Tagline: Jessica and Elizabeth trade places—with their mother!
Summary: Which is easier—to be a mother… or a daughter?
After a big fight with their mother, identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield come up with a brilliant way to show her that being a kid is no piece of cake: they decide that she should give it a try. To their shock and delight, their mother agrees! The twins will get to be their own mother, while Mrs. Wakefield will be a kid.
But the twins soon discover that parenthood is exhausting—who would have guessed Mrs. Wakefield would be such a messy, mischievous kid? Jessica and Elizabeth decide to trade places again—but their mother says no! Are the twins stuck being their mother’s mother forever?
Okay, so this is a role-swap rather than a body-swap. Gotcha. [Dove: After BIG for Christmas, it would’ve been too soon, surely?]
Sounds interesting, from the blurb. The twins get to be Alice, while Alice gets to be the twins. And it sounds like Alice is a right scamp while she’s doing it! Should be a fun romp.
Elizabeth Wakefield is thrilled when she hears the news: her teachers want to skip her to seventh grade! Everyone is proud of her—except her identical twin, Jessica, who wants her sister back in sixth grade where she belongs.
But Elizabeth vows to prove that she can make it as a seventh-grader—even if it means staying up all night to finish her homework, or sneaking out to a seventh-grade party.
Trying to meet everyone’s high expectations is turning Elizabeth into a zombie. Maybe she can make it as a seventh-grader, but does she want to?
I have so many questions. Where are we in the school year? Last book was Valentine’s Day, so we are at the earliest in the second half of February, which means well into spring semester. Elizabeth probably has about three months of school left for the year. And even if we stick to the main series books, the last one felt like a spring semester book. Flu season generally is the heaviest in the first part of the year, and Shakespeare makes me think of second semester English class for some reason. Why the fuck would they promote her now instead of waiting until next fall and having her skip seventh grade completely? Am I really supposed to believe that Elizabeth would be happy to leave her twin, her friends, and the Sixers? Am I supposed to believe that she’d be happy with all this extra pressure when at the end of the last main series book she was annoyed at how much pressure her parents put on her and how they expect too much and she can’t measure up to it? Are you trying to tell me that Elizabeth sneaks out to a seventh-grade party? Unless Jessica is egging her on (and from earlier in the blurb, it sounds like she won’t be), I will not believe this at all.
So many questions. I’m sure the answers will be just fine. Just. Fine.
[Dove: I really looked forward to Wing either explaining how this could or could not happen based on US logic, since skipping a school year isn’t a thing here. And she’s irritated before she’s even started. A good sign. Also, since we universally hate these ugly covers, have mine instead:]
Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield have been invited to the biggest, best Christmas party of the year. They can’t wait. Even high school kids will be there. They’ve already planned the perfect outfits when they hear the terrible news: their parents forbid them to go. Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield insist they’re too young.
The twins are absolutely furious. They go to bed that night, wishing more than anything that they were grown-ups with the freedom to do whatever they wanted.
The next morning, Jessica and Elizabeth wake up and discover that the most amazing thing has happened…
I love Big, it’s one of my feel-good movies – I especially like the story I heard that De Niro was up for the lead role, and actually spent some time with Jared Rushton (the kid who played Billy) to get into the role. Rushton apparently spent this time yelling, “Come on, De Niro, keep up!” and hounding him into rough-housing.
And I love – I guess? – Sweet Valley.
Among the things I also love? Christmas. I would watch Hallmark Christmas movies year round if it didn’t make them less special.
So this has to be a winner, right? I mean, look at how awesome The Christmas Ghost was.
PS: Fuck these stupid covers. Here, have mine instead. [Raven: Lovely cover!]
[Wing: Dove’s covers are always so wonderful. I’m looking forward to all the rest. As for the rest of the things, I’m not as big (ahem) a fan of Big as Dove, but I saw a stage show of it once and there was a scene with beautiful stars as a gift, and it was one of the loveliest things I’ve ever seen on stage, so I am inordinately fond of Big now.]
Tagline: It’s not the answer… [Wing: Yes it is. Get out of Sweet Valley. Get out.]
Summary: There’s only one way out… [Dove: ALL RIGHT! TODD’S GOING TO JIM JONES THIS THING!] [Raven: I went to Kurt Cobain, myself.]
Todd Wilkins is a great basketball player. His dad thinks that nothing is more important. But when Todd joins a creative-writing class taught by an exciting new teacher named Mark Ramirez, Todd discovers he has other talents, too.
The more time Todd spends on his writing, the less time he spends on basketball—and Mr. Wilkins isn’t happy. But he doesn’t blame Todd. Instead, he wants the school to fire Mr. Ramirez.
Todd doesn’t want to let either his father or his teacher down, but he can’t find a solution to his problems. So Todd plans to run away. Can Elizabeth Wakefield convince him not to go?
For some inexplicable reason, every time I thought about recapping this book, I thought it was about Steven running away. Wishful thinking, I guess! Also, recapping two books in a row is a recipe for me hating the second book. I’ll try to be fair to this one, but between that and the Elizabeth to the Rescue setup, well … I’m ready to hate it.
[Wing: Note from the future. Holy. Shit.] [Dove: I’m very frightened that this means that Wing liked it. I’m getting very alarmed that we’ve finally worn her down.]
When Jessica Wakefield wakes up in the middle of the night, her whole room is shaking. The next day at school, Jessica is a celebrity: she’s the only one who witnessed Sweet Valley’s own earthquake! [Wing: How is it even a little possible that no one else in the middle school woke up?]
When Jessica hears reports that another, bigger earthquake may hit, she quickly spreads the news. After all, Jessica is Sweet Valley’s earthquake expert! The more people she tells, the bigger and more dramatic the story becomes. Soon Jessica has everybody preparing for a real catastrophe!
As I’ve said previously, this is around the time when I stopped reading the books as they came out. I did read this one back in the day, but it was towards the end of the run, so it didn’t get a re-read back then. I remember that I enjoyed it then. I don’t know if that’s true now.
Also, this book becomes hilarious in hindsight (or maybe harsher), when you realise that the last two books of Sweet Valley High are called Earthquake and Aftershock, and do not have the happy-go-lucky vibe of this book.
Summary:Married, with children… [Wing: This is not a reference I expected to see here. Is it an actual reference to the show? No idea, but I like it.]
As part of a health-class project, all the students at Sweet Valley Middle School are pairing up into simulated marriages. Their assignment is to manage a make believe household and care for an egg that represents a baby.
The only problem is, their teacher. Mr. Siegel, is picking the couples Elizabeth Wakefield finds herself paired with snobby Bruce Patman, who refuses to help out. Jessica Wakefield’s pretend husband, Rick Hunter, teases her mercilessly and refuses to stop. And Todd Wilkins gets stuck with Lila Fowler, who only wants to eat out! [Dove: Lies, Lila/Todd get two lines of screen time and the subject of eating doesn’t even come up.] Can the middle-schoolers survive two whole weeks of married life?
I love-love-love this book. This is one of my favourite tropes, and I love to see it popping up in media I enjoy, and this book started my love of it. Dawson’s Creek did a marriage project episode, and it was pretty good. But, y’know, the downside of Dawson’s Creek is that Joey’s in it.
I wish there were pictures of all the couples. I always assume the couple on the right/back of the cover is Lila/Todd, but maybe it’s Sophia/Patrick, since they get more screen time. Sophia has black hair on both her previous book covers, and the boy doesn’t look like Patrick or Todd particularly, but I will concede that he has Patrick’s hair. [Raven: How do you know this? They are all literally the same, especially the boys.] [Dove: … I didn’t have a lot of friends when I was a tween. Shut up.] [Wing: I sort of want Dove to annotate every cover with the character names and what is wrong with the depiction.]
Sarah Thomas and Sophia Rizzo can’t stand each other. Without doubt, no two girls in their year at Sweet Valley Middle School are more different. [Wing: Not even the Wakefield twins who look alike but are really very different?] When Elizabeth Wakefield starts working on an art project with Sarah and Sophia, she hopes the two girls will become friends. But soon even patient Elizabeth is fed up with their constant bickering.
Sarah and Sophia’s fighting finally leads to a visit to the principal. The girls know they’re in big trouble, but they don’t know just how big. When Sarah’s father and Sophia’s mother meet in the principal’s office, it’s love at first sight. And Sarah and Sophia are united at last—to try to break up their parents!
The Rizzos are back! What is up with the dark-haired girl’s hair? Why do we have to have a Wakefield on the cover? Some people pay a lot of money for abstract art like that. I think they’ve touched on how the Rizzos will earn money now.
Otherwise, I’ve got nothing.
[Dove: I hadn’t noticed until you mentioned it, but you’re right, Sophia has curly hair on her previous front cover. This kid has lego hair.]
Tagline: Can Melissa and Andy make it on their own? [Raven: They’ve got to hold on to what they’ve got. It doesn’t make a difference if they make it or not. They’ve got each other, and that’s a lot. For love… they’ll give it a shot. #AndyUsedToWorkOnTheDocks.]
Summary:Friends in need…
Elizabeth Wakefield’s friend Melissa McCormick needs help. Her mother has suddenly died, leaving Melissa and her brother, Andy, alone. Their father left years ago, so they have only each other to depend on.
If the social workers find out that Melissa and Andy are now orphans, they will be put in separate foster homes. So Andy devises a plan: he and Melissa will get jobs to pay the bills and they’ll tell everyone that their father is returning home soon.
Only Elizabeth knows the truth, and she sees how fast the bills and responsibilities are piling up. She also knows she has to do something—the right thing—before it’s too late.
I have to be honest, I didn’t re-read this one after purchase. I really liked Melissa in a later book, Poor Lila, but I don’t know if her characterisation is the same in both. Honestly, I don’t like parent death books. It pisses me off. I know everyone’s grief process is different, but I have never once seen a kid in a book grieve like I did.
Backstory, my dad died when I was nine. (My well-meaning but idiotic family never explained he got cancer. They told me he had a stomach bug. This has left me with a deep-seated phobia of vomiting.) What happened was: he was healthy, he was sick for a few months, he died. I cried for about 20 minutes straight after hearing about it, and while I was intermittently sad for a period of time after, I was not broken. This event changed my life, obviously, but mostly because it left me in the care of an emotional abuser. I hate parent death books because most of the time the grief is gigantic and life-changing, and the parent is their best friend, even twenty years later the wound isn’t healed, and oh gosh, wouldn’t things just be perfect if dead parent was still alive?
For this reason, I try to avoid books with a parent death in them. So I read this once, maybe twice, for completest reasons, but never returned.
[Wing: Sorry, all, unexpected family stuff over the weekend, and I’m only having a chance to comment Monday, 20 August, around 10 a.m. Central USA time.]
Tagline: Having a famous parent should be great… shouldn’t it? [Raven: I dunno, you don’t hear many people shouting stuff like “My dad’s Fred West!”]
Summary: A mom with a secret…
Brooke Dennis’s dream has come true. Her mother, who has been living in Paris, is moving back to Sweet Valley. When she returns, Brooke’s mother has a new family—and a new career. [Wing: This made me think the new family was supposed to be one of the surprises, which infuriated me, so thank god it wasn’t that.] It turns out that she is Coco, the incredible new rock singer all Sweet Valley is talking about!
When Brooke finds out that her mum is the cool new singer, she’s ecstatic—until she learns that she must keep her mother’s identity a secret. Coco’s agent thinks that if the public finds out that Coco has a family, it will ruin her image.
How is Brooke going to keep something so fabulous a secret—especially when all of her friends are going Coco crazy!
First off: the cover, as you can see, says “mum”, the British spelling, but the book itself says “mom” all the way through. Why bother changing the cover but not the content? We English have grown up on American books, we know what a “mom” is. We also figured out sneakers, trash cans, sidewalks, parking lots, and so forth. It’s ok, we can keep up. Ok, so we don’t totally get the American use of “jumper”, but mom/mum is pretty self-explanatory. [Raven: Fun Fact – originally, this book was entitled Brooke And Her Rock-StarMaoam.]
I’ve only read this book maybe once or twice in my tween-teen years. I only recently bought a copy when I was finishing my collection. At the time, I wasn’t all that fussed about it. It seemed like your standard Sweet Valley fare, OMG the angst I feel for being soooo soopah speshul! I’m rich and my mommy’s famous, cry meeee a riiiiivahhhh!. Reading it as an adult who is now aware of her issues? Yeah, this is not a healthy book at all.
Summary: While Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield are away on holiday in Mexico, twins Jessica and Elizabeth and their older brother, Steven, are left with May Brown, the world’s most horrible baby-sitter!
But the Wakefield kids are determined to throw a party on Saturday night, with great food, fabulous music, all their friends – and no adults. They make an elaborate plan to get May out of the house, and the party of the year is on!
By the end of the party, the house is a wreck. How will Jessica, Elizabeth, and Steven ever get the mess cleared up before May – and their parents – come home?
I do quite like the cover, with the Little Wakefields tidying up after what can only be perceived as a thoroughly mediocre party. The broom-wielding Steven’s clearly eying up his sisters and saying “right, who wants the first paddlin’?” [Wing: Jessica. Or at least that’s what he’s hoping.]
One thing that does piss me off, however, is the crooked flower-painting on the wall. Firstly, it’s a completely shit picture. Secondly, by itself it’s obviously too small for the wall it’s being displayed on. Thirdly, it has been hung far too low.
Alice is an interior designer. She’s shit at her job.
[Dove: Also, I love that Chalet Girl (a film that is far better than it should be) directly references this advert. If you’re not a Brit, screw you. That joke isn’t for you. As for the actual book we’re recapping, there was a lot that just had me shaking my head and silently judging.]
[Wing: I feel like I’ve read this book before, but that is impossible, because I’ve never read any Sweet Valley until we started these recaps last year. Is there another parents gone/party weekend book that has similar beats in the plot? Most likely.]