Monday, December 10, 2012
The Slumber Party Secret (Nancy Drew Notebooks #1)
Simon & Schuster, 1994
Nancy and Rebecca Ramirez are in the third grade and they walk to school together every day. This morning, Rebecca informs Nancy that her birthday party invitations have disappeared. She insists that they have been stolen, possibly because of the party favors which are really cool hair clips made out of rainbow ribbons. Later at school, George informs Nancy that the boys in third grade have also planned a party on the same night as Rebecca's. Bess is certain that the boys will ruin their party “just by being boys. By acting like jerks.” After school, Rebecca shows Nancy a note she found in her desk that day. Written in big green ink it said, “You’ll be sorry. Your party is doomed!”
Nancy heads over to Rebecca's after school to try and find the missing invitations. Laura, Rebecca's next door neighbor, comes over to borrow her tape player. Rebecca comments that they used to be friends. Unfortunately, Nancy doesn't find any clues. Later that night, she tells her dad about the mystery and her father gives her a brand new blue notebook to write down the clues she might find.
To determine who possibly wrote the note to Rebecca, Nancy makes up a class petition of various crazy things that the teacher will never agree to. She hopes that she can get the signatures of everyone in class and compare the printing. Unfortunately, no one's printing matches and no one uses green ink. She decides to sneak into the classroom during lunch and look around desks to see if she can find any green pens. Once again, she comes up empty.
The next day, Nancy makes the mistake of telling Jason, the class's most annoying boy, that Rebecca has brought cupcakes for her birthday. When class starts, Jason comes a little bit late licking his fingers. The cupcakes had been in Rebecca's cubbyhole. Later at lunch, Rebecca reports that someone stole a cupcake. Nancy is grateful that she at least knows who that culprit is. Because of the missing cupcake, one girl in Rebecca's class, Lindsay, didn't get a cupcake. (Yes, I know that it is Rebecca's birthday and all but considering the fact that she would have a party, presents, and a big cake you think maybe she would've been nice enough to offer her cupcake to Lindsay.) She also informs Nancy that when she went to retrieve the cupcakes from her cubbyhole she found a second note, also written in green ink, that said, “We have a secret.”
Soon it is Friday and time for Rebecca's party. Her invitations were never found. Rebecca tells Nancy that she received a third note that morning on her front porch that said, “We’re having a party and you can't come.” The girls invited to Rebecca's party go on a treasure hunt in the backyard and feel some occasional rain (which they will later discover are the boys next door squirting water guns at them through the fence). Later on when it's time to eat cake Rebecca is devastated when she finds out that the biggest icing rose has been mysteriously cut out of the middle. The girls are pretty sure that the boys are responsible.
Later on that night the girls decide to watch a horror movie but mysterious sounds at the window scare them. Nancy decides to get up and check but all she sees is a pizza guy over at Laura's house. Nancy decides to get out her notebook and calculate how many pieces of pizza Laura's family would eat. She does this because the pizza man was delivering a ton of pizzas to her house. She determines that among Laura, her brother, and her parents they would maybe eat about 14 slices. Out of how many pizzas she saw been delivered that would leave about 10 pieces left. Nancy then looks at the three notes that Rebecca got and notice that the third one from today was written in blue ink.
As she is thinking about this the other girls see a monster at the window and scream. Nancy and George decide to go outside and discover Jason and Mike in scary makeup. Rebecca accuses them of everything that's gone wrong and Jason says that all they did was squirt them with water guns. Nancy finally figures out the mystery. Laura wrote the notes and the secret was the fact that there was a third party on the street that night. Laura comes over to Rebecca's house a lot and the pen that Nancy borrowed from one of the other girls to make notes about the pizza calculations is a color changing pen with green ink that the other girl informed her was actually Laura's pin that she borrowed in class. The blue ink would explain the fact that Laura didn't have her pen so she couldn't write in green.
Rebecca's mom calls Laura's mom. Laura shows up with Lindsay and another girl from Rebecca's class. Laura hands Rebecca back her invitations. Lindsay admits to spying on the party and stealing the rose off the cake because she didn't get a cupcake in class. Rebecca decides to make everything up by inviting the other three girls over to her sleepover.
Thoughts and Nuggets of Wisdom for Research
Being the first book of a new Nancy Drew series, this time aiming Nancy Drew at the same Sweet Valley Kids age range—second to fourth graders—we are introduced to Nancy and her friends. Nancy is described as having reddish blond hair. Her friend Rebecca is described as “Rebecca was acting upset. Acting was the right word, to. Nancy knew Rebecca wanted to be an actress when she grew up. She made a big drama out of everything” (p. 3). Bess is one of Nancy's two best friends. She is pretty, with long blonde hair. She is always fussy about her hair. She combs it a lot and likes to wear headbands or bows. George is Bess's cousin. She is Nancy's other best friend. Her real name is Georgia, but no one calls her that because she’ll kill them. George is the opposite of Bess. She is taller than Nancy and Bess and not fussy about her hair at all. George has dark curls that bounce when she runs. She rarely wears ribbons or headbands. While Bess is the girly girl, George is the total tomboy (p.7). It is interesting though that in later incarnations of the series Bess does become a little more resourceful and ends up the mechanical genius of the trio. I guess she’s got to grow up first. J
Hannah Gruen, the trusty housekeeper, is introduced early on standing at the kitchen sink, peeling carrots. Readers are told that she’s been living with the Drews ever since Nancy was young and her mother died. Hannah is described as “middle-aged, with graying hair and a sweet face. She was like a mother to Nancy” (p. 27).
There is a great scene that all readers can relate to about the annoying nature of boys. The girls are discussing Rebecca’s party which is supposed to be kept under wraps since she could only invite some many girls. Jason, the most annoying boy in the class, pops up behind them and Bess tells the other girls not to tell him. He repeats, “Don’t tell him,” in a high voice meant to imitate Bess and then burps in her face, laughs loudly, and walks away (p. 14). That’s classic elementary school boy annoyance right there.
Rebecca crosses a fine line between being a friend and being a mean girl like Brenda Carlton (who isn’t introduced in this series until the second book). While she is Nancy’s friend she sometimes, maybe because she is so overdramatic, can come off as being mean. When Laura, her next door neighbor and used-to-be-friend comes over to borrow a tape player, Rebecca wrinkles her nose and makes a face when she’s gone telling Nancy, “I don't really like her. But her mom and my mom are best friends, so I have to be nice to her.” Then she adds, “It’s good that her mother drives her to school on her way to work. That way she doesn't have to walk with us” (p. 25). Nancy likes Laura and wouldn't have minded if they walked to school together but she doesn’t tell Rebecca this.