Amy Sutton wants to try out for the Boosters, the Unicorn Club's new cheering squad, but the Boosters don't want Amy. Also Ken Matthews wants to play basketball but he's finding it hard to live up to his father's legacy.
It looks very 80's. I know the baton Amy's holding is definitely NOT what's used now and it brings back memories. Neither girl looks too weird and Amy's described pretty much exactly as she looks.
The book opens at dinner at the Wakefield house and of course they're discussing the new cheering squad. Jessica, Lila Fowler, Ellen Riteman and Janet Howell are the 4 Unicorns holding the tryouts. Jessica makes it clear to Elizabeth that Amy Sutton has no chance of making the squad because she's such a tomboy and cheerleaders are supposed to be graceful. Jessica doesn't understand why Liz can't see that the Boosters are supposed to have a good image, and Liz is upset that Jessica's nasty side comes out so often now (just wait Liz! You ain't seen nothing yet!). Jessica and Lila plot to keep the Boosters all Unicorns and at tryouts the next day they do a good job intimidating most of the girls and Amy is super clumsy. The Unicorns think they're home free but only Liz knows that Amy is actually a fantastic baton twirler.
While cheerleeding tryouts are happening, the other half of the gym is reserved for the boys basketball tryouts. Ken Matthews wants to try out but Bruce Patman makes fun of him because he's so short and calls him "midget". Good old Elizabeth steps in to talk to Ken and finds out that his father is basically a legend in basketball and he's majorly intimidated by it. He feels he has no chance because of his size. Liz convinces him to go for it so he does. Unfortunately Coach Cassells decides to single him out after seeing the Matthews name. He mistakes Tim Davis, a much taller boy, as Ken and things only get worse from there. Ken can't shoot, he can't dribble, he can't steal the ball away. Coach makes it clear that who his father is won't help him make the team unless he gets better.
Amy's too distracted right now to do much of anything, so Liz tries to help Ken with his skills. Steven tries to help him and that fails. They finally start playing with tennis balls to get the feel of the game and who should ride by but Bruce Patman? He makes another crack and further lowers Ken's self-esteem. He's feeling better the next day but Bruce sees him and Liz together again and rumors start to fly that the two are dating. Jessica is horrified and furious that Elizabeth would humiliate her by dating a midget like Ken. Elizabeth insists things will blow over and Amy and Ken seem to hit if off, sharing their struggle to be a part of something they're not supposed to.
The Unicorns are sick and tired of Amy hanging around and mad at Jessica for having such a loser sister, that they decide to end things now. They write a love letter to Ken supposedly from Amy so he'll get scared off, and one to Amy from Ken telling her she should quit the tryouts. The joke works for awhile but of course eventually everyone finds out Jessica was behind it, and the day of the tryouts comes. The Unicorns are not content to just let things go at this point, and come up with another way to get rid of Amy. The wannabe cheerleaders all have to do a cheer
with the Unicorns but when it's Amy's turn they'll all step back so she'll be forced to do the cheer alone. And who's the name in the cheer? Why, none other than Ken. Here's the cheer:
Ken, Ken, He's our Man!
If he can't do it, no one can!
Yes. Seriously. This plan works and Amy's left by herself yelling at the top of her lungs for Ken in front of everyone. Instead of quitting though, she continues on with the cheer and goes into a major baton routine, blowing everyone away. Ken, seeing Amy do her thing, gets a burst of self-confidence and tears it up on the b-ball court. It ends with the Unicorns having no choice but to ask Amy to be a part of the squad, and Ken getting an invite of his own from Coach Cassells.
It's hard for me to believe that the Sweet Valley Middle School has never had a cheerleading squad before. Haven't most schools had those forever? That just might be around my area though.
The back of the book acts like the main storyline is Elizabeth thinking that the Unicorns will steal Amy away from her. But we find out within the first few pages that Jessica and the Unicorns want nothing to do with her.
At one point in the book, the Unicorns call Amy to try and force her to drop out of the tryouts. Lila is described as having "a threatening voice". That's not surprising.
There's a small section in the middle of the book that talks about Johnny Buck, the coolest rock star EVER- coming to Sweet Valley. This sets up the plot of the next book pretty early.
When the Unicorns are writing the letters to Amy and Ken, they put in parts about Elizabeth so they'll stop talking to her. Jessica is surprised Elizabeth is mad at her for that.
I know Ken is getting bullied in this book, but he really does come across as a very wimpy kid. I feel bad for thinking that but I can't help it.
I'm surprised anybody can sit and watch the tryouts. Does anyone's school do this? Mine never did and I would have been a nervous wreck if every kid in my middle school was watching me.
Up Next- #5 Sneaking Out.