YA Novelizations That Probably Should Have Happened

With the final day of TEENS BE READING week here, we’re going to take a look at what could have been in the YA world. Missed opportunities, regrets left and right, plenty of hanging heads down in shame for never giving readers what they really want – novelizations of their favorite TV shows and movies.

In the literary world, novelizations are considered trash by any reasonable author’s standards. It’s one of the least creative ways to use your talent as a writer, and one of the most looked down upon. But people still do it. And they’re still entertaining. Mama’s still gotta get that money. Of course, novelizations are nothing new, in fact we’re covered them before with Dawson’s Creek (hint: a Gilmore Girls one may be on deck). There are plenty of books to choose from when it comes to kid and teen shows, such as Full House, The OC and Lizzie McGuire, but unfortunately not all our faves could be translated into the magic that is novelizations.

Here are our picks for what could have been. Books that could have had the chance of having Harry Potter like popularity. Ok, probably not, but it’s nice to dream.

Summerland: A Fresh New Summerland

The Summerland novel serves as a final chapter in the cancelled too soon WB series that ended only after two seasons. The book picks up five years later, when Bradin (Jesse McCartney) is a successful professional surfer who, after 3 years sober, resorts back to drinking when he has a string of losses. Meanwhile, we find out Nikki (Kay Panabaker) has lost touch with her former BFF and BF Cameron (Zac Efron), who suddenly became a movie star after he was spotted in the mall by a casting director. In the novel, he attempts to win her friendship – and maybe even her love – back.

The Real World: Seattle : The Slap

One of the most iconic moments in Real World history happened in season seven, when a dramatic showdown between Irene and Stephen led to the slap heard ’round the world. In this novelization, we only follow the lives of Irene and Stephen through a series of alternating past and present day (as in 1998) stories. We follow Stephen as he’s raised by a single mother in a black Muslim household then converts to Judiasm at 15, and we see Irene as she goes through the constant battle with Lyme disease. It all comes to a head when Irene calls out Stephen for being gay in “Present Day”, and his immediate response is to throw her beloved stuffed animal in the Seattle waters then slap her across the face. The epilogue includes Stephen revealing actually IS gay and engaged. To a man.

Guts: The Aggro Crag’s Revenge

For years, The Aggro Crag had to deal with tiny little teens climbing up its sides. No matter how hard it tried, they always managed to find their way to the top. In this Choose Your Own Adventure-type book, contestants must choose their paths up to the mount wisely, with rocks, creatures, and very bright lights at every turn. You won’t have a safety harness to rely on this time around, so do, do, do, do, you have it? GUTS.

S Club 7 in L.A. : S Club 7 in Las Vegas

Following their three TV series, Miami 7, S Club 7 in L.A., and Hollywood 7, the fictional British pop group continued their story via book form. Set in 2002, a year after the Hollywood season, the singers hop in their red convertible and drive to Las Vegas (despite the fact management offered them a private jet) to kick off their six-month residency at the Golden Nugget. The seven-book series features a singer’s perspective in each book. Tina’s got a side job working as a showgirl on her days off, Bradley fell in love with a girl at the Wheel of Fortune slot machines and he may or may not have gotten drunkenly eloped, and Paul is in massive debt due to his gambling problem.

Seinfeld: The Book About Nothing

Literally the one about nothing. The book is full of blank pages. The final page is a sketch drawing of Kramer storming into Jerry’s apartment.

Sister Sister: Sister Sister (Sister)

In this non-canonical novelization of Sister Sister, Tia and Tamera’s lost triplet, Tarisa, shows up with a desperate plea for money. Suspicions are raised when they realize that Tarisa doesn’t look like them and appears to be an adult woman. It all comes to a head when Tarisa has to dress up as Tamera to take Tamera’s Geometry test for her for some reason!

Destinos: An Adventure In Present Tense Spanish

This companion novella to the substitute teacher-endorsed “Spanish” hit takes you deep into the world of Fernando and Raquel. Or actually, very shallowly into their world, because all of the dialogue is written in basic Spanish. Raquel’s uncle Jorge is missing at the zoo and she and Fernando have to use all of their rudimentary vocab to find him! ¿Encontrará Fernando al tío de Raquel in el parque zoológico? They’re asking all their best questions and dropping all their most relevant knowledge: !Tío Jorge lleva una camisa roja! !Anduve cerca de las gallinas! ¿Ha visto a mi tío Jorge? ¿Cononce a Jorge, el hombre que le gusta jugar al tenis?

Friends: Ben’s Dyno-mite World

Capitalizing on 90s children’s fascination with Friends, a show about grownups, this chapter book highlights the busy, modernish Greenwich Village life of Ben, a little boy growing up with two moms and a dad he sees once or twice a season. When Ben gets lost in the Natural History Museum, he has to use his dino smarts to find his way back to his dad. He is with his Uncle Joey, but he is mostly useless.

Titanic: My Heart Will Go On And On

After the sinking of the Titanic, 17-year-old Rose Dawson (nee Dewitt Bukater) lands in New York with nothing to her name – so she makes a name for herself, first gaining popularity on the Vaudeville circuit, then starring in early silent films. As Rose’s fame grows, she finds herself bound for England aboard the Lusitania. Rose finally lets herself love again – a roguish scamp named Mack Carson – but when the ship meets a tragic fate, Rose must learn that her heart will go on. And on.

Zoom: Ub-an Fub-un Tub-ime Ub-in 02134

It’s a Saturday afternoon in Greater Boston’s zaniest zip code. The Zoom kids have to complete a fun obstacle course across Allston without dropping their balloons – or triggering Zoe’s latex allergy. When someone swipes Alisa’s bookbag during a rousing round of the cup game, the gang has to track it down by snacktime! Where could it be? Find out in this adventure written entirely in Ubbi Dubbi.

Goosebumps Books That Give You Anything But

I’m not particularly one for being scared. I don’t make it a habit of watching horror films and you won’t see me participating in one of those haunted mazes. When I was younger, I thought going on haunted hayrides and watching “scary movies” were fun, but my coping mechanism was to laugh off everything. HAHA THAT CREEPY STRANGER IN A MASK IS FOLLOWING US WITH A CHAINSAW THAT’S HILARIOUS AND MY KIND OF COMEDY. False. This is the exact opposite of what I wanted and needed in my life.

As a result, I pretended to watch every episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? (I’ve seen a handful, because some of them are actually frightening) and also bought Goosebumps books from the Scholastic paper “catalog” but only really read one or two of them. Many say there are a number of R.L. Stine classics that really are spooky, but let’s leave it to them to critique. I’m here to echo my younger self’s sentiments and cope with the scariness that is Goosebumps by poking fun of the books themselves. The contents of the novels may have been horrific, but some of these titles are laughable more than anything else.

Why I’m Afraid of Bees

In my head, scary books or movies have titles that are intriguing to the consumer, that make you want to know more, but is inherently frightening. Like The Blair Witch Project or I Know What You Did Last Summer or The Evil Dead. Why I’m Afraid of Bees just sounds like a three-page paper a 9 year old wrote in science class about his summer in the Vineyard.

Go Eat Worms!

DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!

My Hairiest Adventure

A cautionary tale about puberty, probably.

Say Cheese and Die – Again!

… Die… AGAIN, THO?

Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter

Maybe the peanut butter just got too mixed with the jelly? IDK, just an idea.

A Shocker on Shock Street

Honestly, it’s your own damn fault if you go to “Shock Street” and expect something other than death or a good fright when you go there.

How I Learned to Fly

That same 9 year old wrote a follow-up essay, and it’s part of Batman’s secret origin story.

Bad Hare Day

Puns, amirite?

Calling All Creeps!

Do we, as a society, use the word ‘creeps’ enough? I feel like we don’t. In which case, I’d like to call on everyone to reach out to the creeps. But not like, actual creeps. Just the word. Okay, good talk.

My Best Friend Is Invisible

My best friend is invisible too, so honestly this book does not scare me at all. Also if my invisible BFF was ordering pizza, that’s definitely not a nightmare, but rather a dream.

I Live in Your Basement!

Why is this monster blob so excited to exclaim he’s living in my basement?!

Chicken, Chicken

 

I mean, honestly.

 

Forever Scarred: Traumatizing Moments from YA Novels

Like Joey Tribbiani, we believe that some books belong in the freezer. If you aren’t a Friends fanatic, that’s a reference to the episode where Joey kept The Shining in the freezer because it was too scary. When he and Rachel do a book exchange, we learn that it isn’t just overtly gory fiction that makes you want to freeze away your feelings:

Whether gross, creepy, or just plain sad, these are some moments in YA fiction that had us reaching for the icebox:

The One Where Dobby Dies

I admittedly was very late to the Harry Potter game. Like, I didn’t start reading the series until the seventh book came out. I blame my parents. Anyways, as I was reading the books from the beginning, I would discuss my thoughts and feelings about what was happening to my friend who had read them already. In particular, I remember being so incredibly annoyed and mad at Dobby. Inherently, I disliked him for his affiliation with the Malfoys, but also I couldn’t stand the way he spoke in third person. “Listen to Dobby!” “Bad Dobby!” “Dobby is fed up with this Malfoy bullshit!” As I continued reading, he began to have a soft spot in my heart and soon became one of my favorite characters. So when he was killed by Bellatrix’s knife after essentially saving HP, I was absolutely gutted. He was devoted and loyal to Harry, and passed away in the most heroic way. I had to stop reading because I was so stunned and also the tears were clouding my eyes and prohibiting my ability to read.

Hazel’s ‘Fake’ Eulogy for Augustus

SPEAKING OF BLUBBERING AND TEARS. THIS ENTIRE PASSAGE:

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

The Hunger Games in General

Like a lot of other people, I like and appreciate the world Suzanne Collins created, it’s easy to forget just how troubling the premise is. Before the first movie came out, I was explaining to someone (a mother of three) what the books are about. It wasn’t until then, when I was saying it outloud to someone who has kids that I realized just how effed up it must be that we get entertainment out of these books, in particular the first one. As a parent, she must have been picturing what it would be like if her kids were put in that situation, when you have no choice but to watch your kid fight to the death in a televised sport. I know the series is more than this, but, still. How messed up.

Stacey McGill’s Diabetes Pee

Everything I know about diabetes I learned from Ann M. Martin. But the most traumatizing lesson was when Stacy hadn’t yet been diagnosed, and she wet the bed at a sleepover because diabetes makes you pee a lot. This led to her losing her best New York City friend. The diabetes also caused Stacey’s divorced parents to fight all the time and to bring her to some sort of quack doctor. When she tries to play it cool and not tell her BSC friends about the diabetes, they assume she has a shady secret. AND when everyone is tucking into Claudia’s food hoarder snacks, the narrator always explains that they have saltines or something for Stacey. Basically if you get diabetes you will pee everywhere and your life will be ruined, is what I learned. For more BSC thoughts, see our The Baby-Sitters Club: The Musical — Excerpts From The Libretto.

Jonas’s Dad Kills Babies

Ah, The Giver. Probably one of my favorite YA books of all time. Except for that part where Jonas’s usually-chill dad is seen cooing at an adorable little baby then shooting it up with death drugs because it was a twin, which was against the rules. Then Jonas learns that the baby who has been hanging out with his family is also on death row so he escapes into the wilderness with it. Damn.

You Might Get Cancer. Love, Lurlene McDaniel

Remember Lurlene McDaniel? She wrote treacly, vaguely Christian books about teens with terminal illness. She covered all manner of diseases but I knew her best from the Dawn Rochelle books, which were about a 1980s teen who has leukemia. McDaniel probably did a lot to teach the youths that kids living with disease are just like us. But it’s almost like she did a little TOO good a job because as someone who bruises easily and is prone to violent, cascading nosebleeds, I definitely spent my junior high years being like “you know who had these problems? Dawn ‘Leukemia’ Rochelle.” Most traumatic moment: when Dawn’s friend and hospital roomie died and Dawn got her Bible with that one part of Ecclesiastes underlined.

Open-Air Mating In The Alien Zoo

Our high school was notorious for ridiculous eight-book-long summer reading lists, where most of the books were 400-page tomes set on the British moors. But Junior Year, they assigned at least one “hip,” “modern” book: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that these disgusting slimy aliens abducted the main character and he had to live in a human zoo. They brought a porn star in and the two of them, like …. mated. In front of the disgusting terrible aliens. Who were cheering, maybe? It was horrible.

Those Disgusting Button Eyes

Coraline discovers Other Mother and Other Father, who are alternate-universe parents who have button eyes. Then Coraline, a human person, is supposed to sew buttons over her own eyes to “match.” And THEN she meets ghost children onto whom the Other Mother had sewn button eyes. Nah.

 

 

 

What I Think Happens In Popular Young Adult Novels (That I Didn’t Read)

When we were “young adults” I feel like Harry Potter was the only acceptable book series to tout being a fan of. As of late, there’s been a trend of reading YA novels to be “cool”, and the authors are considered superstars. Like John Green and his entire bibliography or The Hunger Games and Katniss braids left and right. Reading teen lit isn’t something to be ashamed of anymore, and as an adult, I feel a weird opposite reaction to this, in that I sort of feel ashamed I HAVEN’T read the most popular series in YA.

For our first day of TEENS BE READING Week, our companion to YALSA’s Teen Read Week, we’re giving our best guess as to what these books are all about – even if we have no clue where to start.

Sweet Valley High

Blonde twins, Ashley and Jessica, live in Sweet Valley, California and the series chronicles their their normal teenage life. They attend the titular Sweet Valley High, and encounter drama with friends, drama with boys and drama with each other. They probably fight over the same boy at one point, and do the good ol’ switcheroo to get make sure one of them passes a driver’s test or something. They also have a mortal enemy in the most popular girl in school, Lizzie, who has hated them ever since they were in second grade when they (accidentally) embarrassed her in gym class. Also the twins’ parents are divorced, and they split time in between houses, which also causes drama within the family.

The Maze Runner

The setting: dystopian future, specifically the U.S. The government puts all kids starting at the age of 14 through a rigorous test to be in the military (defense from the Canadians). If they don’t pass, they get three more tries, and if they fail, they go to live in what is now the South on labor fields. The final portion of the test is a huge maze (in New Jersey), which includes multiple traps, logic puzzles and endurance tests. Dylan O’Brien, on his third and final test, decides both options, whether win or lose, are horrible, and attempts to fight the power. Hence, The Maze Runner. The subsequent books are about the repercussions of him running through the maze. I’m also assuming there’s some kind of romance going on at some point because, young adult.

Twilight

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison have a showmance and it ends with a public scandal of her cheating on another vampire who is married. Taylor Lautner is literally so hot he has to have his shirt off at all times and Anna Kendrick is better than this entire franchise.

Lord of the Flies

A group of kids are stranded on an island in Micronesia and have to fend for themselves. They start a new civilization, led by a kid named Mowgli who’s always drinking coconut milk and attracts a lot of flies.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

After the death of her mother at age 12, Margaret is sad, confused, and doesn’t know where to turn. Her and her family would go to church occasionally throughout the year, but not religious by any means. As she enters a new chapter in her life without her mother, she finds herself asking a lot of questions, and feels like the only person (or entity) that can help her is one she can’t even see.

Go Ask Alice

This is written in the style of a found diary or autobiography, and is unattributed in a Blair Witch-y way where it’s supposed to be real but it isn’t. Alice is a normal girl until something bad-ish happens (parents’ divorce, maybe?). Then she gets peer pressured into trying “dope” (I’m never 100% clear on which drug “dope” is supposed to be so I just use it as the generic word for the kinds of drugs you learned about in the D.A.R.E. program). Things spiral and long story short she ends up homeless and faces a whole slew of Cautionary Tale problems, like cutting, eating disorders, and premarital sex. Shouldn’t have tried that dope, Alice.

A  Wrinkle In Time

Meg, a bookish girl from a garbage family, discovers a magical object/place/ability/person, which allows her to travel through time. But she doesn’t travel through normal time, she travels through Game Of Thrones, Lord Of The Rings-y time where everyone’s a dragon or whatever. She meets a cute boy who is sensitive but also a little gruff. There’s some sort of monster/ event / astrological phenomenon that threatens Meg and the cute boy, which they have to outsmart and outrun to make it back to the normal world. They do, but they never forget that wrinkle. The wrinkle… in time.

The Outsiders

Let’s say you’re a teen and nobody really “understands” you. You’ve read The Catcher In The Rye and have decided that everyone’s a “phony.” Your nice parents are totally obsessed with society and so are the kids at school whose parents have bought them cars.  You just know when you grow up you’re not going to have a 9-5 job and live in the suburbs, you’re going to support yourself somehow without working and live on the beach and not file your taxes ever. So you read this book, about a bunch of misfit, wrong side of the tracks 1950s kids who are all James Dean or something. It’s a bunch of boys who aren’t into acting like everyone else, and they live somewhere in the Midwest perhaps. There’s one girl in the group, like Anybody’s in West Side Story. Actually, the whole thing is kind of like West Side Story if it was about only the Jets. If your favorite book was The Outsiders in High School, you’re going to have a Bob Dylan poster in your dorm in college.

The Hobbit

Hobbits are basically these really quirky small people. They live in Tiny Houses and are obsessed with food and make up weird meals, like Fourth Meal, which the Hobbits are as excited about as modern humans are about Brunch. They live in Middle Earth, which looks exactly like New Zealand it turns out. And they dress in a lot of natural fabrics with tunics and low-slung belts. They’re mostly like hipsters. And kind of like the peasants in the Feudal system, where their whole year is punctuated by meaningless festivals and holidays to mark time and keep them joyful. And they’re sort of a little like rabbits, in that they like burrows and hanging out in little spaces and eating produce. Bilbo Baggins is one such Hobbit, and he has to go someplace or find something. The Hobbits are good guys and the bad guys are always kind of like evil wizards or bad trolls, things like that.

Hatchet

A boy, from modern times when the book was written but now clearly the 1970s or 1980s, gets stranded in the woods. It’s basically just him and this hatchet that he has. Thank God for that hatchet. He uses it to cut down trees and build a fort, to forage for food, and to survive in the cold, harsh world. The boy befriends a forest animal, who looks out for him. At one point he loses or breaks the hatchet and you’re like “nooooo!” But then he signals for help and you’re like “YES.” It’s a lot like My Side Of The Mountain, which I was obsessed with so I’m not sure why I didn’t read Hatchet.

Judging A Dawson’s Creek Pocket Book By Its Cover

A couple of years ago, Molly was kind enough to send me a care package of books, most of which are geared towards a younger audience, because she gets me. One of the books in said package was a novelization of Dawson’s Creek, called A Capeside Christmas.

Here I am reading A Capeside Christmas while we were waiting to get into the Dawson’s Creek Writers Reunion at ATX TV Festival in June

It seems as if novelizing popular TV shows seemed to be a big 90s thing that brought in all the cash for these already hit programs. I’m pretty sure I read one or two of the Full House books, but there was also a collection of Buffy, Charmed, and Roswell ones floating around too. But the thing about these was that they were never *quite* in canon with the shows they were derived from.

I recently finished A Capeside Christmas, and hands down, it was one of the worst things I’ve ever read. But I finished it, so I guess it wasn’t that horrible. I thought the story was going to follow the gang during Christmas and some kind of trouble that ensued (per usual) around this time of year in the Cape, but instead, it was 146 pages about the Capeside Follies aka the town Christmas pageant that all of them are in. Dawson is lured in as director, Jen is the stage manager and Joey and Pacey are in the show showing off their talents – IN THE SHOW. It was a little off, but I could see how it still fit in with the show in general. But since Andie found a love interest in the book, it also lead to confusion as to whether it takes BP or AP (Before Pacey/After Pacey). It read like a DC fanfic, but was juuuust good enough to get picked up by a lesser known publisher. And for all we know, the Dawson’s Creek line of books could be just that.

Yes, there’s more than one of these books besides A Capeside Christmas. Although I don’t think I’ll be paying $.75 cents + $5 shipping to purchase “Too Hot To Handle”, I do want to appreciate these books for its comedic value. All of the novels have a corny subtitle, one that was probably from the same vault where your dad gets his Dad Jokes from. Just like I didn’t really know what A Capeside Christmas was about prior to diving in, I’m going to do the same thing and do exactly what you SHOULD do with any Dawson’s Creek novelization – judge a book by its cover.

**Also, each real description ended with:  

“Joey, Dawson, Pacey, Jen.”

Four fifteen-year-olds ready to take on the world.

They’re learning about life, and learning how to love. **

Shifting into Overdrive

Assumed Plot: Joey is eager to get her driver’s license, and since her older sister Bessie is too busy at the B&B and with her baby (and her hubs is mysteriously absent), Joey has to call on the help of one of her friends to pass the test. Since Dawson’s too focused on his latest film project for the Rhode Island Film Festival, Pacey offers to give her driving lessons in his pickup. Their road is a rocky one at the start, with constant bickering and stressful backseat (frontseat) drivers. However, it’s eventually smooth sailing for Pacey and Joey as she nears her test – but will the actual test be their budding romantic relationship? *Pacey actually taught Joey how to drive, right?*

Actual Plot: The road calls… Joey and Jen totally need a Dawson-free zone, so when Jen’s wealthy cousin invites her to an elegant Sweet Sixteen party in New York City, Jen coaxes a reluctant Joey along. Meanwhile, Dawson and Pacey are hot on their trail, dying to know what the girls are up to. The guys hit the road. And the road hits back….

Is high society ready for Jen’s ex-boyfriend Billy, and Danny, a sophisticated senior who’s totally into Joey? “And two sleepless gate-crashers?” It’s party time….

Major Meltdown

Assumed Plot: Now Juniors, they gang (excluding Pacey) are freaking out over the upcoming SATs and pressure of college in general. Studious Joey is taking extra SAT prep courses to bump up her score from 1400 to at least 1525. Jen is deciding whether she wants to go to college at all and Dawson is torn between going to Los Angeles or New York for film school. However the one thing they all have in common is the dilemma of whether they’re making the right decisions about college at all, a choice that will effect the rest of their lives.

Actual Plot: Jen hopes that a ski trip to a fancy Vermont chalet will enable her to rekindle things with Dawson, who is in turn occupied with his feelings for Joey; while Pacey looks forward to conquest over the ski bunnies.

Double Exposure

Assumed plot: Jen and Joey decide to take a photography class together, and one of their projects is to pick someone or something that has great value and serves as an inspiration to them as part of a photo project. Separately, the both Jen and Joey pick Dawson – and jealousy ensues. Will Dawson help out the new girl in town or the girl who’s been in his heart for his whole life?

Actual Plot: The Ice House is in serious need of funds, so Joey takes matters into her own hands and finds work as an underwear model, but when her pictures end up on the Internet, heads begin turning at school.

Don’t Scream

Assumed Plot: In the book version of one of the famous Halloween episodes, Pacey convinces everyone to join him on a trip to Salem to check out the place where the actual witch trials took place. Strange little things keep happening while they’re there – water glasses get knocked over with no explanation, doors keep shutting with no wind in the air, and even Jack’s going crazy because he keeps thinking he sees his grandmother everywhere they go – a grandmother who died five years ago. In Salem.

Actual Plot: “LIGHTS, CAMERA, SCREAM” Has Dawson’s dream finally come true? A low-budget teen horror film is shooting in Capeside and Dawson desperately wants to work on the set. This could be the professional break he’s been looking for an he’s really excited. That is, until Jen lands the job he wanted. Meanwhile, Joey loves the attention she’s getting while spending time with the movie’s to-die-for lead.

Too Hot To Handle

Assumed Plot: It’s summertime in the Creek and when they’re not working at the Ice House or at the video store or at Dawson’s parents’ restaurant, the gang spend most of their time at the beach. It’s there that both Pacey and Dawson meet some particularly attractive ladies, causing jealousy to stir inside both Andie and Joey, respectively.

Actual Plot: Pacey has a great idea to raise money to protect Dunn’s Lighthouse from developers. Students will volunteer to dress as celebs, and other teens will bid on them. The highest bidders for the stars will own them for a day. Who would turn down this chance to fulfill his or her fantasies?

Running On Empty

Assumed Plot: Jack confides to Jen that he’s gay, a confession he’s too scared to come forward with to both his family, friends, and especially girlfriend Joey. The pressure of being who people think he is and who he truly is gets to him, and it’s only Jen who can help him through it.

Actual Plot: Bessie and Joey’s plan to rake in the dough with paying guests during Capeside’s “Weekend of the Whales” festival goes south fast when Bessie sprains her ankle, spoiled potato salad knocks out all the cooks in town, and it rains and rains and rains. Pacey, Dawson, Jack, and Andie are eager to help out…but Andie’s got her hands full with the handsome twin brothers staying at Gram’s place, Dawson’s dealing with another obnoxious B&B client, a poetry-loving houseguest totally crushes on Joey, and there’s not a whale in sight! Looks like it’s gonna be a long weekend…

Trouble in Paradise

Assumed Plot: It was going well for soulmates Dawson and Joey for a while, before they separately started to realize that it just wasn’t working out romantically. After they spend a weekend in Paradise, Connecticut with Jen, Andie, Pacey and Jack on a skiing trip, their already tense relationship comes to a head when they’re forced to come forward with their true feelings during an intense round of Truth or Dare.

Actual Plot: It’s the return of Jen’s cousin Courtney the Perfect. Grams is thrilled. Jen and Joey are not, and their instincts are right: Courtney is definitely out to stir up trouble.

Playing for Keeps

Assumed Plot: In order to make some extra money in hopes of saving it for a new car, Pacey starts investing in off-track betting. Andie starts to notice that his hobby is soon becoming an addiction, as she sees he’s losing more money than he’s investing. Will Andie’s pressure to stop his gambling ways push Pacey to clean up his act or be on the brink of a breakup?

Actual Plot: Summer is finally here and the gang nab jobs as counselors at Camp Takabec. Jack is the football counselor, Dawson does audiovisual, Joey’s in arts and crafts, Jen and Pacey are directing the camp musical, and Andie is an academic tutor for challenged kids.

They’re managing to have a blast, even though Jen and Joey both fall for the same mysterious college guy from England. Meanwhile, a friendly color war is developing into “The Sex Wars,” pitting the guys against the gals. But who will win this friendship tug-of-war?

Tough Enough

Assumed Plot: Dawson’s secret love for the WWE is revealed.

Actual Plot: North…by Northwest? When Principal Green introduces a mandatory new program called “SpringPlan” at Capeside High, Jen, Joey, Pacey, Jack, Andie, and Dawson all sign up for projects that interst them. But Princpal Green has other ideas, and they find themselves assigned to “Character Building Through Wilderness Training” in the wilds of North Carolina. Oh yeah.

Wilderness Camp is run by a former marine drill sergeant who makes the Godfather look like Mother Teresa. Pre-breakfast runs, splittng wood, poisonous-snake identification classes. Tension is running high, but there’s only one way out of the woods for Jen, Joey, Pacey, Dawson, Jack, and Andie.

Calm Before the Storm

Assumed Plot: A huge winter storm is heading to Capeside, and everyone is preparing for the worst before hunkering down for what’s sure to be the worst storm in years. But tensions are already high for Joey and Dawson (who just broke up), Joey and Jack (whose kiss led to said break-up), Andie and Pacey (who are secretly working through Andie’s mental problems) and Jen (who is still coping with the death of her grandfather). They end up locked in the school for hours, since the storm came in early, and they are forced to stick together and hash out their problems while waiting for the storm to pass.

Actual Plot: “Whales mate for life.” “At least they know what they want,” Joey thinks.

Sometimes her relationship with Dawson seems so complicated. Even more so when her class field trip to Billings Island, a nature preserve off the coast of Capeside, is blown apart by a freak storm. And Joey and Dawson are separated from Pacey and Jen. Now they’re lost in the woods… stranded in an old cabin together, cold and shivering, alone in a storm… eager for warmth.

 

Life Lessons From The Fault in Our Stars: C+S Book Club

Hey C+S Book Club-ers! Last time we visited Harriet the Spy, and since we’re ladies in our *late 20s*, our next choice is obviously a little more mature than a kid spy. This time it’s about teenagers.

By now, most of you have heard about or read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, a young adult novel about two teens, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters who meet and fall in love. Oh and they both have cancer. I remember reading this for back when it first came out and appropriately crying harder than I have ever cried before. Legit had to stop reading it for a few days because it made me that sad. Now that the movie is coming out today, I can only imagine how that feeling will be magnified thousands of times more once I see it with my eyes. But essentially, TFiOS isn’t supposed to be a sad story, it’s supposed to be a celebration of life, no matter how long or short it is. So with that, here are just a few of the life lessons I gleaned from reading this book – **spoilers ahead** (but you should really read this book and see the movie anyways).

You can’t escape the hurdles

“I wondered if hurdlers ever thought, ‘This would go faster if we just got rid of the hurdles.'”

Hazel & Augustus initially meet in a cancer support group for teens, so a lot of the folks we encounter in the book (save for the parents and hospital staff) have been dealt a rather bad card of hands when it comes to overcoming difficulties in life. But it’s there in front of them, and the only thing to do is try to clear it and get to the next problem. We may face hardships in our life, but we can’t just give up. What would become of us if we didn’t have hardships or hurdles to get over and improve our lives (hopefully) for the better? The things that try to bring us down in the past only make us stronger. And then we can look back and see just what we’ve gone through.

Pain demands to be felt

“That’s the thing about pain – it demands to be felt”

Pain wouldn’t be pain if we didn’t at least feel something when we get hurt. You can’t go on avoiding something that you know is going to hurt you because you don’t want to feel it. If you do, it’s going to get worse and worse, so it’s better to just let it all out. In TFiOS, Augustus’ BFF Isaac has eye cancer, and subsequently has to undergo surgery which leaves him blind. During this time, his girlfriend breaks up with him, and he has so much rage that he just needs to let it all out. Augustus lets Isaac demolish his old basketball trophies in his basement, as if it’s no big deal. Why? Because Isaac needed to let it out. There’s no use of keeping that anger and frustration in. And while it might be gut-wrenching as it happens, that pain needs to be felt – or it will never go away.

Time isn’t good to anyone

“What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”

I can’t tell you how many times over the past few days I’ve said, “HOW IS IT JUNE ALREADY?!?” When we want time to speed up, it seems to slow down. When we want it to slow down, it’s like it’s gone in seconds. Luckily, everyone is a victim of time’s bitter kiss. Both Hazel and Augustus know they don’t have very good chances of staying alive forever, so it’s even more frustrating that they fall in love knowing this devastating fact. But the most they – and we – can do is make the most of our time, and not waste it on things we will regret doing.

Dare to be fearless

“Our fearlessness shall be our secret weapon.”

It’s easier said than done, but a problem I think a lot of people have is not being afraid to jump in and do something out of your comfort zone, no matter the outcome. We worry too much about what’s going to happen next that we don’t think about how great it could be if we even try. For the longest time, Hazel put her feelings about Augustus to the side, and refused to let their friendship turn romantic, as she called herself a “grenade”, ready to explode at any second. She finally put that fear aside and let her guard down, only to experience one of the greatest loves of her life.

Your true self is revealed in the darkest of times

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”

Like 9/11 or the Boston Marathon, there were the people who ran away from the explosions, then there were the first responders who initial reaction was to run towards the problem to see who they could help. That first gut reaction of how you respond to something tragic and life-changing tells a lot about you as a person. You can either give up, not face the “hurdles”, or you can be strong, live a life – live a better life knowing that whatever caused you grief in the first place has since given you reason to become a better person. When Hazel and Augustus visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Hazel takes note that Anne’s father, Otto, was the only one out of their family to survive the Holocaust. She says, “I thought about Otto Frank not being a father anymore, left with a diary instead of a wife and two daughters.” Otto eventually decided to publish that diary, and of course it went on to become on of the most revered and studied books from the war. Otto didn’t give up when he was left alone – he preserved their legacy.

You can’t always get what you want

“The world is not a wish granting factory.”

“Cancer perks” are what Hazel and Augustus call the things they’ve received in sympathy for their struggles with cancer, you know the Make-a-Wish type things. Throughout the book, they make it clear that their sickness is not what defines them, it’s just something they have to live with, therefore the cancer perks, while usually cool, ultimately doesn’t give them what they really want. If you do want something, you have to work for it, and if you don’t get it – you don’t get it. Not everything is going to work out in your favor, but the most we can do is try.

A life is still important, no matter how long or how short

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

Probably one of the most quoted excerpts from the book, this line really sums up the entire story of Hazel and Augustus. Towards the end of the book (again, spoiler alert, I’ve warned you twice!) Augustus dies, another teenager succumbing to that bitch called cancer. While his life may have been short compared to you know, people who live to be 100, he still lived a significant life. The point of the book isn’t to feel sorry for Hazel and Gus, it’s to remind us that a life, no matter how long, or how short, can still make a profound impact on those around you, but it’s our choice  as to how we decide to live it.

Best of C+S 2013: Say Hello To Your Friends – Baby-Sitters Club!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, FRIENDS!!! Hope you’re enjoying the holiday today (if you celebrate it). In the event you get a little down time from unwrapping gifts and eating, please enjoy our gift to you, in the form of a (yet to be produced) musical from a popular 90s young adult series. It’s really the gift that keeps on giving, folks. Yay Santa!

~~~

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Musical — Excerpts From The Libretto

{originally posted January 17th}

If I know one thing that sells these days, it’s nostalgia. And if I know two things that sell these days, they’re nostalgia, and making musicals out of things that were never intended to be musicals. While I haven’t exactly worked out the whole thing, here are some song titles and sample lyrics from my smash hit in the making, The Baby-Sitters Club: The Musical.

The Chapter Where We Find Out About Everyone: This number is narrated by the Greek Chorus, which is comprised of three ladies dressed as Ann M. Martin, Beverly Cleary, and Francine Pascal (read: three women in cardigans with glasses and sensible haircuts).

  • Sample lyrics:

I know you will skip over this,
As you wait for the story to begin –
But listen, Please! And don’t forget
About Jessi’s cocoa colored skin.
And Mallory’s clear braces hide
The potential she has within –
Hey Reader! Come back here! Do not disparage
The chapter that tells of the Schafer-Spier marriage
It’s The Chapter Where We Find Out About Everyone,
Ghostwritten just for you!

Stonybrook’s Divorce Rate: In this selection, the babysitters and their charges mourn the demise of the nuclear family, as evidenced by Stonybrook’s sky-high divorce rate [see Dawn’s mom, Kristy’s parents, the Brewers, most of the charges who weren’t part of the 27-kid Pike family].

Stonybrook’s Divorce Rate, Reprise: The ever-opportunistic BSC celebrates the economic advantages of marital instability in Stonybrook: with so many single-parent households and moms on the dating market, there is an obscene need for babysitters.

Shannon Kilbourne is Boring: As associate member Shannon Kilbourne leaves the BSC to pursue additional college courses (probably with that nerd Janine Kishi, am I right?), the Baby-Sitters Club does not care. Because Shannon Kilbourne is really, really boring.

  • Sample lyrics:

Shannon Kilbourne is Boring
There’s nothing else to say
If Shannon Kilbourne’s a color
Then Shannon Kilbourne is grey
Like the stony halls of S.M.S.
On an empty summer day
No one cares about Shannon Kilbourne
We’d gladly give her away.

She’s our associate member
We call her when we get stuck
But Shannon’s not at our meetings
Cause Shannon Kilbourne sucks
She gives it her best effort, yes
But I still don’t give a fuck
We won’t miss Shannon Kilbourne
Shannon, Good Bye,
Good Luck!
[Shannon shrugs and walks away. She even walks away boring. There is no point to Shannon Kilbourne, and everyone knows it.]

The Diabetes Ballet: In this dance interlude, a dreaming Stacy finds herself stalked by dancing Twinkies, Twix, and Twizzlers that are hidden throughout Claudia’s room. She wakes up having wet the bed. [I can’t be the only person who has that moment in Stacy’s medical history seared in her memory.]

Almond-Shaped Eyes, Broken-Shaped Heart: Claudia mourns Mimi, her grandmother who taught her what love really is.

  • Sample Lyrics:

My earrings are ketchup and mustard bottles,
My leggings are airbrushed with relish
But my themed outfit grows from a sorrow below
Like a Bedazzler that cannot embellish.

My cowboy hat and boots may match
My cactus skirt and bolo tie
But nothing can match the sadness
Of the tears from my almond-shaped eyes.

Bart’s Bashings: After Kristy’s Krushers defeat Bart’s Bashers on the Little League field, Bart delivers his own crushing blow: he breaks up with Kristy due to their “incompatibilities.”

  • Sample Lyrics:

[Bart] Hey Kristy! When I talk to you, I run out of words to say –
Because all you talk about is softball, or the gym pants you bought today,
It’s not that I think you’re annoying – No! I just kinda think that you’re —
[Greek Chorus] SHH!
[Bart, spoken:] Well, you know everyone’s been thinking it…
You act like we’re an item, Kris, but girl, you’re no great thespian,
And those are some clunky boots you’ve got for a girl who’s not an equestrian,
It’s clear from context and subtext that your character’s really a —
[Greek Chorus] Bart! Come on!

Kristy Thomas, Bossy Bitch: The BSC members discuss how Kristy, while a smart and savvy go-getter, is also a controlling teen tyrant:

  • Sample Lyrics:
Someday she’ll be CEO
Someday she’ll be rich,
Some day she’ll set the world alight,
But right now, Kristy’s a bitch!
 
Kristy will someday be the head
Of a multi-national corporation,
And I’ll just say I knew her when
She was the bitchiest teen in the nation!
 
Kristy could run the FBI!
Kristy could be the president!
But in my heart she’ll always be
Stonybrook’s bitchiest resident.

But that’s just a bit of what The Babysitter’s Club: The Musical has to offer! Check some stage very far from Broadway around 2018 or so to hear these other great selections: JK Rowling, Plagiarist (in which the Pikes file suit for copyright infringement because the Weasleys were obviously based on them), Nobody Likes You, Karen Brewer (Gigundoly Bratty remix), BSC Super Special! (it’s exactly like a regular song but longer and with occasional cursive), and I Know He’s Just a Young Adult Character But I’ve Always Felt Like Logan Bruno’s Probably Really Hot. Continue reading