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Literature / After School Club

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After School Club is an eight-book series by Helena Pielichaty about four girls who attend an After School Club at Zetland Avenue Primary. Each girl narrates two books. Although the series is named after the club and follows what goes on there both after school and during the holidays, the protagonist's subplot is likely to be linked to the club only indirectly. The four girls are:

  • Sammie, a talkative girl with two older sisters and divorced parents
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  • Brody, an American model who is considered one of the most popular girls at the club
  • Alex, the daughter of one of the After School Club supervisors with an amazing singing voice
  • Jolene, Brody's niece who's only a year younger than her and loves football.

The book series has:

  • Starring the girl who turned into a big fat liar (but whose pants didn't catch fire) : Sammie lies about how much money she's made for a charity and then loses the money she has made, and then finds a solution...
  • Starring the model from the States (who's in a bit of a state herself) : Brody's niece Jolene is dropped off for the week at Brody's and doesn't seem to want to be friends...until she meets Alex at After School Club.
  • Starring the girl with the voice of an angel (who can be a little devil too) : A talent show is right up Alex's street, but she is angry and annoyed when she finds out the club manager and her mother who works there thinks she's antagonistic, clingy and has problems mixing, and focuses her attention in getting back at them.
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  • Starring the runaway who's trying to do a good turn (just make sure she doesn't turn on you): Instead of being sent to stay with her grandmother, Jolene decides to change her plans and go to stay with her granddad so she can go to After School Club with Alex. However, things don't go quite as planned...
  • Sammie's the girl who made a wish (then really wishes she hadn't): Sammie wishes her family could all be together, but when their mother's spending gets out of control, Sammie realizes wishes don't always work out the way you want.
  • Brody's the girl who's got it all (well, that's what everyone thinks): After a burglary happens while Brody was there, she's irritable and haunted and doesn't want to be the super-reliable girl she's always been.
  • Alex's the girl who's trying to keep life simple (but simply can't do it): Alex is asked to sing two different songs at a wedding by the bride and groom as a surprise for each other, and she has no idea how to break it to them on the day.
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  • Jolene's the girl who knows what she wants (and won't stop until she gets it): When Jolene's mother and stepdad break up, Jolene wants to live with her stepdad while her mother works, but when neither party agree to this, Jolene runs away in protest.

After School Club contains the following tropes:

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Sammie to both her sisters, although there are brief moments between them.
    • Alex can occasionally stray into this territory to her sister Caitlin, mostly in her second book.
  • American Title: All the books make a big deal out of Brody being American, although her dad is English, so she's only American on her mother's side and because she grew up there. The books make a bigger deal out of Brody being a child model.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Both Starring Sammie and Starring Brody does this, Sammie suggesting that if you want mushy love, you should read Brody's story next, and Brody stating that Alex will tell her story next.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Brody calls her parents by their first names. Sammie is surprised by this, thinking that if she called her parents by their first names, she'd get in big trouble.
  • Career-Ending Injury: After Brody's tooth is broken, she realizes she might not be able to model any further because her tooth couldn't be fixed and she had to get a prosthetic.
  • Child Hater: A rare version where the child hater is a child herself. Alex is only nine in her first book, but picks on the younger children in the club, particularly Brandon, mainly because she feels that her mother pays more attention to them than her and also subconsciously connects them to the way her mother still treats her brother Daniel with more care, even though he died ten years ago. Alex has gotten over this by the end of her first book, after Caitlin explains Daniel wasn't the angel she'd been told he was and she can see him as her brother rather than some angelic figure.
  • Clashing Cousins: Jolene and Brody have this relationship in Brody's first book, although Brody is actually Jolene's aunt. Brody tries to be Jolene's friend, but Jolene dislikes her immediately and makes friends with Alex. This eventually builds into a major fight.
  • Corner of Woe: Alex remembers when she was very little hiding under her bed and singing with her hands over her ears and feeling anxious. She eventually discovers that she used to do this when her parents were fighting and she wanted to block it out. This has left scars, as she is afraid of being shouted at or any big emotional scenes.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jolene's dad. She said he disappeared on her mother once he knew she was pregnant. Then again, she only had Jolene because she wanted attention from her dad after her stepmother had Brody.
  • Dumb Blonde: Sammie can come off this way at times, being naive, childish and believing in Santa, even at the age of eleven.
  • Excessive Mourning: Alex's family - her brother Daniel died of meningitis a year before she was born and they still kiss a box of his ashes goodnight. Alex sees them that way, especially her mother.
  • Informed Ability: Alex's singing voice. Due to the medium, we never actually hear Alex sing - we just know that everyone says she has the voice of an angel and that singing makes her and those listening to her happy.
  • Parents as People: Quite a lot. Sammie's mother has problems overspending and not paying bills, Jolene's mother hates having to be a mother at all and once left Jolene with her grandmother for four years (possibly the reason for the anger issues Jolene expresses), and Alex's mother often neglects her family in favour of her work and never got over the death of her son.
  • Poisonous Friend: More of a fairweather friend, but Aimee Anston is portrayed as this to Sammie. Her calling Sammie's family trailer trash is what causes Sammie to start lying and to later on present the money Brody raised for charity as hers. At one point, Sammie imagines growing up with Aimee treating her the way her mother's own Poisonous Friend treats her.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Brody is the daughter of a famous photographer, a former model and also models herself, but she's also kind, generous and friendly, although she dislikes the "rich girl" label and reacted badly at one point when Alex mentioned it.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Zigzagged with Jolene and Alex. Alex likes arts and crafts while Jolene is more into sports, especially football and always wears her Sunderland football shirt, but Alex is not a total girly-girl, Jolene's just more of a tomboy, even stating that you shouldn't read her first book if you like flavoured lipgloss and think kittens are cute.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Both Jolene and Alex have mellowed out in their second book. Alex isn't as angry, feels more like one of the group and is nicer to everyone as a result, and Jolene is more tolerant, less likely to lose her temper and has accepted her stepdad and tries her best to look out for her stepbrothers.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Brody learns the hard way that when Jolene gets mad, it's not pretty. This incident leaves Alex doubtful of whether she wants to continue her friendship with Jolene.

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