Every once in a while a series tries to fool the readers into believing these characters are ‘real’ by acknowledging a moment in a past book. Usually this is to bring back a character – i.e. the despicable Suzie Devlin from SVH #11 Too Good To be True returns for Special Christmas – you could even say Todd’s reappearance was a trip down memory lane as anyone jumping in with Jeffery French might’ve assumed him to be Liz’s one and only. The Babysitter’s Club tried this angle with a place – Sea City which was returned to twice more ( two unnecessary trips as far as I’m concerned after the stellar first book Boy Crazy Stacey – I would’ve preferred a trip back to Camp Mohawk. ) Sleepover Friends plays this idea smart – by wasting no time the author returns to an idea sparked only two books earlier. In Book #10 – their teacher decides to have a sleepover exchange with some farm kids in a neighboring town a kind of mini-student exchange program in which students will be hosted at a welcoming students house. It’s hinted at that the Riverhurst kids will eventually go to Walden – but no reader actually believes this – too often we’ve seen Jessica turn over a new leaf , or a character take up a new interest only to have it never mentioned again but Saunders throws us a loop – she actually does follow through with another trip! What’s great about this is that each story has it’s own angle to unravel. I unfortunately felt like the return Sea City trips were a lot of sight seeing and dreary plot maneuvers – having Mallory and Vanessa fall in love with the same boy – c’mon! Ugh.
I’ll start off with Book 10 and in the following week I hope to review Sleepover Friends #11 and #12 – I was going to skip 11 however something happens in it that could have people going what the fudge? Where did HE come from? ( unless you’re a SF freak like me – you won’t get that joke. )
Anyhow Lauren’s Sleepover exchange begins with the fifth grade class raffling off the visitors by picking names from a hat or rather vase. With so many volunteers there’s a few empty slips of paper in the mix. The sleepover friends are hopeful and at the same time resentful that catty Jenny Carlin, who never showed any interest in the program and only signed up after they did, might get a visitor. As luck would have it – Kate , Stephanie and Lauren all get a Walden visitor but when it’s Patti’s turn she comes up with a blank slip – don’t worry Stephanie whispers say I’ll share Molly , and Darlene Kate adds and Annette Lauren chimes in. Meanwhile Jenny gets the last visitor and in their minds the one meant for Patti.
At the sleepover that night they’re still burning up over Jenny’s underhanded luck , and pigging out. Back in the day I could scarcely get through a Sleepover Friends book without a bag of barbeque chips handy – their food orgies are to drool for – for instance they grab – Cherry Coke , Dr. Pepper – Alaska dip ( Patti’s recipe – which is chili sauce , tuna , mayo, cream cheese and scallions and lemon juice – I actually made this dip – when the sleepover guide came out and it was lipsmacking good! ) , Chinese spare ribs and a bag of Sour-cream and onion Potato skins. Keebler’s Tato Skins? Lauren still looking for more food?! spots a paper bag – filled with books to be donated and finds one that interests her ( no it’s not a cook book ) – Body Talks – ( Not to be confused with the real best seller at the time Julius Fast’s Body Language! )
which reveals the inner meaning behind the signals you are giving people. Mr. Green whose a lawyer loved the book and suggests Lauren keep it. This kind of fortune telling hokum appeals to Lauren but Kate scoffs it especially when Lauren begins interpreting the gestures of the actors in the movie their watching – Shhh Kate hisses. Which Lauren should interpret as shut up or I’ll make you eat that book.
I’ve run across some people who adamantly dislike SF because ,they whine, nothing happens! – horsepucky! given the page count – SF does fairly well. I suppose the sleepovers themselves could be sighted as being fluff cause nothing much happens to progress the plot – but I love ‘em. For instance this evening the girls gawk over Kevin DeSpain ( their favorite star ) strutting on screen in only a smile and a blue bathing suit which has even Kate joining the others in a hormone induced shriek of WOW! If you know Kate – this is huge.
Meanwhile Stephanie talks about losing unnecessary weight all the while polishing off the rest of the chip dip and then sucks in her cheeks till she resembles Donald Duck in the hopes of resembling Tanya Colter – the star who’s nabbed Kevin DeSpain and has cheekbones Steph would kill for.
On Sunday the girls arrive at school to pick up their Walden guests in their second best outfits assuming based I suppose on Little House on The Prairie propaganda that the farm kids will be poorly dressed. Well Lauren and Kate stick with this plan – Stephanie however can’t resist an opportunity to shop and arrives in a brand new outfit – but her heart is in the right place – black denim overalls – overalls get it? She says – to make them feel at home. Right Kate says lifting a wry eyebrow ( about as close to an eyeroll as Kate gets! )
Of course the farm kids are all better dressed with Stephanie’s visitor looking like her long lost twin – the Shopping sisters Kate mutters – Separated at birth.
Stephanie has managed the best luck in her pair up with fellow shopaholic Molly Jones whose wearing a snazzy outfit and round red framed glasses. She scores points with Steph , just for those glasses ( Stephanie adores everything red , black and white – tres trendy! ) Kate and Lauren’s however are mismatched – Kate winds up with a sporty girl Annette while Lauren winds up with a frosty, neat-freak who practically faints when she meets Bullwinkle ( Lauren’s giant Newfoundland dog ) and decides instead of going out with the others for pizza , she’d rather stay home and clean Lauren’s room.
Lauren figures out the seconds til she’s gone and starts a countdown!
Because her guest is so anti-social not only with Lauren’s friends but her own classmates Lauren feel ostracized but is finding the powers of Body Talks to be rather useful. She’s trying out Get Lost signals on hunky Pete Stone in the hopes of keeping Jenny Carlin off her back for the week ( she’s got enough trouble with Annette ) only it backfires! And a whole gang of boys lead by Pete are following Lauren wondering why she’s giving Pete the brush off. Face it Steph says – He thinks you’re a woman of mystery.
The unmysterious Jenny practically pops a stitch in fact , Jenny’s main hue in this book is Steph’s favorite red. She has reason for her rage though, – nothing is going her way! Her guest who seemed wimpy is in fact feisty Rebecca whose main appeal was that she came with a Hunk-and-a-half cousin and fellow Waldenite Reggie ( whom everyone has their eye on ) but every time lunch comes around she blows off Jenny to sit with the sleepover friends ( minus Lauren who’s doomed to sit with the unfriendly Annette. ) And because Reggie is Pete’s guest – Where Pete goes Reggie goes!
Lauren meanwhile discovers Annette’s hostility is a mask for anxiety because she’s moved around so much she doesn’t know how to make friends ( and no Body Talks isn’t that good! Annette’s mom tells Lauren’s mom who tells Lauren ) but the real revelation is that her mom is such an overprotective worrywart she doesn’t even know how to ride a bike!
I could safely say that in series fiction this is as first – friends teaching someone their own age how to ride a bike.
The great thing about the set up is in the cafeteria at school Annette humbly admits that Lauren is going to teach her how to ride , and if anyone has any tips ….it’s an opened ended gesture for help and friendship from girls she previously snubbed – but all agree they’d be glad to show up. The next day armed with Cheez Doodles and soda the girls offer their advice – It’s as easy as falling off a log Stephanie soothes. Kate watching Annette turn white wryly comments – Not a great choice of words.
Naturally the scene ends with Annette successfully careening down the street.
Oh I’ve almost forgotten that Jenny’s over the top body language ( she looks like she’s going to blow a fuse Kate at one point comments watching Jenny animatedly try to keep the interest of three boys ) finally comes to a head – in fact the only kiss Jenny manages to wrangle for her efforts in this book is from Bullwinkle. When she comes over to nab her errant guest from Lauren’s backyard ( all of them have gathered to sneakily teach Annette baseball under the guise of teaching Patti. ) Bullwinkle breaks out and knocks Jenny down. It take three people to pull him off – and sputtering Jenny gets up ready to blast Lauren for being slobbered on – until she notices Roger , Lauren’s 16 yr old brother and says I don’t think we’ve been introduced. Oh Brother!
Lauren thinks Jenny needs an intervention and slips Body Talks into her desk but creates a monster – naturally a villain like Jenny would twist means to suit her purpose and by the next day she’s got fickle Pete following after her like a puppy. Lauren really doesn’t care she’s having too much fun and at the Friday dance – a sock hop ( this is a flub if you read book #32 in which the gang has never heard of a sock hop ! ) she manages to dance with some boys and even the hunk-and-a-half Reggie. He’s not as cool and confident as he looks, Lauren’s studied his habits and he’s definitely shy. Not that you really need a book to read his signals. Rebecca had to get the girls to ask him to dance cause he wouldn’t have had the nerve!
Rebecca finally abandons her host Jenny and spends the last few nights with Patti – hooray! Which now means she can attend the huge sleepover hosted by Patti ( whose got an attic big enough to fit everyone ) featuring the sleepover friends and their Walden guests – an eight girl sleepover! ( The term slumber party is shunned in the SF books ) There’s a grand pig out with a huge hero sandwich , ice cream cake , lemonade and a full length ghost story told by the Walden girls. In fact the girls have so much fun they decide a Walden branch of the sleepover friends is a must – they even begin planning for it! And best of all they’ve welcomed Annette into their plans. At the end of the week as the kids say goodbye to their guests the Walden crew chants – Riverhurst Riverhurst all accept for the girls – who shout out Sleepover Friends!
* Lauren slams Bullwinkles intelligence! when one of the farm kids insist that pigs are very smart at least as smart as dogs – compared to Bullwinkle Lauren thinks that wasn’t too impressive. Poor Bullwinkle!
* Lauren at the sight of the six foot hero sandwich – I’m in Heaven let me at it!
* The next day the gang joins a baseball game and the boys begin picking which girls to be on which team – Lauren is first pick – Kate is last with a lackluster – Then I guess I’ll take Kate – to which she replies thanks for the enthusiasm.
* The first and I think only time Lauren describes Stephanie as being a ‘little curvy’ which coincides with her artwork – Steph actually has a bust!
* Stephanie comments on Jenny leaning so far over Rebecca to provoke an introduction with Reggie – Such a shame she’s going to drool over that nice jacket. ( Reggie’s wearing a great leather bomber jacket – very Top Gun! )
I have to admit it this is one of my least favorite renditions of Stephanie on Conrad’s cover art – she looks terrible! Her hair is a frizzball , she has no eyelashes. I know it’s too much to ask for the black denim overalls but what’s with the glasses? Lauren doesn’t fair much better. A side ponytail for Lauren?! C’mon – there’s actually a scene in the series in which the girls wear side ponytails actually 2 scenes but both hairstyle moments are considered over the top! The only thing I do love about the cover is the chummy way Steph’s got her arm around Lauren’s waist and Lauren’s got her hand on Steph’s shoulder – very cute!
I’ve chosen some 80’s kids clothing to pair up for my 80’s nostalgia – love the tangley teased side ponytail! That was actually a style.
* I used to mousse my bangs like this!
In the 90’s onward everyone was trying to look like naughty school girls in the 80’s school girls were made to look like nerdy schoolmarms!