This is another one I first read as an adult, before doing this review. And I thought it was the worst BSC book I’d ever read. Abby drove me crazy though the whole thing. But, I set out to do every book, so I am making a sacrifice for it.
The copy of this book that I have goes from page 1 - 26, then repeats pages 1 – 26, then jumps to page 59. And I no longer have access to the library I got the full book from the other time I read it. So, I missed a couple chapters, but since BSC books don’t exactly have a Lost-level of complexity, I think I got most of the plot. But if the details seem light, that’s why.
Abby’s taking part in a Special Olympics soccer program, where kids with intellectual disabilities (“athletes”) play on a team alongside kids who don’t (“partners”). Abby assumes she’ll be the star of the team, because she apparently has a super-high opinion of herself. Or maybe she’s picked up on the rule about BSC members always being fabulous with their hobbies. So, she’s surprised to find out that one of the athletes, Erin, is a really good player. She’s also annoyed that her coach wants her to play a different position than she usually does. This all makes Abby a bit competitive and she spends more time trying to make herself look good than helping the team win. Erin ends up doing the same thing, and the team loses their first game. Their coach benches them for the next two games.
Meanwhile, the BSC and some of the kids they sit for start a booster club to support Abby and the team. This means that not only do we see Abby acting like a total brat, we also have to hear the BSC sitting in the stands talking about how Abby’s hogging the ball and wondering why she isn’t passing. Maybe this was to make it really obvious what Abby’s doing was wrong? In case someone couldn’t tell from Abby’s inner monolouge? They also have a car wash to raise money to surprise the team with uniforms or jerseys or something. I don’t really get why the kids all care so much, but whatever. There are worse ways to incorporate the kids into the book.
At the end of the second game where Abby’s benched, the coach puts her and Erin in the game for a few minutes. Since she’s so happy to be playing, Abby manages to be a team player and the game ends in a tie. Afterwards, the rest of the team goes out for pizza, but Abby skips it to go for a run. Because she’s a brat and doesn’t want to be around people when they have no reason to congratulate her. Erin shows up to run as well, and after they sort of race, they talk and pretty much make up. Abby also apologizes for acting like a “stupid jerk.” In the next game, they both manage to work together and help the team win. Thankfully, they don’t end up best friends or anything cliché like that.
The subplot’s that Abby’s mother’s planning to take her and Anna to Long Island to visit their grandparents and her father’s grave. In the chapters I missed, we apparently hear about why this upsets Abby so much. I’m going to assume it’s just her still dealing with grief over his death. She convinces her mom to let her stay at Kristy’s, claiming she made a commitment to be on this team and needs to go to the game. But when her mom and Anna come home, she’s upset about not being with them on the trip. It makes her seem even more bratty, but I’ll give her some leeway here because a dead parent’s a bigger deal than not being a star soccer player. But eventually, she tells her mom about how she’s feeling and they talk, blah, blah, blah.
- So, the book’s called “Abby the Bad Sport,” but I think “brat” is a better way to describe her. In case you couldn’t tell from my recap.
- It seems weird for Abby to be giving us the club backstory, when she was hardly around for any of it. How does she know the details of Dawn and Mary Anne’s parents getting married? Or how hard it was for Claudia when her grandmother died? Yeah, she’d hear about some of that stuff, but it comes off like too much of a checklist to be natural. Unless all that stuff was in the wonderful club notebook.
- Abby makes an aside about how people who won’t be pushed around or bullied are always called “pushy” themselves. She’s talking about Kristy at the time. I think her point’s really that it’s okay for a person to be assertive, but it doesn’t really work, because sometimes Kristy’s beyond that and actually pushy herself.
- Claudia outfit: “She was in a little crop-top muscle shirt that she had batikked green and blue. She’d sewed a bunch of buttons up the front as if it were a vest. She also had on skinny black shorts, one blue sock and one green sock, and black Doc Martens with one blue shoelace (on the foot with the green sock) and one green shoelace (on the foot with the blue sock). Her long black hair had been gathered into a single braid. A blue ribbon with more buttons attached to it was woven into the braid. Her earrings? Buttons, naturally.”
- Is it sad that I knew Claudia was going to do the reverse sock/shoelace color thing before I finished reading that description?
- Abby tells us that Karen’s a “stickler for the rules.” Which is only sort of true. Karen’s a stickler for everyone ELSE following the rules. She likes to do whatever she wants.
- Even the kids notice that Abby’s being an annoying brat. While they’re watching the game some of them say, “I’m never going to act like a bad sport like that.” Which is actually really annoying as well. But maybe it’s realistic that kids would say something like that, even if it isn’t really true.
- After seeing the soccer games, all the kids in town suddenly want to be soccer players too. Kristy even jokes that they’ll need to make a soccer-version of the Krushers. It just seems odd to me. Have they never seen it played and now think it’s exciting? Or had they heard of it before but not realized how it could be fun?
- I have to say, I don’t see how watching a soccer game could make it seem exciting. But I hate sports and spent my childhood reading the same books over and over, so I guess I shouldn’t judge.
- This must have been somewhere between pages 27 and 58, because I remember from the last time I read it and didn’t see it this time: There’s an argument where Erin asks Abby if she doesn’t like her because she’s “retarded.” (I use the quotes, cause I don’t really think that’s the politically correct term anymore, which made it seem jarring every time someone in this book used its. The Special Olympics website uses “intellectual disabilities”).
- Sadly, I can’t remember Abby’s answer, which means it probably wasn’t very interesting, in either a good or bad way.
- This book seems like a PSA or something, but not about the existence of the Special Olympics, or intellectual disabilities in general. It’s more about the importance of good sportsmanship behavior. It made it really annoying to read as an adult.
- There are at least three times in this book where Abby (or someone) uses the word stupid to describe someone, then we have to hear someone (including Karen) say how you should never call anyone stupid. It gets more obnoxious each time. Not because I disagree, it’s just annoying to be preached at.
- For the trip to Long Island, Mrs. Stevenson drives home for her office (in NYC), picks up Anna, then drives out to Long Island. That seems a bit crazy to me. Why not have Anna take the train in to meet her mom there?
- Not taking the train could be a safety issue, if it was one of the other BSC members. But, Stacey takes the train alone in all the time, and HER mother can be over protective. Mrs. Stevenson seems more relaxed, so I don’t think she’d have a problem with it. It’s also summer, so Anna could have gone to work with her mom or something.
- I think I’m harping on this so much, because in the past couple of weeks I’ve had to deal with ridiculous traffic getting into NYC.
- Abby doesn’t tell anyone she was benched, but at half time of the game, Karen comes over to tell Abby she’s sure she’ll play later on. Abby just nods and smiles, but then Karen walks over to tell Erin the same thing, who tells her about the benching. Karen of course tells Kristy.
- Kristy tells Abby she would probably have lied about being benched too….but then she proceeds to get into a fight with Abby for being such a “bad sport.”
- The game that Abby says she has to stay home for is the game where she’s benched. Again, I’ll cut her some slack here because of the whole dead father issue. But still. Abby’s annoying.
- More proof that Abby’s a brat: Her team wins when she sits out….and all she thinks about is how they would have done even better if she’d been playing.
- The jerseys the team gets are all colored purple. If they explain why, I didn’t see it. It was probably just the color randomly assigned to them, but it made me curious about something – In the town I grew up in, most of the little kid teams wore blue, which was the same color of the high school teams. So, I was wondering what colors SMS uses. There were a couple spirit week type things, where each grade dressed in a different color but I can’t remember a team color. And sadly, this is the type of think I actually wonder about sometimes.
- So, maybe this did get an explanation and I missed it….but I really don’t get why anyone cares about Abby’s team enough to create a booster club supporting it.
- I’m guessing that one of the BSCers mentioned the team on a sitting job (for the Pikes maybe), and the kids got excited about the idea of it? It sounds typical for the BSC, but still a little unrealistic for so many of the kids to show up at all the games. Maybe they heard about the Special Olympics tie-in and thought supporting it was important? And Abby did mention early on that they didn’t have a sponsor. But still. It seems weird.
- What’s really silly is that they seem to only get the uniforms in time for their last game. Which seems like a bit of a waste.