Kristy's English teacher, Mrs. Simon, has left to have a baby. Her class has a great subsitute, Ted Morley. One day, Ted (that's what the students call him) announces two special projects. Each student is going to read a book from a list he provides and then write a paper about what it meant to him or her. Each student is also going to write the biography of another student in the class, and he's already paired everyone up. Kristy, unfortunately, is paired up with Cary Retlin. He's not any happier about working with her than she is about working with him, and they both approach Ted after class to try and get out of it. No dice; they're stuck with each other, at least for this project. Later that evening, though, Cary calls Kristy and asks for a truce. Neither of them wants a bad grade on the project, so Kristy agrees.
The following week, Ted has some bad news for Kristy's class. Some of the SMS parents objected to the books on the list he provided, and they want him removed from his job because of it. Ted is standing behind the list he provided, since no student is obligated to read anything that they or their parents find inappropriate or offensive. Since there isn't much else they can do at that point, the class concentrates on their projects. Kristy and Cary meet up in the library to interview each other, and it's an interesting experience. Cary asks Kristy all sorts of weird questions and doesn't take any notes. Then, he won't answer any of Kristy's questions normally. The next afternoon, Kristy heads to Cary's house to interview his family. His youngest brother, Steig, gleefully tells her about every little thing Cary's ever done wrong, but Benson Retlin is a little less talkative. When Kristy asks why the family left their home in Illinois, Benson won't talk. That's where the interviews end. Kristy can't resist going upstairs to take a look at Cary's room (he's outside at this point), and while she's up there, she sees a notebook open on his desk. She can't help reading just a little of it, and she's pretty shocked by what she sees. The paragraph she reads is all about how Cary did something to get himself kicked out of school, and how he still thinks about his old life all the time. Before Kristy can read any more, Cary arrives, wondering what she's doing in his room. Kristy is totally jumpy and nervous, but Cary doesn't seem to put two and two together and realize that Kristy's weirdness is because she read his journal.
The next day, Kristy still feels awfully guilty about snooping. She temporarily forgets about that, though, when she gets to English class and finds Mr. Taylor the principal waiting there instead of Ted. Ted's officially been suspended until the whole book list situation can be further examined. To his credit, Mr. Taylor doesn't seem particularly happy about the suspension, and neither do a lot of the other adults at SMS. He promises that Ted will get a fair trial, so to speak.
The next day, it's Cary's turn to interview Kristy's family. She's a little afraid of what they might tell him, and (of course) her brothers have plenty of embarrasing stories to share. Cary totally makes fun of her, and Kristy responds by saying that at least she didn't get kicked out of school. Cary figures out that Kristy read his notebook, calls her a jerk, and stomps out of the house angrily. Kristy feels horrible, and want to apologize the next day at school. Cary seems to be avoiding her, though, so she doesn't get a chance to. What's also disappointing is the boring sub they get in place of Ted. That is, she seems boring until the kids get around talking about the Ted situation. She lets them know that there's going to be a public meeting about the case, and lots of the kids in Kristy's class plan to attend. Enough people speak up in favor of Ted (and against censorship) that he's reinstated as a teacher. Their next class with him is definitely a celebration, but they quickly get back to work on their projects. Ted tells the students that he wants to meet with each pair after school to see where they are with their biographies. Cary talks to Kristy just long enough to set up their meeting time. Ted seems pleased with their progress (he doesn't know they've been fighting), and as Kristy and Cary are leaving, Ted asks Cary how his novel is going and compliments him on using notebooks instead of a computer. That's when Kristy realizes that she didn't see Cary's journal; she saw his novel in progress. Now it's Kristy's turn to be mad; even though Cary never confirmed or denied that what she read was a journal, he let her go on thinking it was and feeling bad about it. They end smoothing things over at Kristy's Christmas party, and things go back to normal with the two of them. At least, they're as normal as they can be with Cary involved....
Thoughts and Things
- What exactly does the title have to do with anything? What kind of power is Kristy supposed to have???
- At one point, Kristy is trying to decide between The Outsiders and The Red Pony for her book report. It's funny that those books are on a list that parents objected to, because they were both required reading for me in 7th grade.
- In the last book, Jeremy transferred in to Claudia's English class, which is taught by Ms. Hall. She's been Claud's English teacher for most of the series. So why, then, are both Claudia and Jeremy in Kristy's class, normally taught by Mrs. Simon?
- It's kind of awesome that Cary has Dali and Escher on his walls. I also like that skeleton lamp he has. :) I don't necesarily WANT one, but it does sound cool.