Title: Jessica and the Brat Attack
Summary: More than she can handle…
Jessica Wakefield can’t wait for the school fair – until she gets stuck being in charge of the water-balloon booth. Who wants to be drenched by every kid at Sweet Valley Middle School? So when her twin sister, Elizabeth, is offered a baby-sitting job that day, Jessica sees the perfect opportunity to steal the job away and stick her sister with the water-balloon booth.
But Jessica’s plan backfires. The kids she baby-sits turn out to be real monsters. The minute their parents leave, they begin tearing up the house – and her! Jessica needs help fast. But will Elizabeth feel too betrayed and too wet to come to her sister’s aid?
Tagline: Jessica meets her match when she takes up baby-sitting!
Wait, so we just finished a book that was all about them pretending to switch places because they switch places so often, and now we have non-consensual switching places? I am already tired of this Twin Magic Gone Wrong thing and all I’ve done is read the summary.
All the sixth graders are excited about their upcoming fair, which is to raise money for future class trips, including the people sitting together at lunch: Lila Fowler, Jessica Wakefield, Julie Porter — wait, what? Why is Julie sitting with the Unicorns? Or why are Lila and Jessica not sitting with the Unicorns and are sitting with her? [Dove: Haven’t you noticed the Unicorns drop their “Unicorns only” snobbery as the plot demands? Or maybe this is the first time it’s happened.]
Julie shoots down Jessica’s dream of running the Wheel of Fortune (alas, not like the game show, but a fortune telling booth, basically); they will pick numbers out of the hate to learn who will be in charge of what booth so it is fair.
Lila teases her that she might get stuck with the water-balloon toss. Funny ‘cause it’s true, right? (Wrong.)
Elizabeth Wakefield joins them then, and clearly this book is throwing their established lunchroom traditions out the window and it is chaos and despair.
Elizabeth is not running a booth at all; she’s helping Olivia Davidson design the posters instead. That actually sounds more like a Jessica thing than an Elizabeth thing, considering there shouldn’t be a ton of writing on the posters. Also, am I supposed to know who the fuck Olivia is? Because at this moment, I don’t. Thank god we have a character cheat sheet: according to Dove (who wrote the cheat sheet), Olivia is a “quirky hippie artist. Ought to beware of fridges and earthquakes.” Apparently she’s turned up in four books we’ve recapped, and I wrote three of those recaps. This bodes well.
Requisite the twins look alike but act very different: Jessica is going to burn the school to the ground so everyone will pay attention to her; Elizabeth is quiet enough to simply kill everyone and bury them in the backyard. Or Nora’s backyard. Whatever.
(Now we’re being told that not just Elizabeth, but her BFFs Julie and Amy Sutton all call the Unicorns the “Snob Squad” even though they never have and, per Dove, never do.)
After Elizabeth is done eating, she goes to find Amy, because it’s been awhile since Elizabeth saved anyone’s day. Amy’s upset because she accidentally double booked herself for Saturday; she wants to run a booth, but she promised to baby-sit for Mrs Sampson at the same time. This is why you need a damn planner, Amy. Embrace it. Google Calendar won’t come for you for awhile. [Dove: Wing, not everyone enjoys owning a planner as much as you. I’ve seen Wing shop for planners. She treats is like X-Factor, there’s the free-for-all section, then she whittles it down, then she makes a list of pros and cons, and eventually she picks a winner.]
Elizabeth offers to baby-sit in her place, and Amy is thrilled. If I were Mrs Sampson, I would not be thrilled to have a strange preteen turning up to baby-sit my kids even if I did have advanced warning.
Amy catches Elizabeth up on the kids: she’ll be sitting for the two youngest Sampson boys (there are four in total, and the older two are “monsters” Amy says). The worst the younger ones will do is tie her to a chair and try to cut off all her hair. They did that to Amy one time. And the older ones are monsters? Good lord, did they try to skin you alive one time?
After school, everyone turns up to draw numbers for the booths. Mr Bowman runs it, because why not, and Caroline Pearce pushes to the front so she can choose first. Look, she has a reputation for being a gossip, not for needing to be the centre of attention. That’s Jessica.[Raven: Mr Nydick was the first choice to run this, until they realised all his stall ideas involved massaging his penis.]
Caroline, of course, draws the Wheel of Fortune. Lila gets the bottle toss (I assume where you try to throw rings around a bottle or a coin into a bottle or something similar). Ellen gets the softball throw.
Jessica, of course, gets the water balloon throw.
Wait. Wait. Wait.
Jessica is upset because running the water balloon throw means they will be throwing water balloons at her. So … will they be throwing softballs at Ellen? Is this actually going to be acceptable, even in Sweet Valley? Or, as is more likely, are they throwing softballs at targets, and therefore should be throwing water balloons at targets, too. [Dove: Canonically, Ellen isn’t very bright. Perhaps she’s merely unaware that people are going to throw balls at her.] [Raven: Yep, I pretty much hated the “mandatory water torture stall” plot conceit. Pretty sure Jess could just No-Sir the whole thing by threatening to call the school authorities.]
Jessica grumps through the next day, and doesn’t even have Elizabeth’s company on the walk home because she’s working on the posters with Olivia. She tells Jessica that if Mrs Sampson calls, Elizabeth will call her back that night. I’m sure Jessica can be trusted with that task. She’s been shown as super trustworthy in the past.
At home, Steven is eating ice cream straight from the carton, because why would the rest of the family want anything, and he gives Jessica grief about trying to watch her weight, which Jessica brushes off because she and Elizabeth are both perfectly slim and he knows it.
He’s looking for a job because he needs some new speakers for his stereo, and wants to know if he’d be any good as a waiter. Are you even old enough to work as a waiter? Plus the caricature of teenage boy that you are, you’d be stealing food from your tables.
Oh, hah, Jessica made the same joke, basically. … No, wait, I am not delighted by that. Crap. Damn it, Jessica, stop being a delight.
Mrs Sampson called, but won’t be around that night to talk to Elizabeth, so instead she’s going to give the message to Jessica. Again, I’m sure this is going to go perfectly well, though of course Mrs Sampson can’t actually know what she’s doing wrong.
Anyway, she’s called to say that while she doesn’t know how much Amy has told Elizabeth about the job, but Saturday shouldn’t be too bad because there will only be two of her kids at home. Why the hell are you letting some strange preteen girl baby-sit for your kids without even meeting her first? [Raven: Because her kids are massive bellends, of course.] It’s an all day job, 10 to 5 (… that is nowhere near all day), and she’ll pay $10 an hour. Well fuck, that is a ton of money for a preteen back then. Mrs Sampson also wants Elizabeth to plan some activities for the kid and make them lunch. Both reasonable requests, though since this is a new family and a new baby-sitter, probably some guidelines or ideas for the activities would be useful. You know, the kind of things you discuss with a new baby-sitter before you fucking hire her. [Dove: I have a friend, let’s call her Josie, who used to confiscate her charges’ toys, and then make them work for Josie-Money until they had earned enough to buy their own toys back.] [Raven: Heh. Classic Josie.]
Mrs Sampson then asks for Elizabeth to call her back and let her know whether or not she can take the job. Wait. First, Elizabeth has already taken the job, or at least that is what Amy was supposed to tell Mrs Sampson. Second, didn’t you just say you wouldn’t be around to talk to her later, which is why you left the message with Jessica?
At first, Jessica pities Elizabeth for being stuck baby-sitting while everyone else is at the fair. And then her twisty brain starts twirling. $70 is a lot of money. She could get new perfume, a bathing suit like Lila’s, a magazine subscription (though not Teen Rock, which she teased Elizabeth with as a subscription last book, but Ingenue [Raven: Horse Cock Monthly!]), and on and on. Elizabeth surely doesn’t need the money half as much as she does. It’s just a shame that the job is on Saturday, when she has such fun and important work … to … do …
Sure enough she races back to the phone to call Mrs Sampson and say that Elizabeth gave her a message that she can’t sit on Saturday, so Jessica can sit instead. Mrs Sampson is rightfully confused over all this baby-sitter switcheroo, but continues to go along with it. WHY?!
(Jessica feels a tiny bit of guilt, but justifies it by convincing herself that Elizabeth will be grateful to go to the fair after all.) [Dove: Classic Jess.]
Jessica goes on to lie about her baby-sitting experience, because how hard could it be? All she has to do is play with them or turn on the TV if they get cranky. SEE? THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS YOU MEET A POTENTIAL NEW BABY-SITTER BEFORE HIRING THEM.
When Elizabeth gets home, Jessica is going through her clothes, considering getting rid of some of them because she’s going to be buying new clothes soon. She even magnanimously gives Elizabeth a navy blue cotton sweater.
She does this right before telling Elizabeth that she knew how much Elizabeth wanted to go to the fair, and so she said she’d baby-sit instead of Elizabeth. I am amazed that she told her (some of) the truth and didn’t just lie and say Mrs Sampson cancelled the sitter.
Elizabeth sees right through this, and not only accuses Jessica of having ulterior motives (OF COURSE SHE DOES, SHE’S JESSICA FUCKING WAKEFIELD), but flat points out that Jessica just doesn’t want to work the water balloon booth. Also, Elizabeth needs the money because she has a bunch of birthday presents to buy.
Elizabeth gives her a little more grief about how it won’t be an easy job but doesn’t actually do anything of use, like, you know, tell her parents that Jessica is lying to everyone and taking on jobs she can’t actually do (again, do you remember what happened when Jessica tried to dogsit and then when she tried to dog walk with Elizabeth BECAUSE I FUCKING DO); instead, of course, she gives in to what Jessica wants.
The next morning, Lila teases Jessica that she and Ellen came up with a great idea for what Jessica can wear in the water balloon booth: an outfit made out of plastic garbage bags. Maybe they can even find purple garbage bags. LILA, NEVER CHANGE.
Jessica is haughty about no longer working the booth, because she has a prior commitment. They go find Julie, Lila and Ellen don’t let Jessica break the news herself, and Jessica turns on the dramatics, tries to make it sound like it is a big sacrifice for her to miss the fair because she already agreed to baby-sit — AND THEN SHE SUGGESTS THAT ELIZABETH TAKE HER PLACE.
Saw that coming, of course, but I am still delighted and entertained by her daring.
Next scene is Julie begging Elizabeth to help; Amy is shocked that she agrees to do so. God, I hope you call her on her weakness and enabling Jessica’s bullshit. Someone sure the fuck needs to (besides us). [Dove: As far as I know, this was never brought up, but @ReadingCorners recently tweeted that in Sweet Valley High, Olivia and Enid staged an intervention because Elizabeth was reading too many books.]
Elizabeth is shocked that her very own sister would steal her job and then stick her with a miserable booth; after all, Jessica has gotten her into difficult situations before, but this one is the worst. Really? Not the time she got you to help her dogsit and then lost the dog and it could have died? Not the time she abandoned you on your dog walking job and yet wanted her share of the money? Not the time she played an April Fools prank on you that gave you a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Not the time a friend of yours ended up nearly falling to his death because Jessica convinced you not to tell your parents where he was when he ran away? [Dove: Actually, I’m still Team Jess on that one.] Not the time … you see where I’m going with this.
Elizabeth storms home after school to confront Jessica, only to find Steven eating cold pizza. She thinks that’s disgusting, I’m actually with Steven on this one; I love cold pizza. Jessica is dozing in the backyard, unaware that RAGE!ELIZABETH is headed toward her.
Elizabeth doesn’t even wake her the fuck up, just stands there until Jessica deigns notice her for blocking the sun. You are doing this rage thing wrong, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth actually does shout at her then, and Jessica twist, twists, twists it into her doing a favour for Elizabeth and how she couldn’t have lied to Julie, after all Elizabeth always tells her how important it is to be honest. Jesus, Jessica, you really are sociopathic in your manipulations.
For once, Elizabeth doesn’t back down at that, and tells her not to twist things around like she’s in the right, as she always does; she’s been horrible, and she knows it.
Jessica begs her not to be mad, because she can’t stand it when ELizabeth is so angry.
Elizabeth tells her to deal with it, because she’d be “crazy” not to be mad. Be mad, Elizabeth. But don’t be a shit about that. She also tells Jessica that she’s heard the little kids are monsters, and she hopes they are monsters to Jessica, and Jessica better not even think about coming to her for help on Saturday.
Elizabeth is still mad at Jessica on Saturday, and gets in one more dig about how no one will be able to help Jessica if the job goes badly, because the Sampsons are going to a yacht party out in the harbour and she won’t be able to call them no matter what happens. THIS IS EVEN MORE FUCKING IRRESPONSIBLE. A preteen stranger is going to take care of your young kids (like 3 and 4) and won’t even be able to reach you in an emergency? This is going well.
When Jessica turns up at the Sampson house, she’s carrying a backpack stuffed with supplies — for her: the latest edition of Ingenue magazine, a couple of paperbacks, and even some homework. BULLSHIT. The magazine, sure. The other stuff, fuck out of here, ghost writer. That’s not Jessica at all.
The boys are Dennis and Susan … wait, all this time I thought the two youngest were boys. Is it just the two oldest and then Dennis? Whoops. Anyway, Dennis is having “a little tummy trouble” (so is that a euphemism for spewing everywhere or shitting everywhere?) [Dove: Nobody has ever pooped in the history of Sweet Valley. Even babies only fill their nappies with wee.], and has medicine if he needs it, though he hates it. Susan, meanwhile, is pissed that Amy isn’t there to baby-sit, and is scratching a tiny red spot on her arm.
CHICKEN FUCKING POX CALLING IT NOW. [Raven: You can get the pox from fucking chickens?!]
Mrs Sampson leaves the next door neighbour’s information in case of an emergency, and Jessica urges them to go ahead and leave. Mrs Sampson left lunch in the fridge for them, and says they’re both too energetic for a nap. She also says that the older two kids are gone for the day; Gretchen is hiking with her Brownie troop, and Peter is spending the day with a friend.
… my reading comprehension was fucked about this family, wasn’t it.
There is one golden rule at the Sampson house: no one goes into the living room, and, in fact, she keeps the French doors locked and the key on the fourth shelf of the bookcase. I bet there’s no way they’ll ever climb to reach it there.
As soon as they’re alone, Susan complains that her bee-sting hurts; Jessica tells her it’s a mosquito bite and if she leaves it alone, it will stop hurting, and that if she keeps rubbing it, she’ll rub her whole arm off.
Before Susan can properly freak out about that, the phone rings and Jessica has to race them to the phone to answer it. It’s Lila, calling from the fair on her brand-new cordless phone. Julie has the base plugged in at the guardhouse, but she’s keeping the handset right by her side so she can give Jessica an update on the fair.
… so what landline is it plugged into? Why is there a guardhouse? What the fuck, Lila. [Dove: Yeah, and this was late 80s, so she could have had a mobile phone. That would have made more sense. And didn’t a lot of people have cordless phones in the 80s/90s?]
Though the kids are starting to make a mess already, Jessica tells Lila it’s a cushy job; in turn, Lila tells her that Elizabeth’s booth is the most popular and bringing in the most money; no one has even managed to hit her yet. So can she duck and dodge, or do people have just really shit aim?
The kids are bored, Susan’s bee-sting is bleeding and she sobs that Jessica doesn’t care, Dennis wants Jessica to come up with a game for them to play because their other baby-sitter always thinks up games, and then he starts throwing game pieces on the ground. [Raven: Dennis needs kicking in the face for that, the cheeky little game-wrecker.]
Jessica tells them that she has the most fabulous idea, and they stop fighting over checkers and stare at her, waiting; she has no idea how to entertain them.
We then jump to Caroline as our POV character. Why? Why the fuck not, I guess. She built the Wheel of Fortune herself, with Julie’s help; each person gets one spin and she then reads them a fortune in her best dramatic voice. (Bruce Patman is going to be the richest man in the world, and Ken Matthews is going to have ten children.) [Dove: Having read Sweet Valley Confidential: um… she’s only out by nine kids. Oh, and you’ve already met the mother of the Matthews baby. I will accept your guesses here – readers, no spoilers please.] [Raven: I wanna say Amy, but I’m going for… Brooke Dennis.]
Julie comes around to tell her and Lila, whose booth is nearby, to take a break and get some food, because she wants them to have fun, too. Who is going to work their booths during those breaks, Julie? Nothing is coordinated, no one has backups, nothing makes sense — I am itching to reorganise this fair properly.
Lila takes her break immediately, of course (I’m still shocked she wanted to run a booth), and takes off to check on Elizabeth; we head hop into Lila as our POV character, because of course.
Finally, Jessica suggests they make card houses. Susan hates cards, but Dennis wants to do it. Susan wants to take out all of Mrs Sampson’s jewelry and pretend they’re the Queen of England. What, not a Disney princess? [Dove: The Jamie Suzannes and the Kate Williams (SVH) are oddly obsessed with English royalty. I don’t get it.]
Now the kids are having fun arguing with each other, and refuse to come up with one thing they both want to do, even when Jessica puts them down in front of the television. Finally Jessica turns off the television. Susan has a scratch above her bite and Dennis wants medicine, though once she gets him into the kitchen, he really wants ice cream, of course. She also leaves Susan “sitting innocently” on the couch.
Oh fuck, Jessica. I feel a tiny smidge bad for you right now.
Dennis spits the medicine back at her, she screams at him, he bursts into tears, and Jessica can’t believe what monsters they are. Dude, this is not monstrous behaviour. This is basic brattery. It’s going to get much, much worse, I’m sure.
She then hears paper being torn up in the family room; Susan, when asked, says she’s making a collage like they do in kindergarten. I am cackling with laughter; I wonder what in the world she could possibly be tearing up.
YUP. JESSICA’S MAGAZINE IS ALMOST COMPLETELY DESTROYED.
Bruce comes up after Elizabeth’s break, smarming that he saved the best for last; unlike Jessica, Elizabeth thinks he’s a spoiled show-off. She’s not wrong. A small crowd gathers to watch him try to hit her and earn a ticket. Ken Matthews distracts her just enough that Bruce manages to hit her in the chest with the water balloon; she’s about to get mad when she realises the cold water is actually kind of nice!
Lila brings her the phone because Jessica has called for her; Elizabeth immediately tells her that she was just thinking she owed her a favour because she’s having so much fun. WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO YOUR RAGE? You can have fun and still acknowledge that what Jessica did was fucking shitty.
Jessica begs for help, and Elizabeth does, at least, stick to her resolve not to help (and even hangs up on her).
Jessica, who hid in the closet to call Elizabeth, finds the kids fighting in the kitchen over a box of ice cream. Dennis ate almost all of it, and now his stomach really hurts and his eyes have a glassy sheen.
Brace yourself, Dove.
Jessica takes them into the family room to play a game; Susan is determined to play in the living room and goes looking for the hidden key. Jessica starts to give her an ultimatum, but then realises she doesn’t know how to punish them because she never asked Mrs Sampson how to discipline them.
Dennis chooses that moment to get sick, Jessica rushes him to the bathroom just in time, and Jessica wonders why this is happening to her. Gee. I wonder.
Gretchen calls the house to say that the scout leader sprained her ankle and they’re waiting for the doctor. One of the other group leaders thinks they’ll have to drive the kids home and she wants to know if — but Jessica cuts her off because she’s hearing terrible sounds from the family room.
Dennis has scattered dried flowers all over the floor and is now trying to help Susan in her treasure hunt for the key.
Jessica tries to drag Susan away from the bookshelf, and Susan, in her struggling, knocks the key off the bookshelf. Jessica demands they give it back to her, just as the doorbell rings.
AND SHE LEAVES THEM ALONE WITH THE KEY TO GO ANSWER THE DOOR.
It takes her nearly a minute to unlock it all, and she finds an eight-year-old boy scratching his arm, and she knows he’s a Sampson kid. Peter, of course, who got into a fight with his friend, and Peter accidentally hit him, and now he’s come home. Jessica doesn’t want him there because it’s so chaotic and she isn’t being paid to sit for three kids, but his friend’s mother doesn’t want him back because of that whole hitting his friend thing (shocking). [Raven: So they just hoof Peter out of their house to wander the earth alone. Idiots.]
Back at the fair, Elizabeth keeps getting hit by water balloons, and tells Amy that she needs to come up with a special way to pay Jessica back. Just then, she gets another call from Jessica on Lila’s phone, but she’s grouchy now and in no mood to talk to her sister.
Jessica begs for help, Elizabeth snaps at her (GOOD), and tells Jessica she should have thought about all of this before she stole Elizabeth’s job. GOOD. Stand up for yourself! Once again, she hangs up on Jessica (GOOD!), and even though she feels a bit of remorse, she reminds herself that Jessica brought all the problems on herself. [Dove: This is one of the books where Elizabeth actually stands up for herself… to a point.] [Raven: Yep, firmly behind Liz at this point.]
After the call, Jessica finds all three kids in the living room. Of course she does. Dennis is jumping on the white couch with his tennis shoes on, Susan is playing games with the Wedgwood china collection, and Peter is messing with a very expensive tape deck.
Peter then suggests that he and Susan give Dennis some tattoos because that’s what he was going to do with his friend before they fought. Jessica has fully lost control at this point; they ignore everything she says and she can’t even pull them apart.
And then Gretchen turns up, because of course, and she’s eager to play in the living room and wants tattoos too. (For some reason, Susan has a tattoo kit. Why in the world would you give a rambunctious kid a tattoo kit in a house where you have an off-limits room?)
Jessica makes the mistake of trying to ask Gretchen for help, but then turns it into asking them to get everyone outside to play under the sprinkler. She’s also going to call Joey’s mother to tell her that he’s coming back over, but Peter looks at her sheepishly and says she probably shouldn’t call. She does anyway, but it doesn’t work.
Jessica actually has a point here that four kids is too many when she signed up to sit for two. Plus a twelve-year-old probably shouldn’t be baby-sitting for four kids at a time on their own even if they are experienced. There’s just too much that can go wrong. (I baby-sat a lot at her age and even a little younger, but wouldn’t have sat for that many kids until I was a teenager).
They start demanding lunch, but there isn’t enough food for all four kids even if Jessica doesn’t eat anything. The kids then start demanding all sorts of food, but she shuts that down and they call her mean. Susan even cries. This is going real damn well.
Jessica struggles to use the microwave, but decides to set it on high and cook the spaghetti for a long time because it needs to be really hot; eight whole entire minutes. This, of course, overcooks it and turns it into a spaghetti brick.
She manages to find bread, peanut butter, bologna, and mustard, and makes them fix their own sandwiches.
Back to Elizabeth, grumpier than ever, when Jessica calls her again. She’s nearly crying and she tells Elizabeth that all four kids are there and they’re all out of control. Elizabeth finally decides it is time to help. I think you should leave her on her own, really; so far, nothing she’s told you has the kids in any danger, and she’s never going to learn to stop being a little shit if you keep enabling her and bailing her out.
Elizabeth’s advice is to scare them into respecting her and listening to her, and then she comes up with a great idea, and asks Jessica what she’s wearing. Gee, I wonder what her great idea is.
Back at the house, the kids are going wild and Mrs Sampson calls. Susan answers it, and Mrs Sampson doesn’t even bother talking to Jessica, just tells Susan to be a good girl and help Jessica. WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK, SAMPSON.
Just when all hope is lost, Elizabeth turns up wearing the same clothes as Jessica, but the only part of her plan she’ll tell Jessica is that Jessica can’t let the kids see her for now, just get the kids into the backyard, then storm inside after saying where she’s going loud enough for Elizabeth to hear.
(Lila is now running the water balloon booth, because they all drew straws. So who is running her booth? This is a cluster fuck, JULIE.)
Jessica gets them outside to play kick the can … ooooookaaaaaaaaaay … and she dramatically says she’s going to the family room to get a break from them and if even one person tries to follow her, she’ll be very angry. [Raven: Nowt wrong with Kick the Can. Played that a lot as a kid.]
The kids, of course, run off to the family room to beat her. Of course, they find Elizabeth-as-Jessica there, first, and Peter freaks out. Elizabeth tells them she’s going to the tree house and she doesn’t want them to follow her. Jessica knows this is her cue and runs out to the tree house.
At the fair, Lila is furious, of course. Winston is her first customer, and manages to hit her in the shoulder, ruining her expensive jumpsuit. Mostly her pride is injured, and she “can’t wait to get her hands on [Jessica]!” Jessica should either be worried about ending up buried in Nora’s backyard or it’s about to get real damn kinky up in here. [Raven: Steven misses his chance to make a deposit into his Wank Bank there.]
Next up, Jessica sends Elizabeth to the basement, and she really plays it up. They freak out when they find Elizabeth-as-Jessica in the basement ahead of them; Susan is so freaked out she starts to cry.
Elizabeth sends Jessica to the garage next, and then they spend the next twenty minutes playing baby-sitting tag. After the kids are worn out, Elizabeth leaves, and Jessica tells them that if they’re good, her magic is good, but if they’re bad …
The kids start behaving and she gets them to clean up the living room first, and then the rest of the afternoon is joyous for Jessica. Once they’re done with the living room, they straighten the family room and kitchen, and then play outside (a “really fun game” though we’re not told what it is).
By the time the Sampsons get home, Jessica is so proud of herself she’s forgotten about her crisis. Of course. She’s never going to fucking learn if Elizabeth doesn’t stop saving her.
The Sampsons are amazed to see all four kids home, and even more shocked that Jessica managed to keep the kids from destroying the house and each other. They pay Jessica a little extra, $80 instead of $70, which is a shit tip considering she had twice as many fucking kids for most of the day, but Jessica is thrilled. DON’T BE THRILLED. [Dove: Seconded. $10 for two extra kids for a whole day is ridiculous.]
Jessica brags to her parents and Steven what a good baby-sitter she was — right up until Elizabeth comes home and asks if the kids were good after she left. The twins go upstairs and Elizabeth is, again, furious with her, because she never changes. No fucking shit, Elizabeth. She never changes because you keep bailing her out and letting her get away with things.
Jessica feels terrible and knows that she has to do whatever she can to make Elizabeth know that Jessica knows she messed up. Why? Even if you do, you’re never going to change, in good ways and bad ways.
Later, Jessica apologises to Elizabeth and gives her half the money, which is the bare minimum she should have done. Elizabeth tells her to keep the tip, though, and only takes $30. WTF. [Dove: I was actually proud of Elizabeth here. In the hands of a different Jamie Suzanne, Liz would have taken the $10 tip and considered it a win. So… progress. Of sorts.] [Raven: Nope. Liz should’ve taken the lot.]
Amy calls Jessica later to tell her how impressed the Sampsons are (Mrs Sampson called her to ask if she’d mind if they sometimes had Jessica sit for them, too, which is actually a pretty cool thing to do for your regular baby-sitter) and that they’re going to set up a mini-fair on Monday after school because everyone feels so badly that Jessica missed it.
GEE. I WONDER WHERE THIS IS GOING.
Sure enough, the mini-fair is all about the water balloon booth and how sad it is that she missed out on the fun. Lila, in particular, is smug and delightful about it:
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I just couldn’t live with the guilt,” Lila crowed. “After getting one of my very best outfits totally ruined on Saturday, I know I’d never be able to look at it again without thinking what a shame it was Jessica never got a chance to do this. You know what I mean?”
Lila misses her with the first balloon, though, as does Amy (who manages to spray Winston and Ken with water) [Raven: Steven dreams of spraying Jessica. This stuff writes itself.]. Elizabeth, though, hits her shoulder and drenches her whole upper body. With a purple balloon, to add insult to injury.
They then all head to the beach, because why not. [Dove: I personally hate the smugness of this line:
Soon the whole group was heading for the beach. Ken had the good idea of bringing a few water balloons in case anyone got hot!
It angers me every time.]
At the end of the book, Mr Bowman makes an announcement, that they’ll be studying the principality of Santa Dora for the next three weeks: in English, its literature, in history, its history, and in art class, its native folk art. This is kind of cool, though I have my doubts the actual book about it is going to fail in so many ways.
Caroline has gossip that there’s an exchange student from Santa Dora turning up in a couple of weeks, which is why they’re going to study the country in depth. But the student will be there before they’re done, so won’t that be a little awkward and obsessive?
The student is supposed to be a boy, and Jessica, of course, perks up about a new boy from a “romantic, exotic country” — fresh meat. And yeah, I have many concerns about next book and how it handles this “exotic country” thing.
Not as bored with this one as I was April Fools, but annoyed, as ever, that Elizabeth not only lets Jessica keep getting away with lying to everyone, including adults, but that she bails her out all the damn time and then throws a fit because Jessica never changes. OF FUCKING COURSE SHE NEVER CHANGES.
Also sad that whole weird scratching thing wasn’t chicken pox. As it is, it’s a totally pointless thing that didn’t need to be included.
[Dove: I actually love this book. I revel in the idea of Jessica having to deal with four little brats as annoying as herself. The water balloon toss thing is odd though. I remember our school summer fairs had things like that, and people were queuing up to be pelted with water balloons. And our weather wasn’t a balmy as California.]
[Raven: This one annoyed me. I hated all of the kids. I hated the stupid Sampson house rules. I hated the fair. The only thing I actually liked was Elizabeth actually standing up to Jessica, and even that pissed me off when she started backtracking. And the Twin Magic denouement was rubbish. Meh, I feel like a grumpy old git. Get off my lawn!]
Jessica’s hobby of the moment: Baby-Sitting
Characters: Alice Wakefield, Amy Sutton, Bruce Patman, Caroline Pearce, Dennis Sampson, Elizabeth Wakefield, Ellen Riteman, Gretchen Sampson, Jessica Wakefield, Julie Porter, Ken Matthews, Lila Fowler, Mr Bowman, Mr Sampson, Mrs Sampson, Ned Wakefield, Olivia Davidson, Peter Sampson, Steven Wakefield, Susan Sampson, Winston Egbert