Monday, August 8, 2016

Review: "Jessi's Gold Medal: The Baby-Sitters Club #55"

Jessi's Gold Medal: The Baby-Sitters Club #55 by Ann M Martin
3 out of 5 stars

Okay, the ghost writers really screwed up with this one. This is almost an exact repeat of the last book. We're just switching Jessi & Mal and their "sport". And they kind of spoiled it with the title. Guess Jessi wins or whatever. There was also a major inconsistency that I'll get into later. I found this list of who wrote which books and it's really helpful. As a kid an adult, I thought Ann wrote ALL the books. I was pretty disappointed when I realized she didn't. Of course, I know there is no way she could be cranking out that many books in a year, but still.

Anyway, back to this book. This one was slightly better than Mallory's only because it featured talk of the Olympics. The 1992 summer Olympics to be exact. Let's give a little back history okay? Hosted by Barcelona, this was the last year that the Summer & Winter Olympics were done in the same year. It was the first time NBA players were allowed to play basketball, leading the Dream Team to win easily. Two gold medals were awarded in solo synchronized swimming after a mistake with the judges. (How can it be "solo" if it's synchronized?) The motto was Friends for Life. Shannon Miller, part of the Magnificent Seven, won 5 awards, more than any other American that year. So overall, it was a good year and a smart move by the authors to focus on the event. Which is interesting, because I don't remember any other real life events being talked about before. Correct me if I'm wrong!

And the fact that I read this right before the 2016 Summer Olympics started was just a happy coincidence. It really got me in the mood though. I love the Olympics. My favorite events are men's gymnastics, men's swimming, men's beach volleyball...well, you get the idea. ;) And of course, women's gymnastics. Oh and rugby, I forgot rugby! I have gotten so far off topic for this book.

Okay. The book starts with Jessi at ballet class and her telling us how hard it is but she loves it and Mdme Noelle is so tough but fair and moving to Stoneybrook was hard because she's black etc. Her dad picks her up from class and they don't have the air conditioning on, because it's not good for dancers' bodies, until they pass a billboard for the Olympics with a swimmer on it. Jessi has this brilliant thought: Why pound your body into a wood floor when you could plunge it into water instead? Couldn't agree more. When they get home, she watches Becca & Squirt play in the sprinklers, and has her brilliant idea. (Not to be confused with one of Kristy's Brilliant Ideas.) They should get a pool. Of course, her parents laugh in her face but they do say they can get a membership for the local pool complex and she's happy.

And now it's time for a BSC meeting and What Claudia is Wearing. She was wearing these sharply creased, pastel-green, cuffed shorts; a wild Hawaiian shirt tied at her waist, with vibrant colors that perfectly picked up the green; and sandals with crisscrossing ankle straps to her knees. Her hair was swept to one side [she does that a lot] and held in place with a long, fake-flowered barrette that looked like a Hawaiian lei.

During the meeting, Claudia is trying to come up with a logo for the SMS Sports Festival. (Apparently an annual thing, though I've never heard of it.) Mary Anne is like "ew sports" and Mallory looks "glum" but the other girls are excited and talk about the events they're going to enter. Dawn says she's going to do something different like shot put or pole vault. Then Kristy mentions how the loathsome Alan Gray bet Kristy that he could beat her in a race anytime. You see where that's going, right?

In gym class the next day, Jessi & Mallory find out they are going to do swimming lessons for the next few weeks. I find that kind of odd, for a middle school, but whatevs. Mal is horrified, because she's anti-exercise and then even worse, they are going to be swimming with...BOYS. And of course, she brings her manky old swimsuit with the ruffle skirt. Ugh, how embarrassing. Jessi is uber-excited though, especially when she is hand-picked to join the synchronized swim team thanks to her dance background.

So she joins the class and learns all these cool moves like the crawl and standard scull and tub position. Then she finds out that her team is actually going to be performing in the Sports Festival. She and her partner have to create a routine and Jessi jazzes it up with lots of crazy moves like Egyptian hands and they have to practice a lot. And here's where that huge inconsistency is. In the last book, Jessi's parents wouldn't let her take horse lessons, ONE DAY A WEEK, because it would interfere with her ballet. Now, they're totally okay with her swimming every day after school AND weekends. What? So yeah, that was irritating.

Let's skip over to some of the baby-sitting now. All the kids have Olympic fever too, especially Becca, which gets Jessi thinking and she's right up there with Kristy now: why don't they put on a mini-Olympics for all the kids? Of course, everyone loves the idea because they haven't had a big group gathering in like, two weeks. They start putting it together, Kristy goes overboard, Andrew cries because he's 4 and can't do anything, Charlotte doesn't WANT to do anything, and the Pike kids make it all about them as always.

Throughout the book, we get little digs from Mallory about how sports are dumb, not everyone wants to be in the Olympics, etc. Jessi finds it odd but doesn't try to talk to her best friend about whatever is bothering her. Because, you know, that would be too easy. Then, when Claudia & Mallory are baby-sitting the Pike clan, Mal "accidentally-on-purpose" sprains her ankle and "oh no!" now she can't perform in the Festival! So sad! Sike.

It's finally the day of the festival. Mal is in the stands, on crutches, Mary Anne agreed to run the lemonade stand as a compromise for joining the festivities (why couldn't Mal just do that too?), and Jessi is super nervous. Kristy runs the hundred-yard dash and looks like a real athlete, bulging muscles and all. Claudia runs a backwards race and dresses accordingly.

She was wearing electric-pink track shorts with a turquoise racing stripe, a matching top with cut-off sleeves, brand-new high top track shoes with no socks, and floral-print suspenders! Her hair was pulled up on top of her head and held in place with a silver barrette in the shape of the Olympic symbol. If it had been an athletic-wear fashion show, she would have won. [During the race] Claudia managed to stay on her feet, but she was running strangely - on her tiptoes, so that her hair bounced up and down like a horse's tail.

And then Kristy and Alan have their big race. Loser has to be winner's slave for a week. Winner gets total bragging rights. Who's it gonna be? You tell me, who do you think won? ;) Okay, it was Kristy. Like we didn't see that coming. I feel bad for Alan sometimes. He's got this total crush on Kristy, but he just does not know how to act around her.

Finally, it's time for Jessi's synchro and of course, they do perfectly and win the gold, because that's what the title told us would happen. Is anyone else bugged by their arms not being in sync on the cover? Just me? Okay. Then we have the mini-Olympics, in Mary Anne & Dawn's backyard because their parents are total pushovers. There's plenty of silly obstacles and events, Jackie Rodowsky falls into the kiddie pool, everyone gets an award, even Andrew (Most Determined), and everyone goes home happy. Oh and Mallory finally admits she was a poor sport about sports. This review was sooo long! Hope you enjoyed it still.

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