A few notes about this cover. First, what is going on with Jessi’s jeans? They look like something Claudia made in Kindergarten. Next, what is Jessi’s pose? She looks like she’s on the cover of a Woody Allen Harlequin romance novel, anxiety-ridden but still poppin’ that hip. And lastly, have the Pike triplets been possessed by a demon? Let’s find out!
The book opens with Jessi and her family watching Becca’s favorite show, “P.S. 182”, which is about the classes at an inner-city elementary school. Becca has a crush on a character named Lamont, but Jessi prefers Waldo, a science geek character. Becca tells Jessi that the kid who plays Waldo used to live in Stoneybrook, but Jessi isn’t sure whether to believe her or not. After the show, Jessi calls Mallory, who confirms the story and says the actor’s name is Derek Masters and that his family still lives in Stoneybrook sometimes, when he doesn’t have to be in Los Angeles for work.
Jessi is star-struck, but she just about craps her pants at the next BSC meeting when she gets booked to baby-sit Derek Masters and his brother. WUT! In other exciting news, Madame Noelle suggests that Jessi audition for Swan Lake at the Stoneybrook Civic Center. Jessi’s nervous because it’s a professional production, but she ends up getting really excited about it and decides she will audition.
Jessi has her first sitting job for the Masters brothers, and at first she keeps asking Derek questions about “P.S. 182”. It quickly becomes clear that, glamorous as it seems to Jessi, acting is Derek’s job and he would actually rather talk about other stuff, like Stoneybrook Elementary School and what’s going on with the kids he used to know. Jessi is surprised to find out he seems pretty normal. In fact, Jessi thinks he might be lonely. She invites her sister Becca to come over the next time she babysits, and then they go visit the Pikes. Derek is excited to be around other kids his age, but he gets annoyed when all people want to talk about is Hollywood or “P.S. 182”. After he gets teased by the Pike triplets, he storms off and Jessi has to take him and his brother Todd home.
Jessi is baby-sitting for Derek the afternoon of his first day back to school – which went terribly. First all the girls crowded around him mooning over him, then he got papped by a photographer and hassled by a reporter, then the teacher made him talk to the whole class about what it’s like to be on a TV show. The girls follow him around lovestruck, and the boys hate him (probably because they’re jealous) and make fun of him for having to wear makeup on the show. A bunch of kids tease, prank, and bully Derek at school, especially this kid John (dubbed “the Superbrat” by Jessi).
Jessi is momentarily distracted by her first audition for Swan Lake, which goes well. Even though she’s nervous, she gets a callback! She’s super excited and calls Mallory to tell her. After they freak out, Mallory informs Jessi that Nicky said Derek got into a fight at school and dumped lunch food all over some other kid. Jessi’s like, that can’t be right… I told him not to stoop to the bullies’ levels… but Mallory is adamant that that’s what Nicky said.
Claudia is the next to baby-sit for Derek and Todd, and she takes them to the playground. Derek tells her more horror stories about how the kids at school pick on him (especially John, the Superbrat). Then some boys from Derek’s school show up and he freezes. Claudia takes the lead at that point. She invites the boys over to the Masters house. Derek is like whaaaat? but Claud has a plan. She figures if the boys see that Derek lives in a normal house in a normal neighborhood, they will see that (other than the fact that he’s on TV every week) he’s just like them. And it works! The boys have a great afternoon and Derek is happy.
Jessi is happy, too, because she makes it through another round of Swan Lake auditions – just one more to go! But she’s also a little bummed when she finds out that Derek and his family are going back to L.A. … turns out Derek has booked a TV movie that starts shooting in a few weeks. He and Todd try to get Jessi to come to L.A. with them, telling her she could get modeling and commercial work. Jessi’s head swirls. She tells her parents that she’s over the whole Swan Lake thing (they don’t buy it – they think she’s just nervous about not making the cut) and she wants to look into some modeling and talent agencies in Stamford. They’re like, “dude, you’re already pretty busy”, but Jessi is set on it so they say she can look into it.
Jessi also convinces the BSC to throw a surprise going-away party for Derek. They’ll have it at Kristy’s house and it’s going to be a “breakfast party” from 9-12, with a bunch of cereal and doughnuts and juices set out for the kids. They decide to invite Derek’s whole class, even John – they’re all dying to meet John the Superbrat. At their next meeting they’re filling out invitations and Jessi notices there’s no John on the list. Turns out, according to Nicky Pike, there’s no John in their class. TWIST!
The Breakfast Party, of course, goes amazingly well. Duh – it’s the BSC, not some amateurs. But then Jessi has to leave to go to her final Swan Lake audition. She’s nervous as hell. But once she gets backstage and starts warming up, she remembers how much she loves ballet and how cool it would be to be in a production at the Stoneybrook Civic Center. She gives it her all in the audition, but she has to wait four days to find out if she has a part. It makes her really anxious, so she starts calling all the Stamford modeling agencies and getting information about head shots, business stuff, etc. Mallory’s like “JESSI’S MY BEST FRIEND I DON’T WANT HER TO MOVE TO L.A.” and Jessi’s dad is like “Don’t worry – secretly she just really wants to dance in Swan Lake” and Jessi’s like “nuh-uh” but we all know Mr. Ramsey is right.
“I think sometimes if we want something too badly, we have to play tricks on ourselves so that we won’t think it matters so much.” – Mr. Ramsey
Of course, though, Jessi gets a part in Swan Lake – she’s in the corps as a swan maiden. And as soon as she finds out, the modeling stuff flies out of her head. She goes and tells Derek that she won’t be moving to L.A. anytime soon, and he confides in her that John the Superbrat doesn’t actually exist – it was him all along! Any time he told her about something John did to him, it was really something Derek did to retaliate against the other kids. But once Claudia helped him make friends, he didn’t need to do it anymore, and “John” disappeared. As a parting gift, Derek gives Jessi an autographed headshot. Oh, those Hollywood types.