Published: Mandy Picture Story Library #65
Artist: Rodney Sutton
Gemma Gable helps out at the Yellowbridge Youth Club. She is dismayed when vicar puts her in charge of four rough-looking girls from a rundown area that has been demolished: Crystal, Ruby, Pearl and Opal. Oh, please don’t judge them by their appearances, says the vicar. Underneath that rough exterior they’ve got hearts of gold and are positive jewels.
In other words, the Jewels are diamonds in the rough.
Well, life sure isn’t dull with the Jewels around. Straight off the bat they demand the club put on disco music so they can have some action. At least everyone seems to be enjoying the dancing.
Afterwards the Jewels ask Gemma that they are broke and need money. They earn Gemma’s respect when they say they don’t want to bother their parents, who are financially taxed already. At their old home it was easy for them to get market jobs, but there is little call for that in Yellowbridge. Moreover, Yellowbridge shopkeepers don’t employ under-fifteens, not even for Saturday jobs. This means job hunting will be harder for them in their new locality.
Dad suggests fixing Crystal up with a job at Aunt Daphne’s guesthouse. However, Crystal proves too loud and rambunctious and keeps imposing her own ideas on how the guesthouse should be run. Although Crystal’s style is popular with the guests, Aunt Daphne lets Crystal go before she’s even finished the washing up.
Next, Gemma notices Ruby has a flair for design and fixes her up with a job as publicity assistant with Councillor Coombes for his road safety campaign. Ruby’s creativity lends tremendous weight to the campaign and Coombes is impressed. Unfortunately Ruby is also a walking disaster area, so she ends up creating a real mess that Councillor Coombes’ house-proud wife is furious to see. Ruby and Gemma end up quietly slipping out while a row erupts over it, though Coombes is still impressed with Ruby’s creativity.
Gemma’s old headmistress, Miss Cromarty, enquires about somebody to help her with a move. Gemma decides to try out Opal for the job, because she is the quiet one (that’s a bit of a surprise!) in the Jewels gang. Miss Cromarty sets Opal to sorting out her books in alphabetical order, and if she works out, take her on as research assistant for writing her memoirs. However, Opal is such a bookworm that she gets lost in reading the books instead of sorting them – and Miss Cromarty is just the same. Gemma realises that nothing will ever get done between them because they both get sidetracked with reading.
Now it’s Pearl’s turn. Gemma tries her out on a landscaping job, figuring that Pearl will be compatible with the employer, Jamie, as neither is too fussy about their clothes. Unfortunately it turns out Pearl is not compatible with the plants – they give her horrible allergies of all descriptions.
All for Jewels have proved totally unsuitable for the jobs they tried and Gemma does not know of any other jobs. After a discussion the same jobs are given another go, but with different Jewels. Opal will try the guesthouse job, Crystal the publicity assistant job, Pearl the Miss Cromarty memoir job, and Ruby the landscaping job.
Aunt Daphne is very impressed with Opal and her impressive manners with the guests. This is because Opal is drawing inspiration from a book she is reading about a Victorian maid.
Crystal adopts the costume and persona of “Roadie the Robot” to teach road safety in her own words while being as loud as she likes.
Thanks to Pearl, Miss Cromarty is making strides in writing her memoirs, which will be called “I Learned More than I Taught”.
Ruby is not only marvellous at the landscaping job but is also applying her creativity to developing her own talent for landscaping.
Gemma tells her father that now she has learned about not judging by appearances. When the vicar first brought the Jewels to her, she expected nothing but trouble (which she got, but not in the way she thought!). But Gemma’s so relieved the Jewels have been sorted out successfully and she can concentrate on the youth club barbeque. All four Jewels help out and give Gemma the best sausage to say “thanks”.
The vicar is very impressed with how successful Gemma was with the Jewels. In fact, he is so impressed that he brings her another set of rough-looking kids from the same area for her to help in the same way. Say hello to Mike, Gabriel (Gabe for short) and Luke (Lucifer) – the “Fallen Angels”!
Straight off the bat we are told how this story will go. It’s going to be an exploration of the morals in not being quick to judge. But just how this will pan out with these wild-looking girls remains to be seen during the course of the story.
As we get to know the Jewels, we can see the morals are going in a romp that’s full of hijinks, embarrassment, surprises and laughs. Crystal is loud and boisterous. She sweeps some fresh air into the stuffy guesthouse, but it’s too much for the stuffy aunt. Far from being rough, Ruby is a creative, helpful girl. The trouble is, she’s so clumsy and accident-prone, and everywhere she goes she causes disaster. In the case of Opal, we have to wonder why she looks so rough when she turns out to be a quiet girl who would spend hours with her nose in a book given half the chance. Maybe it’s the rundown locality the Jewels lived in before. Pearl just likes being scruffy and isn’t too bothered with her clothes.
The hijinks of the Jewels are brought off brilliantly with the artwork. It’s a sharp but fluid style that lends itself well to zaniness, humour and drama all at the same time.
The introduction of the Fallen Angels right at the end is a twist that has the reader laughing and ensures the story does not end on a trite “happily ever after” note. There’s just no peace for the wicked, is there, Gemma? One can only hope the vicar knows what he’s doing with the Fallen Angels too. As well as looking rough, they don’t look too friendly when they meet Gemma.