Friday, June 4, 2010

BSC #42: Jessi and the Dance School Phantom

In case anyone has had trouble reading this post, sorry, there have been some issues with it. At any rate, here it is now.

To recap this book, I decided I needed a little help from the BSC's token minority. So take it away, Jessi!

Jessi: "I guess you guys noticed right away that something was a little off when you saw me narrating, and not Sadako. I've got cocoa colored skin and a broad flat nose, not pale skin and a non existent anime nose. But I'm used to being a little different, since--"

Sadako: "You said you had a mystery to tell us about? The Dance School Phantom?"

Jessi: "It all started when I was in dance class auditioning for Sleeping Beauty. All the girls in my class wanted the lead, the role of Princess Aurora. There was Katie Beth who was the youngest before I showed up, and the baby of the group. She's always resented me for being younger and more talented. There's Carrie Steinfeld who's always wanted a lead but never got one. And she's kind of old to never have danced a lead. Finally, there's Hilary Morgan whose mom is the stage mom of all time. She's so pushy."

Sadako: "Hm, does Mrs. Perkins secretly have a teenage daughter? Anyway. By Scooby Doo logic, it's Hilary. Yup, it's always the third suspect. Can we all go to Claudia's house for some Milky Ways?"

Jessi: "After my audition, I watched another girl, Mary Bramstedt, auditioning. She's an okay dancer but has no passion. She's stiff, like a robot. There's no mistaking me for a robot, though. Not with my passion. There aren't too many black robots, anyway."

Sadako: "You're blanking out the Urkel-bot episode of Family Matters, too, aren't you?"

Jessi: "I'm black, you know? In the world of dance, there still aren't that many girls with skin like ebony--"

Sadako: "So, um, did you get a good part?"

Jessi: "I got the lead--Princess Aurora. This is the third lead ever for me, too."

Sadako: "Congrats. That must have been some steep competition."

Jessi: "Not really. I have something the other girls don't have."

Sadako: "A built in ego protector that comes of attributing all your failures to the prejudice of those around you?"

Jessi: "A je ne sais quoi! Plus, the other girls just aren't as talented. Like, Carrie Steinfeld--she's definitely over the hill. She's fifteen and never had the leading role in a dance performance. And that Mary who's technically great but doesn't have ne sais quoi. Anyway, the other girls were all trash talking each other after the announcements. Other girls are so catty, don't you think?"

Sadako: "Well, all but you."

Jessi: "Maybe it's because I'm more open minded considering all the prejudice I've encountered."

Sadako: "So what happened next?"

Jessi: "A lot of weird stuff. My toe shoes and my dance clothes were stolen. And there were strange notes left in my locker. Stuff like Beware."

Sadako: "So did you tell Madame Noelle?"

Jessi: "No way she'd believe me."

Sadako: "Even with the fact that she knows you pretty well and you have notes to prove all this. Well, one has to advance the plot somehow. Carry on."

Jessi: "Then one day Carrie told me we were supposed to be doing jetes when we were meant to be doing glissades, and when I went to perform, I slipped and hurt my ankle. Katie Beth got to dance my part in auditions--it was awful."

Sadako: "That's really sad."

Jessi: "I looked up at the picture of Mikhail Baryshnikov on the wall, like I always do when I feel sad. I always like to look at Mischa, as I call him, and draw inspiration. It's like he's saying, Hey, Jessi. Don't worry. It's not so bad!"

Mikhail: "Why I am in a fictional Scholastic Books' fictional wannabe ballet dancer's fantasy? My agent could not get me Harper's?"

Jessi: "Finally, I had to do what I had to do. I decided that I was going to ask for help."

Sadako: "Mme Noelle? Aunt Cecilia? Morbidda Destiny?"

Jessi: "The Babysitters Club! I had them sneak into one of the rehearsals in the auditorium. They observed and reported."

Sadako: "So did they solve the mystery?"

Jessi: "They came up with three suspects. Hilary, Katie Beth, and Carrie who were all eying me jealously."

Claudia: "My back up career in case becoming a starving artist doesn't work out is makeup artist/back alley botox technician, so I have to know all about facial expressions."

Mallory: "What about Lisa Jones? No one can be that sweet and nice."

Jessi: "Lisa's really that nice--she even called to make sure I was okay when I was at home with my hurt ankle."

Kristy: "Are you sure? Maybe she was scoping out the competition."

Jessi: "I really think we should rule her out."

Ghostwriter Ellen Miles: "And I agree. I popped in to reassure the girls that Lisa was nice. I told them, Being nice makes you happy, and happy girls can't be dance school phantoms! They just can't! And besides, writing more than three suspects would have been hard work, especially since back when I wrote that book I was facing a lawsuit from the publishers of Shiloh about my book Patches--a novel about an abused beagle."

Jessi: "We all told Claudia what a great detective she was."

Stacey: "Claud, You're a regular Nancy Drew!"

Claudia: "Oh yeah, well if I'm Nancy, who's Bess?"

Mallory: "How come detectives always have a plump friend? It's true in the Hardy Boys and the Three Investigators."

Claudia: "Guess you're going to have to put on some weight, Stace!"

Jessi: "We all cracked up at that."

Sadako: "Fat people really are a gas."

Jessi: "Next week, Carrie didn't show up to dance class a couple days because she was sick and I still got a note. I knew it wasn't her."

Sadako: "Okay, two suspects left."

Jessi: "Then another day in dance class, a scenery flat almost came down on me. Katie Beth pushed me out of the way. She didn't want me to die a horrible death or become a comatose vegetable, so I knew she couldn't have been the Dance School Phantom."

Sadako: "She could have still been the Phantom. Just because she didn't want you to die, doesn't mean--"

Ellen: "No, Jessi's right. Bad people try to have you killed. Good people save you. Good people can't be the Phantom."

Sadako: "Couldn't a person be bad but not all bad? Like, you know...shades of gray?"

Ellen: "Gray would be a nice name for the next puppy in my Puppy Place book. He's a spunky abandoned Weimarener puppy."

Jessi: "Dawn and Claudia helped, too. Dawn noted that the lettering on the notes was most unusual, and Claudia said it was calligraphy."

Mary Anne: "Calligraphy? What's that?"

Claudia: "Oh, Mimi didn't tell you about that over special tea, my Mary Anne? It's a special way of writing letters to make them pretty."

Sadako: "So you decided to confront Hilary. How?"

Jessi: "By having her draw a sign and then comparing the handwriting to that on the evil notes."

Sadako: "Okay. So let me guess what happens. Hilary confesses and apologizes, and Jessi decides she's been punished enough? And then Hillary says it was all her mother's fault for pushing her and that she never had a childhood and now she's going to quit dance and they go out for frosty chocolate milkshakes?"

Ellen: "Almost, but Suzanne Weyn pointed out that chocolate milkshake is bad for ballet dancers."

Sadako: "And do the kids put on some kind of performance or competition? You know, the way they do in every Ellen Miles book?"

Jessi: "There's a pet contest in Stoneybrook but the kids get really competitive and argue about who will win. We're afraid of hurt feelings until I come up with a solution. Everyone gets a prize. Misty, my sister Becca's hamster, got best all around pet. Myrtle the Turtle got best colorful reptile. Carrot the Schnauzer got best talented Germanic breed. Even Matt and Haley who don't have a pet got best handlers for holding the dog leashes before the show."

Sadako: "Great. Did Mary Anne and Dawn's barn get awarded Nicest Location?"

Ellen: "No--we were afraid the other BSC related venues might feel bad. After all in my book, everyone's a winner!"

Sadako: "Glad to have you with us, Jessi. Join us next time. Claudia Kishi will be channeling her inner Carrie Bradshaw."