Thursday, August 13, 2009

#16 Jessi's Secret Language

Jessi learns to sign
To talk to Matt Braddock. Does
He know she is black???


The BSC gets a call from the Braddocks, who've just moved to Stoneybrook. They need a sitter two days a week, indefinitely, for Haley and Matt. The catch? Matt's deaf, and the sitter needs to be willing to learn sign language. Jessi is the lucky winner, which should be pretty obvious considering who happens to be narrating this book. :) She meets with the Braddocks several times before actually being left alone with them. They're nice enough kids, but Haley is dealing with some typical jealousy/guilt for being jealous that comes with having a sibling who's different. Jessi actually does a really good job of talking to her and validating some of her feelings. She also goes a long way towards making the Braddock kids feel welcome in the neighborhood by showing the other kids how fun Matt's "secret language" can be.

When she's not sitting for the Braddocks, Jessi is getting ready to dance the lead in her ballet school's production of Coppelia. Since she's still fairly new in class, a few of the other students are giving her a hard time. Namely, Hilary (aka the "Dance School Phantom" from later in the series) and Katie Beth, who used to be Madame Noelle's favorites before Jessi joined. Things start to get better, though. At one point, both Hilary and Katie Beth compliment Jessi on her dancing in rehearsals. They do it grudgingly, but they do it nonetheless. :) Jessi and Katie Beth also bond when Jessi finds out that Katie Beth's sister is deaf, and Jessi doesn't subsequently freak out or anything like K.B. seems to think she will.

Finding out that Matt has never been to the theater gives Jessi an idea that borders on Kristy caliber: she wants to invite Matt's class of deaf children to her opening night performance of Coppelia. She works it out with Madame Noelle, Matt's school, and the Braddocks (Haley is there to narrate the story, and Mrs. Braddock is there to translate the narration into sign language). It's actually kind of a nice gesture...can't really be too cynical about it. :)

Thoughts and Things

  • I never actually owned this book as a kid, so it's one of the older ones in the series that still feels kind of "new."
  • Jessi has more discipline than any 11 year old I've ever met. She goes to a restaurant with an extensive dessert menu after her dance performance, admits that she wants ice cream, and has fruit instead??? I don't think I could do that. I'd be off ordering a sundae with Claudia. Speaking of, she had a butterscotch one, which was a nice bit of continuity. That's the same thing she had on the cruise ship in Baby-Sitters On Board!
  • The Ramseys are definitely my favorite BSC family. Is it wrong that I kind of wish that John Philip Ramsey, Sr., were my dad? ;)
  • During chapter 2, Jessi reassures us that Claudia's crazy outfits aren't revealing. Thanks, Jessi!
  • Does anyone remember the Sweet Valley Twins book where they did Coppelia? I think it was called Teacher's Pet. I didn't really get into Sweet Valley, but I do remember that one. Elizabeth got the lead role because she was Little Miss Favorite, not because she was the best dancer.


  1. Emily I totally remember that Sweet Valley Twins book I snarked on that in my own blog! And I agree the Ramseys are also my favorite BSC family! ( other than the whole letting Jessi watch 2 kids by herself for the whole weekend thing that happens in BSC Island Adventure)

  2. Heh. I also snarked on that SVT book, the only one in the series I've done (so far).

  3. there is nothing wrong with liking the ramsey family. they're also my favorite family too, next to richard & sharon, carol & jack schafer, mrs.mcgill, ed mcgill, watson brewer, and aunt cecilia.

    i wish i had a father like jessi's dad.(and im black myself.)

  4. uh... he's deaf, not blind. of course he knows she's black!

  5. @ the comment right above mine
    i thought the same thing, no offense emily:)

    1. I think she was being sarcastic!

  6. Jessi is dancing in a ballet class with 13 and 14-year olds, and she, as an 11-year old, gets the lead? I would think the 14 year-olds would be more annoyed by that than the two 12 year-olds. What is the dance teacher's preference for younger dancers all about? I also thought it was interesting how often Jessi mentions that she does not want to be a professional dancer. I find it strange that an 11 year-old who spends so much time on one activity would not hold out even the possibility of it being a future profession.

  7. yeah, i noticed that in book #16 she says that she does not want to be a professional dancer, but in the later books, she says how serious she is about dancing and how she wants to be a professional someday.

  8. This was the first BSC book I ever read (had it in 4th Grade classroom), sniff. But I was really confused, because in my edition, it misprinted Nicky as Vicky a few times which led me to believe for a few books that Nicky must be really unlucky to have got a girls name.

  9. One thing that annoyed me to no end was how Mrs. Braddock let Jessi pick out a 'name sign' for herself. In a deaf community a hearing person giving themselves a name sign is a big no-no.

    Also, I find it hard to believe that Jessi memorized the ASL alphabet in what, a few days?

  10. I can't be the only one who thinks Jessi looks 30 years old on this cover

  11. I can't be the only one who thinks Jessi looks 30 years old on this cover

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