Sunday, May 14, 2017

BSC Mystery #4: Kristy and the Missing Child


Tagline: Everyone in Stoneybrook is shocked. Jake is gone - for real

Kristy can hardly believe it when little Jake Kuhn is reported missing. Jake is one of the kids on her softball team. And Kristy was the last person to see Jake before he disappeared.

Even though the Baby-sitters and all Jake's friends are helping look for him, Kristy still feels horrible. And when the police can't find Jake after almost two days, things look really serious.

Kristy knows she's just a kid, but she's determined to find Jake. Wherever he is...

The book starts off with Kristy baby-sitting for the Kuhns. Even though they're all members of her softball team, the Krushers, she's never actually baby-sat for them. They're going through a rough time because Mr Kuhn has recently left and finalized his divorce to Mrs Kuhn. The kids all miss him very much, but Patsy in particular is convinced that she's seen her father around, despite Laurel insisting that he's in Texas. Jake is particularly upset because his birthday is coming up, and it looks like Mr Kuhn won't be able to make the party. Furthermore, Mr Kuhn invited Jake to join him on a two-week business trip to Europe, but Mrs Kuhn said no, saying that Jake would miss too much school. Kristy soon cheers him up with talk of the party and distracts him with some softball practice. She even tells him that he might be good enough to become a relief pitcher!

Later that week, the Krushers have a game against the Bashers. They lose, but it's okay because everyone played particularly well. Jake doesn't get to pitch, but Kristy promises him that his time will come soon. They're getting ready to head home, when Kristy notices that no one has arrived to pick up Jake. Jake tells her that Mrs Kuhn has gone to the dentist with the girls, and that he has permission to head home alone. Bart and Kristy tell him to hurry, because it looks like it's going to rain. Sure enough, Bart, Kristy and David Michael are caught in a deluge on their way home, having been distracted by work going on at a construction site.

Shortly after arriving home, Kristy gets a phone call from Mrs Kuhn. She wants to know if Kristy has seen Jake. Kristy lets her know that she let Jake walk home alone, worried that she had made a mistake, but Mrs Kuhn quickly confirms that she did give permission for Jake to walk alone. Mrs Kuhn isn't too worried, figuring that Jake probably got stuck somewhere because of the rain. Kristy doesn't think much more about it.

However later that evening, Mrs Kuhn calls again. She still hasn't seen Jake. However, instead of being worried, Mrs Kuhn is more angry: she's convinced that Mr Kuhn must have kidnapped Jake out of spite for her having said no to the Europe trip. At this point, Mrs Kuhn is not too too worried, but she is starting to get really emotional and worked up. Patsy and Laurel spend the night with Stacey, to keep them out of her hair.

Kristy, on the other hand, isn't so convinced that Mr Kuhn took Jake, and is convinced that something horrible must have happened to him. She calls an emergency Club meeting, trying to figure out if there's anything she or the girls can do. They don't come up with any solutions, and before they know it, it's time to leave. Kristy is briefly interviewed by cops, and then her mom picks her and Shannon up. Along the way, they stop by the Kuhns to see if they can offer any help. Kristy is feeling pretty guilty, and doesn't really want to see Mrs Kuhn, but Mrs Kuhn quickly reassures Kristy that she doesn't blame her in any way, and that she's even more convinced that her ex-husband must have taken Jake. Patsy keeps insisting that she's seen his car.

The next day, Kristy gets the bright idea of rounding up everyone she can think of to do a neighbourhood search/canvas. She gets to school and makes an announcement, recruiting some of the older kids to help lead the search. They decide to meet up at the elementary school with Jake's friends and classmates, and then divide up and search. They search everywhere, with Matt Braddock taking the lead in Kristy's group, checking all of Jake's favourite places. They don't find him though. Kristy goes home feeling sick to her stomach about it all, but puts up a brave face since Laurel and Patsy are with her family that night.

Later that evening, Bart's keeping Kristy company, and she tells him about how guilty she feels about everything. They then see a news report about Jake's absence, and it really gets Kristy emotional. Mrs Kuhn keeps calling all night to update Kristy's mom on the situation (they're friends from aerobics class btw). With each lack of concrete news, Kristy doubles down on her resolve to find Jake.

It's now Saturday morning, and Jake has been missing for about 40 hours. Kristy's younger siblings are all worried about being kidnapped, and even Kristy herself wonders if her father would ever do such a thing to her or David Michael. The adults are all still convinced that Mr Kuhn has something to do with Jake's disappearance, especially since they can't find him. Bart comes over, and he and Kristy get organized to search again.

They spend the day searching, stopping by a convenience store that Jake goes to a lot. The man working hasn't seen Jake, but remembers him and wishes the kids luck. Matt Braddock wants to go searching the construction site, but Kristy points out that it's in the opposite direction from his house. Matt insists, telling Kristy about how they were going to find scraps to build a tree house this weekend. Kristy, remembering how enamored Bart and David Michael had been the other day, agrees. At first, it seems like a bust, but eventually Kristy hears a faint voice. Searching, they discover that Jake had fallen through a hole in the floor, and was trapped in an unfinished basement of a house. Bart runs back to the convenience store to get help, while Kristy stays and keeps Jake company. They rescue Jake, he's reunited with Mrs Kuhn, and everything works out in the end.

Turns out Mr Kuhn was on a business trip in Mexico, and hadn't been to Stoneybrook at all. Patsy was just young and confused and missing her dad.

The subplot in this one is that Mary Anne is failing Home Economics. Apparently she's not great at sewing or setting a table, but it all comes to a head when it comes to cooking, specifically Jell-O. Pete Black and other people in their class all tease her about it, particularly her rock hard Jell-O. She spends the whole book bemoaning the fact that she's failing Home Ec and doesn't know how to pass. Then while she's baby-sitting for the Barretts, they want to make Jell-O. As MA finds the Jell-O mix, she accidentally knocks over a bunch of cookie cutters. That gives her the idea to make Jell-O in a shallow pan, make it more solid than usual, and then cut it out with cookie cutters into fun shapes. It works! So MA decides to write down what she did and submit it to Home Ec. It does the trick, and gets her a passing grade. MA later finds out that there's a recipe on every box with instructions on how to do that anyways haha

Oh, and the middle school does some awards ceremony thing at the end, and Mary Anne wins Most Improved in Home Ec and Kristy gets a special award for her perseverance and subsequent rescue of Jake.

Random Thoughts:
  • I really liked this one and was looking forward to reading it!
    • I really like this one because it involves a very real fear (the disappearance of a child) and is realistic: Kristy and the Club didn't tackle a kidnapper or bust Jake out of a locked basement. They just simply found him.
  • Looking at the cover, again Matt Braddock looks hispanic! But then Haley looks Californian blonde like Dawn and her brother! It's always confused me as to how those two are drawn haha
  • For some reason, I always think that the "Mary Anne fails home ec" subplot happens in Mystery #5 Mary Anne and the Secret in the Attic, even though logically, I know that that makes no sense. A Mary Anne book wouldn't have a Mary Anne subplot haha
    • It also makes no sense that Mary Anne is failing home ec. I mean, I'm glad they didn't go with the stereotype of "Kristy is a tomboy and therefore can't do Home Ec!", but it really doesn't make sense for Mary Anne to be failing either. I think it would have been more realistic if she was good at it, but was so shy and her teacher so strict and overbearing, that Mary Anne kept getting flustered and being klutzy, thus messing up recipes and knocking things over when trying to set the table or something.
  • To be fair: when I was her age, I fucked up Jell-O too. But that's because I didn't realize you weren't supposed to make it in a metal bowl. Metal bowls were the only bowls we had big enough for a single batch of Jell-O. When you make it in a metal bowl, it develops a hard crust along the curve of the bowl, and then the rest doesn't set well. This went on for a couple of years before I realized my mistake. To this day, I'm still surprised when my Jell-O actually turns out well, despite the fact that I know that that was my mistake, and obviously don't do it anymore.
  • I like how Kristy says that now Mrs Kuhn has to get a job, because she's divorced and on her own. I guess Mrs Kuhn wasn't allowed to just simply have a job before now?? haha
  • I like how they didn't repeat the whole "ex-husband takes kid to teach a lesson" story from BSC #5
    • Although it's funny, because Buddy is the reason why the girls know Jake and the Kuhns haha
  • This is the one where Stacey mentions popcorn picnics that she has with her mother, when entertaining the Kuhn girls. This actually stuck with me as a child, and now I occasionally like to experiment with seasonings when I eat popcorn. It also really makes me want to have popcorn haha
  • I like how in this one, Kristy acts like a 13 year old, and is treated like a 13 year old. I mean, albeit a mature/responsible 13 year old (no one hides anything from her), but still a child. The cops and parents have quite a few conversations without Kristy. In the later ones, they have Sgt Johnson, who takes the girls super seriously and even treats them almost as equals. It always makes me think that he's a young cop, like 22 years old (despite the fact that his rank is Sergeant, so duh, he can't be that young!) and that the girls are like, 18.
    • Like, to the point where sometimes I forget, and I kinda ship him and Abby together. Especially since one of Abby's reasons for not having a boyfriend in #127 is that she just doesn't find any of the boys at SMS mature/attractive and she just doesn't see a point in her dating any of them. So yeahhhhh... I always forget that he's probably like, 35 at least, and Abby is definitely not 18 haha
      • I may also be projecting my feelings for Veronica Mars (17/18) and Deputy Leo (who's like, 22??) onto them haha
  • I'm surprised the police were allowed to interview Kristy without a guardian present. Now obviously she's not a suspect: they just wanted to know when she last saw Jake, since she's apparently the last one to have seen him. But still. I was always lead to believe that the cops weren't allowed to talk to minors at all without a guardian present. Or is that just on TV?
  • This book has a pretty tight timeframe: everything happens in about a week, with some wrap up stuff happening about a week later.

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