Title: The Twins’ Little Sister
Summary: Baby-sitting blues…
Since they were seven, Elizabeth and Jessica have wanted a little sister. Now that they’re twelve, the twins know they’re responsible enough to help out with a new baby, and they’re determined to prove it to their parents.
The twins get their chance when neighbors go on holiday and leave their five-year-old daughter with the Wakefields. Chrissy is so cute and sweet that Jessica and Elizabeth think it’s going to be easy to take care of her.
But from the moment Chrissy arrives, it’s clear that she’s spoiled. Before long the twins begin to wish she would just disappear!
When they get their wish and Chrissy does disappear, the twins are faced with their biggest problem yet .They’ve got to find Chrissy before her parents come back! [Wing: Why does anyone ever trust the Wakefield twins with any living creature? WHY?]
Tagline: Are Jessica and Elizabeth ready to be big sisters? [Wing: NOPE.]
We already know that Jessica hates to baby-sit and isn’t all that great at it. Why are we having yet another story where she tries? What is her obsession with having a little sister? Why does this book even exist?
We open with Jessica talking to Elizabeth about the new cutest guy she’s ever seen. No, Aaron Dallas doesn’t have any competition — for the moment — because Jessica’s cooing over Belinda Layton’s baby brother, Billy. (YOU REMEMBER, SHE HAD TO GIVE UP HER NAME SO HE COULD BE CALLED BILLY. NEVER FORGET NEVER FORGIVE.)
Apparently, Jessica just loves babies and wishes the Wakefields had one. I do not buy that that Jessica fucking Wakefield loves babies nor that she wants another sibling to be competition for attention, so the entire setup of this book has lost me.
Belinda points out that it’s not so fun when Billy’s crying at 5 a.m., but Jessica swears she wouldn’t care, she’d get up happily. Belinda laughs and says that it would be Elizabeth’s turn forever because Jessica would give up after a week. She’s not wrong!
Look alike, very different, blah blah blah; I do like that Elizabeth’s list of Unicorns she actually likes is growing. It’s up to Belinda, Mary Wallace, and Mandy Miller. Those — those are my favourites, too (after Jessica when she’s being #bestjess). Damn it.
They talk about how Alice and Ned have been clear that three kids are enough for them [Raven: Even making babies is too much effort for Alice and Ned these days, as once they’ve disinfected the ball gags and filled the wheeliebin with cottage cheese, it’s almost too much effort to put on the Lederhosen.], and Belinda admits that she’s proud that her parents waited to have another kid until she was old enough to help out. (a) You were old enough to help out years ago. (b) WTF. [Dove: Do not approve of this method of having children. “Oh, I’ll have one, and then when it’s old enough to raise a child for me, I’ll have another.” Although if that’s just what they told Belinda to explain the huge gap between babies 1 and 2, and they think she’s not ready for “Well, contraception ain’t free in the good old US of A,” then sure.]
Elizabeth senses that Jessica is coming up with a nefarious plan and wants to know if she’s going to try to talk Alice and Ned into having another baby. That is nowhere near a Jessica level plan! And sure enough, no, her plan is to show them that they need another kid in the house by showing how responsible the twins are and how much help they’d be if there was a baby in the house.
Elizabeth laughs because they don’t have a baby to demonstrate that with — be careful, Belinda! Jessica’ll be stealing a baby any time now. [Dove: I can’t buy that Jessica loves babies. I can easily buy that she’s steal one though.]
B plot (I assume) shows up with Amy Sutton, who has been collecting aluminum cans for three weeks and has filled a wheelbarrow with them. She’s selling them to the recycling center so she can buy soccer tickets for her parents, whose wedding anniversary is next Saturday. It takes a lot to buy soccer tickets — 34 whole entire dollars. Amy’s not worried, because she’s collected 224 cans so far and she still has eight days to raise all the money she needs.
(We used to turn cans in for money when I was a kid, too. We’d pick them up along the side of the road. Now we just collect them for recycling, though we could turn them in for money, still.)
Jessica suggests that she have a cookie sale or baby-sit if she needs to come up with more money, but Amy isn’t good at baking and isn’t getting any calls to baby-sit. I thought she had regular jobs awhile back? [Raven: You kill one kid, your bookings go WAY down.] [Dove: Also, how many books have we seen Amy and Elizabeth baking cookies?]
Elizabeth goes with Amy to the recycling center and all her cans earn her a whopping $2.24. Not quite what she was hoping for, obviously. Unfortunately, aluminium doesn’t weigh very much, which is true. (Copper is generally worth a lot more, too, so construction sites and empty houses will often be robbed for their copper wires. Random fact for you there.)
[Dove: *quivers* OMG, I’m totes putting this in because Wing mentioned copper:
Elizabeth agrees to help Amy make cookies for a cookie sale since collecting cans isn’t working out for her, so I’m guessing this really is the B-plot.
Meanwhile, Jessica finds Steven at home with his friend, Chad, eating the last of the Swiss cheese. Chad offers to eat peanut butter if Jessica wants a Swiss cheese sandwich instead, and she’s surprised that he’s so kind; he even gives her his sandwich, which has pickles and mustard on it just the way she likes it.
Steven gives him grief for letting Steven’s baby sister take his sandwich, and Chad points out that (a) she’s not taking it, he’s giving it to her, and (b) she doesn’t look like a baby sister. Steven tells him to stop before Jessica thinks he’s flirting with her, and Chad says there’s nothing wrong with flirting.
Oh, Steven, that’ll teach you to bring friends home.
Jessica tries to act all cool, like hot older guys compliment her all the time — which, they kind of do — while she makes him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in exchange for his cheese sandwich. [Raven: I wish I had a girl who’d make me a sammich.] [Dove: And I wish I had a boy who made me tea. Life is full of disappointments.] [Wing: Ostrich makes me sammiches and tea. *smug*]
She hangs out with them for awhile, daydreaming about what it’d be like to date Chad — and here’s Aaron’s competition, I guess — but soon she lands back in reality, because Chad is Steven’s friend and she has Aaron and it’s not fair to him for her to be thinking of another boy.
Awww, Jessica’s learned something about relationships. At least sort of.
Steven and Chad talk about the party that Joe Howell is throwing; Jessica knows all about it because he’s Janet Howell’s brother and Janet is Unicorn president. She’s throwing the party, too, because that’s a thing older and younger siblings seem to do all the time in Sweet Valley.
Chad knows that Janet’s inviting her friends and that Jessica is one of Janet’s friends, so he talks about seeing her at the party, maybe, and she tries to play it off, but she’s certain, now, that Chad likes her. She can’t wait to tell Lila about it!
That night, they have the Steele family over for dinner, including their 5-year-old daughter Chrissy. (Oh, god, is this going to pull a 50 Shades of Grey?) Elizabeth is excited to see her; the twins took care of her for an afternoon last year and had a blast.
Elizabeth talks about how Chrissy is exactly the kind of little sister she’d want to have, but Alice doesn’t take the bait.
At dinner, the Steeles talk about the “disaster” that is their lives; they booked a weeklong cruise, but their housekeeper’s daughter is getting married that same time and so she’ll be out of town and no one is available to take care of Chrissy. What, you can’t hire a short-term nanny or ask family? Of course not, because the Wakefields want a kid to show they’re good big sisters and so a kid will fall into their laps. [Dove: Also, these are two things that do not sneak up on you: weddings and expensive cruises. I blame the Steeles for their shit planning.]
(Poor little rich family, can’t possibly hire someone to watch their kid so they can go on their second honeymoon cruise.) [Raven: Yup. I hope the boat hits a fucking iceberg.]
Jessica decides that the twins should offer to take care of Chrissy and talks Elizabeth around to it, despite Elizabeth already worrying that if Jessica doesn’t do her share, Elizabeth will end up doing double the work. Jessica gets short with her, because she’s promised to do her fair share, but Elizabeth points out that she’s promised that before. TRUTH.
Jessica’s tired of having everyone think that Elizabeth is the perfect twin and she’s the irresponsible one and she’s turning over a new leaf. This is not the first time she’s ranted about people thinking she is irresponsible, but she’s never managed to change before. Will it stick this time? Considering how many more books we have to go just in this series, much less Sweet Valley High and later, I have my doubts.
They do wait until the Steeles have gone home before they bring it up with Alice and Ned, which is a shocking amount of maturity for them. The Wakefield parents point out that it will be a lot of work, but they also think it is a nice thing to do for their friends, and so they will allow it.
When Alice suggests that the Steeles may even pay them, the twins decide they’re doing this for much more important reasons and won’t accept any money for it. Steven teases Jessica that Elizabeth will end up doing all the work, which makes Jessica more frustrated than ever.
Alice gives Steven the twins’ kitchen chores while they’re taking care of Chrissy. So does that mean the days that are theirs versus the days that are his or does he really not have any kitchen chores normally? Because if not, that’s fucked up. [Dove: I think Steven gets boy chores, such as cleaning the garage. You know, chores that require manly muscle, and only need doing every year or so. Girls need to do homemaker chores. I can’t remember a book where Steven has to cook or set the table. Readers? Also, screen caps/photos or it doesn’t count.]
Once the Steeles agree, Jessica wants to make a schedule and write down everything that they need to do for Chrissy. Elizabeth is skeptical, but has some hope, too, and they get to work on it.
- helping her get dressed
- braid her hair
- fix her breakfast
- take her to kindergarten in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon
- read her stories
- get her ready for bed
UMM. That is nowhere near all the things you will need to do. WHY THE FUCK DOES ANYONE LET THESE TWO TAKE CARE OF LIVING CREATURES WITHOUT ANY SORT OF HELP OR ADVICE OR SUPERVISION?
(KOALA SIGHTING! I like the continuity that Elizabeth still has her old koala here. Even Jessica cuddles it a little.) [Raven: New tag, surely? Presented without context.] [Dove: Yeah, that tag baffled me when I logged in this morning. A+] [Wing: Definite A+. I’m delighted.]
Saturday, after they’re done shopping for outfits for Janet’s party, Jessica tells them about baby-sitting for Chrissy for a week. The Unicorns are not impressed, which is not a surprise at all and I don’t know why Jessica thought they’d be excited about it.
Also, they all think she’s irresponsible, which annoys Jessica to no end. Look, kid, you’ve spent more than 50 books showing you are more irresponsible than not. They know the true you. If you want that to change, you have to show them actual change.
Ellen brings the talk around to the important things, i.e., when Jessica will see Chad Lucas again, because Lila said that Jessica thinks he likes her. Ellen doesn’t believe this, because a freshman is far too sophisticated to go for somebody in middle school. On the one hand, god I hope so. On the other hand, she did already date that older boy once already. (And apparently hasn’t learned from that after all.) Lila reminds them of that, too, which brings up bad memories for Jessica, because it was embarrassing and painful when she was grounded for two entire weeks. (Was it two weeks? I thought it was longer than that.)
Jessica thinks that she’s going to have a hard time choosing between Aaron and Chad because they’re both so cute, but then has the great idea that maybe she can have both of them. And maybe you could, darling, if Chad wasn’t too old for you and also if you talked to them about the idea openly rather than whatever terrible plan you’re about to come up with now.
(Wait, so do we have an A-, B-, and C-plot? I THINK WE DO!)
That same morning, Elizabeth and Amy try to bake cookies, and things are a true mess. Amy breaks the first carton of eggs, Elizabeth burns the first batch of cookies and drops the second batch on the floor, and the neighbour’s new dog, Cookie Monster — well, you can see where this is going, but sure enough, all the cookies have been eaten. Those are chocolate chip cookies. I have concerns for that poor dog.
Amy uses the last of money to buy seven dozen cookies, though didn’t she have something like three dollars left, or less? And how in the world did she spend so little on them and then turn around and make $12.60?
Whatever, the point is, she still has to raise nearly $22 in a week. However will she do that?! WOE WOE IS AMY. (Considering how many times the twins have had to come up with $50+ at the last second, I’m not super impressed with this plot.) [Raven: She could always shit in a jar and sell it to Mr Nydick.]
Jessica and Elizabeth spend Sunday getting ready for Chrissy’s arrival. She’ll be sleeping on the sofa bed in the den, so they’re cleaning up Steven’s sports gear. Why — why isn’t Steven cleaning up his sports gear?
Jessica runs into Chad and Steven out in the garage working on their bikes. Jessica hands Chad the tools he asks for and when their fingers touch, she gets a tingle and wonders if he’s asking her to help him so that they can touch. Her fluttering crushes are adorable and realistic, and I am charmed.
Ellen calls and interrupts this flirtation, and when Jessica tells her about it, she really plays up the idea that Chad said he likes to have her around, which really impressed Ellen. They talk a bit about how it feels, and then Ellen asks what she’s going to do about Aaron and talks about how he’ll be very upset if he finds out about Jessica and Chad.
Jessica has to end the conversation without making a decision because Chrissy and her parents show up; Chrissy is excited to go play in the pool, but first the twins have to listen to the Steele give them instructions about how to take care of Chrissy for the next week. I really think this should have been done before they dropped her off, but cool.
Once the Steeles leave, Elizabeth suggests they unpack Chrissy’s clothes and hang them in the closet (…what closet? Are you keeping her clothes away from where she’s sleeping or is there a random closet in the den?), but she demands that they swim first, and the twins give in to her. They also let her decide when they’re done swimming. You’re going to regret setting this precedence!
They finally help Chrissy unpack and then make fudge with Alice. Jessica tries to get Chrissy to clean up while they wait for the fudge to cool and set, but Chrissy throws a fit over it, until Jessica distracts her with pretty fish.
… by taking her to see the large aquarium in the neighbour’s house. The Howards are super friendly to the kids, but I still find this kind of weird. The fish distract Chrissy for all of five minutes, and the twins finally realise that they’re going to need a lot of energy to keep up with Chrissy.
Chrissy throws a fit over the pajamas she wants to wear (she wants blue ones, they can’t find them), so Jessica distracts her again by offering up a blue t-shirt with a panda on the front. By the time they put her to bed, the girls are even more exhausted than she is.
Alice tells them they’re doing a great job, and they immediately launch into how great it is to be a big sister and how much fun they’d have with a full-time little sister; Alice is having none of it and says that they’ll be pleased to send her back home by the end of the week.
Jessica catches Elizabeth up on the gossip about Chad, and Elizabeth suggests maybe Chad only likes having her do things for him, which (a) is dirty and (b) sound sway more like something Steven would come up with. (All the dirty puns intended throughout.)
Of course, Jessica’s really brought this up because she’s still trying to figure out what to do about Aaron; Elizabeth points out that she really needs to figure out what to do about Chad, because their parents will “pop their corks” if they find out she’s involved with another older guy.
Jessica again calls the Josh situation the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to her, and I continue to find this adorable. (Raven will be thrilled with all the Josh references in this book, I think; he loves that story.)
Elizabeth advises her to forget about Chad, and Jessica admits, to herself at least, that Elizabeth is probably right; however, it’s not like she can make either boy stop liking her, and it’s awful and flattering at the same time, especially because she can’t imagine other girls are torn between cute boys. Oh, Jessica, you were being so great and then you pulled that shit.
Jessica almost oversleeps the next morning, and it’s her morning to take Chrissy to school. Chrissy is sleepy and grumpy and fussy, and really fucking homesick for her parents, so Jessica has a hard time of it that morning. Jessica is super gentle with her, though, and I’m shocked by how understanding she is of why Chrissy is upset!
Jessica runs into Bruce Patman while Chrissy is throwing a fit about how mean Jessica is because they have to walk to school, and Bruce is, of course, mean to Chrissy which makes her cry even harder. He calls her a brat, and Jessica stands the fuck up to him about it, which is also amazing. Jessica, I wish you would just see and remember how terrible he is, no matter how cute. [Dove: I kind of hoped she’d stab him, but it was not to be.]
Picking Chrissy up that afternoon goes much better, and they do all sorts of things that Chrissy loves. Chrissy can’t stop talking about the fun time they had, but Jessica was bored the entire time.
Meanwhile, Amy is trying to mow lawns to earn more money. She’s going to charge $5 per job, but she ends up with a super demanding first customer, Mrs Anderson, and when she gets in a rush, she chops off some branches from the super rare tropical plants Mrs Anderson tells her not to touch. So — going well, I see. Mrs Anderson ends up paying her $2 instead of the $5 because of it, and Amy thinks that’s fair, but it still makes her sad, because she worked all afternoon for a measly $2.
Chrissy starts acting up again that night, mostly because Jessica calls Chutes and Ladders boring. Chrissy’s bedtime is at 8 p.m., and that’s exactly when Elizabeth wants to watch a mystery she’s been waiting to watch — oh, but Chrissy’s sleeping in the den, so she can’t.
One, why don’t they have a guest room? Two, I’m shocked they only have one tv, though I know that was more common back in the 90s. The Wakefields like to have such nice things, I’m amazed the kids don’t have tvs in their rooms.
Elizabeth and Jessica have to come up with some new rules, too, about things they can’t do, such as watch television after 8 p.m. and, you know, don’t play music after Chrissy’s gone to bed and whoever wakes her up has to put her back to sleep. Jessica takes this one, because she turned the music up so loud; she ends up having to read a story four times before Chrissy finally falls asleep.
Elizabeth doesn’t have a much better time of it on Tuesday; Chrissy pretends to be sick, but Elizabeth figures out what she’s doing pretty quickly and finds ways around it. Elizabeth runs into Bruce, too, and again he calls Chrissy a brat; this time, she kicks him. I LOVE YOU, CHRISSY.
(I know, I know, violence isn’t the answer, but BRUCE FUCKING PATMAN.)
She fights hard not to start laughing and encourage Chrissy, but she’s super proud of her and tells Todd all about when she sees him at school. Their relationship is really a background slow burn at this point, isn’t it? [Dove: But she’s still ahead of Jessica, who hasn’t had her “first” kiss yet. Yes, I know she kissed Josh. Apparently it doesn’t count.]
Amy joins them and tells them about her disaster of a mowing job. Todd tells her about his cousin’s garage-cleaning service, which made a ton of money. Amy’s intrigued by this; I think it sounds like a ton of messy work that won’t be worth whatever she’s paid for it, but sure. Elizabeth reminds her not to take a job for Friday night because of Janet’s party, but if she’s so desperate to have the tickets by Saturday, she should probably take any job that comes up at this point. [Raven: I hope the tickets sell out before she raises the cash.]
Todd and Elizabeth share a cute little exchange about how they’ll both be there (and how excited Todd is over seeing Joe’s model railroad, because nerd) and how maybe they’ll have time to talk, too.
Amy asks Elizabeth to go into the garage-cleaning business with her because everyone always wants to share their business with Elizabeth, but she’s too busy with Chrissy to help. Jessica joins them for this conversation, and they both admit that Chrissy isn’t the angel they thought she was and how maybe part of the problem is they expect her to act like someone their age and not a 5-year-old kid. Except you two aren’t angels, either, so whatever.
Elizabeth and Chrissy have a good afternoon, until Chrissy doesn’t listen when Elizabeth tells her to follow the park rules (which forbid her from going down the slide on her stomach, which is a ton of fun, what the hell, park!). Todd comes to talk to Elizabeth, and to get her attention, Chrissy goes down the slide on her stomach again. Too fast this time, and she slams into the sandpile and starts screaming.
When Elizabeth introduces them, Chrissy asks if he’s Elizabeth’s boyfriend, and then, because Elizabeth calls him nice and not bossy (you know, like Bruce), says that Elizabeth must be his girlfriend. Oh, child, you are delightful.
Elizabeth and Todd are both super embarrassed by this but thank god, the pending storm finally starts. Chrissy refuses to go home without ice cream and throws a temper tantrum; the ice cream truck driver offers her an ice-cream bar just to get it done, but they still get rained on while walking home.
Later that night, Elizabeth asks Alice for some advice, because she’s starting to think that Chrissy is spoiled. You should easily recognise that! Alice agrees and they talk a little about how if a kid gets their way all the time, they come to expect that. Which you know all about because look at your kids.
Jessica’s with the Boosters all afternoon, and Aaron, who is at basketball practice in the same gym (how? the gym isn’t really big enough for this), stops her during a break to say that he wishes he could walk her home after they’re both done with practice, but he has something else to do. He then brings up Janet’s party and says that he hopes they can get together then.
(He, too, is excited to see Joe’s model railroad. Is this really something 12-year-old boys will obsess over still?) [Raven: Dove and I attended a wedding reception at which the guests had to assemble a Scalextric track as an ice breaker. IT WAS AWESOME, and everyone got super involved. So yes, this is definitely something boys and girls of all ages will obsess over.] [Dove: I counter that these are 12 and 14 year old boys, who may well be into model railways, but may be “too cool” to admit it. Todd is nerdy-cool enough to admit it, and maybe Aaron might admit it, but I’m honestly surprised that Joe has it, because he’s regarded as “very cool”, and is basically Steven, a jock who won’t stop cramming food in his face.] [Wing: The “too cool” part is what I was trying to get at, thanks for making it clearly, Dove. I’m intrigued by the idea of wedding receptions having ice breakers, though. Is this a regular thing? I’ll try to remember to bring it up during our next podcast recording.]
Jessica and Ellen walk home together and run into Chad on the way. They talk briefly, she reminds him she’ll see him at the party, and he says maybe the can dance, which makes Ellen completely blow up with excitement.
Ah, but then it comes back to Aaron, again, and two boys, and woe, woe, woe is Jessica whatever will she do. While I find Jessica very cute with her crushes and tingly feelings and excitement when it comes to both boys, I actually don’t care at all about this storyline BECAUSE WE’VE ALREADY DONE IT. I understand that stories will repeat in a series like this, but we’ve already had the older boy story! It’s been referenced here multiple times! Jessica calls it the most embarrassing thing she’s ever gone through! Why is she setting herself up for that embarrassment again?
Jessica is having similar thoughts, actually, because she tells Ellen that she’s decided to give Chad up, because Aaron is the much safer person to have as a boyfriend. Ellen finds this super romantic, especially when Jessica says that she would rather perish than hurt Aaron, and I laugh out loud.
Ellen asks when she’s going to tell Chad, and Jessica doesn’t actually want to do that. She’d rather just ghost him, which is such a perfectly Jessica thing to do that I am dying of entertainment.
Amy’s struggling with her garage business until she finally gets a job from Mr Andretti, who has his garage so full of stuff he can’t get his car inside. (Which is actually standard for most people now, per some studies.) [Raven: Yeah, good luck cleaning Mr Andretti’s garage.]
Amy moves everything out of the garage so she can sweep it, and then while Mr A sorts what he wants to keep, she hauls boxes of trash to the street and then reorganises the shelves. This is a ton of work for $6 what the hell, Amy! You really need to learn how to charge for your work.
Mr A has already found her another job, too, for his daughter, so Amy just needs to do that one and two more and then she’ll have enough for the tickets. Oh, Amy.
Elizabeth and Jessica keep having trouble with Chrissy, from her refusing to go to bed to her continuing to tease Elizabeth about Todd her Boyfriend to spilling the orange juice when she tries to get it for herself and then throwing a tantrum because she’s sticky from the juice.
The good side of things is that Elizabeth actually apologises to Jessica for not believing that she would step up and do her share of the work. I don’t think you need to apologise for believing she’d act the way she’s always acted before, but it’s still pretty cool. And Jessica admits that she loves Chrissy, but having her live there means they have to give up a lot of stuff they take for granted (anything after 8 p.m., basically, and other free time).
On Wednesday, Jessica runs into Chad while she’s with Chrissy and he brings up their dance at the party again. When telling Ellen about it later, Jessica starts to wish that she hadn’t decided to give up Chad, and maybe she’ll put off telling him until after their dance. Aww, there she goes making terrible choices again.
Later, Jessica and Elizabeth talk about boys, too, and Jessica admits that she’s not even sure that Aaron is her boyfriend, because he hasn’t even kissed her or anything. She’s also super impressed about Elizabeth’s kiss from Todd. IT WAS A KISS ON THE FUCKING CHEEK WHY ARE WE STILL ACTING THIS IS A THING?! [Raven: It was her arse cheek, mind.]
The next morning, Chrissy teases Elizabeth about Todd again, this time in front of Steven, who will, of course, never let her live it down. This makes Elizabeth decide she’s not ready for a little sister after all. And then the twins start fighting because they’re both grumpy over having Chrissy around gossiping with Steven about the boys they like. Probably shouldn’t have talked about boys in front of her, then. [Dove: In Elizabeth’s defence — and I honestly can’t believe I just typed that — Todd talked to her in front of Chrissy, she couldn’t really help that.]
Mr A’s daughter, Mrs Richards, has an even worse garage than her father, but Amy eventually gets through it — only to learn that there is a box of baby pictures missing, so she has to go back through all the garbage cans to find them. How — how many garbage cans do you have, Mrs R?
The twins spend dinner trying to keep Chrissy from talking about the boys, and Jessica even goes so far as to spill milk all over Chrissy. She’s super pleased with herself for thinking of that one, especially because they make it through dinner. (Steven skivs off from doing his kitchen work, because of course he does.)
Amy can’t find anyone who needs their garage cleaned on Friday, so now she has to do two on Saturday — if she can find them. She’s really working her ass off for this, and even though I wish she’d be smarter about it, I have to admire her determination.
While the twins get ready for the party that evening, Chrissy ends up getting into a bunch of makeup and staining Jessica’s bedspread with nail polish — but worse, she gets make-up all over her turquoise dress, the one she was going to wear to the party.
Jessica loses it, finally, and explodes at Chrissy that she’s a bad girl. Chrissy’s hurt by this and says she’s going to be Steven’s little sister instead; this gives Steven the perfect opportunity to let Jessica know that Chrissy told him that Jessica thinks Chad has a crush on her.
Jessica begs him not to talk to Chad about it — and then has to beg him to not tell Aaron, too. Steven, you’re being a dick here, considering your whole two girls thing just a couple books ago.
Elizabeth has to calm Jessica down and talk her into going to the party; Jessica keeps talking about how horrible Chrissy is and how no one could possibly like her. Jesus fucking christ, Jessica, this was your fucking idea. She’s five. Give her a fucking break.
Though Alice and Ned are supposed to drive the girls to the party and then take care of Chrissy for them, Alice has to work late, so Ned will be on his own — but oh, wait! His car breaks down and he has to wait for the two truck.
Elizabeth says they can catch a ride with Amy — even Saint Elizabeth forgets that they have to find someone to watch Chrissy. Elizabeth volunteers to stay home, because even though she really wants to go, Jessica needs to go so she can deal with the Aaron and Chad situation; Jessica can’t face them without her sister’s moral support, though.
Elizabeth has a genius plan. They can hire Amy to baby-sit, and she agrees to do so for $7. That’s really fucking cheap, Amy! You are underselling yourself left, right, and center. (I was baby-sitting at that age, too, and I was making around $5 an hour, if not more. [Dove: Amy is… not bright.]
Chrissy is not thrilled to have Amy as a baby-sitter, and she and Jessica are still fighting, too. JESSICA. SHE’S FIVE. CALM YOURSELF.
Amy has a rough night with her, until she suggests they play hide and seek. Chrissy keeps hiding in places that are too easy (SHE’S FIVE OH MY GOD PEOPLE), and then Amy makes what is clearly going to be a terrible mistake: she tells Chrissy to hide someplace that Amy will never think to look.
Over at the party, Steven starts talking to Chad before Jessica has a chance to get near him, and she’s freaking out. She sends Elizabeth over to eavesdrop, because Steven will suspect Jessica if she comes too close, but would never think that of Elizabeth. Really? Not even for her sister? I call shenanigans.
SURE ENOUGH, they are talking about Jessica. Chad is embarrassed because he never wanted Jessica to think he had a crush on her. She’s fun and he likes having her around — as a little sister. Chad’s even sadder when Steven admits how hard he teased Jessica. Chad’s pretty fucking awesome, actually.
Elizabeth doesn’t get a chance to tell Jessica, though, before Chad goes to talk to her. Elizabeth overhears Lila and Ellen gossiping about it; Jessica and Chad are in deep conversation for a bit while they dance, and then he kisses her cheek as the song ends. [Raven: A KISS ON THE CHEEK! THEY MUST MARRY IMMEDIATELY.] Ellen and Lila think it is super romantic, and then, before Elizabeth can hear what Jessica tells them about it, Brooke Dennis and Sophia Rizzo drag her away for a ping-pong tournament. BROOKE! I’VE MISSED YOU! HI, SOPHIA! YOU’RE DELIGHTFUL TOO.
Jessica is super embarrassed after the talk with Chad, but Ellen and Lila finding it all so romantic make her feel better. They then go find the boys their own age, who are, of course, all crowded around the model railroad. I still don’t buy that’s such a huge draw.
Jessica asks Aaron to dance, but Aaron stays and runs the train all night. All of the middle school boys do. Awkward. (I do find it believable that they’d stick together and find something to do, I just don’t believe all this enthusiasm over a model train.)
Jessica and the Unicorns who have boys there they like are super annoyed, and Jessica ends up envious when Todd asks Elizabeth to get something to eat together at the party and offers to give her a ride home when Jessica’s ready to leave sooner than she is.
When Jessica gets home, she finds Amy freaking out and about to call the police. Chrissy hid too well and Amy can’t find her and she won’t answer when Amy calls for her. Jessica acts confident but is super worried that something terrible has happened to her, and she’s feeling guilty over things like calling a five-year-old kid a fucking monster, good god, Jessica.
Alice and Ned turn up before they can decide what to do, and they all start searching for her.
Back at the party, Elizabeth and Todd are having a great time, talking, dancing, and playing ping-pong with everyone, but they do eventually have a nice bit of alone time on the patio. He tells her that he likes her more than anyone else, and he doesn’t mind if someone calls him her boyfriend. This delights Elizabeth, and she tells him that she likes him, too, and she’s had a wonderful time. Awww, you two are pretty sweet together.
But Elizabeth gets home to chaos, of course — for about thirty seconds before Jessica turns up with Chrissy, who was hiding and fell asleep. She hid in front of the aquarium in the Howards’ house; they’re not home, but apparently, they left their back door unlocked and Chrissy found it.
Chrissy explains that she wanted to see the zebrafish, Mrs Howard said she could come anytime, and Amy told her she could hide wherever she wanted, so… The kid’s logic is sound, y’all.
Jessica apologises to Chrissy and all is well. After the twins put her to bed, they gossip about the party and boys, and Elizabeth tells her about what she overheard with Steven and Chad and how Steven was also worried about Jessica getting hurt, which is making them both reconsider how they feel about older brothers. (Steven only hopes that Jessica’s changed feelings lead to what he wants.) [Raven: Amy also demands payment, which is a bit fucking rich considering she almost lost the kid.]
Elizabeth apologises to Jessica again for not believing thing she would do her share of the work, and Alice and Ned come in to tell them how proud they are of the twins for doing a ton of hard work. They then tease the kids a little about having another child because of how well that week went, because sometimes they are delightful parents.
On Monday, Amy tells them how happy her parents were with the soccer tickets, the twins tell Amy and Mandy about getting Chrissy happily back to her parents, and Amy gives them gossip about yet another new girl, whose mom came to visit the school and Mr Bowman told Amy that they’ve decided to enroll her. Her name is Maria and she’ll be in the sixth grade, too; Mandy says her clothes were really funky, and Elizabeth says she’s very pretty. Amy thinks she looked super familiar.
Jessica says it’s not fair that she didn’t get to Maria, because Jessica is the most popular girl in the school and she should know about any new kid, especially one who wears funky clothes. First of all, I know a bunch of Unicorns who will try to beat you down over that label. Second, as we learned with Mandy, you don’t always appreciate when someone dresses funky. Third, hello setup for the next book.
Eh. This wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great. I had a lot of fun with parts of it, but it never really felt like it gelled, and it dragged strangely in the middle for something that is so short. But I did enjoy Jessica’s adorable nerves over her crushes, and I found Elizabeth and Todd super cute, and the buildup to the party was fun, so I guess I enjoyed it more than I originally thought when starting this answer.
[Raven: I quite liked it. Chrissy was both charming and really infuriating, which is pretty much what a five-year-old should be. I quite liked the Amy sub plot, as she came over like a complete gimmer. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to sneak off and look at fish in an aquarium every chance they can?]
[Dove: I’m not overly in love with this book. It filled a gap, but it wasn’t anything special. It was nice to see Jessica working hard on something, and the romance sub-plot was kind of cute. But overall, I didn’t care. My hope was that Team Grapplegate would fuck with the status quo and write that Alice is pregnant, causing untold chaos in Sweet Valley High, where the twins do not have a younger sister and have to pull a Dawn Summers to deal with it.]
[Wing: I would pay good money for something like that to happen.]
Elizabeth’s book-long soulmate: Chrissy Steele
Jessica’s hobby of the moment: Being a Big Sister
Characters: Aaron Dallas, Alice Wakefield, Amy Sutton, Belinda "Billie" Layton, Brooke Dennis, Bruce Patman, Chrissy Steele, Elizabeth Wakefield, Ellen Riteman, Jessica Wakefield, Lila Fowler, Mary Giaccio-Robinson-Wallace, Ned Wakefield, Steven Wakefield
Events: Party: Janet Howell