Best Friend Game, Francine Pascal/Alice Nicole Johansson

Synopsis: The Unicorns are feeling awfully competitive with another club on campus, called the Eight times Eight Club (Eight 8th graders). The Eights are always one-upping the Unicorns. When the Unicorns apply for a local game show called “The Best Friends Game,” they’re convinced they’ll have it in the bag. However, when the Eights find out about the show, they pull some strings and make themselves the competitors. The Unicorns practice a lot and know all sorts of details about each other. The Unicorns even make a bet with the Eights: the loser sings “Puff the Magic Dragon” in front of the entire school at lunch.

The show happens, and the questions are really crappy. Instead of “What’s Maria’s zodiac sign?” they get open-ended questions like, “If Ellen were stranded on a desert island, what would she bring?” (The person answering said, “Her cd player?” Ellen for once made the smart observation that she should bring “food!”) The Eights get every question right, such as “If Amanda could go anywhere in the world, where would she go?” “Mall of America!” The Unicorns fail miserably, and are angry with each other. Elizabeth points out the stupidity of the questions, that they couldn’t have gotten any of them right unless they were clones (no, seriously, one of the questions was rating cafeteria food on a scale of 1-10, because that’s common conversation). So they decide to rewrite “Puff the Magic Dragon” into a fantastic 90’s white girl rap, perform brilliantly in the cafeteria, and show the Eights up.

Subplot: Jessica stole the principal Clark’s toupee and the club has to replace it. They take odd jobs to earn the cash, and at the end of the book Mr. Clark decides he doesn’t need a hairpiece after all. Moral of the story: Be yourself.

Bookworm’s Commentary
This book is from the semi-short-lived Unicorn Club series (hey, I only knew about 6 books, but apparently there were 23, thank you Wikipedia) which takes place in Sweet Valley (of course) when the Wakefield twins are in seventh grade. These focus on the club vs just the twins, and has a lot of first-person narrative that changes book to book. If I remember correctly, I liked these better than the Sweet Valley Twins– for the record, wasn’t a fan of the SV High, they were over my head when I attempted to read them– The Unicorn Club seemed like there was a little less snottiness, as the group was doing community service and such.

  • Liz, our narrator, is still Little Miss Perfect even though she’s a Unicorn now. She doesn’t quite understand the club rivalry, but does understand that those punk Eights need to go down if nothing else for their stupidity and obnoxious behavior.
  • They have to raise $300 for the toupee, and they’re doing it in $50 weekly installments… and they complain about it. Dude, I know not everyone is rolling in money, but there’s eight members in the Unicorns. Each person earns $10/week, and you’re out of debt in no time.  Liz  or  Mandy  DID chip in with the odd jobs suggestion, but seriously, I get tired of people flipping out before doing their math to find the calm, logical solution. Plus, the economy was much better for teenage workers when these books were published, AND they’re in friggin’ Sweet Valley, Californ-i-a where people throw money away.  I mean, doesn’t Lila just get handed credit cards instead of an allowance?
  • Also, one of their odd jobs is walking a ferret. Lila gets that job. HILARIOUS.
  • Also, they try to give Mr. Clark cans of spray on hair for their replacement. There was also a demo on a styrofoam ball.
  • The “Puff” rap “was only about 4 minutes.” That’s still a pretty long time if you ask me. They put three stanzas that they wrote in the book. Please, pass the sunglasses….

Puff the magic dragon was a sad old thing!
He couldn’t dance and he couldn’t sing!
He didn’t know how to bust a move–
Let’s just say, he wasn’t into the groove!
Puff! P-p-p-puff!

  • In my whitest white girl rap voice, that took thirty seconds? Less, maybe? They either wrote a crapload of stanzas or they were really milking the dance moves. But people asked for an encore… so, probably not the rap lasting forever and a day. Maybe from walking into the room to walking out, four minutes. Be more specific, Liz! You ARE the perfect, anal one.
  • The Eights wear matching t-shirts with 8-balls on them for the show. Dude, disturbing? I realize I’m an ex-cheerleader and often had to match other people in school on game days. Not by choice, people. Then again, a dream destination for this club is friggin’ Mall of America.
  • The Unicorns are much cooler though. They had matching purple JACKETS! Again, like the kind I had when I was a cheerleader. But shiny!

Class Stuff
Grades: 4/5th and up I seriously don’t know what age group this appeals to! But it’s a cute book, nothing bad, other than the glorification of cliques in middle school.
Grade: B- Not a bad book, glad they learned it’s okay to be different and not knowing questions doesn’t mean you’re not BFF.  This did take me ages to read, and it’s not a long book. I just was more interested in other books around me, I guess.

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Filed under Middle school (6-8), Realistic, Upper elementary

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