Tuesday, January 23, 2007

There was no way Swanilda could have been black, so I wasn’t perfect…; or, BSC #16: Jessi’s Secret Language

Seriously, “Jessi” on the cover looks old than me.



Herein, we are introduced to Matt Braddock, who is profoundly deaf, and his sister, Haley, whose “blonde hair was cut short with a little tail in the back (very in)…” Jessi gets a regular gig sitting for these kids AND she’s learning sign language AND she landed the lead role in her ballet school’s production of CoppĂ©lia. Busy little Jessi. AND in the middle of all this, she has a great idea to invite Matt’s class at his deaf kid school to the opening of the ballet! Oh, and all the BSCers want to learn to sign, and all the kids want to learn, too! Hooray! Feel good all around!!!!!!!!

Listy time!!!!


  1. This book is full of things that never get mentioned again! 1) Jessi is apparently very good at languages. So good that she “practically became bilingual” during her family’s one week vacation in Mexico. What can I say? She’s a prodigy…

  2. Jessi has the darkest eyes she’s ever seen. Seriously.

  3. Oh, so she mentions that Jessi doesn’t want to be a professional dancer like three times in this book! I’m not mistaken that later books explicitly say she wants to be a dancer, right? Right? Plus, why would she be in this crazy school and why would her parents spend beaucoup bucks on ballet gear if she’s not at least trying to go pro?

  4. This book talks a lot about how hard it can be to fit in when you’re different. Like if you’re black, or deaf, or if you have a deaf brother. It’s deep. Thanks to you, ANM, I know now that I should be accepting of people who are different. I’m so, so ashamed. You stupid bitch.

  5. I hate when ANM mentions real books. I just do.

  6. And, because there’s no such thing as too much of a stretch for Ms. Martin, one of Jessi’s ballet nemeses has a deaf sister. And her family doesn’t know how to sign, so they don’t communicate. And it’s so sad. But luckily, Jessi can help…Hooray! More warm fuzzies!

  7. SHUT UP, KAREN YOU STUPID LITTLE PIECE OF SHIT!!!!! YOU MAKE ALL THAT SHIT UP!!!!! THERE IS NO GHOST PARTY, AND THERE IS NO GHOST PATE! [There should be accents there, but I don’t care because I HATE KAREN THAT MUCH!!!!!!]

  8. I find it hard to believe that Jessi is surprised that Haley sometimes wishes Matt had never been born. Who hasn’t had that thought about their siblings, especially when they’re that young [Sorry, Brian!]. Blah.

  9. ”Ballerinas have to be strong and agile and in good shape. Junk food doesn’t help you to be any of those things.” Oh, and she forgot SKINNY. Dumbass.

  10. Stirrings of baby fever at the Thomas-Brewer household. And Kristy’s mom had Charlie when she was 20. Ouch.

  11. Even when I was like 7 or 8, I didn’t think 11 was grown-up. Nope.

  12. Heh. The Polanski Sisters.

  13. I would pay lots of money to see Coppernicus: the ballet. And I would pay more to see Coppernicus: the musical. And still more for A Brief History of Metaphysics: The Musical. [I made that last one up. Shut up, you know you’d watch it, too!]

  14. I want to go to Good Time Charley’s. It sounds like a strip club.



Hoorah! See, PoBal, I didn’t make fun of any deaf kids! Just everyone else!

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would usually just pretend that the girls were in high school to avoid confused anger...and I always skipped chapter 2 to avoid boredom.

K said...

Does Jessi have a moustache on the cover?

Anonymous said...

why would an 11-year-old land the lead in the ballet production?? As an elementary school dancer, this always annoyed me.

And I find it hard to believe that the one family was ignoring their deaf child. Wouldn't the doctors who declared the kid deaf encourage the family right away to learn how to sign?


this blog makes me laugh every time. good work!

Tenacious said...

I'm sorry but Jessi was sooo fucking boring. I think I owned only three of her books

Anonymous said...

I hope they bring the rat tail back. That is one fashion trend I'd love to have again. *rolls eyes*

You're definitely not mistaken that they mention in later books that Jessi wants to be a professional dancer. They usually mention it when describing similarities/differences between her and Mallory. Mallory wants to be an author and Jessi wants to be a dancer.

Also? I hate Karen too.

coquelicot said...

When I turned 11 (after this book came out), I wondered why I didn't look as old as Jessi did on this cover. I thought she could pass for 16 easily. Maybe it's all that junk food she's avoiding.

I'd forgotten that Kristy's mom was 20 when she had Charlie. Meaning that she would have had 3 of her 4 kids by the time she was my current age. Yowza. Guess the "baby fever" is the foreshadowing of the arrival of Emily Michelle several books later.

The Crane Wife said...

I love the "very special" books. And I love that all the kids in Stoneybrook are so open-minded and supportive of kids who are different, because that's so much like real life.

Have you reviewed "Kristy and the Secret of Susan"? Because that's the best (and by that I mean the worst) of the babysitters changing the world, one "special" kid at a time.

Anonymous said...

I don't like Karen either, but I thought her "ghost pate" was kind of cute! It's not as bad as some of the other stuff the kid comes up with...

I remember that Jessi eats ambrosia when they all go out for ice cream at the end. The dessert of the gods...heh heh.

The mention of the "rat tail" makes me shudder, it really does...

bibberly said...

Actually, I do know some deaf kids whose parents don't sign. Some parents think that by refusing to sign, the kids will "adapt to the hearing world" or some crap. (My mom studied to be a sign language interpreter.) There was a girl in my dance class like that when I was growing up, and she used to get so frustrated with her parents that she would have tantrums (although she was too old for that sort of thing). So I empathized with that part... but not with Jessi learning sign immediately. And certainly not with an 11-year-old getting a great part in a ballet.

randiradio said...

OK, black Swanilda is possible. 11-year old Swanilda EN POINTE is NOT possible!!!! Virtually all ballet schools won't even let girls start dancing en pointe before they're 12 years old--I can accept that an 11 year old who's really talented and has a mature enough body would be allowed to start (in fact, when Jessi first meets Mallory she says she JUST went on toe) but dance a lead role and doing partner work in pointe shoes??? No no no no, it doesn't happen. EVER.

I just hope to God AMM wasn't thinking of the actual full fledged ballet. Please tell me Jessi's school was doing a simplified version for younger students. Although I doubt it, because in Jessi and the Dance School Phantom (I think that's #41) Jessi has the lead in Sleeping Beauty (another impossibility) the way they talked about it sounded like the full ballet. Another thing that bugged me about that particular book was how, when Jessi's pointe shoes were stolen, Mme Noelle was ready to call off rehearsal because Jessi couldn't do anything. It's not unheard of for ballerinas to learn the choreography on regular ballet shoes first. In fact, especially when students are involved, it's probably standard practice.

I don't understand why AMM had her diabetes-related books evaluated by a doctor, but she couldn't take some time to learn a few things about ballet. I've seen a Copellia production danced by students. They were students at a full-time professional school, not the one like Jessi's where she goes two evenings a week. The girls (like in professional companies, dancers took turns with roles on certain nights) dancing Swanilda were 17 years old, in the highest level, and were the best in their level. The 11 year olds (the lowest level) danced the minor numbers in the 3rd act like "Dance of the Hours" (which I believe is mentioned in Jessi's Secret Language), and none of them were en pointe.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is good. I always thought I must have had a heart of ice to not feel all warm and fuzzy inside while reading this books. I always thought the ones about the "special kids" were kind of....lame. I mean, both of my brothers are "special" (I like to use quotations marks, sue me.) and no one in real life is that accepting. Heck, I'm not even that accepting.

I can't believe I never thought about how ridiculous this book was. And how I never looked as mature as Jessie on that cover. I don't understand why they all thought that 13 and 11 were so grown up. You can't even do anything fun! That's my rant.


I <3 your blog, Tiffany.

Anonymous said...

re:randiradio

I know exactly what you're talking about! ANM knew well, nothing about ballet. Kids at 11-12 are just beginning on pointe and maybe spend the last 20 minutes or so of class in the pointe shoes, not full time classes. Maybe Jessi actually had a really crappy teacher whose plan was for her students to need their feet amputated at age 16. Or maybe just Jessi, since after all, she was black :)

Anonymous said...

I always thought Jessi was so cool for being such a dedicated dancer (after all, she wakes up BEFORE her alarm to dance in the mornings at the barre in her basement). But looking back, I realize that I didn’t really get how young 11 is when I was reading the books. No way would she be on toe fulltime! I danced when I was younger, and, like the pervious poster said, we danced en pointe for the end of class in the beginning (when I was 12). Also, on the cover Jessi looks older than I do now! Granted, I am 27 and still look 18, but you get the point!

Anonymous said...

just to make life easier, i always just imagined the girls in high school. if nothing else it was just to make them seem as "grown-up" as they act.

Michelle said...

I love you. Seriously, this blog makes my day. Does anyone else remember the BSC movie in 1995? It would be great if you reviewed that, I still have mental scars! Heh, anyway, this was one of my favorite books in the series when I was a kid. My all time favorite was Kristy's Worst Idea, I think I still have it somewhere...

michelle said...

Check this out, it has all the covers and names of the BSC books!

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/m/ann-m-martin/

Sara said...

Holy crap, in my small Alaskan hometown, Good Time Charley's IS a strip bar!!! And a VERY seedy one at that!!

(I'm being 100% serious. It says on the sign outside, "GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS".)

Hanna said...

the family ignored their deaf child and refused to learn sign language? wouldn't that be considered child abuse, and if anyone found out wouldn't the kid be taken out of that home?

oh the rattail. even when i was little i couldn't imagine it being "very in." except i'm 19 now and i was reading some of these books almost a decade after they were written...was a rattail actually cool (for girls no less) in the 80s?

so what was "good time charley's" in the book? i actually can't picture it as anything other than a strip club.

M. Wells said...

SHUT UP, KAREN YOU STUPID LITTLE PIECE OF SHIT!!!!! YOU MAKE ALL THAT SHIT UP!!!!!


It's sentences like those that make it completely impossible for me to read your blog at work. People in the next cube over think I'm fucking insane with all the hysterical, and seemingly unprovoked, laughter.

neena said...

I've been dancing since I was 2 (I'm 19 now) and I started en pointe when I was 7 (I think I went full time around 10ish)

Yeah, my feet are disgustingly deformed. You aren't supossed to go en poine until at least 11 or 12 because your bones just aren't ready for it . . . according to my doctors, there is a good chance I'm going to need surgery in a few years, which could basically end my dance career.

So, have fun in a few years Jessi . . . enjoy wearing sandels while your feet look normal

kiwimusume said...

I discovered this weekend that "Good Time Charlie" is also a Japanese country-western singer...

Cassie said...

I also started en pointe uber young (8ish) . . . only I was having surgery done when I was 16. It was not a fun experience to say the least and I've still got a few issues with feet pain and walking, forget dancing.

I always loathed Jessi (I don't know why, as a dancer I should have loved her, but she just anoyed the crap out of me) . . . so the idea of her going through that makes me a mite warm/fuzzy inside :)

hwong14 said...

I don't remember this book, but is Good Time Charley's supposed to be a restaurant? Because there's a restaurant called Good Time Charley's in Princeton, NJ (where AMM is from), and it's been there forever, so she would know it. I started reading these books when I was 8 and living in Princeton and I thought it was soooooo cool that I was from the same place as her. Also, I just checked her official website, and she says that Karen is her favorite character. No wonder that girl is so insane and ever-present! What a stupid little girl.

Anonymous said...

Jessi looks like a boy in the cover .____.

Anonymous said...

Good Time Charley's is also an amazing bar in Ann Arbor, MI w/ huge long islands.

Anonymous said...

It's not that unrealistic that a family might not learn sign language. My boyfriend went to the school for the blind and many of the students he encounter were neglected by there parents. Those parents are trash and can't see some pretentious little ballerina out admitting to it, but it does happen.

kiwimusume said...

Jessi is apparently very good at languages. So good that she “practically became bilingual” during her family’s one week vacation in Mexico. What can I say? She’s a prodigy…

Oh God. Oh Goddy God God.

I've just realised that since this is a Jessi book, Jessi was saying this about HERSELF! Bitch, please. I translate Japanese song lyrics in my spare time, and I've lost count of how many people have called themselves "fluent" in Japanese because they've reached, like, intermediate level (or earlier in some cases.) My favourite was the one who said "If you study Japanese at college for a year, you can become as fluent as me!" then translated a line about the red sunset outside the window as "Dying the cow's butt dark red." So now I have this mental picture of Jessi bragging on the internets about how fluent her Spanish is, while churning out craptacular Babelfish translations of Shakira's Spanish stuff.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm from Princeton and went to Good Time Charley's a lot growing up. It's a family steakhouse, basically.

Anonymous said...

Jessi looks like Joan Armatrading on this cover. Or Michael Jackson, when he was still black.