Stacey and Barbara Hirsch (Amelia Freeman's best friend from Mary Anne and the Memory Garden) are both on the Pep Squad. It's their job to put together a papier-mache jaguar (the school mascot) for the first big SMS football game of the season. They're working on it outside right at the end of the school day when disaster strikes: a girl Stacey has never seen before walks right into the jaguar....literally. She introduces herself as Tess Swinhart, and it's pretty clear that she feels awful about ruining the jaguar. She offers to help them repair it the next day.
At the BSC meeting that afternoon, the whole club gets to talking about Tess. Everyone thinks she's odd; the way she looks, the way she dresses, her klutziness, etc. By the next morning, the whole school is talking about Tess. They've started calling her Swine-heart the Destroyer, and drawing her as a big (her penchant for wearing pink just feeds into this). Then, Stacey and Tess are paired up on an English project about the Middle Ages, which Tess loves. Stacey thinks it odd for anyone to "love the Middle Ages," but doesn't really mind being teamed up with Tess. In fact, she's decided that Tess would basically be all right, if she changed her appearance a little and got more involved at school. If people got to know her, the pig jokes (which are running rampant) might stop.
Stacey and Tess meet about their English project for the first time at Stacey's house. She "accidentally" leaves some fashion books and magazines laying around where Tess is sure to see them, and drops lots of hints as to what Tess could do to improve her appearance. Tess doesn't take the bait, though, so Stacey finally just offers to give her a makeover. Stacey also talks her into joining the Pep Squad as a way to meet more kids. Tess isn't too enthusiastic about either the makeover OR the Pep Squad, but she agrees to try.
At school the next day, Tess shows up in one of her weird outfits, and no makeup. She also seems totally bored by the Pep Squad meeting, and doesn't even care when the group decides to vote on a new mascot for the next school year. Stacey's getting really frustrated with Tess for not getting into any of the things that she, Stacey, is suggesting. The other members of the BSC start suggesting that Stacey might be going overboard, and that she should just let Tess be herself. Stacey insists that she's "helping" Tess, and that she knows what she's doing. Unfortunately, Stacey seems to be the only one who cares much about Tess; the pig jokes have continued, and Tess is starting to take notice. Things really come to a head at a school football game. During halftime, Stacey and Barbara are supposed to hold up drawings of the possible new mascots for the other kids to vote on. When they come to the picture of a pig, though, they find that someone has replaced it with a picture of Tess. The kids in the stands think that's hilarious, and they start throwing food at her. She tries to duck and avoid it, and ends up falling off the bleachers. She breaks her ankle, and sprains her wrist, and when the ambulance arrives, Stacey volunteers to go to the hospital with her. She claims to be a friend of Tess's, but Tess sets her straight by telling her to go away, and that Stacey ISN'T her friend.
Stacey feels guilty about what happened. Claudia wonders if she maybe feels guilty about the way she treated Tess in general, and not just about what happened at the football game. Stacey STILL won't admit that she'd done anything wrong, though. As soon as Tess is back in school, Stacey continues trying to be all friendly. Tess wants nothing to do with her, though. She doesn't seem to be mad at Barbara, though, which totally mystifies Stacey. She feels like she has to try and sort things out, so she goes to Tess's house after a BSC meeting one evening. Stacey is really impressed by Tess's room, and by the fact that Tess grew up in Paris. There are pictures of her with some of her friends...and everyone is more or less dressed the way Tess usually dresses. There's also a French fashion magazine sitting nearby, and the cover model is wearing bright pink, just like Tess does. Tess isn't any friendlier; she points out that Stacey never really wanted to be her friend; it was more of a pity thing, and Tess knows it. She kicks Stacey out of her room, and Stacey is just about ready to be done with Tess. Then, Emily Bernstein approaches her at school a couple of days later. She heard that Alan Gray, Clarence King, and Jim Poirier are planning a huge prank on Tess. Clarence, who's been flirting with her as a joke, is going to take her to dinner at Hog Heaven. Alan will be nearby, and he'll take pictures of Tess standing next to all the pig decorations in the restaurant, without her knowledge. Jim will them publish the pictures in the school paper, along with his review of Hog Heaven, which is actually his assignment for the paper that month. Stacey pulls Tess aside to warn her, and instead of just cancelling the date, Tess and the BSC decide to get even. Just as Tess and Clarence get to the restaurant, the BSC members "accidentally" show up. Then, Claudia "accidentally" spills her very ketchupy fries all over Clarence, Stacey wipes blue paint all over him as she's helping him clean up, and Tess tops it all off with whipped cream. Abby is nearby, taking pictures, and they threaten to have them posted all over the school if he ever bothers Tess again.
Subplot: Jackie R. is being bullied, so he asks Nicky Pike to act as his bodyguard. Jackie ends up talking things out with the bullies, though, and there's no blood shed.
Thoughts and Things
- Stacey was horrible in this book. Even her narration was mean.
- I wonder what kind of food Hog Heaven serves? Is it all pig products? If so, that's kind of gross.
- How did Stacey and Barbara NOT check their potential mascot posters before they went out on the field? If nothing else, you'd think they would want to make sure all of them are present and accounted for.