Monday, December 17, 2012

"Nicky, Margo and Claire can't be held prisoner in the Vanessa School of Poetry forever." BSC #122: Kristy in Charge (1998)

There really isn't that much to say about this one. I don't know why, but it struck me as pretty boring.

SMS starts a program called Teachers of Tomorrow (TOT) where students spend the week teaching a class. Most of the BSC signs up; Kristy is assigned a gym class. The boy teaching the boy's half of the gym is none other than Cary Retlin. The two of them don't cooperate at all, and nearly get thrown out of the problem. Of course, they pull their shit together at the last minute and do well on the last day.
Meanwhile, Mallory is teaching an eighth grade English class and has no confidence about it, which shows through. The kids start making fun of her and she never really gets it together, though she actually gets a few of the kids on board when she reads poetry to the class.

The sitting subplot is that Vanessa sees what Mallory is doing and decides to start a poetry school. She forces her sisters and Nicky to sit through it, despite their objections. Eventually, Abby shows her that she's sucking all the fun out of her subject, and the younger sibs eventually WANT to write poems with her. And of course, Kristy learns a lesson from this that she takes back to the TOT program.

Interesting tidbits
When Kristy says she wants to volunteer for the TOT program for extra credit, Abby tells her she gets great grades, so she doesn't need extra credit. Isn't there a whole plotline in Kristy for President about how she's tanking science class? Incidentally, how much extra credit is she getting, and in what class?

Kristy chooses classes for those interested in TOT to teach. She says Mallory should teach English and Stacey should teach math, and MA should teach secretarial science. (I can't imagine schools having a class like that, especially middle schools.)
Since TOT volunteers don't get to pick their class, Mal says if she has to do an algebra class, she'll write a poem about it. (Maybe she should get Vanessa to do it for her.)
Stacey, Kristy and MA are all given seventh grade teachers to cover for, while Mal is given an eighth grade teacher. Makes no sense. I can see there being a rule that you can't "teach" in your own grade, but in that case, I'd probably assign eighth graders to seventh grade classes and seventh graders to sixth grade classes, and not let the sixth graders take part.

Claudia misspellings: thot (thought), terned, vershun (twice), strang, Clair.
Vanessa says that spelling was invented to confuse people. Claudia, naturally, agrees. Later, she asks for words that rhyme with fly, and Claudia suggests Eskimo pie.

Kristy ticks me off in this one. She signs up for TOT because she wants to show other teachers the "right way" to teach. She thinks that she knows more than teachers who have at least four years of schooling and years of experience. Chances are, her "cooperating" teacher could be nicer or more fun, but Kristy really thinks she will teach Ms. Walden how to teach classes and that she'll change her.
Kristy also thinks that gym teachers don't write lesson plans, so she doesn't listen to any of the training she's given. Of course, the first day is a complete disaster, partly because she's so keen to do everything differently, and partly because she and Cary can't get their shit together.

Weird! Mrs. Pike has a cell phone. She tells Stacey and Jessi to call if they need her.
Vanessa can't get her brothers and sisters to continue going to her poetry she attempts to blackmail them.

Cary and Kristy fight all through their second class together, and their kids end up in a giant brawl. One kid loses a tooth; another breaks a bone. They (K & C) act like a pair of six year olds. Generally, when Cary shows up in a story, he's all suave. While he enjoys making Kristy look bad, it's usually not at his own expense.
They get sent to the vice principal's office. Remember when that was scary? I remember I got called to the office once, to give a statement on being assaulted on the school bus, but my whole sixth grade class thought I was in trouble.

This story starts the downward spiral of Mallory that leads to her deciding to head to private school. I haven't read the MA book where she decides to leave SMS, but it's on the bookshelf. The students are all calling her Spaz girl because she accidentally sent a piece of chalk flying at the students. Kristy suggests Mal pretend the eighth graders are first graders who are calling her Poo-poo Head instead.
Abby calls Vanessa a tyrant. It's...about right.

When Abby starts her sitting job at the Pikes by finding Margo, Claire and Nicky playing Super Mario. A short time later, she finds Vanessa, bound and gagged and stuffed behind a chair.
Kristy and Cary actually shake hands and enjoy each other's company for a moment. I've always imagined that, if Cary were a little more mature, he would just ask Kristy out.

Claudia: White shirt with a "man having a great idea" (a bald head with lightning bolts coming out of it)

Next week: #101 Happy Holidays, Jessi (though it will probably not be posted until later in the week. Depends on when I get it read and when I get access to a computer to post it.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

"I can handle this criminal on my own, I think." BSC Mystery #24: Mary Anne and the Silent Witness (1996)

Oh, Holy Hell. This book is awesomely bad! I can't wait to catalogue all the awesomeness.

I'm sure you're not surprised to learn that the plot is convoluted--after all, it is a BSC mystery! A man named Reginald Fowler is trying to develop Miller's Park into a shopping complex, to which various townspeople (including the BSC) disagree. Meanwhile, the BSC has new clients, the Martinezes, whose house Fowler would have to buy to follow through with his plan.
Odd things have gone on at the Martinez house, including a fire in their garage, after which their usual sitter quit. The BSC discovers that someone has been threatening Luke Martinez, and he's always suspicious of his sitters. At the same time, various vandalism is occurring in the area, and Mary Anne keeps being at the wrong place at the wrong time. After being brought to the police station on suspicion of vandalism, MA tells the cops she saw Fowler talking to a teenaged boy. But Fowler was out of state at the time. Eventually, the BSC discovers that Fowler has a twin, who is out to stop his brother's dastardly plan. The twin blackmailed the Martinezes' former babysitter's boyfriend (are you following that?) into committing the vandalism. Turns out, the boyfriend had stopped by to visit the babysitter and had started the fire at the Martinezes with his cigarette.

Luke saves the day by finding a paper on which Fowler mapped out his future plans for Stoneybrook, which include demolishing most of the town and building industrial complexes and apartment buildings. The twin is arrested and Fowler's plans for Stoneybrook are denied.
Interesting tidbits:

The cover of this book would look like a poster for an awful horror movie, if it were dark outside. Little Amalia is busy ripping up paper (wearing a Claudia outfit--pink shirt, purple leggings and red high tops), while Luke is either writing creepy messages on the window, or he's paralyzed by reading one someone else wrote on the window. And Mary Anne--who, for once, doesn't look like she's wearing a wig--is wearing an atrocious get-up, one that wasn't even the slightest bit stylish, even in 1996. Plus, she's wearing too much blush.

This one takes place right after Dawn permanently moves back to California and Abby joins.

MA eats Grape Nuts, with skim milk and maple syrup, for breakfast. Sounds yummy.
Claudia, just so you know, Pebbles Flintstone ponytails are NEVER cool. On anyone. Ever.

Heh heh heh. Kristy mentions what an amazing coincidence it is that, right after they learn about the plan to develop Miller's Park, they get a new client who live right outside of the park. It's not really that coincidental for a BSC book, though.
Sharon calls MA a celebrity, and MA asks if she won an Oscar or something. Actually, she just had a letter to the editor published in the paper.

There's a whole bunch of letters in the text about the Miller's Park issue and most of them are pretty boring, but one of them made me laugh because a local business owner called the situation a brouhaha.
Mary Anne gets spooked because she's babysitting the Martinezes and a figure runs away from the yard. Outside, she finds the words DON'T TELL written in the ash of the garage fire. Of course, this isn't scary because it's a BSC book and you know they always win in the end. But if I were thirteen and saw that, I would pee my pants. I would have been on the phone with my mom so fast.

This is the book that introduces Cary Retlin's family. I now wonder, after last week's California Diaries books, whether Cary and Benson Retlin exist as well as Steig.
I laughed so hard when MA got hauled in by the police. Now, both she and Stacey have been questioned by the coppers.
How does Mrs. Martinez have Richard's phone number?

The BSC's police friend, Sgt. Johnson, takes over questioning MA when she gets to the station. He convinces Richard to let him talk to Mary Anne alone. I think that's a little bit illegal...or at least, a really, really bad idea.
Kristy uses *69 to try to find out who called Luke, but they never mention the actual digits. They just say "she dialed three numbers." I guess they didn't want kids using it to play around.

Jessi's hair is done up in beaded braids in this story. Usually, she's shown just wearing a ponytail.
MA think Logan looks especially cute with uncombed hair. I...don't get it.

Abby brings cookies to the Martinezes, and tells Luke to eat one even though he's not hungry. That's a good message to pass on. (Luke takes the cookie but inspects it as if he thinks Abby's trying to poison him.)
Later Abby makes the kids play a game called Secrets where you tell the others secrets about yourself no one else knows. First, I can't believe even an eight year old would agree to that game. Second, Amalia's so little, her only secret is that she loves Barney...which is probably not really a secret.

Once again I ask how big Claudia's room is. Jessi's doing ballet stretches on the floor during a meeting. (Although, I'm thinking about my childhood bedroom and realizing there probably was room for a desk, a director's chair and a bed, plus Jessi doing stretches on the floor. But that room was huge, and for some reason I've always pictured Claudia's house (and Kristy and MA's old houses) as being on the smaller side.)
MA calls the operator numerous times, trying to track down Fowler's twin brother. She uses various accents and thinks she's hilarious. I'm betting there are only a few operators and she's getting them over and over, and they probably think she's an idiot. (Wouldn't it have been easier just to use a phone book?)

Why would the Martinezes want a bunch of virtual strangers cleaning out their garage for them? I could see if the BSC were going to be scrubbing down walls or something, but they're actually going through and deciding what to keep and what to toss. Stacey's sitting that day, and MA and Kristy come over without pay. I would have been a little suspicious if I were Mr. Martinez...
Of course, the BSC finds a clue the fire department missed. Stoneybrook should fire all their cops and fire fighters and just hire the BSC instead. It'd be a lot cheaper!

Stacey actually says, "Well, duh," to Mary Anne at one point. The only way that would have been more wrong was if Claudia had said it.
Heh heh heh. Kristy's so upset about bad publicity she isn't eating (or making fun of) her lunch. MA mentions the lunch as it was described on the menu: "Fish sand. on bun w/coleslaw". Later, MA puts tartar sauce on her fish sand, and later they throw away the remains of their fish sands.

Remember phone booths? Mary Anne, Logan and Mallory stake out the one that Kristy reached when she used *69. Because the person who called is just going to hang out there.
Mary Anne goes into Ted's Tools and starts asking questions about who had bought a certain shade of paint recently. Not only does Ted remember, he actually gives her a name. Sounds like a really bad idea. What if she were a stalker or something?

Oh, good night. There's supposed to be a meeting between one of the twins and Boyfriend Beau that night, and the BSC decides to go to it and get dirt on the twin...but they call Sgt. Johnson "as backup." What cop in his right mind agrees to play back up for a bunch of little girls?
Why would the Martinezes have Luke present the map at the town council meeting? The kid's traumatized enough already.

New characters
Luke and Amalia Martinez (8 and 3)--24 and 19

Benson and Steig Retlin (11 and 8)--27 and 24
No outfits in this one!

Next week: Keeping up the Cary Retlin luv, next week will be #124 Kristy in Charge.

Monday, December 3, 2012

"I mean, cool, let's eat, not cool, you're starved." California Diaries #1: Dawn (1997)

I decided to go out on Black Friday this year, though it's not normally my idea of a good time. But being me, I didn't head to the mall or Best Buy or something like that--I went to the thrift store instead. I didn't find any BSC I didn't already own, but I did find three California Diaries books. Since I'd never read them before but I've heard they're not bad (not to mention the fact that they were half price), I picked them up. The other two were about Maggie (from the We <3 Kids Club) and someone named Amalia, but the first book is Dawn, so I decided to blog about it.
Dawn and the other eighth graders in her Cali school are forced into the high school building because the middle school is overcrowded. Some upperclassmen haze a number of the eighth graders by throwing a "secret" party and inviting them, then calling the cops and getting them arrested. Maggie, Sunny and Dawn leave a sleepover at Jill's to attend the party. Sunny, whose mom is dying of lung cancer, gets drunk and they make it home late. Sunny and Dawn end up getting in some trouble, and they lose Jill as a friend. But they make two new friends, Amalia and Ducky, so all is well.
Interesting tidbits
The whole book is done in Dawn's handwriting. It's a lot less annoying than I expected it to be.
The premise behind the books is that Dawn's California school, Vista, makes the students keep a diary, though no one ever reads it or grades it. Dawn apparently goes through notebook after notebook in keeping her diary.
Humorously, the book starts at the beginning of eighth grade (a few weeks in)...despite the fact that, during eighth grade, Dawn's mom got married, she spent months in Cali and then moved back to Stoneybrook for at least a few weeks.
In the BSC books, Maggie's dressed all punk, with green hair with a tail, and leather. These days, she's Miss Perfect, worrying about grades and dressing like Daddy's little girl. Jill, on the other hand, is regressing and is acting really immature and dressing like a six year old.
Dawn is in study hall in her first day in the high school building, when a "big guy" starts making out right in the middle of class. The monitor yells at him and calls him Dex, and Dawn thinks it’s funny that this big, scary looking guy is named Dexter.
Dawn says she doesn't miss Mary Anne or the BSC very much.
Heh heh heh. Jeff went clothes shopping with Carol and the housekeeper (Mrs. Bruen) and they came home a short time later with only a pair of tube socks. I can't think of a single boy who actually wore tube socks in the 90s.
 When Carol's gynecologist calls, she tells Carol she's 3 weeks pregnant. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you generally don't know you're pregnant until you miss your period, at which point you're 4 weeks along. You're already 2 weeks pregnant when you conceive, because they count from the beginning of your menstrual cycle. I don't think it would really be possible to find out right at 3 weeks. Maybe they mean 3 weeks since conception (aka 5 weeks pregnant)?
Totally off topic, but I just picked up the Amalia book and it's full of illustrations. The front of the book says they're done by Stieg Retlin...which is the name of Cary Retlin's younger brother in the BSC books. This Dawn book is dedicated to Laura, whom I can only assume is Laura Perkins (which probably answers my earlier question as to whether there actually a Laura Perkins.)
Oh, Lord. Dawn tells Carol that she was eavesdropping and overheard the pregnancy news. One of the first things she blurts out is that they should name the baby Ashley but spell it Ashleigh. Yuck.
Much like Dawn and her ears, Sunny pierces her navel without her parents' permission.
Heh. The pizza guy asks if Maggie's famous and Jill tells him that Maggie's dad knows John Travolta, Gwyneth Paltrow and Demi Moore.
Maggie, Dawn and Sunny attend the "secret" party where a lot of drinking and smoking is going on...Dawn says the drink tastes like strawberries and insect repellent, which, to be honest, is what most punch at high school and college parties tastes like.
Yuck. Sunny gets quite drunk, and AMM's "drunk dialect" is even worse than her allergy dialect. "Dawn? It'sh me, Shunshine."
Dawn and Maggie get thrown in the pool...and Maggie is not wearing a bra. She apparently is quite chesty. I feel her pain, but even at thirteen, I would have never left the house sans bra. Not a smart choice.
Amalia and Ducky, the other two characters who get books in the series, are both sort of introduced at the party. Amalia hangs out with Maggie and Dawn during the party, while Ducky (who is older and has a car) rescues them when they don't make it home on time.
I like Ducky. He says he doesn't drink or smoke, because his body is a temple and he only puts pure things in it, like Mountain Dew and Pez.
The party was in the backyard of a house while the owners were out...and the house turned out to be owned by one of Ducky's teachers.
Jill says she wishes Dawn and Sunny had gotten into trouble over the party intead of just getting a lecture, and the two of them part ways as friends. (She's not even really mentioned in the Maggie book and not at all in the Amalia one.)
Over all, that wasn't bad. The Dawn one was actually written by AMM, not ghostwritten. Both the Sunny and Amalia ones are ghostwritten by one of the usual BSC crew. They're pretty good also, but because they build on each other, I felt like I was missing something. I've got to get my hands on the Sunny one that happens between Dawn and Maggie. Apparently, she runs away from home and gets herself a reputation, and something happens with a boy. Interesting. And I've got to find the Ducky one too, because I just have to know if he's gay or not. (Am I pathetic or what?!)
Next week: I will actually finish Mary Anne and the Silent Witness, which I started just before I found these guys. Should be done and posted around Thursday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"They'll make you eat rotten vegetables! You have to watch out for those theater people!" BSC #18: Stacey's Mistake (1988)

Just when you thought you'd gotten rid of Stacey permanently after book #13, she gets a book while living in NYC. Because of a meeting about the homeless problem, five families need babysitters. Since Stacey can't babysit 10 kids at a time, she instead invites Claudia, MA, Kristy and Dawn to the city for the weekend. They spend the whole visit embarrassing her. They're too touristy, too loud, too scared. Eventually they make up and have a good time on the sitting outing to a museum and Central Park, and they meet up with Laine for a night of dinner and theater.

Interesting tidbits
And we get to start the book with a letter from Claudia to Stacey, complete with misspellings! I'am (I am), exited (excited), frist (first), woud (would), speding (spending), musims (museums). She also uses their instead of there and attempts to spell Bloomingdales a couple times before saying, "that big huge department store."
Bad start for book: Stacey starts off by discussing roaches.
I hate when books start in the middle of the plot and then the narrator stops and says, "You must be so confused. Let me explain." Lazy, lazy writing.
Interesting: when they don't live in Stoneybrook, both Dawn and Stacey go to private school. I can see it for NYC, but Dawn lives in a nice suburban area of LA, where you'd presume the public schools are pretty decent.
And right after roaches, we get a long essay on the issues of homelessness.
When I read these books, I have visualizations of many of the characters, like the BSC members and some of the parents and sitting charges. Some of them come from book covers (Logan), or super special illustrations (Stacey's mom); others come from the descriptions of the characters in the books. Stacey's dad straightens his glasses in this one, and I was thrown off. I haven't read this one since circa 1991, and I always pictured Stacey's dad as being one of those guys who looks younger than he really is (colors his hair, wears a goatee, etc). I think this comes from reading the later books where he has a girlfriend/fiancé whose name is Samantha, which makes him sound like he's robbing the cradle. Glasses so did not fit into my image of him.
Stacey says she quit perming her hair and let it grow out. This makes me laugh because it's 1988 and the height of mall hair. She should have a perm that's about a foot high.
Stacey describes Kristy as sort of cynical. Sounds about right.
The second Stacey sees her friends, she's instantly embarrassed by them. I get her freaking out over MA acting too touristy--she's right that it will make them a target--but she's worried because they're 15 minutes late; embarrassed because they're loud (they're teenaged girls! or crying out loud!); and embarrassed by Kristy's collie hat and Dawn being a big worrywart.
Dawn read the news about NYC the night before and freaked out because two people were murdered and a building collapsed the night before. Kristy jumps in and the following exchange takes place:
            "And then," added Kristy, "someone fell down an open manhole and was attacked and eaten by alligators and sewer rats."
            "Really?" said Dawn, her eyes widening.
            "I'm making it up!" cried Kristy.
            "You are? But I've heard that there are alligators in the sewers. And pickpockets--"
            "In the sewers?" asked Kristy.
In this era of the books, they've made the relationship between Kristy and Dawn a little bit combative. They spend a lot of time calling each other on their shit.
Stacey's also embarrassed because Claudia's giant suitcase is on wheels. These days, I won't buy a suitcase if it doesn't have wheels. (I'm reading this while watching Degrassi Junior High, so I keep trying to capitalize Wheels. Right now, he's bugging Shane and Spike, who are just about to "do it" and get pregnant. Broomheads!)
At the Hard Rock Café, the girls get seated at a table labeled Chubby Checker and none of them know who that is. Considering AMM's obsession with 1950s and 1960s music in these books, I'm surprised.
After the Café, they all debate where to go. Claudia wants to go to a museum, but everyone else wants to go to Bloomingdales. Even Kristy, which I find a little suspicious.
More Claudia misspellings: peopel, magazin, modles, sox, arested, allmost, siting, apratment (apartment). She also writes New york and misspells Mary Anne.
Mary Anne actually addresses a letter "Dear Dad and Tigger."
According to Stacey, Laine likes gourmet food and has eaten pigeon before. (I think a lot of people have: it's called a hot dog.)
Stacey obsesses over how old people look when they're dressed up. She says Claudia looks 15 and Laine looks 19.
Of course, Claudia and Laine hate each other almost instantly.
I don't normally spend much time feeling sorry for Dawn, but I did after MA tried to make friends with Stacey's NYC friends by making fun of her best friend.
Kristy signs a letter (full of lies) to her parents Ciao. It doesn't sound like her at all.
Oh, Claudia. More misspellings: Babbysiters club, forteen, yetserday, parnets, apratment (again). She also uses car instead of care, are instead of our and their instead of there. Oh, and she says luv, which is usually reserved in this series for teen romances. (MA luvs Logan, Stacey luvs Robert.)
Dawn says she didn't expect to sleep well, thanks to "burglies and ratties." But after the stressful day she had the day before, I'm sure she slept some. As silly as I think the plotline of Dawn being afraid of NYC is, I know how exhausting it is to worry and be afraid all day long.
Kristy tells Dawn to relax because there are things to worry about that she's never even thought up, like food poisoning and getting hit by a bus. Way to be supportive.
Stacey says Claudia is usually pretty neat. Has she forgotten what Claudia's bedroom looks like?
Stacey organizes her friends and the sitting charges for the walk to the museum, but they quit using it once they get inside...which is how they lose Henry inside the museum. Wouldn't it have been smarter if each of the sitters had been personally responsible for two of the children--the two whose hands they held on the way there?
In a letter, Kristy spells Nannie as Nanny.
The BSC is brave to take a child with a wheat allergy to a restaurant. I have a gluten allergy myself and it's difficult to find foods that don't have wheat in them. Luckily, Leslie is satisfied with a salad. Hope they remembered no croutons.
Even Stacey is surprised by a man riding a tricycle, with three Persian cats in the basket. I guess I'm immune to that kinda thing because when I was in college the first time, a guy used to ride by all the time on an oversized children's bike with a banana seat, sucking a pacifier.
Heh heh heh. Leslie doesn't feel good, so Dawn whisks her aside. Later, Stacey thanks her and reminds Dawn of how she feels about "the B-word." Dawn says she doesn't mind a little B. We use the same letter at work all the time, only it's a different "B-word."
Ooh, lucky us. Even more Claudia misspellings! I'me, whent (a favorite of hers), Centrle, remerber, scarry, adertiure (adventure), stachew (statue), climed.
MA writes a postcard to Logan and tells them the BSC rode in a limo...which, as she explains, is short for limousine. *eye roll*
Apparently, the BSC was so busy, they forgot to tell Stacey that Jeff moved back to California (despite the fact that Stacey actually mentioned this earlier in the book.)
Stacey actually agrees to let MA crank call Jeff in California.
Claudia, MA and Kristy are afraid of lox. I wish I had some lox right now.
Stacey says goodbye to her friends by yelling her mother's favorite line, Have fun and be careful.
Happy turkey day y'all. Gotta go. Lucy is just about to get "molested" by the substitute Degrassi Junior High!
Kristy: white turtleneck with red and blue hearts, red sweater, jeans
Claudia: black sparkly outfit with stars (real descriptive)
Dawn: peach sweater dress, white lace stockings and flats (this sounds like it would be in style now)
Stacey: short yellow dress, white stockings, yellow socks
Mary Anne: long paisley skirt, white ruffly blouse, boots
Laine: black dress, stockings and shoes, silver bangle and squiggle pin, permed mallrat hair
New characters:
Leslie Reames (4)--28
Henry and Grace Walker (5 and 3)--29 and 27
Natalie and Peggie Upchurch (10 and 8)--34 and 32
Carlos, Blair (m), and Cissy Barrera (9, 7 and 5)--33, 31, and 29
Dennis and Sean Deluca (9 and 6)--33 and 30
Stacey's NYC classmates Jim Fulton, Read Marcus (f), Coby Reese, Carl Bahadurian (13)--37

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Why, no. I never have. What is a democracy, Mary Anne?" BSC #22 Jessi Ramsey, Pet Sitter (1989)

AKA Jessi Animal Sits and Referees her Friends

I think I literally have not read this book since 1991. I picked it up and got to chapter 5 before I realized I hadn't made a single note or tidbit about it. Had to start all over again.
Jessi takes a sitting job for the Mancusis, who have no children but lots of pets--three dogs, five cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, a snake, etc. There's not too much plot involved in that, but one of the hamsters is fat and short tempered. When Jessi takes her to the vet, she learns she's pregnant. Jessi, the Pikes and Jackie R. all get to have a hamster baby.
The B plot gets more action than the A plot in this one. Kristy, Dawn, Claudia and MA are fighting because Kristy's being very bossy. The BSC decides to have elections to decide who should be president, vice president and so on. After Jackie Rodowsky tells Kristy she's bossy, she starts to realize she's been rude to her friends. They have the elections, and every single member votes the girls back into their old office.
Interesting Tidbits
Is it really dorky of me that I'm going through all the BSC titles and trying to see if ALL the babysitters have their last names in the title of a book? This was the first one. Let me pull up my title list:
Kristy: #118

Claudia: #85 and #101

Stacey: #94

Mary Anne: #114

Mallory: #80 and #126

Jessi: #22
Abby: nope
In this one, Jessi says she may want to be a dancer someday, and Mallory might want to be a writer, but they have plenty of time to decide. I wonder when that changed to them definitely wanting to go professional.
Jessi describes Kristy as sounding "cross as a bear." It sounds very British.
When Jessi rings the Mancusis' doorbell, she hears a large number of animal noises from within. I'll buy the dogs and birds going nuts and even the guinea pigs (I used to have one that "wheeked" whenever someone came in the room.) But Jessi can hear cats meowing and mewing. Most cats I know either run from the doorbell, or run to the doorbell, but they aren't vocal about it.
Mrs. Mancusi makes Jessi talk to all the animals, and she can't think of anything to say to them.
Claudia spelling: waht (twice), babbysat, invinted (invited...the hell?), thoght, amials (animals), Mankusees (Mancusis), afriad, ginny (guinea), Chewey (Chewy). She also uses now for know, but she manages to spell trouble right, which is not normal for her.
Claudia takes two four year olds (Jamie Newton and Nina Marshall) to visit Jessi at the Mancusis', and they take the three dogs for a walk. Chewbacca, the Perkins' monstrosity of a dog, joins them and actually behaves himself for once.
Sort of off topic, but when I read these books as a child, I'd never seen Star Wars and had no idea where the name Chewbacca came from, but it's highly appropriate for that dog as he's described.
One of the Mancusis' birds says "Where's the beef?" I bet a number of readers didn't remember the commercial. I only remember it because there's an old family joke about my uncle stealing the beef.
Even Jessi seems annoyed by the girls groaning every time Dawn (or, of course, Stacey) asks for dues.
It seems really unprofessional of Jessi and the other babysitters to bring various charges to the Mancusis, when they never asked for permission to do so.
When has Myriah Perkins ever heard of the mumps? I've never even known someone with the mumps.
Jessi says that because she and Mallory are the youngest, they belong on the floor. I guess it's supposed to be a counterpoint to the fighting going on between the thirteen year olds, but it just sounds kinda silly. What would happen if they came in and sat on the bed one time?
Kristy is really insensitive in this one. Usually, she's bossy but not too over the top. But after all five other members all told her that a checklist that proves they're reading the club notebook was unnecessary, she made one anyway. And tacks it up on Claudia's bulletin board...over pictures of Stacey.
Of course, they have to have a special meeting outside normal hours to have the election.
Jessi describes Mallory as usually being cheerful, which doesn't quite sound right. Maybe because in the book right before this one, she spent the whole time whining...
If they're going to bother with "new" elections, why couldn't Jessi and Mallory run for the offices also? Apparently, being secretary or treasurer is too hard for an eleven year old or something.
AMM must have known someone with a deaf white cat. Not only was the second cat in mystery #3 (the one the Craines adopted after the first was returned to his owner) deaf, but there's a deaf white kitten in this one.
Jessi tries to name the pregnant hamster (for some reason, I keep trying to type hampster...) and the first thing that comes up is Suzanne. Yep. She decides to call her Misty, but the hamster's real name is Snicklefritz.
Even though I didn't plan it this way, it's perfect to read a book about elections right before the real elections. If I'd been a real dork, I'd have read #53 Kristy for President instead.
Oh, ha ha ha. Jessi says if she were in a cage giving birth to hamsters, she wouldn't want faces peering at her. Mallory tells her if she were giving birth to hamsters, she'd be a miracle of science.
Dawn says she used to have a parakeet that could talk and flew into a bowl of mashed potatoes. I wonder if that is ever mentioned in any other books, like Dawn's autobiography.
Claudia spelling: she had boxes under her bed labeled: skeches, pantings and calage supplies.

Dawn was a lot funnier in the earlier books than she became later on...she, Claudia and Jessi were rummaging under Claud's bed when Mallory, Kristy and MA came in. Kristy says she wants to start every meeting by seeing them backing out from under beds, and Dawn replies, "My backside is my best side."

Dawn is eating potato chips in this book, because she throws one at Kristy.

I'm not surprised to learn that AMM had a cat named Tigger growing up. When I was a kid, I knew she modeled Mary Anne after herself, and I thought for a while that her name might have been Ann Marie Martin, and that's where the name Mary Anne came from. (Of course, the info on the back page tells us that her middle name is Matthews.)

My copy of the book is one of the redone ones with the photos in the back. In Jessi's case, she looks like a totally different person in every photo. And Aunt Cecelia looks like Urkel.

Claudia: shirt covered in leaves, green leggings, yellow push down socks, purple hightops, headband with purple bow
Jessi: white sweatshirt with ballet shoes on it, jeans

Next week: Now that I actually have a couple Stacey titles (yaaaaay!) we will be visiting New York next week with #18 Stacey's Mistake.

"I was going to get up anyway. It's time for my next feeding." BSC #31 Dawn's Wicked Stepsister (1990)

AKA Dawn Gets Revenge for Absolutely Nothing

I remember this being one of my favorite Dawn books as a child, but I'm not sure why. I think it had something to do with how she successfully tricks MA. I always wanted to pull off a prank or something that required that much planning.
This one picks up after the cliffhanger of #30. Mary Anne and her dad move into Dawn's house, and the two families have trouble merging. MA and Dawn insist on sharing a room, which does not go well. Eventually Dawn gets her family to talk to one another and discuss their problems...except she doesn't take her own advice. Instead, she tricks MA into moving into the spare bedroom, which makes them both happier.
Over at the Pikes, they experience the infamous Pike Plague. Mallory has chicken pox, the triplets have pneumonia, Claire and Margo had bronchitis, Nicky has broken fingers, Vanessa sprains her ankle, Mrs. Pike injures her elbow playing tennis (while all her kids are laid up...) and Mr. Pike burns his hand. There's no real plot, just a few sitting jobs that are sort of chaotic.
Interesting tidbits
Oh, the cover. First of all, MA is taller than Dawn in this picture, while Dawn is supposed to be the tall one of the group. Jeff looks totally exasperated (and really super short, like if he stood he'd come up to Dawn's elbow). I'm amused by the fact that they're all wearing stripes. I have a shirt with stripes just like MA's...except that it isn't five sizes too big, and I don't wear it tucked into mom jeans with pegged legs.
Dawn thinks she should have caught her mother's bouquet, just because it is her mom. If that's the case, then what's the point of even throwing it? Sharon should have just tossed it straight at Dawn. (It seems to always be the most unlikely ones who catch the bouquet, like the four year old flower girl or a person who normally can't catch anything.)
One thing has always kind of bugged me about the story of Sharon and Richard. Dawn says that her grandparents sent Sharon to school in California to get her as far away from Richard as possible. Wouldn't Sharon have had some say in where she went to school? I mean, she could have chosen to go to the University of Connecticut or something. Maybe they threatened not to fund her schooling if she didn't go where they wanted. I don't know, but it's a plot hole and it bugs me.
Dawn says all of MA's grandparents are dead. Obviously, this was before it was decided that MA lived with her grandma in Iowa for a year.
"But fate intervened. (I read that sentence in a book once. Isn't it great?)" No, Dawn, it's lame and clichéd. Just like the BSC!
Do Sharon and Richard really not have any friends besides their coworkers? They invite the BSC, the Pike triplets, and work friends to the wedding, and no one else.
Dawn is surprised when Sharon takes Richard's last name. She says Sharon said it was okay for Dawn and Jeff to keep their old last name, but why wouldn't it be? Especially because I'm sure their dad would be all HELL NO to his kids taking their stepfather's name.
Really? Charlie comes to the wedding to pick the girls up and take them to MA's house. First, he's got nothing better to do on Saturday afternoon? (Forget Sam. I think Charlie was really the Thomas kid with the hots for one of the BSC members.) Second, eight people in what is probably a car for four? Doesn't Stoneybrook have a public bus or something?
Ooh, chapter two in this book compares Kristy and Claudia! We don't usually get to hear that one!
There's an odd mention of Claudia's one-off boyfriend from SS #2.
Wow, Dawn has a thing for italics in chapter two. She italicizes once when talking about MA, twice when talking about Jessi, three times when talking about herself, and five times when talking about Stacey. Plus, she writes in all caps at one point. (Actually, she continues to have this issue throughout the whole book.)
Tigger cries pretty much the entire day after the Spiers move into Dawn's house. It could have been worse--he could have hidden under the lazy susan and not come out for two weeks.
You don't learn how the BSC operates until chapter 4 in this book.
Dawn says the BSC members are like sisters, and Logan is a brother to them all. Ew to Mary Anne dating her brother.
I love it when MA gets bitchy. She and Dawn fight over a sitting job, and MA tells her that she's fat.
Myriah Perkins makes MA help her write a letter to the President (who, back then, would have been Bush Sr.)
I know Cam Geary has always been described as MA's favorite star, but is it an established fact that he is on a TV show?
Claudia spelling: yisterday, Piks (Pikes'), wehn, becuase, triplits, beter, realy (twice). She also says couldnt' and uses you're instead of your. But the best part is when she says about Mal: "Maybe you didn't lick being babbysat for agian..."
The Pikes play hospital...while Mallory has chicken pox and the triplets are at the doctor's. Claire goes to the Pike hospital ER with a broken head.
Mal's being all pesty while Claudia babysits, and Claud tells her to play with her kid kit.
Here's what's weird about the Pike Plague. I know that in families with small children--especially those with that many kids--germs go around and around and around. But usually everyone gets the same thing at the same time. Either everyone gets the stomach flu, or they all get the same cold, or whatever. But the Pikes have a little bit of everything. And some of them aren't even sick, just physically injured.
I love that Dawn can see how Sharon and Richard are not solving their problems, just skirting around them, but doesn't see how she needs to address her issues with Mary Anne.
Richard organizes his clothes by color. The colors in his sock drawer are in alphabetical order.
Sharon gets really upset because Tigger throws up. At least Sharon didn't find the barf with her bare feet.
Claudia's wearing a candy necklace to the dance, and Dawn's only comment is, "You had candy in your room and you didn't eat it?" (There goes that italics monster again.)
We meet the infamous Carol in this one, and she says that she'll never marry anyone. We all know how that worked out. (Incidentally, I was talking to someone who read the California Diaries books and she said that Carol and Dawn's dad have a baby during that. While Dawn is still in eighth grade. So, in one year, both her parents got married again and her dad managed to pop out another kid. They move about as fast as Stacey's dad getting engaged just months after getting divorced.)
Uh oh. Dawn's getting deep. She wonders if "real" sisters (only she used italics, not quotes) fight half the time and then are close the other half. She should have met me and my sister--I'm in my thirties and she'll be thirty this year, and we still get along best when we're in different zip codes.
Apparently, Mary Anne is an awful liar. She ends up giggling when she tells Dawn that she's not giving her a job simply because Jenny Prezzioso is a brat.
When Dawn and MA get into a shouting match while doing their homework, Sharon and Richard come in to mediate. I don't even think I was surprised when I was ten that Sharon took MA's side, and Richard took Dawn's.
During a Kristy/Jessi joint entry, Jessi says that Nicky and Vanessa will be back in school on Monday. Does that mean that they were staying home from school for three broken fingers and a sprained ankle?! My mom would have never let me stay home for something silly like that. (Although it could be a bit of a problem for Nicky if his broken fingers were on his writing hand.)
I've finally figured out what was bugging me so badly about last week's Mallory book. It's that they always describe Mallory as being sensible, partly because she's the oldest of eight kids and partly just from her personality. So it bothered me that she thought a cat was a ghost. Which leads me to....
While Kristy and Jessi are helping out at the Pikes while all the Pikes (except, by now, Mal) are injured or sick, Mal keeps giving them instructions. Breakfast is a set menu and there are no substitutions. Kristy and Jessi think she's nuts, but she's right. When Jessi gives Margo a banana (not on the menu), it turns into a brouhaha and breakfast ends up going on for two hours.
Charlie is a saint. He goes grocery shopping for the Pikes and then helps Jessi, Kristy and Mallory cook dinner.
Instead of talking to Mary Anne and trying to solve her problems like a grown up, Dawn decides to be sneaky and scare MA out of her room. (*shakes head*)
She also decides she needs revenge on MA for all the things she's done to her. Which is a pretty stupid list, and half the things on it are about MA complaining about the events of the book--which is exactly what I've been reading Dawn doing for the last 123 pages.
Mistake: Charlie picks Mary Anne up for a sleepover at Kristy's. Dawn runs out to meet them and says hi to Kristy, Jessi and Sam. (Italics mine, not Dawn's.) Since Charlie had just come from helping at the Pikes', I'm pretty sure Sam wasn't with them. (And she probably would have greeted Charlie also.)
Dawn decides to pretend to be a ghost in the secret passage, but she's not going to just be a generic ghost. She has to pretend to be the ghost of Jared Mullray.
I remembered this as soon as I started to read it. Claudia is standing on her head, trying to get blood rushing to her brain, as she has a big test coming up. She believes the extra blood flow will make her smarter. Kristy theorizes that, since she's been sitting all day, she must have a really smart ass. (Only she doesn't get to say that. They don't even let her say butt or bottom or anything. She gets cut off.)
When she gets back up, Claudia is light headed. When she asks if that's how it feels to be a genius, Janine shouts out a no from her room. Claudia rolls her eyes, but I thought it was kinda cute.
Dawn tells her family they need to be more honest with each other. Pot, calling kettle. You are black. I repeat, you are black.
Mallory has chicken pox scars, and she won't tell where they are. But apparently Jessi knows...
Claudia: pink sparkly high tops; short, flared skirts over leggings

Next week: I'm between two Jessi books. I was going to do #103 Happy Holidays Jessi, but I'm a major dork and figured that, next time Jessi comes up will be December. So it's probably #22 Jessi Ramsey, Pet Sitter.