Sunday, February 5, 2017

BSC #52: Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies

Tagline: How much trouble can a bunch of babies be?

Mary Anne can't stop thinking about babies. First she starts baby-sitting for a pair of adorable baby twins. Then she and Dawn decide it would be great to have a little baby brother or sister of their own.

But Mary Anne learns that taking care of a baby is a big responsibility when she and Logan have to play pretend parents to an egg "baby" for a special class at school. "Sammie", their egg, has to be watched all the time, and Mary Anne and Logan barely have time to breathe. Taking care of a "baby" isn't all it's cracked up to be!

Mary Anne's chilling at home with Dawn, and she's contemplating families. Dawn mentions that she saw the Shillaber twins' new baby brother the other day, and she and MA start dreaming about having a baby sibling of their own. Dawn points out that her mom isn't too old to get pregnant, while MA says that they could always adopt the way Kristy's family did. Eventually the conversation turns to the new Short Takes class they were taking: Modern Living. It would be a class to show the kids how to be financially responsible and how to take care of a family. Dawn and MA think it's pretty dumb, but MA is at least glad that Logan is in her class.

And boy is she ever glad once the class starts, because immediately, the students are to pair up and get married. Obviously, MA marries Logan, and is quite happy. Things start crashing down as Logan and MA realize that they aren't financially stable nor independent, and eventually make the decision that they'd have to live at MA's place if they were married for real.

The next thing they know, the class is given the egg-baby assignment: each pair of students is to look after an egg and pretend like it's a real baby. Mostly, they have to keep an eye on it at all times. Everyone is quickly horrified, trying to figure out how to balance watching an egg with sports practices and lessons and just life. MA and Logan briefly argue over how to keep their baby, until they're able to get together and create a little container for it.

Most of the rest of the book is dedicated to the egg-baby project. We learn that Kristy is paired with Alan Gray, and their baby is named Izzy. Alan takes the project super seriously, and together, they create an entire shoebox environment for their kid. Anyways, Kristy takes Izzy to the Papadakises while she baby-sits. Alan calls her there, worried about their egg-baby. While Kristy fields the phone call and tries to reassure Alan that everything is fine, the egg-baby goes missing. So Kristy in a panic gets Linny and Hannie to search, and eventually they discover that Sari is taking care of Izzy with her dolls. Kristy decides not to tell Alan about this.

Stacey is paired with Austin Bentley, and their baby is named Bobby. This creates issues when Stacey has to bring him with her to a baby-sitting job, since she's baby-sitting for Bobby and Alicia Giannelli. Anyways, the whole idea of having to care for an egg freaks Alicia out, especially since the egg has the same name as her brother. Bobby (the person) eventually goes to play with some friends, but Alicia is too young and needs to stay with Stacey, only she won't until the egg is gone. Stacey calls up Austin and gets him to pick up their egg. This leads Stacey to contemplate how hard life must be as a single parent.

Dawn sits with Mallory at the Pikes, and brings her egg Skip with her. Dawn's paired up with a boy named Aaron Albright, and she doesn't like him very much. They haven't made any attempts at creating an "environment" for their egg, instead just shoving it into a tissue box with some paper towels. Anyways, the Pike kids decide that Dawn's project seems super cool, and they all pair up and have egg-babies themselves. Vanessa breaks hers while trying to "clothe" it (colour it with crayon) and is inconsolable. Eventually the kids decide to pretend that they're taking their egg-babies out to the restaurant, where Nicky describes a menu full of egg-items. Hilarious!

Anyways, things aren't going too great with Logan and MA. They constantly bicker about how to properly care for their egg, and who is going to get stuck with her. Eventually, Logan tries to get MA to go out on a date, and that they should have an evening alone with the baby. Unfortunately, MA can't get a sitter, and ends up having to take their egg with them. They have problems at the movie theatre, because the place is packed and they can't take a third seat for their egg basket. So MA tries putting the basket on the floor, but that just pisses off Logan. They keep making noise, trying to keep track of their egg-baby in the dark theatre, pissing off everyone around them. At some point, MA briefly misplaces the egg, and they have to call an usher to help them find her. They decide to leave the theatre, and on the way home get into an argument over who would take their, Logan not trusting MA, and then being resentful at always having to take the egg.

MA and Logan aren't the only ones in their class having problems. Shawna Riverson decides that she wants a divorce from her husband, since he's never offering to take care of their egg. Turns out the poor guy has never taken care of a baby, or even younger siblings before, and has no idea what to do! Anyways, they're both just frustrated with everything. Another couple have misplaced their egg, and although they're concerned with how they'll finish the project, they're also legit upset about losing their "child". Another student is completely overwhelmed with the project, since his life is full of extracurriculars and his parents are in the process of getting a divorce, causing his mother to lean on him more than usual. At the end of class, Logan and MA talk, reflecting that maybe they aren't doing too bad after all. However, their moment is ruined when Logan yet again tries to keep the egg, despite it being MA's turn. MA runs away crying.

After another hectic day, Logan and MA talk some more, and decide that they've been fighting because they're so stressed. They reflect that they are in no way ready for marriage or children, not until they finish college at least. Later, Dawn and MA discuss how difficult babies are, and decide to give up on trying to convince their parents to have one. The Modern Living class soon ends, and everyone is happy to be free of their eggs. Dawn and MA decide they never want to think about babies ever again, when their parents surprise them with an announcement... they've decided that if Dawn and MA want another pet, they can have one. Dawn and MA decide that even another pet would be too much responsibility for them at this age!

There's really no subplot in this book. Most of it is taken up by the egg-baby project, with a few asides about baby-sitting for real babies. MA sits for the Salem twins, and the twins are so adorable and angelic, which gives MA even more baby fever. Later in the book, she sits for them again, and they're nightmares (and twice the trouble), which quickly quells MA's baby fever.

Random Thoughts:
  • This review is going to be super shitty and short, because 1) I've never particularly liked this book and 2) I just started a new job haha
    • I've always hated whenever books or TV shows do the fake-baby episodes. I am so glad I never had to do this at school. I already knew from a young age that I never ever wanted children. I also knew from a young age that I was in no way able to support myself financially (let alone myself and a child!). So yeah, I never had delusions of becoming a teen parent or growing up too fast, so I never needed to be scared straight or into responsibility. We had a parenting/family studies class in my high school, where they made babies out of sacks of sugar, and had to carry them around for like, 2 weeks. Of course, I never took the class cuz I was too busy being an arts student, with my music and drama haha
  • I find it weird that 13 year olds would want a sibling so bad, that they'd talk about how their parents aren't too old for it yet. It's one thing when a little kid wants a sibling, they generally don't really know how siblings are made, but a 13 year old definitely does. Who wants to think about their parents actively having sex and trying for kids when they're around??
  • I'm trying to imagine all sorts of drama that would have happened in this book if Logan and Mary Anne had been in different classes, and thus had to partner up with different people. I'd like to have seen Mary Anne paired up with Pete Black again, and to have discovered through working closely with him that he's super awesome and that she can have him instead of Logan haha
  • There are more boys than girls in the class, so two of the pairings are all-male. It's interesting, because they make a big deal over "who's going to be the wife", and obviously none of the boys want to be "wives". I wonder if nowadays it'd just be like, "And we've got two same-sex pairings. Moving on!" without any of this "but who's gonna be the wife!" crap.
  • I find it weird how Alan Gray shifts from general pest whose affections somewhat flatter Kristy, to all-out jerk who is a monster and no one should ever date. I find he's more tolerable in the books written by AMM herself, such as this one. He takes the egg-baby project super seriously and almost drives Kristy crazy with his over-parenting.
  • The Pikes aren't loaded. We know that. But time and time again, they do stuff that really makes me question their parenting. Mallory lets her siblings commandeer nearly a full dozen eggs to play with. Now, Mrs Pike needs to buy more eggs. Not only is that nearly a dozen wasted, but what if Mrs Pike was planning on baking with them or wanted eggs for breakfast??

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

BSC Mystery #3: Mallory and the Ghost Cat

Tagline: It looks and sounds like a cat- but is it real?

One night when Mallory is baby-sitting for the Craines, she hears a cat crying somewhere in the house. But the Craines don't own a pet. So Mallory and the girls go exploring - and discover a mysterious white cat hiding in the attic. They name him Ghost Cat, and the mystery is solved. They think.

Until Mallory and the girls continue to hear eerie cries coming from the attic. If Ghost Cat is sitting right there with them, who - or what - is upstairs in the attic?
Mallory is excited. She has just gotten herself a regular gig sitting for new clients: the Craines (Margaret 6, Sophie 4, Katie 2). They're normally watched by their Aunt Bud (real name Ellen), but she recently broke her leg and has to be off her feet for a month or so. Mallory meets the girls and has a great time with them. However, on their first day when they're napping, Mallory hears the sound of a cat. Curious, since Mr Craine hadn't mentioned anything about owning a cat, Mallory searches high and low for it, to no avail. When the girls wake up, Mallory asks them about it, only to be told that they don't own a cat.

The next time she's there, Mallory double-checks with Mrs Craine to make sure they really don't own a cat. She's told again that no cat exists, however when the girls are baking cookies, they hear the sound of a cat. They go exploring and search all over the house. Eventually they enter the attic, where they find a white cat, all frail and scared and shivering. He runs out and they trap him in the laundry room. They decide to name him Ghost Cat, since he's so pale and frail. They get him some food, and the Craines decide to get him checked out and to put an ad up in the paper. If no one claims him, they'll keep him.

Ghost Cat starts eating and getting more healthy, but he's still easily spooked, so they keep him locked up in the laundry room. When showing him off to Mallory, he escapes, and they have to go hunting for him again. They end up back in the attic where they had found the cat originally, but instead of finding him again, they find a bunch of letters tied up in a bundle. Mallory brings them downstairs, and together the girls learn about an old man who once lived in the house a long long time ago. His name was Kennedy Graham, and he was sad and lonely, until one day he discovered a kitten hiding in the house. He adopted the kitten, and they became the best of friends. Until one day, the cat died. Kennedy Graham grew older and sadder, and was convinced that he could hear the ghost of his beloved cat (Tinker) still haunting the house. The girls are subdued after this, and return to the laundry room, only to discover that Ghost Cat was there the whole time!

This causes Mallory to think that maybe Ghost Cat really was a ghost cat. She enlists in Dawn to help her determine whether or not this is true. While she's sitting for the Craines, Mallory invites Dawn over, and they perform all sorts of tests on Ghost Cat. Dawn has a thermometer to check the temperature of the attic and around Ghost Cat (ghosts produce a distinct chill) and an ectoplasm meter that she mail-ordered from the back of a book (Mallory thinks it just looks like really sturdy cardboard, and Dawn admits she doesn't know if it actually works or not). Dawn also checks to see if Ghost Cat can be photographed, if he leaves footprints and if he can walk through things. He fails all of the tests, resulting in Dawn announcing that he is a real cat, not a ghost cat at all. Before Mallory leaves, they get a phone call from a man claiming to be the cat's owner, saying that the cat's name is Rasputin. He'll be by in a few days to pick him up.

On Rasputin's last day with them, to distract the girls, Mallory sets up a series of cat IQ tests, to see how smart he is. The girls have fun testing his cleverness and his name recognition, before preparing him a final meal of milk and tuna. While they're with Rasputin, Mallory continues to hear a cat crying from the attic. Before Mallory can think too much of it though, Mr Craine shows up and just in time too: Rasputin's owner arrives. He looks exactly like Kennedy Graham! The cat and the man walk away, happy as can be.

To wrap the story up, Mallory sits for the Craines one last time. The Craines have decided to get a new cat, a female named Tinkerbell. Margaret tells Mallory that ever since Rasputin went home with the old man, and Tinkerbell came to stay, they haven't heard any mysterious cat noises from the attic anymore. Mallory doesn't know what to make of it, but she's happy that there's no more mysterious noises, and that Rasputin and his owner are reunited, hoping that somewhere out there, Kennedy Graham and Tinker are happy as well.

The subplot in this one (which to be honest, is more of the main plot; it takes up a really big chunk of the book) is Mallory's Uncle Joe. He's actually her Great-Uncle Joe, as he's Mr Pike's uncle. Mr Pike has all those great memories of the guy, and it turns out he just recently transferred to the Stoneybrook Manor, so Mr Pike wants to invite him to meet the family and stay with them for an extended visit. The kids are all excited, having heard all these stories of this lively man who would perform little magic tricks and take Mr Pike fishing. Now, Mr and Mrs Pike warn the kids that he's older now, so they'll have to be a little more quiet and change their routines a bit, including eating less savoury foods so as to not upset Uncle Joe's digestion. However, when the day arrives for Uncle Joe to visit, the kids are all shocked: he's a very stand-offish old man who doesn't seem to make the least bit of effort to get to know the kids. No stories, no tricks, nothing. As the month goes on, the kids get more and more discouraged and disappointed. It's hard for them to continue being quiet and calm, to continue eating bland and tasteless foods. Uncle Joe still hasn't learned any of their names and is starting to do odd things, like forget where he is, what time of the day it is, what he's saying mid-sentence. Finally Mr and Mrs Pike call another family meeting, and decide that it's time for Uncle Joe to go back to the nursing home. They admit that he's coming down with the early stages of Alzheimer's and that he needs more care than they can give him. The kids are sad, mostly because they can see how hard this is on Mr Pike, but they do their best to get Uncle Joe ready. On his last day, while the kids are all drawing pictures for him, Mallory discovers that Nicky has disappeared. After searching the house, she discovers that Nicky is in Uncle Joe's room. Nicky is sitting on his lap, and Uncle Joe is showing him a trick. He even remembers Nicky's name! The family discovers that Uncle Joe is better off seeing the kids only a couple at a time, and so they spend the rest of the afternoon visiting with him in pairs. A few weekends later, they go to visit Uncle Joe at the Manor. He seems a lot happier and more adjusted, playing Scrabble with his roommate. They stay for dinner, and Uncle Joe surprises Mallory with a bottle of hot sauce: he says he can't stand eating bland foods!

Random Thoughts:
  • This was a cute mystery. Nothing actually really happens and it's all left up to the reader: was it mundane or was it supernatural??? Reminds me of the old episodes of The X-Files. I really liked that first season, where we still weren't too sure if the supernatural and paranormal and extraterrestrial really existed or not.
  • Apparently this is the only Mystery narrated by Mallory. It never occurred to me that she never narrates another one, so when someone pointed it out, I had to go back and check my collection. I can't believe her and Jessi only get one Mystery each! I guess they thought us readers couldn't suspend our disbelief so much that we'd buy 11 year olds as detectives haha
  • Why the fuck would the Pikes think it would be a good idea to have Uncle Joe stay with them for a month?? I'm 28, and even I wouldn't want to spend a month in a house with 9 people I have never met before, even if they were family! Especially if their house wasn't even big enough for them! Not unless it was absolutely necessary (like I was on an extended trip job searching or interning or something else that wasn't paid for). And that's me, as a totally healthy young adult! Even if they didn't realize how far gone Uncle Joe was, that's still a lot to ask of an old man whom the nurses had warned the Pikes about early on-set Alzheimer's. Especially since he has never met the kids before! Why didn't they arrange for the kids to visit him at the Manor first? Or arrange for a short weekend visit at their place. Jfc this subplot pissed me off. I never particularly liked it as a child, but as an adult, it seems downright stupid and irresponsible.
    • Ugh! I keep thinking about it, and it pisses me off! Like, Mrs Pike is on the verge of losing her job, because her boss is upset from all the time she takes off to spend at home looking after Uncle Joe. Isn't that a sign that he shouldn't be there for an extended visit??
    • And why would they make everyone eat the same bland foods? I mean, I get not wanting to make a million meals, but it seems like the Pikes are already well-versed in picky eaters and variations. Why not make the bland chicken, cauliflower and mashed potatoes... but then have gravy on the side that the kids could add? Salt and pepper on the table? Ketchup and hot sauce? Cheese sauce for the veggies??
      • I also wonder if Mallory ever ended up telling her parents about Uncle Joe and the hot sauce haha
  • Mallory reads A Wrinkle in Time. This is not the first time that book has come up in this series, but Mallory talks about it a lot in this one, so it particularly stands out to me. People always cite it as a beloved children's classic, and I hear references to it fairly regularly, and it's being made into a movie next year. Well, I finally read it for the first time last year. I dunno. I just didn't get it.

Friday, January 20, 2017

BSC #51: Stacey's Ex-Best Friend

Tagline: Is Stacey's friend Laine super mature or just a super snob?

Stacey can't wait! Her best friend from New York, Laine Cummings, is coming to Stoneybrook for a whole week. Laine can spend a day at SMS, attend club meetings, and maybe even go to the Valentine's Dance.

But the minute Laine arrives, things don't go as planned. Laine thinks Stacey's sleepover with her friends is so childish. And she can't believe Stacey's still into baby-sitting. Laine's used to hanging out at high school parties. She even has a fifteen-year-old boyfriend!

Stacey doesn't want to lose her childhood friend. But Laine's growing up way too fast for Stacey. Is this the end of their friendship?

The book starts off with Stacey having a cozy winter day indoors. She reflects that since moving to the country, she likes snow and the quiet. As she's doing homework, Laine calls and tells Stacey that she has a week-long break coming up from school. Stacey gets super excited, and invites Laine to stay with her in Stoneybrook. Laine isn't too sure though, but eventually agrees to it. Stacey is super excited and tells all her friends. She plans a sleepover for Laine's first evening. Before Laine comes over, Stacey tidies up her bedroom, hiding anything that she thinks Laine will think is lame. Apparently lately Laine has been saying comments and calling Stacey by her full name, trying to sound more grown-up. Stacey doesn't think too much of it though, and leaves for the train station super excited.

Stacey spots Laine right away wearing a very chic outfit. Stacey is thrilled, but Laine is less than impressed. She wants to know where the town is! Stacey explains that they'll drive through it on the way home to the party Stacey's throwing, which causes Laine to perk up. However, after they drive through Stoneybrook, Laine is still confused, wondering how she could have missed the entire town. Stacey points out the library and the pizza parlour, but Laine wants to know what everyone does for entertainment. Stacey deadpans that they go to New York haha

Laine and Stacey briefly catch-up before the party. Laine tells Stacey all about her new boyfriend King, who is 15 years old and in high school. His hair is long and black, with purple tips, that he wears all spiked up and bushy. When Laine questions why Stacey doesn't have a boyfriend, Stacey says she's waiting for the right guy, which sets Laine off. They quickly put aside their differences though as the girls arrive.

It's clear that when Stacey said "party", Laine figured she meant something loud with boys and girls. The sleepover is definitely not impressing her. The girls are all having fun goofing with make-up and hair stuff, gossiping about boys. Laine keeps putting everyone and everything down, saying that all 13 year old boys are lame, she's on a diet (so no binging on junk foods), and making fun of their slang (Dawn says "dude"). Stacey then gets the bright idea to find Laine a date for the dance next Friday. Laine isn't sure she wants to go: after all, 13 year old boys are dumb and she wants to make sure King is okay with it. But when Stacey points out that Laine has nothing else to do on Friday, Laine is quick to remind them that they are lame. Luckily before things can spiral out of control, they find a movie to watch that even Laine likes.

Laine spends Monday being bored out of her mind while Stacey's in school, so Stacey gets permission for Laine to shadow her for the day. After Stacey explains that she misses having Laine be a regular part of her life, Laine goes for it. However, the day is less than successful. First, Laine makes fun of Stacey and Mallory for how they coordinate walking to school (white towel means Mal wants to walk with them, red means she's looking after her siblings), making Stacey feel embarrassed. Once at school, Laine questions all the school rules, such as them not being able to leave the building during school hours and only one student allowed to the bathroom at a time. Stacey's relieved once it's lunch time, because there are no rules (except for not being able to leave the building), so she figures there's nothing for Laine to critique. Stacey has even arranged it so that a bunch of her non-BSC friends sit with them, giving Laine variety. Among them are Pete Black, Rick Chow and Austin Bentley, which Stacey thinks Laine will like, since they're boys. However, it's clear that Laine thinks they're immature (they spend lunchtime building molecules out of pretzel sticks and prunes), while Pete spends the whole time crushing on Laine.

That night, Stacey and Laine talk about their day, more specifically Pete. Stacey thinks it would be awesome if Pete and Laine went to the dance together, but Laine is all embarrassed, saying that Pete is immature and what would people think? Stacey points out that the only people who would see them would be everyone who already likes Pete and actually thinks he's cool, and that besides, it'd just be for fun. Laine decides to call King first, and shoos Stacey out of the room. Stacey's a bit hurt, but figures whatever. However, when Pete calls to ask Laine out, Laine asks Stacey to stay, before kicking her out again to call King back. While in her bedroom, Stacey overhears snippets of Laine's conversation. Laine makes fun of Pete, and goes on about how "childish" something is. Stacey assumes that Laine is talking about their baby-sitting clients, but it's pretty clear to us readers that Laine is talking about Stacey and her friends. Even so, Stacey starts to feel like something weird is going on between her and Laine, and she doesn't know what to do.

Stacey decides to double-down on making Laine a part of her life, and brings her to the Club meeting on Wednesday. There, the girls all discuss the Valentine's Day Masquerade they're organizing for their clients. They speculate who has a crush on who, and think it's all very cute. Except for Laine. She thinks it's lame. She also wonders if any of the girls plan on getting real jobs for the summer. You see, Laine has a summer job lined up at an accessories store, so she'll be receiving a real paycheque. Stacey now realizes that her and Laine are living in completely different worlds.

Finally it's Friday, the day of the dance and Laine's last full day. Stacey isn't excited about Laine going home soon, but she's somewhat relieved. Still, she's going to give their friendship one last solid try and make the most of their time together. She rushes home to find Laine reading a large book, about an 18 year old who travels and falls in love; when asked what she's currently reading, Stacey is embarrassed to admit that she's reading Black Beauty. Stacey wants Laine's help in getting ready for the dance, but Laine doesn't seem interested. She's too busy thinking about her book and King; besides, it's just a stupid Valentine's Day dance and doesn't really count. Once Stacey picks her outfit (with no help from Laine, other than "it's lame to wear red specifically because it's Valentine's Day"), she tries to engage Laine in some popcorn and gossip, like the good ol' days, but Laine's on a diet and has just finished doing her nails (after making fun of where Stacey got the nail polish). Finally Stacey gives up, and they get to go to the dance.

Laine puts on a great outfit, and Stacey's mom tells them that they look like they're 15; Laine adds that usually she gets mistaken for 18. Despite the fact that Laine is wearing earrings that Stacey gave her (which warms Stacey's heart), Laine quickly takes back any goodwill by appearing horrified that they were meeting the guys at the school; didn't Stacey know that the boys were supposed to pick them up in their own cars? Stacey points out that the boys can't drive... and neither can King for that matter! When they get to the school, Laine is mortified that Kristy greets them with a "yo guys!" That quickly gets overshadowed by Pete's arrival though. Even though Pete's wearing a suit, he's still wearing his trademark converse sneakers, which of course Laine notices and judges him for. Then the poor guy is so nervous, he can't get the corsage he bought on Laine's wrist, and ends up dropping it, only for it to be trampled in the crowd! Laine doesn't care though, and acts dismissive of everything. She makes fun of the d├ęcor (to be fair, so did Logan, as it was quite pink, but Laine was definitely much more mean-spirited) and the fact that there isn't a live band playing (there will be, but while they set up, it's just a tape playing). The night doesn't get any better, as Laine insults all sixth-graders (one spilled a drink near her, not on her), insults the band, and then insults the food (heart-shaped cookies and punch are for kindergarten). The final straw comes when Pete asks Laine to slow-dance: she turns him down saying she was tired, only to immediately accept an invitation from some other guy (to Kristy and Claud's delight, a seventh grader!). Stacey has had enough.

She pulls Laine aside to tell Laine how rude she's been. Laine pretends that she doesn't know what Stacey is talking about, so Stacey starts laying everything out on the table. Laine interrupts, saying that she wants to go home. To New York. Immediately. So Stacey calls her mom, which prompts more fighting and arguing from Laine. On the way home, Stacey's mom tries to get the girls to talk, but this just causes more fighting. Finally, Laine reiterates the fact that she wants to go home to New York, so Mrs McGill calls Laine's mom. They get into a brief tiff over their daughters, but arrange for Laine to go home that night.

Stacey spends the rest of the weekend calling all her friends and apologizing for Laine. She also worries that because her friendship with Laine is over, things are over between Mrs McGill and Mrs Cummings; Mrs McGill reassures Stacey that everything is fine. Stacey still feels unresolved though. She spends a lot of time reflecting on her week with Laine, and their 8 years of frienship. Finally, with the help of Claudia, Stacey sees who her real best friend is, and writes Laine a letter, saying goodbye.

The subplot in this one is the Valentine's Day Masquerade that the Club decides to organize for their clients. The girls get excited planning decorations and activities for the kids, while the kids get excited to make Valentines for everyone. Nicky Pike has a crush on a girl in a younger grade. James and Matthew Hobart want to get all dressed up and bring carnations, and James even has a girl he wants to invite. Marilyn and Carolyn are also very excited: Marilyn likes a boy, and Carolyn says she likes a boy in an older grade. Eventually, the sitters deduce that Nicky and Carolyn like each other, and are super excited to see this go down at the Masquerade. However, they soon discover that Nicky likes Marilyn... he just keeps calling her Carolyn. Luckily for him, Marilyn likes him too. Carolyn and James on the other hand, are a perfect match haha

Random Thoughts:
  • I think I've only read this one once or twice. I definitely have read it. I remember liking it a lot. But I also remember that it wasn't one of the ones I owned.
  • I never understood why Stacey would think it was a good idea for Laine to come up for the whole week, when Stacey was still in school. Visiting someone else's school is definitely cool and fun and novel, especially compared to your own school... but it's still not as fun as vacation! Laine totally should have arrived Wednesday afternoon, attended school with Stacey Thursday during the day, and then Stacey could have taken Friday off and she and Laine could have had a long visit Friday and Saturday, and then Laine could have gone back home Sunday afternoon. I mean, I get that Stacey and Laine have been drifting apart and that they would have eventually had a falling out regardless, but it just seems like a waste of a vacation and a terrible idea to spend an entire week at school/alone at someone else's house.
  • The girls are way too excited to watch To Kill a Mockingbird. The only 13 year olds who are excited to watch that movie are the ones who skipped a grade and find themselves in grade 9 studying it, and they're only excited because watching movies is better than reading books haha I like that movie and genuinely get excited when it comes time to show it in class, but even I wouldn't be revved up for it on a Friday night haha
  • It's weird that we've had two books in a row where characters have had winter breaks and come up to visit the girls!
  • We learn in this one that Mrs McGill and Mrs Cummings have been friends since college. That's crazy! I had always thought they met because of Laine and Stacey. Now I want to know more about them haha
  • If I were Marilyn Arnold, I would be super pissed that Nicky didn't know me from my twin and had my name wrong. Especially now that they dress completely differently and have completely unique and individual styles. Nicky clearly knew them apart in terms of appearance and personality! It'd be no different than someone calling me "Callie" or "Casey" or "Kelsey" or something that was not my name. I mean, it'd be whatever if it was someone who didn't know me very well, but from someone confessing that they liked me? No way! Not even at age 8! haha
  • James and Matthew Hobart's reaction to the Valentine's Masquerade just reinforces my idea that Australian boys are best haha even though I know that there are plenty out there who are rude and crude!
  • Stacey and Mallory's towel code makes sense in a time where texting doesn't exist. Even though a quick phone call wouldn't take that long, there's always the fact that you have to wait for someone to answer, and what if someone was busy or in the shower, and didn't answer in time? Then you'd have to leave a message, or call back later, etc etc. The towel code is quick and easy: Mallory can throw correct colour up whenever she knows what the plan is for the morning, and Stacey can just look out the window whenever and see it. She can do this while making breakfast, brushing her teeth, packing her bag... all sorts of things that would be difficult to do while on the phone (especially since it doesn't sound like cordless phones were all that prevalent just yet). Of course, nowadays the girls would just send each other a quick text.
  • Who the fuck would ever hire Laine for a real job? Except for maybe a paper route?? She's only 13! Is this a '80s thing, or is this a BSC-thing? Because yeah, the girls are always getting real jobs, and it's super weird. Here, most places need you to be 16 before hiring, and your options even then are fairly limited. 
  • Laine's book sounds like a Danielle Steel novel haha I remember in grade 7, one of the grade 8s on my bus reading those novels, and thinking 1) damn, she's so grown up and 2) that book sounds really boring and not my style haha
  • Do we ever hear about Laine again?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

BSC #50: Dawn's Big Date

Tagline: Is Dawn's date a total disaster?

Mary Anne and Dawn are so excited. Logan's cousin Lewis is finally coming to town, and Mary Anne is busy planning the perfect double date. But now Dawn is starting to get worried. She's written letters to Lewis, but she's never had a boyfriend before. What if Lewis doesn't like her?

That's when Dawn decides she needs a new image. New clothes, new hairstyle, and lots more makeup. Maybe she could even learn how to flirt a little. But will Lewis and the rest of the Baby-sitters like the new Dawn?

I have actually never read this one!

Dawn and Mary Anne are getting ready for their New Year's Eve party together. MA is going to make all sorts of junk, while Dawn will make all sorts of healthy foods. As they're planning, MA tells Dawn some exciting news: Logan's cousin Lewis is finally coming for a visit! Dawn's excited, but also super nervous. She's never had a boyfriend before. None of the Stoneybrook guys seem to really be into her. Dawn knows that she and Lewis have been writing each other for awhile, and that he seems to like her and the picture she's sent to him, but she worries that things will be different once he actually meets her. At the New Year's Eve party, all the girls call a boy they're interested in at midnight, except for Dawn, Mallory and Jessi. Dawn feels sad and pathetic because she was the only 13 year old in the group without a boyfriend. Talk of New Year's resolutions prompts Dawn to decide to change her look and attitude, specifically so she can get a boyfriend.

Dawn starts by perusing Stacey's fashion magazines. MA catches her, and Dawn admits that she's just curious about changing her look. Excited, MA helps Dawn do her hair and make-up, while Dawn cuts one of her t-shirts into an off-the-shoulder top. They take Dawn's picture and send it to Lewis. Dawn, pleased with the new look, decides that she needs a new attitude too. She decides that the New Dawn is cool, and that to be cool means you're not a goody-goody who cares about school. So when Dawn is called on in class, instead of giving the right answer, she gives a bunch of joke answers. This gets the class laughing, and one of the cool kids (who was never mentioned before and never mentioned again) passes her a note of approval.

Soon, Dawn is changing all her clothes and her attitude, even going so far as to chew gum! The girls take notice, and they are not pleased. When Dawn points out that they didn't harp on MA for changing her hair and clothes, the girls point out that that was different because MA didn't change her attitude, plus she had been expressing for a long time a desire to be able to do something different. Dawn is all angry at everyone for not accepting her new look, except for MA. MA's acceptance actually confuses Dawn, because it makes her feel like something must have been wrong with her in the first place.

Eventually this all culminates in Lewis Bruno's visit. He's in Stoneybrook for a week. Dawn buys a hot new outfit to wear, and while she loves it, she doesn't feel quite right. MA casts doubt, and of course Sharon wants Dawn to dress more warmly, but ultimately everyone lets it go. Dawn feels like she'd look great in a magazine, but the reality is she doesn't live in a magazine, and feels perhaps a bit overdressed. She quickly quashes those thoughts and feelings though, putting on a confident attitude to meet Lewis.

Unfortunately, all that confidence goes out the window when Dawn meets him. She gets ridiculously nervous and tongue-tied, and ends up saying only one-word answers and responses. MA tries her best to bridge the gap between them, but it doesn't help. When they get back home, MA explodes at Dawn, telling her that she needs to show some personality. She then gives Dawn more teen magazines, with all sorts of dating and relationship advice. When Dawn questions MA, MA points out that she's just trying to help Dawn snag a boyfriend. Dawn accepts defeat and starts reading the magazines.

That Saturday, they go out on a double-date with Logan and Lewis. Dawn wants to wear one of her new outfits, but MA convinces her to just wear a jeans skirt and black turtleneck. Dawn decides to make the skirt shorter and dress up with heavy make-up and jewelry. MA chides her, but it's too late to do anything about it. They go to see Gone with the Wind, and MA keeps pinching Dawn to prompt her to be more interesting. She tries to get Dawn to share a bucket of popcorn with Lewis so that they can "accidentally brush hands" and then subsequently hold hands. Dawn keeps getting nervous and messing up and being clumsy, eventually dumping the whole bucket of popcorn. This culminates in Dawn's heavy make-up running because the movie is so sad. When the movie is over, Dawn is so upset by everything that she just wants to go home. When they get there, she and MA have a huge fight.

This results in Dawn and MA not talking for awhile. Eventually the Club tricks them into talking to each other by getting them on the same phone call to discuss their sitting clients (more on this later). Through their discussion and helping their clients, both Dawn and MA realize separately that if everyone (but mostly MA) left Dawn alone and up to her own devices, she'd figure out a way to impress Lewis herself. Dawn waits for MA to be on a sitting job, then invites Lewis out herself. The two of them go out together, and Dawn's still really nervous, trying to remember all the tips she'd read about in the magazines. Eventually Dawn realizes that this isn't working either, and comes clean to Lewis. She tells him that she's been trying to impress him with new clothes and attitude, but that she can see that it's not working. Lewis is confused, telling her that he liked her the way she was before, in her letters. Dawn then decides to tell Lewis to meet her back at her place in an hour. She then runs home, changes out of her clothes, showers and puts herself together like normal. She also prepares some healthy foods for Lewis. When he arrives, Dawn takes him on a tour of the barn, before feeding him foods. They have a great visit, and decide to see each other again soon.

Dawn and MA then talk about everything that happened in the book, with Dawn explaining that MA's over-supportiveness made Dawn feel like she had to change, and that nothing was right about her. MA tearfully admits that she didn't really know what she was doing, that she was just trying to help, and that she's sorry she made Dawn feel that way. The girls make up and decide to plan their next date with the boys.

Sadly, Lewis is heading home soon, so they only have time for one more date. They go bowling with Logan and MA, and everything is perfect. MA orchestrates it for them to have a moment alone, and Dawn and Lewis kiss! Lewis soon goes home, and he and Dawn continue writing to each other. Lewis thinks Dawn's pretty special, and Dawn feels pretty special too.

The subplot in this one involves new clients: the Hills, who are Norman (age 7) and Sarah (age 9). Norman is overweight and is constantly eating junk food. He keeps it hidden and on him at all times. His parents are always on his case about his weight, putting him on diets and exercise regimes. Sarah, and the other kids in the neighbourhood, also make fun of him, calling him "Enormous Hill". His parents practically encourage this, as they think it'll motivate Norman to lose weight. All it does though is make Norman feel worse, which makes him sad. Being sad makes him want to eat, so then it becomes a vicious cycle. The girls try to help him, but it doesn't really seem to be working. Eventually, they get Norman to stand up for himself against his sister. This stops Sarah from constantly teasing him and walking all over him, and start showing him some respect. They also encourage Norman to talk things out with his parents about how constantly harping on him makes things worse. Norman takes their advice and his parents lay off him. Norman decides he does want to lose weight, but that he's going to do it on his own terms. His parents help by deciding to get rid of all the junk food in the house, instead of simply banning Norman (and only Norman) from eating it. This subplot actually takes up a good chunk of the book, paralleling Dawn's own transformation and subsequent acceptance of her own body.

Random Thoughts:
  • Like I mentioned above, I have actually never read this one! But I knew the premise, because they've probably referenced it in other books, as well as I've come across it in other Baby-Sitters Club blogs. But I always try to skip the posts about the books I haven't read, so even though I know the premise (and can probably guess the story beats), I don't know all the details.
    • I'm guessing that Dawn gets a makeover, everyone hates her, she hates herself, she doesn't understand why Lewis doesn't like her, decides that it's because she's lame, eventually realizes that it's because she's being fake and that obviously he wanted to meet the girl in her letters, not some weird fake Dawn, she ditches the clothes and make-up (maybe keeping an item or two, but probably giving most to Stacey and/or Claudia) and learns a valuable lesson about being yourself haha
  • This is the second time that Dawn tries to change herself for a boy. I kinda like the consistency?
  • This one is ghostwritten by Suzanne Weyn. I recognized the name, and then realized that that's the same name as the author of the Bar Code Tattoo books, books that I wanted to read as a teen, but never got around to. I wonder if it's the same author??
  • It seems super weird that Richard and Sharon would invite only Mr Ramsey to stay to visit on New Year's Eve, and none of the other parents?
  • Do we ever hear about Norman again? I'm dying to know what happens to him! Is he in the Little Sister series? I feel like he is, but honestly, I have no idea.
    • Speaking of Norman, I feel like this is the first (and maybe only?) time the books describe someone as fat and overweight. They even highlight specifically that he's not "husky" or "pudgy" or "stout" or any of the other cute words people use to describe people who are overweight. This leads me to believe that Norman must be like the size... Cartman from South Park.
    • Also: I know Norman would have been sneaking foods anyways, but the girls all act like they've never dealt with kids wanting snacks when it wasn't snack time. The girls should have been firmer and been like, "No, snack time is over and you're going to ruin your appetite for dinner. Sarah's not eating and I'm not eating. Here, how about a distraction. If you're still hungry in an hour, we'll talk again" and then distracted Norman with games and things.
  • The Hills are terrible parents. Especially that line from his father about "How come a smart kid like you can't lose weight?" And like, I get it, the rest of the family shouldn't be punished because Norman has zero self-control, but jfc, Norman is 7 years old! Would it really kill the family to not have junk food in the house, instead of being like, "No Norman, you're too fat for this!"
  • I never understood the idea of "it's cool to be dumb". The only time I didn't participate in class was when I didn't know the answers, because I was afraid of looking stupid. I mean, at the same time, you don't want to be a smarmy smug know-it-all, but yeah. If a teacher called on me, I wouldn't purposely give a wrong answer. Being smart is awesome!
  • Like Dawn, there was a time or two in middle school and high school where I wanted to change my look. I'm pretty basic: jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. But occasionally I'd want to dress more punk or goth. The problem with that is that you have to really commit to that look. Like, every single day. And I didn't want to call attention to the fact that I was now suddenly dressing differently. I just... wanted to dress differently. So it never stuck. But I definitely remember going to second-hand shops and buying some clothes to cut up and destroy. I made a shirt that I liked, but due to my shitty sewing skills, it only lasted one or two washings. However, it sounds like Dawn tried cutting up and sewing almost everything!
    • Dawn's thoughts about feeling like she'd fit in on a magazine, but not here in Stoneybrook really resonated with me. Sure, I could dress differently and change my look; I'd be smoking hot and I'm sure lots of people would compliment me or whatever... but it wouldn't fit in with my life and my friends and the role I've carved out for myself. It's hard to break from that standard.
    • I got my hair cut differently one time, again to experiment and go with my new look. It eventually evolved into the hairstyle that I have now. I wish I could have cool swooping bangs (what the original haircut had) but I'm always and forever wanting to tuck my hair behind my ears, no matter what style I get, so it's pointless for me to experiment with my bangs/the front of my hair.
    • I normally don't talk about the clothes in these books (I feel like if I did, I'd never be able to stop!), but I definitely definitely love Dawn's outfit that she buys to meet Lewis in: "black ballet slippers, black lace capri leggings, a short metallic silver skirt with all this crinoliny stuff underneath that made it poof out, a stretchy, tight, black and white-striped top with long sleeves; 6 rubber bangle bracelets, a pair of feather earrings that go down down to her shoulder in one ear and a pair of black hoops in the other ear."
      • Dawn's asymmetrical earrings is something I do all the time now: I don't usually wear earrings in my first holes (all my other holes have earrings that I sleep in and don't change and keep in forever), but when I do, one side is always a danging earring and the other side is always a stud/hoop haha
  • I remember all those teen magazines. They were always too expensive for my parents to waste money on, so I only owned a few issues, accumulated over the course of many many years. (They were like, 5$ each, which me and my parents would have rather spent on books, even if they were just Baby-Sitters Club books.) But a lot of the girls I went to school with had regularly subscriptions. When I was in high school, and we'd be going on long bus rides for band trip, everyone would pitch in and buy a whole bunch for the bus, so we could pass them around and read the quizzes and the dumb articles and stuff. I never took anything I read seriously, although sometimes they'd have some general good advice. Poor, poor Dawn, taking those magazines seriously.
  • MA attempts to be supportive to Dawn, but a lot of what she says also comes across as bitchy and snooty: "Logan likes me the way I am!" is her response to Dawn asking if MA had ever tried any of the tips and tricks from the magazines.
  • What 13 year olds want to see Gone With the Wind?? I don't even want to see it! (Although, I keep meaning to, since it's one of the classics)
  • This made me really want tabouhli salad. I make mine with quinoa though. Dawn's other health foods that she makes for Lewis also sound good, but I'm allergic to a lot of them.
  • I love that Sharon and Richard have a rule that there are no boys allowed in the house when they're not around, but I can't help but wonder why they hadn't considered the barn. I mean yes, the barn would be hella cold on most winter days and ridiculously hot on some summer days... but there are plenty of days when it would be just fine. A nice cool day where there temperature is above freezing... all that hay... a big pile of blankets... two bodies... I'm just saying that if they really wanted to, two teens could get into a lot of trouble up there! haha too bad the series never let the girls go into high school. I'm sure there'd be a book when they're 15 or 16 where their older boyfriend (18 or 17) would want to take a romantic picnic too far. The girls of course would say no, but there'd be some debate and internal struggle haha
  • There's a contest in the back of this one to win a Snowbound survival kit. The girl who owned this book filled out the form. It asks "Who would you like to be snowbound with?" to which she answered, "My father". When it asks why, she responded, "He is tall and chubby so he would keep me warm"!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

BSC Super Special #7: Snowbound

Tagline: All the Baby-sitters wanted was a little snow - not a national disaster!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

The weather forecasters keep promising snow, but what a joke that is. Not a single flake has fallen on Stoneybrook this winter. How can SMS hold a Winter Wonderland Dance when it's warm enough to go to the beach?

Finally, it does snow - like crazy - and no one's prepared. Jessi gets stranded overnight at her dance school. Mallory and Mary Anne are snowed in with the Pike kids. But Stacey's in real trouble. She and her mom were driving back from the mall when the blizzard hit. And none of the Baby-sittesr have heard from her yet.

First they couldn't wait for it to snow. Now they can't for it to stop. Where could Stacey be?

Super Special Gimmick: Kristy thinks that while the newspaper coverage of the snow storm is very informative, it is also super dry, so she gets her friends to write up about their adventures to send to the newspaper as a people interest story.

The book starts off with everyone super excited about the Winter Wonderland dance. Everyone has a date and the girls are all looking forward to dressing up and having a good time together. For days and days, the weather forecasters have been talking about a massive snowfall, but there hasn't even been a single flake. It becomes a huge joke to everyone. At their Monday meeting that week, they reflect that since they're all going to be busy and scattered on Wednesday evening (Mallory and Mary Anne sitting for the Pikes, Jessi at an extra-long dance rehearsal and picking up her date Quint, Dawn getting Jeff at the airport), they should just cancel their meeting that day. Of course, Wednesday is the day of the giant snowstorm, and the power goes out and the phone lines go down, and everyone is all separated, with no way of getting in touch with each other.

Kristy has the most mundane story, but it's pretty cute. She's sitting at home Wednesday afternoon, and she's pretty bored. She’s thinking about the winter dance and how excited she is to be bringing Bart. She then decides that now would be a good time to hang out with him. They've never really hung out on the week day before, so Bart's a little confused, but agrees. Kristy rents movies, and her mom invites Bart to stay over for dinner. This is pretty intense, and it makes Kristy all nervous. She likes Bart, but doesn't really know what to think. Is he her boyfriend? Is she ready? Is he ready? Can he handle her family? The kids spend most of the evening pestering them and totally embarrassing Kristy. Dinner isn't much better. It starts snowing at dinner time, and although Watson agreed to drive Bart home, he wants to wait until it stops snowing so hard. So Bart stays for dessert. After awhile, Bart says he really has to get going, and that he doesn't mind walking (he literally lives just down the street). However, when they try to open up the storm door (or screen door, as my folks always called it), they discover that they're snowed in! The snowfall has been super heavy, plus it has blown up against the house. So Bart spends the night. Kristy is super embarrassed and nervous about Bart seeing her in the morning, so she sets her alarm extra early and actually goes into the bathroom and tries to primp. She shaves her legs for the first time, puts on some make-up and even tries to curl her hair! Aside from her hair, Kristy is pretty happy with the results. Of course, her siblings all make fun of her for it, but Bart says she looks beautiful.

Claudia has the next most mundane story. She spends the afternoon taking calls for the Club, then runs across the street to sit for the Perkins. Just before all the power and phones go out, the Perkins call to say that they can't drive back home, so Claudia will have to stay the night with the girls. As Claudia's putting the girls to sleep, she realizes that she can't find Chewy, the dog, and starts to panic. Claudia's mother comes across the street, and helps Claudia look for a bit, before deciding that nothing more can be done in the weather and in the dark. Mrs Kishi then offers to spend the night on the couch, but Claudia insists that she can look after the girls herself, and that if anything were to happen, Mrs Kishi is just across the street anyways. Claudia soon goes to bed, but is woken by Gabbie, who hears something. They go and investigate, and find that Chewy's been locked in the corner of the basement this whole time! Everything is fine, and the next morning they have breakfast and build a snow family.

Dawn and her mom are headed to the airport to pick up Jeff. For some reason, even though he's flown a bajillion times before, Jeff's been nervous about this time. Dawn wants to make sure they get to the airport with plenty of time to greet him. However, the snow has already started to fall when they leave, and Sharon isn't the most confident snow driver. She goes slowly, and despite having left early, they only get to the airport just in time. Of course, that doesn't matter because with the snowstorm, Jeff's plane hasn't arrived yet. Dawn is worried about how Jeff is handling things, but Sharon figures everything will be alright. They spend the evening hanging out in the airport, waiting to hear about Jeff's plane. Finally, word gets to them that the snow is so bad, Jeff's plane has been rerouted to Washington DC for the evening. Just as they're about to call Jeff to see how he's doing, the power and phone lines go out. They're advised not to leave the airport to go driving, so Dawn and her mom are stuck there overnight. They mostly walk around, buy a couple of books to read, try to get some sleep. Dawn has a creepy encounter with a wandering toddler ending up in her face, but that's about it. The morning comes, and though feeling grody, Dawn and her mom are extremely happy to see Jeff again.

Jessi is at a super long dance rehearsal. They're putting on a production of The Nutcracker. Anyways, no one can concentrate cuz the kids all want snow, and Jessi wants Quint and the dance. About an hour before rehearsal is due to end, some parents start calling in, saying that they'll be late picking up the kids. As time goes on, Jessi realizes that there's no one waiting around to pick them up (usually the parents of the younger kids will watch the last 15-30 minutes of rehearsal). Finally, sensing that she's lost their attention, Mme Noelle calls an end to rehearsal. Once everyone finishes changing, Mme Noelle and the other teachers have bad news: the snowstorm is too bad, and the parents can't come to pick them up. Everyone is stuck overnight at the dance school. Luckily the dance school has a cafeteria that had recently been stocked with dried fruit and nuts and instant soup, so they're not going to starve. In fact, it's pretty much like a giant sleepover adventure. Except all the little kids are upset, and in typical Jessi-fashion, she decides to help the adults comfort the children and keep them busy. At some point, Quint shows up! He had arrived at the train station just before the snow got really bad, and after awhile, he realized that Jessi and her father weren't going to be able to drive and pick him up. So he asked for directions and walked to the dance school! He also helps get the little kids settled. Eventually Jessi and Quint are able to retreat to the classroom where the older students are, and they sit around and gossip and have a grand ol' time. The next morning, the storm is over, the roads are plowed, and while waiting for their parents to pick them up, they're treated to a feast from the coffee shop across the street.

Stacey decides that with the Club meeting cancelled, now would be a perfect opportunity to go get her hair permed, so that it's perfect for the dance. She and her mom leave well before the storm hits (not even a flake in sight!) and get to the mall. However, while there, the storm hits. Stacey's mom hates driving in snow, but thinks that if they hurry, they can somehow beat it and get home before it gets too too bad. Mrs McGill decides to bypass the highway, figuring it'll be congested from everyone attempting to get home. Instead, she takes the back roads. This doesn't work well, as they aren't plowed and have very little traffic to push away the snow as it falls. Eventually, she decides to pull over and try to wait things out a bit. This normally wouldn't be too bad, except that Stacey has diabetes and needs to eat soon. She has her injection kit with her, but very little food. Mrs McGill decides to try driving again, only to find out that they're out of gas. So now Stacey's got her diabetes, and they have to worry about freezing to death. At that point, a man drives up and asks if they need help. He says he lives just down the street, with his wife and baby. Stacey's worried that he might be a killer, trying to lure them in so that he can kill them, but Mrs McGill decides to trust him. Turns out to be a great idea, and Stacey and her mom pass the evening having a great dinner, playing with the baby and making friends. They're even almost sad to leave the next day. They're completely surprised when they come home and realize that everyone is worried about them and had no idea that they were missed!

Mary Anne and Mallory are sitting for the Pikes. MA's spent Tuesday night there, since the Pikes left for NYC early in the morning. They have enough food for the day, plus some emergency money, but Mrs Pike points out that she'll have to go grocery shopping Thursday morning ASAP. Tuesday night, the kids are bonkers, expecting snow. Of course, there's no snow, and they all go to school fine. Wednesday evening, and it's still business as usual. The kids are still hoping for snow, with the triplets teasing Claire about the Abominable Snowman, and MA and Mallory prepare sloppy joes for dinner. However, the snowstorm hits, and soon the power goes out. The kids are simultaneously excited and creeped out. Of course, the Pikes can't come home like they wanted to, so MA and Mallory are on their own til the next day at least. MA calls her dad to let him know what's going on, but he wants to stay home for Dawn and Sharon. MA points out that they'll be okay anyways. Then the phone lines go down, and Mallory points out that they're running out of food. They decide to eat the ice cream and anything that might go bad without power, but come the next morning, it doesn't leave them with much. They try calling for pizza and other take-out items, but of course, no one is open. MA calls Logan, just wanting to hear his voice. She explains how they're okay, but they're hungry. The next thing they know, Logan shows up on cross-country skis with a backpack full of bread, crackers, peanut butter and a few other things. The day is saved and now the Pikes can enjoy the snow!

So everyone's survived the massive snowstorm. They later learn that they had a record snowfall of about 2 feet. The dance doesn't get cancelled, and everyone goes and has a great time. Yay!

Random Thoughts: 
  • This is my favourite Super Special ever. I must have read this one a million times as a child. I think it's because we always have huge snowstorms up here... but snow is just kinda a thing that happens, so it's almost never an actual event. I still fantasize about getting snowed in and losing power for several hours, if not days. Aside from the massive Northeastern blackout in 2003 (which only affected my area for that first evening; a very short time compared to some people), the power in my area rarely ever goes out, and when it does, it's for like, an hour at most. Boring haha
  • This one has the illustrations in it! This is probably why I remember those illustrations so vividly and always thought they were in every single Super Special haha
  • I always loved the cover on this one, but Mallory looks a bajillion years old! Definitely older than Mary Anne. And then the Pike boy has to be one of the triplets, since Nicky is always described as having glasses and curly hair like Mallory's, but that kid is not one year younger than Mallory! haha
  • Stacey goes into more detail in this one about the Washington Mall, which leads me to think that Stoneybrook isn't a town or city so much as a small municipality/neighbourhood. I grew up in Ottawa. Now what is called "Ottawa" is technically the "greater Ottawa area" or the "amalgamated city of Ottawa". When I was younger, I grew up in what is technically called Orleans, which is now an area in the east end of Ottawa. Since it is generally assumed that everyone lives in "Ottawa", which is a pretty big city (can take an hour to get from Rockland in the east end to Kanata in the west end), most people will still refer to their individual areas/neighbourhoods. So if you send mail to my parents, you can either address it "Orleans, Ontario" or "Ottawa, Ontario", and it'll still be there on time with no confusion. Unlike if you wrote "Kingston, Ontario" or "Toronto, Ontario", which are very very clearly different cities from Ottawa and not even close haha
    • Anyways, Stacey says it takes about half an hour to get to Washington Mall, and it's in the next town over. This reminds me of how when I was younger, it was a super big deal for my parents to drive me 30 minutes to Kanata, where Bayshore Shopping Centre was, which was a much bigger and more upscale mall than the one that was within walking distance of our house in the east end haha
  • You can tell that AMM wrote this one, because Kristy is totally likeable, easy to relate to, and well-rounded. She's excited for the dance, and while she expresses a general dislike of dresses, she likes the one she's going to wear to the dance and points out that it's only for a couple of hours. She's also excited about seeing Bart, although she's not too sure how much he means to her. Furthermore, she owns a bit of make-up and puts it on for Bart. This is a great call-back to Super Special #2.
  • You know it's a Super Special because Claudia is dating an Asian guy haha Here, her date for the dance is a guy in her grade named Iri Mitsuhashi. And we never see or hear from him again... at least, I don't think so! haha
  • Part of me can't believe that the Pikes would leave Mallory and Mary Anne in charge for almost 24 hours... but then another part of me is like, "No... this kinda makes sense..." They leave at 6am, and from there, there's only 2 hours or so until the kids are at school. No sense in making a neighbour spend the night for that. (Although I probably would have had a neighbour stop by at 7:30 or 8am to make sure that everyone was alive and indeed going to school haha) Then they're at school, and come home. It's not unusual for the girls to baby-sit after school or prepare dinner or baby-sit after dinner. It's just weird for them to be doing it all for one job. Again, I might have had a neighbour over for dinner or for a few hours in the evening. I definitely would have arranged for someone to check up on everyone at 9pm. And then the Pikes were supposed to be back at 1am or so. So yeahhhh... Barring the snowstorm, everything would have been okay. But I'm still surprised the Pikes were simply like, "Okay, the neighbours know we're gone, so give them a shout if you need them!" instead of being like, "Okay, the neighbours know we're gone. Mrs Barrett will check in on you in the morning and Mrs McGill will be by in the evening, and you have all the phone numbers, etc etc etc". 
  • Stacey particularly wants to go to the Washington Mall, because otherwise, she might end up at the salon downtown, Gloriana's House of Hair. That salon was first featured Little Sister #8, Karen's Haircut. I remember reading that one as a child. It traumatized me. I was forced to have a bowl cut for most of my childhood, so when I could finally grow my hair out, the idea of it getting cut too short again and having to wait for it to grow out was my biggest fear. But yeah. I will never forget Gloriana's House of Horror haha
  • There's an illustration of Bart in this one, and he does not look at all how I picture him (totes not my kind of guy! how he's pictured on the cover of #95 is more my style haha) but he does look like he could have been the older sibling of the kids I went to elementary school with (when this book was published)!
  • This one also mentions Mallory's sleeping habits again
  • The Pikes apparently wake up to an oldies radio station. The first song they wake up to is "Do Wah Diddy Diddy". I remember hearing this song randomly when my parents were watching Beverly Hills, 90210 (Brenda and her friends were dancing and singing it in the Peach Pit??). I became obsessed with that song, but of course, this was before the internet, so I had no idea what it was or who sang it or how to listen to it again. So this kinda became a "one that got away" type obsession. Whenever I hear it today, I'm still like, "OMG THIS SONG!!!" haha
    • On a side note: I just found out that that show lasted until the year 2000! THE FREAKING YEAR 2000 WTF!!! I thought this show was long over by 1997. I mean, the high school they used is also the same high school they used in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I didn't think that the two shows overlapped. Man, I know they say that Beverly Hills, 90210 is like, THE quintessential '90s show, but I had no idea that it was literally on for the entire decade. It ran from 1990 to 2000. It did not miss a single year of the '90s!
  • They also mention that a snowfall this big could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, what with global warming and all. It's strange to think that even as far back as 1991, they were referencing global warming in kids' books. And we've still done very little about it =/
  • I have no idea wtf "snow cream" is that Claudia makes for the Perkins girls (sounds like they're eating the fresh snow with maple syrup?) but if they were to have used fresh thick pure maple syrup, and not eaten the snow, they would have almost ended up with maple taffy haha
  • I never go anywhere without a travel-sized toothbrush, at minimum 2 books, some granola bars, extra socks, extra underwear, a shawl, a flashlight and a lighter, and a bajillion other things, so if I had been in Dawn or Stacey's shoes, I would have been great haha
  • Quint is crazy. Wtf. Even now I'd be hard pressed to try to find directions to walk somewhere in a new town during a snowstorm, let alone at age 11! I'm dying to know how far the dance school was from the train station. If it's anything like my city, Quint could have been walking for a good 30 minutes! If not more!
  • Unless the coffee shop owner lived above the coffee shop, and unless the power was still out and milk and things were on the verge of spoiling, why the fuck would he open up the shop and give away a feast of free foods? How did he know that there were people stranded at the dance school? No one would have blamed him if he had just ignored them and gone on his way!
  • I don't know if I would have trusted Mr Schiavone. I mean, I don't have to worry about diabetes, so it would just be a matter of staying warm for me. But yeahhhhh... just because he said he had a family in a house just up the street didn't mean he necessarily did. I remember being really scared for Stacey the first time I read this book, even though I knew that 1) these books would never get that dark (at the time, I hadn't read the one about drunk driving or child abuse or depression or anything) and that 2) the only ones that would potentially go that way would be the Mystery ones, so yeahhhh....
  • Now, maybe it's because my house doesn't have 9 people in it... but even when I "really need" to go grocery shopping, I still have plenty of food in my house. I mean, nothing I could make a meal out of or that I would particularly want to live on, but definitely enough so I'm not starving. Boxes and boxes of crackers, a few cans of vegetables, soup and tuna (actually, I could live on soup), rice cakes... even without the staples like bread, eggs and milk, I'd be okay!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

BSC Mystery #2: Beware, Dawn!

Tagline: Someone is out to scare Dawn!

When Dawn starts getting threatening notes and odd phone calls while she's baby-sitting, she doesn't know what to do. The notes are signed "Mr. X", and they're beginning to get scary. Normally, she would tell the other Baby-sitters, but this time is different.

The kids at Stoneybrook Elementary are having a Sitter of the Month Contest. The Sitter of the Month has to be someone who is in control - someone whose jobs always go smoothly. Dawn doesn't want to blow her chances of winning. But what if she's in real danger?

Alright, it is time for our second mystery! This one opens up with Dawn baby-sitting for the Hobarts. She reflects on how much she likes baby-sitting; how it's super duper awesome and how every kid is different and she knows how to get along with every kind of kid. While she's reading with the youngest one, Johnny, the older two Hobarts, James and Matthew, are playing with kids from the neighborhood, including Mel and Zach, who are still teasing the boys. Dawn, not impressed, reports back to Mrs Hobart at the end of her sitting job. Mrs Hobart is disappointed, vowing to talk to Zach's and Mel's parents.

Dawn is later baby-sitting for Kristy's younger siblings. While there, Dawn learns about the Sitter of the Month contest. The charges have decided to get together and put together a contest awarding the girls. Mrs. Newton is going to help oversee it all, and then they're going to publish the winning baby-sitter's picture in the newspaper. Dawn, wanting to win of course, decides to be the bestest best baby-sitter, and puts in an extra effort with the kids.

Soon word spreads around to the other baby-sitters about the contest, and of course they all start talking about how much it would mean to them to win it. The girls reflect that while they would love to win, they shouldn't get overly competitive because being competitive has never worked out in the end for them. Trying to keep things in perspective, Dawn vows not to campaign; she just wants to be the best baby-sitter possible.

That is easier said than done. Dawn's next baby-sitting job is for the Prezziosos. Dawn's trying her best to be super patient, but Jenny's getting on her nerves. At first Dawn encourages Jenny, who is just trying to be a good big sister, but eventually Dawn banishes Jenny to the playroom. While Dawn's finishing up getting Andrea ready for bed, the phone rings. When Dawn goes to investigate, Jenny told her that nobody was on the phone. Dawn lets it slide, and she and Jenny have a pleasant evening together, until Jenny has to go to bed. Shortly afterwards, the doorbell rings. Nobody's there. Intrigued, Dawn opens the door a crack, just to make sure. There, she finds an envelope that has a note made out of cut-out letters: YOU'D BETTER WATCH OUT! YOU'D BETTER NOT SHOUT! I'M COMING TO GET YOU! MR X. Dawn's shaken up, but decides that she better not let anyone know, lest it ruins her chances at becoming Sitter of the Month.

At her next baby-sitting job, Dawn's at the Rodowskys. Again, the doorbell rings, and instead of a person, there's another note. This one says: I'M WATCHING YOU. Unfortunately for Dawn, the Rodowsky boys see it, and it frightens them. Dawn manages to convince them that it's just a boy from school, pulling a prank, and eventually gets them settled down and in bed. Remembering what had happened the last time the sitters were plagued by mysterious prank phone calls, Dawn calls the Gray household to put Alan Gray in his place. However, Dawn discovers that Alan is out of town at a basketball game with his father, so it can't be him. At this point, Dawn starts to worry.

We eventually learn that Jessi gets a visit from Mr X. She's sitting for her siblings alone at night, and because of the Sitter of the Month contest, she lets Becca watch a scary movie. Becca gets frightened, and they have to turn it off and eventually Becca goes to bed. While Jessi is relaxing, she gets a knock on the door. There, she finds a bouquet of beheaded roses, with a note that says: BEST WISHES FROM YOUR SECRET ADMIRER. So now Jessi's really nervous and on edge, and it's at that moment that Becca wakes up from a nightmare, and Jessi's parents and aunt come home. Jessi figures she's blown her chances at being the Sitter of the Month.

Mary Anne and Mallory are sitting for the Pikes when they get a visit from Mr X. The note that time reads: DO YOU LIKE YOUR HAMSTER? IF YOU DO, YOU'D BETTER KEEP AN EYE ON HIM. Like with the Rodowskys, the kids end up seeing the letter, and of course it sends them in a panic. Mary Anne and Mallory spend the whole evening trying to calm them down, and keep an eye on Frodo the hamster, since the kids insist on holding him the whole time (resulting in him getting loose a few times). Mary Anne and Mallory talk about it, and decide that there's no point in bringing it up to the rest of the Club: it wouldn't do anyone any good. However that night, Dawn hears scary noises in her secret passage, and ends up running to Mary Anne's room. Mary Anne blurts out that it must be Mr X, which gets Dawn to admit that she too has had encounters with Mr X. They talk about it, and admit that they haven't said anything because of the Sitter of the Month contest. They further conclude that since Mr X hasn't actually done anything, there still really isn't a point in bringing him up.

Kristy then sits for the Korman kids on Friday the 13th, and it's set up for us readers to expect her to get a visit from Mr X, but every "weird" thing that happens ends up having an explanation. At the next Club meeting, Kristy admits that she's embarrassed that she let the whole "Friday the 13th" superstition get to her head, and that she acted all spazzy when Mr Papadakis from next door came by. Dawn accidentally expresses her relief that it wasn't Mr X, resulting in the cat coming out of the bag, and all the girls admitting that they've had run ins with Mr X. Except for Kristy. Since Kristy has no idea what's going on, the girls fill her in on the weird notes and things.

At some point, Dawn briefly suspects Kristy of being Mr. X. Out of all the girls, Kristy's the only one to have not received any notes or phone calls. When Claudia inquires as to why Kristy hasn't gotten any notes, Kristy dismisses it blithely, saying that Mr X probably just hasn't gotten around to her. Dawn thinks that perhaps Kristy is being so competitive about the Sitter of the Month contest, that maybe Kristy is trying to sabotage the other girls. Dawn eventually suppresses the idea, but the fact remains that Kristy is indeed the only sitter not to have received any threats.

Claudia's next sitting job is for Charlotte Johansson. While they're reading on the couch, they get a visit from Mr X, who smears baked beans on the back step, making it look like vomit. As Claudia cleans up, she reflects that none of these problems happened before the Sitter of the Month contest, and that somehow, the two must be related. Claudia just doesn't know why or how.

Finally, Dawn is baby-sitting for Jamie Newton. She suggests going outside to play, more specifically on his swing in the backyard, because she knows that that's a favourite of Jamie's. Jamie is excited, but then quickly says that he wants to stay in the front yard. Dawn then suggests that they go for a walk, and Jamie lets it slip that he promised Mel that they'd stay home. At Dawn's prompting and prodding, Jamie admits that Mel has been doing secret baby-sitting checks for the Sitter of the Month contest. Dawn then determines that for some reason or another, Mel must be Mr X. Sure enough, they stay home and Mr X visits them.

The girls then decide to lay a trap for Mel. They tell everyone they meet over the course of the week that Dawn's going to be home alone, baby-sitting for a cousin. Richard and Sharon really do have plans that evening, and then they pretend that Mary Anne does too. In reality, the whole Club is going to be hiding, waiting for Mel come. They figure that he'll use the secret passage to scare Dawn, so on the big night, half of the girls sneak into the barn and catch him on that end, while the other half catch him from inside Dawn's room. They're all set to take his picture so that they can have cold hard evidence against him, and make sure he's good and caught. However, it all happens so fast, and when they find and trap Mel, they realize he's just a scared little boy. Dawn quickly lets go of her anger and doesn't tell him off. Instead, Dawn and Kristy just take him home.

On the way home, Mel confesses to everything. Dawn asks him why he did it, and he says it's because the Club got him in trouble for teasing to Hobarts. He doesn't see why it's such a big deal, but Kristy points out that bullying is a big deal, and that he needs to stop. Mel says that that's what his father had said, and that his parents were really angry at him and had grounded him for it, which means he'll be in even more trouble now, more so than usual. Mel says that his parents are going to send him to a psychiatrist, and it's clear that he's terrified. Kristy explains that a psychiatrist is just a doctor for your feelings, and that a psychiatrist will talk to Mel and help him figure out why he feels a certain way, and what he can do to feel better. Mel is relieved: he had thought a psychiatrist was going to punish him. So Dawn and Kristy tell Mel's parents everything, and Mel's father walks them around the block, explaining that he'll make sure Mel gets the help he needs.

The girls then celebrate with a sleepover, relieved that their Mr X mystery is solved, and hoping for a better future for Mel.

There's no subplot in this one, other than the Sitter of the Month contest, which ties in directly to the main plot. At the end, we find out that all the girls won in a 7-way tie. They're all the sitters of the month! Yay!

Random Thoughts
  • This is one of my favourites. I've really been looking forward to reading this one. Although, I kept getting it confused with another book in the series, where the Club gets notes and they think it's Cokie, but it turns out to be their charges, wanting to surprise them with breakfast, and the girls are all embarrassed cuz they had dressed up in their worst clothing?
    • On a related note: I think my favourite Baby-Sitters Club book in the whole wide world is Super Mystery #2 Baby-Sitters, Beware!. I apparently have a thing for the girls getting stalked and scared out of their minds haha Funny that both this one and that one are a #2, and involve the word "beware!" haha
    • Also: in hindsight, now that I've re-read this one, there's really not a whole lot to it. Still, I remember as a child being like, "OMG WHO IS MR X???"
  • There is so much continuity in this one. It's like Ellen Miles wanted to prove she was legit by referencing as many books as possible. Or maybe they knew that some people would be caught by the title, and potentially just read this one alone without having read the rest of the series (pretty sure the aforementioned Baby-Sitters, Beware! was my first BSC book ever, due to the title, when I was perusing the shelves at my local library haha), and were trying to entice readers to read the regular series. Either way:
  • This is the one where Ben Hobart calls Mallory a "bonzer sheila". I knew "sheila" was slang for girl. You hear that all the time whenever Australians pop up in media. But outside of this book, I had never heard the expression "bonzer sheila". Even as a child, I thought this was made up. I finally thought to ask my Australian friend about this (literally just now), and he has confirmed that "bonzer sheila" does indeed mean a hot girl... but he's also specified that no one under 50 would ever say it haha
    • Although, if you follow that logic... someone who is 50 years old now, would have been 25 years old when the book was published. I could see 25 year olds using slang to describe hot chicks. And following that logic, Ben, being 11 years old, would totes want to use that same slang.
  • The name "Sitter of the Month" implies that this would be an ongoing contest, with each girl having a chance to win each month. But even continuity aside (obviously this is never mentioned in the regular series), the book and the charges imply that this was a one-and-done deal. It should have been a "Sitter of the Week" contest, with someone actually winning and the sitter changing each week. That would have been interesting haha
  • Man, I never realized how much sitting was done in this book! haha I guess it makes sense, since the mystery is entirely centred around baby-sitting jobs, but it wasn't until I started doing my recap that I realized that pretty much every chapter is someone (Dawn included) baby-sitting.
  • Part of their trap is a story that Dawn is going to be home alone baby-sitting a cousin from out of town. The girls make sure to tell as many people as they possibly can, hoping that the word would get back to Mel. But with them telling everyone, wouldn't one of the parents eventually bump into Richard or Sharon, and mention how excited Dawn is to baby-sit for her "cousin", thus ruining everything?? Curse my adult logic!
  • Do we ever hear from Mel again? Is he okay???
  • Even though my copy is second-hand (all my copies are now), this one is in really really good shape! It feels and looks brand new (aside from the pages being off-white). It makes me happy haha

Friday, December 30, 2016

BSC #49: Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street

Tagline: How could a seven-year-old make Claudia feel so dumb?

Little Rosie Wilder is perfect at everything. She can sing and dance, she plays several musical instruments, and her I.Q. is so high, it's off the scale.

So how did Claudia "C-" Kishi get stuck baby-sitting for Rosie the genius? Because Rosie is so obnoxious, no one gets along with her - not even Claudia's sister, who's a genius, too.

The Baby-sitters think that Rosie needs to be taught a good lesson. But what Rosie really needs is a good friend... like Claudia.
Claudia is at home, gearing up to watch a documentary on Andy Warhol. She laments having to sit through annoying commercials, especially this one of a little girl spilling chocolate milk on a white carpet. She had tried to tape the documentary to watch at her own leisure, but in typical fashion, messed it up. This prompts Claudia to reflect on how much of a dunce she is compared to her sister. Of course, she doesn't dwell on this too long, as she also points out that she's incredibly artistic. Inspired by the documentary, Claudia runs up to her room to start on a new art project until the Club meeting starts.

At the meeting, they get a call from a new client: Ginger Wilder, who has a 7-year-old daughter named Rosie. Ginger's mother has come down with an unfortunate series of ailments, so Ginger needs to spend a few days a week helping her. Rosie has a million lessons though, so she can't come along. Mrs Wilder needs a sitter to come over three afternoons a week and essentially just be around and occasionally help Rosie with homework, while her lessons and practice will take up most of the time (the teachers all come to Rosie's place, which makes it easy on both Rosie and Claudia). Claudia is the only one free for most of the days needed, so she gets the job.

Claudia's first day with Rosie is less than stellar. First she's introduced to Rosie, who seems to be a gifted automaton, barely emoting, and practicing with fervor. Mrs Wilder goes over all of the lessons and things that Rosie has, outlining the schedule for when Claudia comes over. After some intense practicing, Rosie shows off for Claudia, showing her a song-and-tap number she's doing, as well as some violin and ballet. Then she goes to do some homework, which stumps Claudia, prompting Rosie to snort derisively at her. Claudia ends up going home feeling very little.

Next time, Claudia decides to treat her sitting job as a project, and vows to be cheerful, and furthermore, call Janine when Rosie needs help with homework. Rosie and Claudia help themselves to an after school snack, where Rosie continues to make Claudia feel small. Rosie is already concerned for her health and cholesterol, and while talking, Claudia figures out that Rosie was the little girl from the carpet commercial, prompting Rosie to say that that's her college fund. Claudia knows nothing of nutrition and cholesterol, and she certainly hasn't thought about college tuition yet. Before her lessons, Rosie needs help with science homework, so Claudia recruits Janine. She zones out while the two of them talk science, but when Janine goes to leave, Claudia remarks that not even Janine could relate to Rosie. Rosie goes on to her lessons, while Claudia stays hidden, drawing. As Claudia draws, she can hear the lessons, and she realizes that damn, they're hella intense and that Rosie's teachers are really pushing her. It makes Claudia feel bad for Rosie, especially after the lessons when Rosie is all flush and her voice is all hoarse. Rosie asks to see Claudia's drawings, which sparks some hope for Claudia. However Rosie declines an invitation to sit and draw, instead running away to hide in her room.

Stacey and Jessi both take a turn at sitting for Rosie, which is pretty awful for both of them. Stacey is forced to read a script to help Rosie do an audition, and Jessi thought she'd be able to bond with Rosie over their love of ballet, but instead has to ask Janine over to help with homework. Rosie questions Janine's intelligence, causing mild-mannered, shy Janine to snap. Rosie then snaps at Jessi, stating that she only wants to see Claudia from now on. At their Club meetings, the girls reflect that Rosie doesn't seem to love all the things she does, that she seems more like an overworked machine than a little girl. This causes Claudia to feel sympathy for Rosie.

At another sitting job, Rosie is yet again being bratty, asking Claudia things Claudia doesn't know, and then questioning her about it. Finally Claudia snaps and tells Rosie that she won't play her games anymore. So while Rosie continues her homework in silence, Claudia continues to draw. Eventually, Rosie starts drawing, and Claudia notices that Rosie's got a lot of talent. She's about to say something when Rosie's father unexpectedly comes home. Rosie quickly hides her drawings, prompting confusion from Claudia.

After another sitting job, where Claudia witnesses Rosie's parents treating her like a performer (and themselves like managers) instead of a child, and Rosie having a meltdown, Claudia takes Mary Anne to the elementary school to watch Rosie participate in a crossword puzzle competition. There, the children are horrible to Rosie, but Mary Anne and Claudia manage to cheer her up. Upon returning home, Claudia and Rosie decide to unwind by drawing, only to be caught by Rosie's parents. Rosie's parents chastise Rosie for wasting her time, and Rosie throws another fit and storming off to her room. Claudia decides to talk to Rosie's parents, letting them know how talented Rosie is. Of course, this doesn't quite pan out the way she wants, as it prompts the Wilders to start thinking about fancy art studios and schools and lessons they can start enrolling Rosie in. Claudia realizes now why Rosie hid her art: Rosie figured that her parents would try to turn it into a new career path, and suck all the fun out of it. Claudia tells Rosie that her parents are okay with the art thing, but that Rosie should probably explain to her parents that she's tired of doing everything to the extreme all the time. Eventually, Rosie does, and she cuts back on her activities, settling on the three things she likes best: math club, violin and art.

The subplot in this one is that after watching her documentary on Andy Warhol, Claudia is inspired to do a series of pop-art portraits of her favourite subject: junk food! Eventually the girls decide that Claudia should do an art show, to display her art. They help her to clean out the garage and turn it into a gallery. Because of her newfound talents in art, Claudia invites Rosie to display some of her stuff too. Things start off fairly well, with many neighbours and charges coming to see the art show. Of course, we can't have things go too well, and soon Alan Gray shows up. At first, he just makes "witty" comments to Claudia, but eventually Claudia finds out that he's quickly creating sketches and doodles of crude things and posting them alongside her art. Claudia gets mad and tells him off, sending Alan on his way. Alan's departure is all too easy, as Claudia then discovers that he's left wads of chewing gum all over the place. Kristy vows revenge, and the girls quickly get things cleaned up and settled. Claudia even sells two of her paintings! Ms Besser, from the elementary school buys one, as does Kristy's stepfather Watson.

Random Thoughts:
  • This one is ghostwritten by Peter Lerangis. I've come to notice that he doesn't make Claudia as stupid as the other ghostwriters do. She definitely struggles in school and with retaining knowledge and academic pursuits, but he also makes sure to highlight her artistic endeavors and her general observations and brightness. Case in point: she watches a documentary on Andy Warhol, and while she says that the documentary itself is boring, Andy Warhol isn't, and is actually inspired by his art style.
  • I remember reading this one often as a kid. I enjoyed it well enough now.
  • Although, I do have a bone to pick about calling Rosie a "genius". I don't her IQ is ever really mentioned in the book. While yes, she's clearly very bright and has a natural affinity for things, she's mostly talented and disciplined and well-trained. I feel like if she was a "genius" she'd be innovative and creating her own things, or not needing lessons or whatever.
  • Also: the description on the back of the book totally sucks. Claudia gets stuck with Rosie because she was the only sitter available for the majority of the days the Wilders needed. Also also: the Club never thinks Rosie needs a good lesson. They find her trying, but generally agree that she's probably not very happy and/or is insecure.
  • Some of what Rosie makes fun of Claudia for is for random trivia, like knowing whether or not foxes hibernate. I was pretty sure upon reading this that foxes don't hibernate, but I dunno if I was willing to fight to the death over it, because I honestly have not had to think about foxes and hibernation since elementary school science. That's why shows like Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? piss me off, because it's all dependent on knowledge that is freshly learned in elementary school, but largely unnecessary in real-life. Unless of course, you study foxes and/or animal hibernation habits... or are an elementary school teacher haha
    • In case you were wondering: Foxes do not hibernate!
    • However, Rosie does criticize Claudia's spelling, which is totally valid. Reading, writing and basic math are all skills that everyone needs, should learn, and should attempt to hone.
  • In a bit of continuity, Claudia references the time when she studied under Mackenzie Clarke!
  • I also love how the girls are realistically portrayed in this book. They want to help Claudia with her art show, but bicker and get cranky when making invitations and doing cleaning because it's not fun nor is it going particularly well
  • Alan Gray is the worst in this one though. The worst. He's why boys suck haha Now I'm all bitter that he and Claudia eventually end up dating... even though that happens a billion years later, after repeating the 8th grade a million times and apparently slowly maturing over these years haha
  • This book really made me want Doritos and Milk Duds. I want some now. Sadly, the weather is terrible, so I had it in my head to spend the day indoors, being cozy, warm and reading haha
  • I know Claudia is talented and what not, but how the fuck does she, in the span of like, one month, sketch, draw and paint enough portraits of junk food to have an entire art show?? She'd need at least 6 to make it worthwhile. That's about one a week. And that's being generous. That's also whilst baby-sitting and attending school. Either Claudia did a really shitty job, and everyone is just humoring her, or... no, really, that's the only option. I honestly don't see how it's physically possible for her to turn out a minimum of 6 paintings in a maximum of 6 weeks, whilst still living her life haha god piss and my adult logic and reasoning!!!
  • I've always wondered what would happen if a sitter was needed during a Club meeting. Because sitting jobs are always vaguely described, you can just kinda pretend that none of the jobs featured in the books happen to coincide with meetings. EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE. Ginger clearly states that she needs a sitter Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from after school until about 8pm. THAT'S CLEARLY DURING FRIDAY'S MEETING. There's even a chapter where Claudia says it's Friday, she picks Rosie up from school, and then mentions going for a walk together at 6:30! But the fact that the sitting job and the meetings overlap is never addressed!
    • Furthermore: if I was Claudia's parents, I'd be like, "Wtf, no, you can't baby-sit from 3:30 to 8:30pm three days a week. When are you planning on doing your homework??" I mean yes, because of all of Rosie's lessons (that don't involve Claudia having to do anything), Claudia could theoretically do her homework then. But Claudia is notorious for skipping homework or needing help with it, plus her grades are so tenuous to begin with. I would not trust her to use her time responsibly and to stay on top of things. (In fact, us readers know that Claudia spends most of the time drawing!)
  • The Wilders are horrible parents. They've scheduled every minute of this poor girl's life, turning every single talent or interest into a career path, parading her around to auditions and shows and various other things to show her off. I'm not surprised Rosie is the least bit bratty. She's either repeating things her parents have taught her, used to interacting with others only in a performance setting (other children are competition/distractions, adults are to be impressed), or she's incredibly stressed or under pressure. I don't want to say that the Wilders are abusive... but there's definitely something wrong about the way they treat their daughter. I shudder to think how Rosie would have turned out if Claudia hadn't encouraged her to say anything to her parents. Hell, we still don't know how Rosie turns out! For all we know, her parents quickly revert back to their old ways
    • Apparently Rosie is featured in two other books, but they're both books I actually haven't read. But still! Those would still be two books theoretically only "later this year". Again, who knows how they'd be when Rosie was 10 or 13 or 16 or whatever.
  • Apparently the Wilders ask Claudia to become Rosie's art teacher, but much like Claudia tutoring Emily Michelle, this never gets mentioned again haha