Jessi’s mom goes back to work and so her dad’s older sister, her Aunt Cecilia, comes to live with the Ramseys to help run the household. Jessi and Becca feel that Aunt Cecilia treats them like little kids and they resent this, referring to her secretly as Aunt Dictator (ouch!). The subplot is that there’s a science fair at Stoneybrook Elementary School, and Jessi helps Jackie build a working model of a volcano, but ends up doing the whole project for him. Jessi learns to empathize with her aunt when she sees that she was just as controlling of Jackie as Cecilia was over her and Becca.
- I love Jessi's dibbly fresh vintage wear on the front cover. And by love I mean hate. And by vintage wear I mean Bill Cosby sweater. With both parents working full-time, they're on their way to becoming the Huxtables in no time.
- Jessi thinks that the big news is that her mom is expecting a new baby, and she’s super excited. What is with these kids? Kristy wanted her mom to have another baby and they go to pieces every time a client is expecting a baby. And Jessi’s got enough experience to know that having a baby around is kind of obnoxious.
- Jessi and Becca play pranks on Aunt Cecilia in the hopes that she’ll leave. You know, when Jessi whines about not being treated like an adult by her parents, I find her a lot harder to take seriously considering she short sheets her aunt’s bed, puts shaving cream in her slippers and puts a spider on her pillows. Actually, the hardest part of this to believe is that someone her age knows how to short sheet a bed. I always thought that was one of those lame fifties summer camp things. Then again, the girls have already been to Camp Mohawk.
- And word to the wise, Jessi, punking your nanny isn’t effective. It’s not even cute unless you look good in lederhosen and enjoy romping around the Alps.
- And it’s not like you have the excuse of having no mom and a strict dad who doesn’t let anyone have a good time until a free spirited woman enters his life. That’s Mary Anne’s story.
- Jessi and Mal put ridiculous signs on their doors to keep people out. Jessi’s is:
KEEP OUT (please)
THIS MEANS YOU
(THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION)
- Even Mallory thinks the sign is dumb. Always worrying when even Mal thinks you’ve done something stupid. (Mallory’s sign is much more succinct. Hers says “KEEP OUT OR ELSE.” Love the brevity—someone’s been digging out her Strunk and White!)
- Jackie Rodowsky gets the idea for the volcano from The Brady Bunch. Good to know Ann M. has moved on from I Love Lucy.
- Jessi describes Kristy as being less mature than the other thirteen year old members of the club because she doesn’t date and pays no attention to clothes or make up. Jessi, you know you just lost all credibility, right?
- Kristy’s really condescending. David Michael keeps pitching ideas for the science fair and she ends up rejecting most of them (drawing a diagram of the planets, etc.). Dude, he’s seven. She also tells the others that she knows he won’t win. Hey, for a second grader, a mobile of the solar system is pretty good. And speaking of projects, the fact that Charlotte Johannssen is only eight years old and yet knows enough about science to make a control group when she’s doing an experiment about the effect of music on plants raised my eyebrows. (And that’s really hard to do, especially since the incident.)
- Aunt Cecilia’s not even all that bad as a sitter. Jessi thinks she’s a bitch for not letting them take Squirt out for a walk when it’s cloudy. (I don’t think it’s all that realistic that an eleven year old would want to spend all her time taking care of her siblings, though, which is what Jessi would prefer to having Aunt C. here.) It sucks that she’s so upset about Jessi being ten minutes late. And not letting her go to the BSC meeting as a punishment is overkill, but the fact that Jessi doesn’t even say anything to her parents is just stupid. Oh, she also tells Jessi and Becca that they can’t have a sandwich for a snack, but instead have to eat some weird Dawn-esque health cookies. For really bad living situations, turn on TLC any time of the day or night.
- Jessi also asks Kristy to phone her during the meeting so that Aunt Cecilia will feel bad for not letting her go to the meeting. The girls call fourteen times. Because that’s not passive aggressive at all.
- Aunt Cecilia’s also apparently a bitch because she thought it was irresponsible for the Ramseys to go out of town for the weekend and leave Jessi in charge of her siblings. Gotta agree with her there. She’s eleven! Jessi didn’t earn herself any responsibility points when she wanted Aunt Cecilia not to call Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey and tell them Becca was missing because it would ruin their vacation. Aunt Cecilia, you rock.
- We have to have yet another Jessi-is-black talk here. Aunt Cecilia explains that part of the reason she’s so hard on Jessi and Becca is because black people have to work so much harder to be respected. Okay, true, but some people just are dominating—the story plot works well even if her aunt is just a fairly critical type without dragging in the painfully labored racial awareness angle. Now, Aunt Cecilia, go give Obama a talk about how not wearing a suit and tie is going to hold him back.
- Besides, lots of white people have horribly controlling relatives who micromanage their lives and sometimes they even manage to get a book deal out of it. Hmmm. Jessi is a dancer already…
I Hate Mallory Alert
Jessi mentions that Mallory isn’t feeling particularly pretty these days because of her braces. And I think that’s the closest they can get to saying Mallory’s ugly. It’s a little worse since Jessi goes on to describe herself as having super long legs and thick eyelashes. Well, when you got it, flaunt it, I suppose.
Jessi talks about the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant, and says “‘We rehearsed the girls for the pageants” and Mal points out that they did, but they didn’t get up and do everything for them. Except Mal and Jessi were the only two who made a point of not getting involved because they thought the pageant was sexist.