Sweet Valley Kids #10 – The Twins and the Wild West
Okay, so this is my first snark. I was reading the book to my seven year old, and thought I may as well snark it, even though it was Oh So Cute. My daughter loved it, so it just goes to show that there’s no accounting for small children’s taste (I loved them too so…)
Anyhoo, the cover shows Steven clutching a Stetson and wearing a massive cheesy grin, with Liz next to him with a rather sickly expression on her face. (Sitting next to a dork like that I don’t blame her!). They are sitting on top of the stagecoach with the driver, and their clothes are described accurately - So kudos for the cover artist getting the clothes right!
So we start off with the twins packing for a mystery weekend away with their grandparents. Jess is as usual over-stuffing her bag because, after all, she doesn’t know where they’re going, and obviously, you can’t be incorrectly dressed!
Page two holds the usual nauseating identical twins, different on the inside, best friends blah blah… Interesting though is that the writer mentions that ‘they were the only identical twins in their grade’, sorry, but identical twins aren’t THAT common. If she had said ‘In The School.’ I might have taken that a little better, I only ever had one set of identical twins, in the whole school, not just my grade (?!?)
Right, back to the point, Steven comes in and is all annoying, pretending he knows where they’re going (jerk), but he’s interrupted by the arrival of Grandma and Grandpa! The kids’ leg it down the stairs and the mystery destination is revealed – (dum dum), they’re going to – wait for it – WILD WEST TOWN!! (No shit, what gave it away? The title perhaps…)
On the long drive to Wild West Town, the kids get a little over-excited and pretend to be cowboys shooting each other. Grandma turns around and complains that all the noise they’re making hurts her ears, and if they don’t turn it down a notch, there will have to be five minutes of silence. Majorly less grumpy Grandpa suggests they look out the window for different licence plates. ) OK, let me just say, Grandma is a REALLY irritating character, she moans incessantly, and is always being strict and grouchy. What the hell does she expect from the kids – I mean, they’re KIDS! That being said, Grandpa is pretty cool. I don’t know what he’s doing married to such a misery.) But I digress, the family all head off to rent costumes; Steven picks a cowboy suit so he can be ‘Billy the Kid’, Jess typically chooses a long pink dress (Jess in a long dress LMAOJ), Liz picks out the outfit she’s wearing on the cover, a proper cowgirl outfit. Grumpy Granny murmurs that it’s a bit tomboyish, but Gramps tells her to can it.
They then head off to the Saloon for lunch; Grumpy Granny comments that she’s not sure it’s appropriate for the children. For goodness sakes woman! It’s Wild West Town - get with the program here! While looking at the menu, Jess fibs and tries to order a soda since their parents always allow it when they are at a restaurant. Liz is shocked that Jess is fibbing (why?), but Steven plays along and tries to order a Root Beer. Grumpy Granny ignores them and orders them milk – Grandpa is however actually allowed a Root Beer. No mention is made of Grumpy Granny’s drink (Cyanide? Arsenic?) Steven practices with his lasso (good manners at the lunch table eh?) and eventually manages to lasso Jess to her chair. He then crows a bit about how much better boys are than girls, and how sucky it must have been to be a girl in the Wild West time. Arguments ensue, but Grumpy Granny steps in, and Liz secretly boils inside, vowing to make Steven eat his words…
They then go on a tour of the town and Jess wants to know if they used telegraph machines in Grumpy Granny’s day. ‘Oh no,’ she laughs, ‘they used them a hundred years ago, I wasn’t alive then.’ (Let me just say BIG FAT LIAR!!! Telegraph machines have only been phased out completely five or so years ago – I Wiki’d it – and telephones weren’t all that common until the late sixties – in that not everyone had one. So surely Grumpy Granny would have used a telegraph machine at least once? And anyway, to prove my point, they were still in use at the time this book was written, so there! Rant rant!) The twins and Steven are given a whopping $3 to buy some souvenirs – Grumpy Granny suggests postcards (huh!), luckily Gramps butts in and tells them they can buy whatever they like (yay for Gramps!). They all go and have cool black and white photos taken of them in their ‘duds’ before it’s time for supper. Again Jess tries to pull the wool over her grandparent’s eyes and fibs that their bedtime is nine o’clock. (Liz is shocked AGAIN!), Grumpy Granny is not having any of it, and insists that their bedtime is half past eight (it seems as though Alice told them the proper bedtime). The exhausted kids beetle off to bed, ready for their next days thrilling adventure!
The next day’s thrilling adventure is a stagecoach ride to a played out Gold Mine, creepily called “Dead Man’s Mine” – though it is not explained who actually died there! Steven and Liz ride on top with the driver, but prissy Jess sits inside, as she doesn’t want to get dusty. Steven and Liz chat to the driver, and Steven makes rude comments about Liz trying to be all cool and stuff. The mine is quite creepy, but they all have fun learning how to pan for gold (I did this once as a kid, it actually is quite funJ) While Jess is panning, she gets the bottom of her long dress wet (yuck, are they in the same clothes as the day before?), and Steven again rants on about the ‘boys rule, girls drool’ thing. Liz is now getting very annoyed.
Jess then decides she wants to look at some rocks a little further on, but Grumpy Granny intervenes again and tells her to stay in sight. Jess grumbles that she’s too strict and that she had hoped that their grandparents would be a bit more chilled than their parents. On the return trip, Grumpy Granny insists that all the children sit inside – cue sulks from Liz and Steven as well, Jess throws Liz a knowing glance (see what I mean…) Gramps reminds them that they are transporting gold now, and that there are gunfighters out there (foreshadowing???) Steven opens his mouth and boasts that he could take them (Yeah, bring it on big boy). Liz and Jess roll their eyes and tell him he’s actually a big chicken. Argument ensues, but it is abruptly cut off by gunshots! Oh noes! What could be going on?
You got it, ‘Black Bill’, a sinister cowboy, who dresses in (you got it) all black, has held up the stagecoach. He demands any money and jewellery that they have. Jess (bless her) tells him she only has $2.50 and he can’t have it ‘coz she needs to buy souvenirs with it. When he demands Grumpy Granny’s jewellery, the twins’ kick into Power Puff Mode, they launch themselves at him, stomping on his toes, kicking him in the shins etc. Liz yells for a terrified Steven to use his lasso, which he eventually does, and the bandit soon lies trussed at their feet while Grumpy Granny and Gramps look on in amazement. (How humiliating for Black Bill, brought down by a pair of seven year old GIRLS!!! Hahahaha)
Steven is all cocky again now that the danger has passed, and Grandpa tells them how proud they are of the kids for protecting their grandparents. He then goes on to explain that it was all an act though. Cue mild embarrassment! The sheriff awards them silver stars and makes them Deputies; Grandpa awards them ice creams. Liz is thrilled, she sure showed Steven!
Later Steven boasts about how he captured Big Bad Black Bill, and Grandpa brings him down to size remarking that he sure has a fabulous imagination, and makes him give credit to the twins – who actually did the dirty work, while Steve cowered like a baby, sucking his thumb and trying to stay invisible. (OK, Grandpa doesn’t actually say that, but I’ll bet he thought it!) They all decide they want to come back to the Wild West with their grandparents – it seems Granny’s grumpiness has been forgiven. The last event on their trip to the Wild West is a rodeo, followed by a pony ride. The girls AGAIN prove their superiority by riding like pros while Steven can barely keep on his pony.
The adventure is over, and the family returns to Sweet Valley where they show off their badges and receive praise from their parents (Nothing like positive reinforcement!) The grandparents promise to take the kids again sometime soon, but er, not too soon methinks! Next day at school the twins wear their badges to school, and explain their deputy status to the other kids. (Todd is heard to remark that he went to Wild West Town and never got a badge – yeah Todd, that’s coz you haven’t developed the TODDPUNCH yet… your day of glory will come, but for now you will have to live with the shame of being outshone by the twins, actually, GET USED TO IT!!!) Ellen the wuss tells them she would have been really scared, but Lois Waller thinks they’re even braver for riding the ponies. (Let's all says it together … HUH?) The rest of the kids then all start teasing her for being a big fat wuss and she starts crying. Liz thinks that she wished she could help Lois (What’s new Liz? Leave it alone!) Cue the intro to the next book: Sweet Valley Kids #11 Crybaby Lois!