Sunday, August 16, 2009

#42: Jessi and the Dance School Phantom

Tagline: Someone - or something - is out to get Jessi!

Cover: I think Jessi actually looks kind of cute on the cover...way better than the fug looks that they usually give her. And if not for her loooong legs, I think she'd even look kind of age appropriate. No, the hot mess on the cover is Dawn, who is in her California Casual denim-on-denim, wearing a strangely obtrusive watch, has her hair pouffed in a way that makes her head look square, and is going for...maybe scared and surprised? But comes out looking stoned. Also, why is Jessi wearing so much jewelry? Rings and a watch? At a ballet practice? I don't think so.

Plot!: Jessi gets the lead in another ballet - Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. But soon after practices start, she starts getting threatening notes, and someone keeps stealing her stuff. Of course, the BSC handles this on their own (even though Jessi is INJURED by the 'phantom') and while everyone in the class is a suspect, it's eventually narrowed down to Hilary, who is jealous of Jessi and has a pushy stage mom. Meanwhile, the BSC organizes a pet show/competition thing, and I'm really not a pet person so it's even more boring that usual for me.

Points of Interest:
  • Ugh. This book starts off in French. Which I don't have a problem with, except that I know Jessi's fake French talking is going to come next. Maybe it's because I grew up taking French in school, but I didn't need her pronounciation guide, and even if I did, the italics indicated that it was in a different language so...whatever, Mademoiselle Romsey.
  • Jessi talks about being the only black student in the class, and wanting to be a ballerina when there are very few black dancers in general. It always sounds awkward and added-in when the others talk about race, but I think it's good coming from Jessi.
  • Carrie Steinfeld is so over the hill. It doesn't give her age, but she's about to graduate (from the school? from regular school? I don't know) and she hasn't had any lead roles. Maybe the next school she'd want to be in is like the school in Center Stage, which is kind of a university but more like a ballet school with book props.
  • This is all happening at an audition for Sleeping Beauty, and they all want to be Princess Aurora.
  • If Mr. Ramsey works in Stamford, and Jessi's dance school is in Stamford, why didn't the Ramseys just move to Stamford?
  • Jessi talks about how she likes wearing a uniform, because if there wasn't one there would be too much neon in the class.
  • The Ramseys are basically the only BSC family that shows affection for each other. Maybe it's because she's eleven, but I think Jessi's family figures into her books more than the other families (well, I guess Mallory is always doing stuff with her family, but because it's so big it's not the same).
  • SO. The phantom's first move: steal Jessi's toe shoes. But I don't understand how she does it. Jessi puts her bag down and changes out of her clothes. She puts the clothes in her locker and put the tights on. Then, she goes to put the shoes on, and they're not there. Did the phantom move so fast that she took them when Jessi's head was in her sweater? Did Jessi go to the bathroom or something?
  • Okay, here's anothing thing I don't get (and I HATE being so confused by a BSC book): Mary (the future anorexic girl?) wishes she could lend Jessi her extra shoes, but they're at home, and anyway everyone's toe shoes are different. She describes her breaking-them-in routine, and then says that she needs a new pair of toe shoes every week. Wait, what? Really? Earlier in the book, she said that Hilary gets a new pair of toe shoes whenever she needs them, while the rest of them have to make them last. So does Hilary get a new pair every day or something? Are there any dancers out there that can help me clear this up?
  • Suspicious behaviour: Hilary suggests everyone look for them again, while Katie Beth finds them in an allegedly empty bag.
  • Painstaking is a word that I learned (or semi-learned, since I'm not sure exactly what it means but I have a good idea) from the BSC books, but I've never used it or seen it used in real life.
  • More suspicious behaviour: Carrie keeps plowing into Jessi when they dance. That's...kind of obvious for a phantom.
  • The phantom's second move is to steal Jessi's entire back up outfit, and leave her a note that says BEWARE and WATCH YOUR STEP.
  • Jessi is way too excited over the fact that Hannie and Scott Hsu are pretend married.
  • Kristy babysits for neighbourhood kids and everyone gets competitive about the pet show. Boring.
  • Jessi slips and falls during a class, and she gets a second note: I TOLD YOU SO. FROM NOW ON, WATCH OUT. This would be a logical time to go to someone, anyone about this stuff, right? Ha hahahahaha. This is the BSC!
  • Third note: IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE. TOO BAD IT WASN'T. I don't care if it is some teenaged ballerina - this person sounds crazy and needs help.
  • Jessi won't go to Madame Noelle because she's convinced Madame Noele will think she's making it all up. What? What about her parents?
  • Mallory sits for the Barretts, and they're fighting over Pow in the pet show. Boring.
  • Charlie, for some reason, volunteers to drive the BSC to Stamford so the others can be Jessi's bodyguard. Whatever.
  • They come up with nothing, so there are more phantom activities: Jessi's leotard is returned (but cut up into shreads), she's pushed into paint, someone hides thorns in her dance bag, letters are sent, and a piece of scenery almost lands on her head. Just a normal ballet practice.
  • The chapters in this book jump around a lot: we're at a dance rehearsal, we're at a BSC meeting, we're at Jessi's house - all in one chapter. It's paced very strangely.
  • So Jessi confronts Hilary with this stupid plan to get her handwriting and it only works because Hilary does the classic bad guy move of saying to much. She says "sorry, I won't do it again" and Jessi is like, "okay, fine." SERIOUSLY. THIS GIRL NEEDS HELP. SHE TRIED TO HURT YOU. SHE DID HURT YOU. GAH.
  • The big solution to the pet show problem: giving everyone an award. Why didn't they just think of that sooner? That's like, the first rule of doing something with a large group of kids.
  • Stacey wears a tuxedo to Jessi's opening night. Because she's sophisticated.
  • In the dance, Jessi has to perform with a boy! He's an eighth-grader, and he has to lift her and kiss her onstage! Where were those rehearsals? That would have made for a much better story.
  • In the end, Hilary decides to quit dance and Jessi goes out for ice cream. Everyone is happy.
Final thought: the picture on the cover never really happens in the book. Which makes me dislike it even more. Sorry, non-fug Jessi.


Susan said...

This book was the first time that I noticed how off the covers are because, as you noted, that scene never happens!

Emily said...

I always liked this book; I remember getting it in a boxed set that included #41-44. I also hear you about the Ramseys. They're my favorite BSC family at this point.

Caroline from Sheep Are In said...

The scene doesn't happen! The first time I realized that, it was a WTF? moment. I guess with just Jessi on the cover it wouldn't have been as mysterious...?

I'd never really thought about the Ramseys before...they don't get as much attention as the bigger families, or the divorced couples.