Summary: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are witnesses to an armed robbery! Though the crook was disguised as a clown, all the evidence points to Joe Carrey as the culprit. Elizabeth can’t believe it! Joe is the ice cream scooper at Casey’s, and he’s one of the nicest people she’s ever met.
Then Elizabeth investigates more deeply and finds a clue that just doesn’t fit. It’s enough to convince her that Joe Carrey is innocent. But can Elizabeth convince the jury?
Criminals and intrigue and trials and shit.
Looks like there’s been a robbery at a store committed by a clown, not to be confused with a Robbery at the Mall committed by a chicken. Excellent work there, plot manatees!
I’ve enjoyed a fair few of the Plucky Girl Detectives books, so I hope this one doesn’t disappoint.
[Dove: At this point, I am so over the Plucky Girl Detectives books. I think no crime gets solved in Sweet Valley without Elizabeth being involved.] [Wing: Wasn’t the very first Plucky Girl Detective story driven by Jessica?]
Summary: The news that rocks Elizabeth’s world… [Dove: Yes, Elizabeth. This is all about you.] [Raven: It’s always about Elizabeth.]
Elizabeth Wakefield has always thought that Brian Boyd, the class bully, was bad news. He’s mean and loud—nothing but trouble. As far as she’s concerned, Sweet Valley Middle School would be better off without him! Then she learns a terrible secret about Brian: he’s been taken away from his parents because they physically abuse him.
Elizabeth and her friends are horrified, and so are some Middle School parents when they see how scared and upset their kids are. When Brian is sent to a school closer to his new home, there’s a big sigh of relief.
Now Elizabeth has finally got her wish—the school is rid of Brian. So why does she still feel so rotten?
Why does Elizabeth feel so rotten? Because she’s intruding on someone else’s life again, I bet. I’m already angry at this book, and I haven’t read more than the summary and the tagline. I have no faith that ghostie will handle child abuse well at all, I have a feeling they are going to try to blame his Nazism on his abuse, and I’m primed to burn Sweet Valley to ash.
Summary: The Unicorn Club is throwing the best Halloween party Sweet Valley Middle School has ever seen! Lila Fowler’s dad has lent the girls a rundown shack in the woods—a perfectly spooky place for the party.
But as the Unicorns are fixing the shack, strange and scary things happen: Ellen Riteman discovers a human skull, Jessica Wakefield gets lost in a cave full of bats, and a mysterious girl appears out of nowhere to relay ghostly warnings.
Then the twins hear that the shack was built over an ancient Native American burial ground. Could the shack really be haunted? Or are the Unicorns the victims of a terrifying Halloween trick?
Jesus fucking christ, that cover. That title. That summary. I know I went into The Unicorns Go Hawaiian expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised, but the haunted burial ground trope is even worse, and even if it turns out to be a terrifying Halloween trick (and, no lie, I expect it to be about 50/50 as to whether it is supernatural or mundane when it comes to the Super Chillers), the stereotypes are likely to be horrific and offensive.
From Schmieding’s piece (Schmieding is a Lakota writer):
All I know, from the point of view of one Lakota Native who enjoyed The Shining as much as you did but with one eyebrow raised, is that the only “ghost stories” I’ve ever heard from my own people are that of ancestors who carry wisdom, who aim to protect, who are considered sacred and powerful, and whose manifestations as malevolent only occur when they’re not talked about. When their story isn’t told. There’s a moral here that I hope you’re grasping. When someone tells you that their house is built on an Indian Burial Ground and it makes the hair stand up on your arms, ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of? Am I afraid of Indigenous people because of pop culture’s portrayal of them as unholy, spurned beasts of the underworld? Or am I afraid of my own willful ignorance of settler colonialism and modern Native issues? Am I afraid that Natives’ stories haven’t actually been told?” I’ll go ahead and assume that it’s a mix of all. But until Native filmmakers and television writers get a chance to scare the shit out of mainstream audiences with our own stories, we’re all stuck with supernatural microaggressions and embarrassingly coded displays of white guilt.
With all that in mind, here we go.
[Dove: My brain says that the Super Chillers went downhill after the covers changed, but in all honesty, maybe Christmas and Carnival Ghosts just set the bar and everything since has been hopelessly flailing at that bar ever since.
On another note, I don’t know if I’ve ever made it clear publicly, but god knows poor Wing has to patiently listen to me bitching about “the new covers” and “the geocities covers” like they’re the worst thing in the world. Every week. Every time we skype, I bring it up. So, in an attempt to put my money where my mouth is, I will be creating badge-style covers for the books from now on. Well, after this we have Amy’s Secret Sister, but after that we are officially switched over to the new covers. So, without further ado, here’s my first cover creation.
I’ve done much better covers after this – this was a bitch to render and I kind of screamed and gave up at some point. Elizabeth’s hair kept pushing through her face (don’t ask), and my computer kept falling over under the weight of the background. So, while it’s not the greatest cover, stick with me, I fully intend to get much better.]
[Wing: A billion times better than the actual cover for so many reasons.]
Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield and her friend Maria Slater are filming at the Valley Mall with Maria’s new video camera when a jewelry shop is robbed right in front of their eyes! Elizabeth can’t believe the criminal escaped in broad daylight through the crowded mall. She and Maria decide it’s time to start investigating.
Soon after, both the stereo store and the camera store are robbed. Elizabeth is desperate to crack the case. If only there were a clue… Then Maria’s house is robbed and her entire collection of video tapes is stolen. Why would anyone want Maria’s home movies? Finally Elizabeth thinks she has her clue.
Have she and Maria held the key to the mall mystery all along?
Ooooh, exciting! Some sixth graders are at the mall, and a robbery occurs.
In all seriousness, is sounds like a decent Plucky Girl Detective romp, and has gotta beat stuff like, I dunno, Ithig or Jonny Buck’s flying limousine.
Also, PINKEST COVER EVER! A pink cover showcasing two girls dressed in pink, outside a jewellers which has an odd essence of pink without being actually pink at all.
Finally, hello! You’re right, it HAS been a while.
[Dove: Maria looks like she’s about to twat Liz with that camera. I hope she does.]
[Wing: They are dressed far too much alike for me.]
[Raven: Also, apologies for the weird formatting. It’ll be back to normal asap!]
Tagline: What if Elizabeth had never been born? [Dove: The series would merely be called “Sweet Valley Kid?”]
Summary: The strangest gift of all…
Elizabeth Wakefield is in terrible trouble. She was in charge of keeping all the money that Sweet Valley Middle School raised for a Christmas party. But Elizabeth secretly lent the money to a homeless family so that they would have a home over Christmas. [Raven: Of COURSE she did.] Now Elizabeth has been caught without the money and without an excuse. Everyone is furious with her.
Elizabeth decides to run away. She thinks Sweet Valley would be better off if she’d never been born. On her way out of town in a terrible storm, Elizabeth meets a mysterious girl who claims to be her guardian angel—and shows her just how important she is after all.
This book is based on one of my favourite films: It’s a Wonderful Life. If you’ve not seen it, track it down and give it a watch. It’s from 1946, and likely available via number of streaming services. It’s one of only two films to make me cry*. The first was Watership Down when I was six, the second was this when I was twenty-two. [Wing: God, Watership Down, not an okay heartbreak in that one.]
(*Then I hit mid-thirties, and they released Up. Downhill from there. Nowadays? Shit, I well up if I can’t find my fucking socks.)
[Dove: The cover. Why does Elizabeth have a bob? Their hair is always long on all the other covers.]
A Sweet Valley book, based on its central premise? I’ve an open mind. I’ve no beef with such chicanery. Cows aren’t sacred. I present the following video link as Exhibit A… a song about my favourite film, by my favourite band, which is legitimately one of my favourite things ever.
Seriously, if you can’t spare 2 hours 10 minutes for the film, spare three minutes for the video.
Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield and her friends are walking on the beach one stormy afternoon when they witness a terrible surfing accident. Denny Jacobson is drowning! Elizabeth dives into the water and saves him.
Now Elizabeth is a hero. Her picture is in the newspaper and Denny showers her with presents and attention. But Janet Howell, president of the Unicorns, is angry! She’s got a big crush on Denny and is determined to make Elizabeth’s life a misery.
Elizabeth decides that being a hero is awful. How can she possibly get Denny—and now Janet—to leave her alone? Finally she and Jessica cook up a brilliant plan to get rid of them both, but it might mean putting Elizabeth in danger!
So, Elizabeth is a hero in this one? She saves someone’s life, apparently. I thought she saved the lives of every New Girl that moves to Sweet Valley.
Also, one of my classmates at school had Denny as a surname, so I can’t take Denny seriously. It doesn’t help that he looks a bit like a young Hugh Grant on the cover. Actually, on second thoughts, could he be any more like a young Chandler from Friends?
Finally, the offscreen guy with the microphone is wearing a white suit. I’d say something cutting, but I had a cream suit in University. Although I only wore it for comedic purposes, so don’t judge me.
[Dove: I think Denny looks much older than Elizabeth. But you’re right about Chandler.]
Tagline: Guilty until proven innocent? [Wing: So Ned is the lawyer involved in this, I see.]
Is there a thief at Sweet Valley Middle School? Things have started disappearing, and the whole school is searching for the culprit. But everyone is shocked when some of the stolen goods turn up in Jessica Wakefield’s locker!
Jessica insists that she’s been framed, but the only one who believes her is her twin sister. Elizabeth. When Jessica and Elizabeth team up to find the real thief, they can hardly believe what they find out!
I kind of hate stories about people being falsely accused, so I can’t see this going well for me.
[Dove: I remember getting into a conversation with someone on Twitter (I think it was@_sunshinebooks) about how tiny Jessica looks in comparison to the rest of the girls on the cover. There’s something not quite right about the proportions there. Also, who is the girl in the peach dress? Is that Veronica?
Also, when I first read this, Watchmans (handheld TVs) hadn’t hit the UK, mostly, I think, because they were completely expensive and rarely worked. I misread the branding and spent the entire book wondering why Lila was so braggy about a Walkman, which pretty much everyone I knew owned.]
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: Has Jessica created a monster? [Dove: Well, evil begets evil, I suppose.]
Summary: Jessica Wakefield is convinced that her sister, Elizabeth, is perfect. Who else is as smart, friendly, and creative as her identical twin? So when Sweet Valley Middle School announces it will be choosing a Model Student, Jessica launches a secret campaign to make sure Elizabeth wins.
But Jessica doesn’t count on what happens. As soon as word gets out about the contest, Elizabeth takes becoming a Model Student a bit too seriously. She starts telling everyone what to wear, what to eat, and how to act. Elizabeth’s become positively bossy! Jessica would do anything to get the old Elizabeth back. What will it take to turn Elizabeth the Impossible back into the girl everyone knows and loves.
I deliberately swapped for this one. This is a book I love. I think it’s a joy to poke fun at Elizabeth, and this book really delivers.
Also, if you read it with a cynical eye, it’s actually a story of dysfunctional relationships, and someone with no power socially using one single pressure point to take over another person entirely, to the point where they drop their friends and change their life to appease this one person. Basically, Elizabeth/Pamela is one fucked up ship. And it’s hella interesting. And once I get to a certain point in the story, I will go into that a bit more in depth.
Warning: As above, I’m going to liken the Pamela/Elizabeth friendship to an abusive relationship. While it’s going to be light, I will use phrases used by emotional abusers that may act as triggers. It’s light, but exercise good judgement.
Note: I’m going to quote a metric fucktonne of this book.
Tagline: What’s the new girl hiding? [Raven: A cock?] [Dove: That she’s been there all along and the Wakefield twins are just really fucking unobservant?] [Wing: Backyards full of bodies. She’ll be Jessica’s new BFF.]
Summary: Maria Slater has been an actress since she was three years old, but now that she’s twelve she can’t find any work. So Maria hopes to forget her past and start life again at Sweet Valley Middle School, where she can play the role she has always wanted: the typical sixth-grader.
But for Maria, being typical becomes harder and harder, especially when Jessica Wakefield discovers Maria’s secret past Everyone wants to be friends with a movie star, but will anyone want to be friends with plain old Maria?
HOLY FUCK JESSICA’S HAND IS FUCKING HUGE.
Also, there’s a black girl in Sweet Valley. Unexpected. I can’t see this ending well.