Wednesday, March 10, 2010

#91 Claudia and the First Thanksgiving


It's time once again for a new plot, I mean Short Takes class. All of the new ST classes will center around drama; some classes will read plays as literature, some will perform a play, and some will study drama from around the world. Claudia, Stacey, and Abby are all in a class who will be writing a play for the third graders at SES to perform. The class tosses around a few ideas before deciding that they'll write their play about a girl named Alice who falls asleep the day before Thanksgiving and wakes up at the very first Thanksgiving. The only people who can see her when she travels back in time are the pilgrim and Indian children. Alice and the children exchange information about what Thanksgiving is like for them, with a heavy emphasis on women's and men's roles. The class has to do quite a bit of research on what Thanksgiving was really like for the pilgrims, and they're pretty surprised by what they find...

Casting the play proves to be the easy part; Betsy Sobak gets the lead role of Alice, and they find places for all the other kids who want to participate. Rehearsals run pretty smoothly, until one afternoon. Claudia notices some parents and SES teachers watching the kids practice. They don't seem happy, but Claudia doesn't find out why until the next rehearsal. In the middle of the play, one of the teachers stands up, orders them to stop, and denounces the play as un-American. Plenty of parents and other teachers are unhappy as well, and rehearsal ends. The next day, Ms. Garcia (Claudia's Short Takes teacher) has bad news for the class: they either put on a play that tells the traditional, watered-down version of the first Thanksgiving, or there won't be a play. The class is pretty mad, but they decide to put on a censored version of the play. They DO get the last word, though, by wearing censorship buttons, putting "censored" on the programs, and putting on the original version of the play with SMS students. The whole fiasco makes Claudia think about censorship and freedom of speech, and exactly how far is too far.

Subplot: every single member of the BSC had made plans for Thanksgiving, and every single one of those plans falls through. So, the club decides to have one big dinner for all their families over at Kristy's. Even Dawn shows up!

Rating: 1.5

Thoughts and Things
  • was Halloween at the end of the last book, and all the kids dresses up like Ghostbusters. It was also Halloween in the beginning of this book, and all the kids dressed up like Groucho Marx. I don't think anyone was even trying when it came to continuity at this point...
  • Poor Mal...her family was once again supposed to go to New York for Thanksgiving and see the parade, but the apartment they were going to borrow gets flooded. At least it wasn't Mallory's fault this time!
  • I wonder if Nola Thacker is a feminist? There was a LOT of women's rights stuff in this book.
  • Speaking of Nola, this book actually read much more like a Lerangis book. There were tons of cheesy puns, and a snot reference. Usually, he's the one that's all over stuff like that.
  • I kind of love how Abby tells everyone off. :)


  1. Somebody call McCarthy! This play is un-American!

  2. And this book is so heavy-handed!

  3. I agree, Nikki. I liked the portrayal of the censorship-types in Mary Anne and the Library Mystery better. These people are just caricatures.

  4. did they copy this from south park and the christmas play?