I didn't read this one as a kid, but it’s pretty much the same idea as that chain letter book. In this one, it’s Christmastime and the BSC’s doing a Secret Santa instead of regularly exchanging gifts. They each wrote down their Christmas wish and then picked them out of a hat to see who’d grant each one. We find out who wished for what and who grants it (and how) through a series of letters between the girls (and Logan).
The club also decided they don’t do enough volunteer work, and arranged to work with an organization where they respond to a kids’ letters to Santa, and give a gift to a child who’s family’s having trouble.
- Mallory wishes to be remembered forever and Logan grants it by planting a tree in her name by the middle school, with a plaque in her name. I think it’s a pretty appropriate gift for such a wish.
- Jessi wishes to dance in the NYC Ballet and Shannon has a fake program printed with her picture on it. And she says Jessi probably really will do it someday. Again, a nice way to respond to a wish she can’t really do anything about.
- Logan wishes for three more wishes (smart ass), and Stacey gives him a 4 leaf clover, a penny, and a wishbone. That’s probably the best way to grant that wish if you’re not actually some kind of genie. But this one made me laugh because when I was six I wished for three more wishes when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake. Then I forgot about them for months. I can’t remember if I actually made other wishes when I did remember though.
- Mary Anne wishes that Cam Geary would write her a “real” note, not a form letter. Dawn writes to him a couple of times with a blank card and pre-addressed envelope and he actually signs it and sends it back. Along with a personal note. I assume I don’t have to say how ridiculous this is. Cam’s supposed to be super-famous right? You’d have to write a lot more than two letters to get a handwritten response like that. And it would probably require a lot more lead time than what’s implied in this book. Or else end with a restraining order.
- Shannon wishes for a better sense of humor and Jessi gives her a joke book and some tricks/prank stuff.
- Stacey wishes she could be in NYC at Christmas time, so Claud arranges to paint a mural of it in her bedroom. I hope she’s painting this on paper and not actually on the wall, because seeing a Christmas-y NYC in July would probably get annoying.
- Dawn wishes her CA friends and her CT friends could be better friends (this is during her first stay in CA), so Kristy makes her a scrapbook that includes stuff from Sunny (she and Kristy worked together). What would actually work better would be if her CA friends made a book for the BSC and vice versa. That way they would get to know each other. But it’s still a nice gesture.
- Kristy wishes she didn't have such a big mouth. Mary Anne thinks she can’t really do anything about this, so she decides to do something else. She writes a letter to Kristy’s father telling him how much it would mean to Kristy to get a card from him. Kristy apparently sends one to him every year. And her dad does, and includes a note that he loves her. It probably wouldn’t mean as much to Kristy if she knew he had to be prompted to do it. But whatever.
- Claudia wishes she could do something meaningful for someone, and Mallory writes her a letter saying Claud granted it for herself, because of the whole charity subplot. Which brings me to……
The letter from Eliza, the girl who’s letter they’re answering, says she wants a book and a doll, but also says how she wishes she could see her sister who ran away last year. The BSC write to the girl’s parents because they want to return a friendship necklace Eliza included in the note, and get a reply that says the sister is actually living with a relative.
Claudia tracks them down and the family ends up reuniting for Christmas. Just for Christmas dinner, the sister doesn't move back home. It’s pretty sweet I think, but definitely pretty tame. In most cases a story about a teenage runaway would be darker story with a less happy ending. Also, we never find out why she ran away, which is really annoying.
- Mary Anne seems to kind of miss the point of the whole wish granting thing. Everyone else managed to find some way of symbolically granting wishes if they couldn't literally be done. But she just totally ignored it. At least be funny and buy her a muzzle or something.
- We get to see Karen’s Christmas list. Because you can’t have a book without a reference to Karen. We hear about her inviting her friend Nancy (who’s Jewish) over for Xmas dinner. I know there was one Little Sister book where this happened, but I couldn't figure out if it came out the same year as this one. At least not easily.
- Jessi thinks Stacey’s awesome. Seriously, she sends her a letter/Christmas card where we hear that Becca’s on the verge of not believing in Santa Claus. It’s kind of boring. But at the end she adds this whole paragraph about how she thinks Stacey’s smart and terrific, and that she’s proud of how responsible Stacey is about her diabetes. It’s really random.
- Claire writes to Santa asking if he stops at McDonalds during his Christmas Eve run and to ask where the reindeer go to the bathroom. I guess this was supposed to be comic relief?
- In the Chain Letter book, it made sense that the girls wrote letters to each other because they were all out-of-town. But in this one everyone except Dawn is in Stoneybrook. So it seems weird that they’re communicating via letters. I guess some of them are Christmas cards with long notes, but it still seems odd.
- I want to say Mallory was sort of lame for not doing anything except telling Claudia she made her wish come true on her own, but she’s kind of right.
- One of the cards had all this green and red confetti in it, and now it’s all over my couch.
- When I was a teenager, my friends and I did Secret Santa gifts as well, but we didn't write down wishes or anything. We just gave gifts we thought the person would like. The wish thing’s a lot more challenging, especially considering the type of wishes they all made. I mean, wishing to dance in the NY Ballet and personal letters from Cam Geary? It makes a more interesting story though.