Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grace Harlowe's Sophomore Year at High School

In Grace Harlowe's Sophomore Year at High School, the plot centers around the basketball rivalry between the sophomore and junior classes. Junior Julia Crosby is captain of the junior team, and Julia leads her class in some dirty tricks against the sophomores. Meanwhile, sophomore Miriam Nesbit is bitter that Grace is captain of the sophomore team and seems to be aligned with Julia against the other sophomores.

Shortly into the story, Grace gives Anne Pierson a list of the sophomore team's secret basketball signals so that she can learn them and follow along better during practice. Anne loses the signals and worries about what has happened to them.

During the first game against the juniors, the sophomores are defeated because the junior team knows their signals. Egged on by Miriam, the sophomores blame Anne, believing she has turned traitor to the sophomore class. Soon, Grace loses the respect of the other girls, aside of her four close friends, due to her support of Anne. Grace is heartbroken that the other girls no longer like her, all because she stands behind Anne.

Anyone who has ever read a series book with this type of plot already knows that the conflict gets successfully worked out with Grace regaining the respect of the other girls. Not only that, but both Julia Crosby and Miriam Nesbit get reformed in this book.

I found Julia's reformation to be convincing, but I thought that Miriam's reformation was a bit forced and too fast. We are told that Miriam has been out of sorts for a time before she is reformed, but during this time Miriam still seems very hateful and mean. The conversion just seemed a bit too fast. Did anyone else get that impression?

On page 178, the girls play several old-fashioned schoolyard games. The games are called "puss in the corner," "pom-pom-pull-away," and "prisoner's goal." I had never heard any of these names before, so I looked them up online.

"Puss in the corner" involves four players taking up positions in a square area with an extra player in the middle. The players attempt to exchange positions, and whoever does not gain a corner becomes the new Puss. This sounds a lot like "musical chairs."

"Pom-pom-pull-away" is similar to "tag." The players line up on one side of the field with the tagger in the middle. The players attempt to run past the tagger without getting tagged. Any player who gets tagged must join the tagger in the middle of the field.

"Prisoner's goal" was hard to find in a search. It seems to be more commonly called "prisoner's base." According to one site, this game has two opposing teams attempt to take players from the other team prisoner and hold them in an enclosed area. I found another description of the game that makes it sound identical to "pom-pom-pull-away," so I don't know for certain exactly what the game is.

I found this second Grace Harlowe book to be just as enjoyable as the first one.

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