Mallory hates gym, and she hates it even more when SMS decides to hold co-ed gym classes. She’s sure that the boys will be horrible even though class hasn’t started. The teachers run volleyball games during class and naturally Mallory is a terrible player. She keeps doing everything wrong, she can’t hit the ball and she runs when the ball comes towards her. One of the boys even stomps on her foot and another hits her in the face with a volleyball.
After a few classes, she’s had it with gym. The teacher benches her once and then Mallory decides to bench herself. The teacher gives her detention every day she won’t play, which leads to Mallory not playing every day. The school sends home a detention notice and Mallory arrives early to take it out of the mailbox.
Her mom finally sits her down and talks with her about the detentions. She encourages Mallory to talk with her teacher about getting some help with the game. The teacher refuses because she doesn’t want to pull anyone out of the game. She does give Mallory a speech about how quitters never get far in the world and how she shouldn’t be a quitter.
Volleyball ends and the class starts an archery lesson. Mallory does better than the star of her class who can’t even land one arrow in the target. After she hits a bulls eye, the teacher suggests that she join the archery team. Mallory tries out for the club after all of her friends convince her that she should try and she is one of the ten people picked for the team.
The book also has two B-stories that are kind of connected. One is about how the boys in town pretty much go crazy. Jamie Newton hides from Mallory for a long time, treats Lucy like crap and breaks a vase. David Michael fights with Kristy and Andrew takes a toy from Emily. Plus, Claudia sits for the Rodowsky boys who make a huge mess, lock the dog in a shed and lose the key, and paint half of his doghouse.
Mallory can’t handle her brothers, but she loves Ben Hobart’s brothers. They decide to switch brothers for the night because Ben doesn’t believe her stories. The Hobart boys are terrors: they shout and run wild, getting the girls involved in their games, and James even falls off the top of the bunk bed. It turns out that the Pike boys were perfect angels the whole time.
*The book describes the gym uniforms as blue shorts with white camp-style shirts, but the cover shows ordinary tee shirts. I’m guessing a camp shirt is some kind of polo shirt?
*Mallory wears a zip-up denim jumpsuit that she got as a gift. She claims she never wore it because it was too fancy and elegant. Sure it was.
*Claudia wears large purple pants, a neon green shirt, red ballet slippers, a big belt and two different sets of paper mache earrings, including one pair she made herself. The more I read these descriptions, the more I think she’s color blind!
*Mallory’s teacher is horrible! She gets hit in the face with a volleyball and is nearly crying, but her teacher benches her for talking back. That would be a lawsuit today! We had a similar thing happen at my school and the teacher called the principal who immediately called her parents, just in case she had a broken nose or something.