s worn under her clothes and doesn’t show. Abby feels a little guilty that she’s okay and Anna isn’t, and thinks that since she and Anna are twins they should be going through this together. She vows to be by Anna’s side and give her all the support she needs, even though it’s obvious she’s annoying the crap out of Anna.
Since Anna will need slightly larger clothes to go over the brace, Abby goes out and buys her a whole bunch of new clothes with money her mom gave her. However, Abby picks out stuff that she likes (a jogging suit, sweats, etc), that Anna would never wear. She also tries to cheer Anna up by making her play a “fun” video game instead of watching some “boring” classical music performance on TV….even though Anna was enjoying the concert. This all ends up driving Anna crazy. The two girls get into an argument at school, when Alan Gray accidentally knocks Anna down in the hallway and Abby starts yelling at him about it.
Later, Abby sees Anna sledding down a hill (at a BSC event), and is worried for a minute, until she sees that Anna’s fine. Then the girls make up. Anna admits she was acting cold because she was dealing things in her own way, and Abby realizes she was going overboard with all the help. Abby also admits that she feels worried that because Anna needs a brace and she doesn’t, it seems like they aren’t twins anymore. She fails to recognize that she and Anna are already different medically speaking, because of her asthma/allergies.
The subplot’s about a winter carnival, yet another annoying BSC event. However, this plays out a little different than usual. Instead of Kristy having the idea, then getting several chapters of the BSC meeting with kids to bake cookies, or practice a talent, or whatever, we get chapters of the BSC and their charges shoveling snow to earn money for the carnival. Unfortunately, this change doesn’t make the chapters any better. They finally get everything they need, but at this point there’s almost no snow left on the ground. The girls think they’ll have to cancel, but it starts snowing that morning, just in the nick of time to make a great event.
- Stoneybrook must have really crappy weathermen/women. In the blizzard super-special, snow had been predicted for ages with none arriving, which explained why everyone was so unprepared when it actually happened. In the Sea City one, they didn’t believe predictions of a hurricane until the last minute. And here, they don’t know that it will snow the day of the carnival.
- The back of the book says that Abby and Anna weren’t dressed alike as babies, but still have stuff in common. Except there was a whole section of Abby’s autobiography about them dressing alike. I don’t know which book came first, but one of them’s wrong. Probably this one, since I think the back cover of a book isn’t written by the same people as the ones who write the actual content.
- Hey, some consistency. Abby tells us how she hates January (and February). Which is the same thing she said in one of the mysteries. But, I think other characters had the same complaint, so I’m thinking it was really Ann Martin or a ghostwriter with the problem.
- The health checks are run really badly. They cancel classes for all the 8th graders and send them to the gym, where they all wait in line for their turn to be checked. I remember having these in elementary school (not middle school) and they just sent a few people to the nurse’s office at a time. Sending everyone at once is just a waste of time.
- Claudia outfit: “Multicolored, tie-dyed painter’s overalls she’d dyed herself over a blue, hand-beaded long-sleeved shirt. Five colorful, bead-studded papier-mâché bracelets clattered softly on her wrist whenever she moved her arm.” I’m not really surprised Claudia dyed her overalls herself, cause where the hell would she buy tie-dyed overalls?
- Haley Braddock has “short blonde hair (with a long tail down her back).” Have we been told this before? It totally changes my vision of Haley.
- Abby can be really annoying. I didn’t read that many of her books, but from what I did read, I think she had a tendency to be a bit it obnoxious. Not all the time, but enough to be annoying.
- I’m not sure why, but the BSC first tries to make money shoveling snow in Kristy’s neighborhood…where the driveways are longer and most people hire a plowing service. Also, most of the people doing the shoveling (The rest of the BSC, some charges) have to be driven over (in the snow) to do any work.
- The one job they do get on Kristy’s street is to shovel a very long, steep driveway. After the finish, the woman who lives there gives them $10, and half of that is because she liked a snow sculpture some of the kids did in her yard (they got bored shoveling). The BSC thinks it is too low, but shouldn’t they have agreed to a price beforehand. Also, this also happened in a Sleepover Friends book.
- Abby hasn’t heard of scoliosis before, which I find a little surprising. I remember schools making a big deal about it when I was in elementary school. That would have been before this book came out, so I assume the condition was in the public eye by then.
- The BSC gets the kids to help them shovel, which seems a bit mean to me. I don’t know if they split the money with them, but they do charge (albeit very little) at the carnival. So, the kids helped them earn money that’s then used to make things for them to buy?
- Abby’s sitting for the Braddocks on a day when they’re shoveling snow, and Kristy wants to start shoveling before the job starts. So, Abby calls Mrs. Braddock to see if she can start watching the kids earlier, and Mrs. Braddock’s thrilled. Parents in Stoneybrook really can’t stand being around their children, can they?
- Abby gets her hair cut at Gloriana’s House of Hair, which she tells us once butchered Karen’s hair. I’m not sure why Abby knows that when she wasn’t living in Stoneybook at the time, but it was the subject of a Little Sister book. Maybe the BSC has a secret sitting notebook where they laugh about all the bad things that happen to their annoying charges?
- The reason Abby gets her hair cut is because she’s trying to show support for Anna or something like that. I guess she is just doing it to make them seem more twin-like?
- Abby asks Stacey to go shopping with her for Anna, and then proceeds to ignore her advice. However, maybe this was because Stacey recommended Laura Ashley outfits for Anna. That seems a bit young for a thirteen-year-old, doesn’t it?
- For someone who supposedly has a connection with her twin sister, Abby sure seems clueless about how Anna’s actually feeling/thinking.
- Kristy tries to put an announcement on the radio about the carnival being cancelled. You gotta love how important she thinks a BSC carnival is.
- How fast was it snowing that it “saved” the BSC’s carnival? The snow was almost gone the morning of the carnival, then it starts to snow. By the afternoon there’s enough snow for sledding and making snow sculptures. It seems like that would need to be pretty heavy snow, in which case most people would not be venturing out.