"We just wanted some penpals who are boys"…. Or Pen Pals #1, Boys Wanted

First things first. Diana Dang, you are the lucky winner of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie! Email me your address and I will ship the book out to you this week. Congratulations.

Now on to the post. I can not find an image of the cover of this book anywhere. But that’s OK, because all the the characters in the Pen Pals series can best be described using another image:

Nice, eh? Let me introduce you to the girls of Fox Hall, Suite 3-D at the Alma Stephens School for Girls. (Not to be confused with Eastland Academy)

  • Palmer Durand – totally Blair Warner. Blond, selfish, rich bitch, only cares about her looks.
  • Lisa McGreevy – Natalie. No mention of her being chunky, but she does have a Sleepover Friends-ish love of snack food. And she’s funny and has the best personality.
  • Amy Ho – a Jo/Tootie combo. Jo because she’s a little boyish, wears a leather jacket, etc. Tootie because she is…um…..ethnic.
  • Shanon Davis – Also a Jo/Tootie combo. Jo because she is the poor kid on scholarship. Tootie because she’s the youngest but also brainiest of the group.

So these ladies attend the Alma Stephens School for Girls, which is a boarding school. They are 13, except for Shanon who is still 12. They all lament the fact that there are no boys at the school! Except Shanon, who is a poor townie and just lucky to be surrounding by a bunch of rich folks, right?

So Lisa comes up with a scheme to put an ad in the paper of their brother school, the all-boys boarding school of Ardsley Academy, for pen pals. (This is well before email). They get in trouble at first. The headmistress, the aptly named Miss Pryn, thinks they’re starting a sorority. But then realizes the girls just wanna write to some boys and she’s cool then. So the girls start writing to a group of roomies who call themselves The Unknown. One Pen Pal for each.

Palmer hates her sensitive poet Pen Pal, John Adams and treats him like shit. But because she is blond and whatnot, he acts like she’s a godess. Amy’s pen pal is Simmie Randolph, III and he’s a jock and finds her completely amazing/amusing. We don’t know cause he can’t spell for shit. Lisa’s pen pal is Rob Williams, who I am failing to remember a single thing about right now. Shanon’s pen pal is a mysterious guy who calls himself Mars.

Shanon gets a big ‘ole pimple and when the girls send their photos to the pen pals, Shanon is too embarrassed to put her photo in the envelope, so she sends one of her hottie sister, Doreen. But then there is a halloween mixer and oh noes! The boys from Ardsley are coming! What is Shanon to do???? Well, dress up like an astronaut of course! Behind her helmet, Mars will never notice she doesn’t look like Doreen! Keep up the lie, sister!

So they meet their pen pals. Mars does see Shanon’s face and gets wicked pissed. Shanon tries to explain, but he runs away. He kind of didn’t want to do the pen pal thing in the first place, but his roomies convinced him to. He panicked when he saw Doreen’s picture because she’s so foxy. So congrats Shanon, the guy likes you better because you’re fugly! They make up by letter and all is well. Except for the 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

  • There is an ad and form for a Pen Pal Exchange program at the back of my book. I got it at a used book store and the order form has been cut out! I wonder how many people signed up for the pen pal exchange?
  • I love the thought of boarding school. The girls from Ardsley are my third favorite boarding school characters. The girls from Eastland are my second favorite. My first favorite, of course, are:

  • But seriously, I can barely stand having to send my son to daycare part time. I couldn’t stand sending my child away to LIVE while he is still a minor. Unless we get that letter by Owl Post, naturally.
  • On the cover, Palmer looks like she’s about 35. Amy looks about the right age, but she is totally looking like Claudia Kishi. Shanon looks OK, but a little older than 12. Lisa is straight-up Hilary Swank though. With Punky Brewster shoes. Agh! I wish I could find an image!
  • Naturally, the girls have a gorgeous male teacher, and naturally he and their favorite female teacher flirt. Because it shouldn’t be any other way.
  • So here’s the living situation: There are four girls to a suite. Each suite has a living area between two bedrooms, then two girls to each bedroom. That is fucking awesome. My college dorm had two of us squished into a space that was approximately 10 x 10. No living area at all! Maybe I should have gone to some fancy-pants boarding school as opposed to a small public university known mostly for the number of students dying from alcohol poisoning.
  • The class names are weird too. The “freshman”, if you can even call them that because they’re only 12-13 years old are in Third Form. Then they talk about Fourth Formers and Fifth Formers. But nothing above that. I don’t get.
  • The outfit descriptions are totally something out of the BSC though….to go on a bike trip, Lisa was wearing hot pink bike pants with a bright orange turtleneck sweater decorated with hot pink sequins set off by a long purple muffler wrapped around her neck. Amy was wearing a black body suit (?) with a Grateful Dead T-shirt over it and black cowboy boots with gold tips. Palmer was dressed like a naturalist in a tweed pants-suit (who is she, Hillary Clinton?), wide-brimmed hat, rubber-soled oxfords and binoculars around her neck. Shanon was wearing pink and green striped bike pants over tights that were light green with pink hearts. My eyes hurt just thinking about them. I wish they just had to wear uniforms, like the first few seasons of Facts of life. But please not the Blue with Burnt Sienna.
  • While I’m on the Facts of Life…there really wasn’t a Mrs. Garrett character. There was Mrs. Worth, the school cook. There was Dolores, a Fifth-Former who was like an R.A. or something. There was Ms. Grayson, the favorite teacher. But no real Mrs. G 😦
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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
This entry was posted in really awful books, Sharon Dennis Wyeth. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to "We just wanted some penpals who are boys"…. Or Pen Pals #1, Boys Wanted

  1. Fear Street says:

    Love love LOVE the “Facts of Life” tie-in.

  2. Sadako says:

    No Mrs. Garrett equivalent?! That’s awful! You can’t have boarding school without a Mrs. Garrett.

  3. Diana Dang says:

    Thank you! =)I can’t find your email address so can you email me? faked_sugartone at hotmail.com

  4. BananaBomb says:

    OMG, I almost bought this at Goodwill the other day. I also thought that Amy was a total rip-off of Claudia. I also remember Palmer being a horrible preppy bitch. And am I the only one who thought Shanon’s name was misspelled?

  5. This post was frigging hilarious. I used to love these books although I could only find a couple at the library. Like the BSC it completely skewed my idea of what being 13 would be like. Weird – in New Zealand we have third form, fourth form etc (well, we did until 2000, when it was changed to Year 9, 10, etc, but people kind of refer to it as both). Is it an American book or British? I know they have “forms” in Britain…maybe it just shows that the school is really, really posh…

  6. Annie says:

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay belated comment to this. I signed up for the pen pal exchange! I even got a penpal out of it, but we only exchanged letters for like a year. I still remember her name and town, though. I should totally look her up.

  7. Palmer Durand says:

    I signed up for the pen pal exchange and corresponded with someone for a few years, talked on the phone occasionally, and now, through the miracle of social networking, are friends again. Yiu know, as friendly as you can get with someone you’ve never actually met!

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