Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"I was not about to watch anybody throw up a Crazy Burger." #8 Boy Crazy Stacey (1987)

AKA Stacey Goes All Jersey Shore

Side note: I went thrift store shopping today, and I always stop and check out the kids' books while I'm there. To my surprise, I found quite a few BSC books--nearly every book, 1-20, and a couple of others. I'm trying to keep the cost of this little project as low as possible, seeing as I'm broker than broke. But I did pick up a copy of #9 The Ghost at Dawn's House, since my library doesn't have it. I plan to stick it back on the shelf at the same store when I'm done reading it, so they can sell it again. For next week, I'm hoping to read (in this order) SS #1, #9, and #10.

The Pikes contact the BSC, looking for two mother's helpers for a vacation to Sea City, New Jersey. Mary Anne and Stacey are the two luckies who get to go. Stacey instantly falls in love with an 18 year old lifeguard, and she starts neglecting the Pike gang. After she spends a while making an ass out of herself, she discovering him snogging with a girl his own age and is heartbroken. She then gets her first kiss from a boy. Meanwhile, MA meets a boy of her own and realizes boys aren't from Mars.

Interesting tidbits

When the BSC scatters, Kristy's the one who starts the crying. That doesn't sound right.

Mrs. Pike says they've been going to Sea City for nine years. You mean to tell me she took a two year old, one year old triplets and an infant to the shore while she was pregnant? (On a side note, I've always wondered about the age gaps of the Pike kids. I know a woman who gave birth to twins while she had two other kids under the age of two and a half. She barely slept the first two years they were alive, never mind had romantic time with her husband. The Pikes would have had these infant triplets and a toddler Mallory when she got pregnant with Vanessa...crazy.)

Mallory reads The Secret Garden on the way to Sea City. I'm pretty sure that was also in one of the earlier books. Mary Anne has A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Claire calls her mother Moozie. I call my cat Mistletoe Moozy. I have, however, never added Silly-Billy-Goo-Goo on it.

Oh, gag. Stacey gets her first view of the lifeguard and already, she in LUV.

Those eighties prices. MA and Stacey give each of the Pikes a dollar to spend at the Boardwalk. For that amount, Mallory and Vanessa find souvenirs, and the others are all able to ride at least one ride. These days that probably would cost at least five dollars per child. Then they plan $3 per child at the ice cream parlor...

Nicky goes missing on the beach and MA, understandably, panics. Stacey's response? She just kinda rolls her eyes and goes back to hanging out with the lifeguard. If a child goes missing at the beach, shouldn't the lifeguard know? Nicky could have been drowning instead of back at the house.

Don't most mini golf courses have a stroke limit? I once took ten students with special needs to play, and we explained the rules to them in advance. The limit was six, but since we were the only ones there, we upped it to ten. Even if there wasn't a posted limit somewhere, I can't imagine that MA, who has played before, would allow Claire to play nearly 30 strokes on one hole. (Wouldn't it take a very long time to go through the all day?)

Stupid Karen decides to wash her dad's car with steel wool. Watson decides to have it repainted purple. Really, purple?

Image I didn't want: Claire shows up in Stacey and MA's room early in the morning, stark naked.

Claudia: "Mary Anne went out on a double date?" Stacey: "Yup." Claudia: "With a boy?" Book title: Mary Anne Comes Out of the Closet.

Big pink shirt covered in neon-colored tropical birds; baggy shorts and a large green belt; bell earrings that ring; silver bangles
Yellow bikini with bows on the bottom (very 80s)
Pink bikini with palm trees and parrots (what is with Stacey and tropical birds?)
White cotton vest over pink sundress; big ol' floppy 80's hair bow
Cutoff jeans; 1 <3 my Collie t-shirt
Mary Anne
Blue and white striped bikini
Yellow pedal pushers; yellow and white tank top; huge white jacket
Blue headband; white (see-through) swim trunks; tan shirt with cowboy boots and cacti ("cactuses," it says)
White cotton pants and a big blue and white sweater

New charges
Jimmy, Kenny and Ellie (Alex's babysitting charges)

"It's 10:00--you can see Andrew is still human." #7 Claudia and Mean Janine (1987)

AKA Claudia and Her Sister Are Jealous of Each Other

In the fourth graphic novel, Claudia and the BSC are holding a day camp for their sitting charges. Just before it begins, Mimi suffers a stroke and is hospitalized. When the family agrees to each spend a couple hours a day giving her "stimulation," Claudia takes the morning shift, skipping play group. She accuses Janine of not being involved, and Janine accuses the family of leaving her out. They come to an agreement about Janine helping out more and Claudia giving her more of a chance.

Interesting tidbits

The first page of the book shows each of the girls, so that you recognize them as they first appear in the book. Kristy has a backwards ball cap on; MA has braids and is reading A Wrinkle in Time; Claudia has an artist palette and Stacey has a shopping bag. This is my first view of Dawn as she appears in the graphic novels. She has actual waist-length hair (which the cover shows to be white-blonde), freckles and two pairs of earrings and is holding a sapling.

Because the antagonism between Claudia and Janine starts in #2 (and no graphic novel was made of that), the beginning of the book is actually out of that book: Janine is helping Claudia with her homework during a thunderstorm and they get into a fight. In order to lead into summer vacation, it is the last week of school and Claudia is preparing for final exams. Later on, one of the subplots is Kristy being jealous of Dawn. Because the graphic novels skip from #4 to here, it would be natural for that to not have been dealt with yet. After the first day of camp, Dawn invites Kristy over for a scene straight out of #5.

When Janine is babbling on at Claudia, the book literally shows the words going in one ear and out the other.

Mistake! They take a phone call from Mrs. Johanssen. We all know it's Dr. Johanssen.

There's a cute drawing of Claudia's closet where she's labeled everything inside by hand. She has lots of "supplys" along with some Nancy Drews, candy "barrs" and "cookys."

Mallory is super cute in here! A few times, you can't see her eyes behind her glasses. The club asks her to be their assistant at the day camp because she's too old to be a babysittee and too young to be a babysitter. Guess that magical jump from 10 to 11 makes her old enough to sit.

When Claudia, Mimi and Janine are home alone, Janine wants to play "the trivia game." I'm wondering if this is Trivial Pursuit in the original books. (Just checked. It's not.) Of course, Claudia accuses Janine of cheating.

Heh heh heh. When Janine tells Claudia she won't tattle about Claud having "Nancy Drew serials" in her room, Claud pictures a box and bowl of cereal.

When Mimi has her stroke and is taken away by ambulance, Claudia tries to call her parents' cell phones. That is so...wrong. I'm picturing a Zack Morris phone from Saved by the Bell.

When Jenny P. shows up at the day camp she's overdressed as usual. When Claudia tries to get her to take her shoes and socks off, there's an arrow pointing to the shoes from the word FANCY. That made me laugh.

A couple of the BSC clients in the day camp appear to be black. I guess since the artist wasn't going to get to any Jessi books, it was okay to have some African-Americans in town.

Damn, the rope in Dawn's barn is not at all as I imagined it. No wonder Kristy is scared to swing on it the first time.

Karen sucks hard in this one. She goes around telling the other kids that Morbidda Destiny put a spell on Andrew and he's going to turn into a monster. I fully expected Andrew to start crying over this, as he's usually so shy and sensitive, and most of the kids in the playgroup are strangers to him. But he seems to enjoy it, and the BSC takes full advantage of the fact that Jenny is scared of Andrew.

Janine's taking a computer class and she mentions learning html and php. Trippy.

At day camp, Kristy decides Louie the collie needs a bath and gets all the kids to help. Of course, he runs all over Stacey's yard, requiring all the kids to chase him. There's a really cute picture of David Michael squirting Louie with the hose to rinse him off--and hitting all the other kids in the process.

Jamie nearly dumps a whole bowl of punch on Lucy's head at her christening. (I seriously wondered how he lifted that heavy bowl.) Later, Claudia said she understands how Jamie feels--she frequently wants to pour punch on Janine, too.

As the book ends, summer is nearly over. The BSC decide to ask Mallory to join the club, now that she's going to be in middle school.

It's harder to document outfits in the graphic novels. I'll note a few things.
At one point, she is wearing four ponytails. When she was described as doing this in the books, I could never figure out how she did it. Here, she wears two up high on her head and two directly below them, at the base of her hairline.
Later, she has her hair done up in tons of little braids.
She's wearing what looks like rain boots at one point.
She has cut her hair from midway down her back to above her shoulders. She's also wearing a tube top (although, what's keeping it up, I don't know.)
She usually has sandals and board shorts or capris. She's taller than the rest of the girls.
Mary Anne
Still dresses more conservatively/"babyish" than the rest in skirt and blouses.
Strictly t-shirts and shorts, with sandals or sneakers.

New charges
Marcus (no last name or age in the graphic novel)

Welcome to Babysitters Club Dr.

Back when I was a kid, I loved nothing more than to make long lists of families and their children. One of my best ones started with me taking a deck of cards and dividing them as a variety of great grandchildren of one family. (The four daughters had married men named, originally, Heart, Club, Diamond and Spade.)

So it seems natural that I aged up the BSC and gave them all families. Before I even started that, I had a whole story in place. The members of the BSC had continued the club all the way through high school and college (naturally). After they graduated, they turned the club into a business franchise. They provided training to men and women, who ran franchises across the country. Each franchise charged dues to girls, trained them in CPR, infant care and more, and gave them ideas for how to help with homework, fun projects for kids to do, and how to put together Kid Kits. It then worked like the Babysitters Agency: phone calls would come in to a dispatch, and callers were connected to a babysitter or club in their local area. Once parents had a sitter or club they liked, they contacted them directly. Pretty neat, huh?

Of course, with all the money they were making, the BSC was able to build their own subdivision full of nice houses. The eight girls who were in the club at the time (the original seven, plus Shannon) all lived together on one street called Babysitters Club Dr. They were all married and had at least two children. None of them had ever been divorced or widowed and they were all happy, of course.

I wish I still had the list of the children of the BSC. I only remember a couple of the things about it. First, I had just read the name Araceli, so I decided to use it for one of the children. Only, when I wrote up the list, I accidentally wrote Kristy's daughter was named Araleci instead.

Mary Anne was, of course, married to Logan. They had a daughter named Tabitha (and there is a whole crazy story behind her. I remember it because it was so nuts) and a set of twins. The boy was Logan Jr. (naturally) and the girl, Meaghann. Megan was my favorite name at the time, and I had met girls named Meagan, Meghan and Megann, so I was trying to be creative. If I were trying to make the name as kre8tif as possible these days, she would have ended up Meaghynne.

And the best of all...Shannon was married to a man named, I think, Oliver. In any case, their son was also a junior, so they called him...wait for it...O.J. To top it all off, his younger sister was named...Orangina. I am sure I came up with this because in the early 90s, hearing O.J. made you think of orange juice rather than Simpson.

Someday, maybe I'll stop being embarrassed long enough to tell you the whole story of Tabitha.

"But he gave me the Bizzer Sign!" #5 Dawn and the Impossible Three (1987)

Aka Dawn Babysits Mrs. Barrett

In Dawn's first book, she takes on a big task--Mrs. Barrett. The Barrett kids are fine and Dawn likes them, but their house is a mess and so is their mother. Dawn ends up cleaning the house regularly, and when she needs to know where Mrs. Barrett is, she has no clue. Things come to a head when Mrs. Barrett has a bigger problem: She forgets it's her husband's weekend for visitation. So Mr. Barrett, who's no prize himself, decides to get back at her by driving off with their oldest child, son Buddy. Dawn's babysitting and it looks like Buddy's been kidnaped. But he comes home safely, Dawn talks to Mrs. Barrett and she decides to get more organized.

In the subplot, Kristy is (duh) jealous of Dawn's friendship with Mary Anne. Because Kristy is used to having MA under her thumb. So Dawn tries everything in her power to become friends with Kristy. Apparently, this can be accomplished by playing in a hayloft.

Interesting tidbits

I think it's interesting that Mrs. Pike is a member of so many committees, such as the library trustees. I think I'd do the same thing if I had eight kids. Anything to get out of the house. (BTW, when I was a kid, I thought that huge families like the Pikes were awesome. Then I met a girl who is the oldest of 13 and decided that people who have more than three or four kids these days must be at least a little bit nuts.)

Dawn says her mother is crazy, but not nasty crazy. Then she proceeds to describe Sharon as we are all used to hearing about her: how she puts mixing bowls in the linen closet and shoes in the refrigerator. I understand being disorganized. I often can't find my keys or remote or what have you because I walked off with them and set them down somewhere. But they always make Sharon sound like she half-way does this on purpose, like she thought her lipstick belonged in the silverware drawer.

Dawn never mentions how old she is. The book seems to be set in spring. Let's say it's in April. That means that Dawn and Stacey are both thirteen and the other three are twelve, but I'm not sure AMM had set birthdays for the girls yet, so she may not have even known yet. (Later in the book, she establishes the date as late April, and the book goes straight through May toward June.)

Dawn takes a different tact for dealing with Janine than her fellow BSC members. Instead of avoiding her, she just changes the subject. Seems to work fairly well.

Kristy can be pretty passive aggressive. When Mary Anne invites Dawn and Kristy over to help redecorate her room, Kristy talks only to MA, never to Dawn, and she tries to one-up her all the time.

Mistake time! This version of the book (which is the original, not the re-write, though it does have the new cover) mentions Dawn, MA, Kristy and the Schillabers sit together at lunch. It then says, "The four of us spread out our lunches." I guess the twins are one person.

It takes Dawn until page 36 to realize Kristy is jealous of her.

The new cover is pretty similar to the original for this book. It's pretty much straight out of the book when Dawn first meets the Barretts. Buddy is described as wearing flippers and a cowboy hat, and a "grubby bandage" on one finger. Suzi's jumper is coming undone and she has messy, slept-in braids, and Marnie's diaper is drooping. Only thing missing is that Dawn's hair is described as waist-length and white-blonde. Here, it's not nearly that long and is golden blonde.

I knew there was something I didn't like about Dawn. She thinks Karen is really cute and fun.

In this book, Dawn calls Watson Mr. Brewer, and describes his living room. It has a grand piano, three couches and five armchairs. It sounds like it's bigger than my entire house. This book also has the dubious distinction of having the first mention of the ghost of Ben Brewer.

Another first: the Bizzer Sign. My sister and I used to do this to each other as a joke. Of course, we also used to insult each other by accusing one another of having STDs. ("You have crabs!" "You have herpes!") Adam, Jordan, Buddy and even Mallory irritate younger kids by using it during the Pike/Barrett picnic.

Marnie is the second BSC sitting charge to be allergic to chocolate. (It must not be a bad allergy, as she's eating M&Ms earlier in the book during the cleaning races.)

Claudia has an entry in the BSC notebook, and there are a few good misspellings: tickits, luckly, apontment and freind. She's got a case of the Caps when she says Sharon went to a Concert and Dawn Sat. And of course, some word usage errors: their instead of there and to instead of too.

Ooh, that Mrs. Barrett is such a good tipper. She gives Dawn an extra dollar for helping to clean up a mess.

When Sharon's dad is first mentioned, Dawn calls him Grandpa. A few pages later, he's Pop-Pop.

Heh heh. When Dawn asks MA how Pop-Pop looks, Kristy says his shirt doesn't match his pants.

Dawn imagines that one day the BSC will be a huge organization, with Mallory as part of it. More about this later in my next post.

Pink t-shirt; pink and red flowered jumpsuit
T-shirt with "Genius Inside" on it; jean shorts

New characters
Buddy, Suzi and Marnie Barrett (7, 4, 1)--32, 29, 26

"Living in my room is like living in a cotton candy machine. " #4 Mary Anne Saves the Day (1987)

AKA Mary Anne Gets Ballsy

I was really disappointed to not get either of the new versions of this. Mary Anne was my favorite babysitter when I was a kid, probably because we were alike in many ways. I always loved the stories when she stood up for herself (because it didn't happen often.)

In this one, the BSC gets into a big fight that starts because Kristy caught a case of Claudia's job-hogginess. The babysitters all stop talking to each other and set up elaborate schemes so the club keeps running this way. Because Kristy "takes" all of her and Mary Anne's friends, MA's left alone...until she meets a new girl, Dawn, and makes a new friend. Dawn helps MA with a sitting emergency, but she gets upset when she realizes MA's using her to get back at Kristy. MA gets the cojones to organize the BSC back together, and makes up with Dawn, who becomes the fifth member of the Babysitters Club.

Interesting tidbits

Before I even get started, I have to say that the copy I have is one of the ones where they changed the covers. Remember when they re-did the covers and put all the faces down the left hand side? They also changed the picture on a number of the early covers. This one features MA and Jenny with a handsome EMT, getting into the ambulance. Mary Anne's wearing a red cable-knit sweater, white blouse, navy skirt and red tights. She looks like Rachel from Glee, and it's super cute. On the other hand, Jenny is wearing saddle shoes, which does not seem right. She's always shown wearing Mary Janes in the books, and while her blue dress matches the description in the book, is says she wears white shoes.

Heh heh. Kristy wears clothes "only because it's illegal to go to school naked." Leads me to a book title: Kristy and the Nudist Colony.

After the fight, MA deals with her aggravations by slamming things around in the kitchen. I tried that once, but I broke a glass. I don't recommend it.

Real book time: MA is reading A Wrinkle in Time. I read that as a kid, but most of my memories come from reading When I Reach You. Both won the Newbery Medal, and I highly recommend the second.

When MA first meets Dawn, she says she doesn't think she's pretty, but she seems nice enough. I wonder if she ever told Dawn that after they became step-sisters.

Ah, continuity. MA points out Alexander Kurtzmann to Dawn. He's the boy who wears a suit and carries a briefcase. He was mentioned in #2, when Claudia didn't cut in line next to Stacey because Alexander is behind her and he's a tattletale.

Wow, MA is big into playing games. She only makes friends with Dawn, and agrees to go to her house after school, to try to make Kristy jealous. As opposed to doing it to make new friends or be nice to the new girl.

Suck it Dawn! Mary Anne's describes your mom as pretty, even if you're not.

"Trendy and sophisticated" Claudia and Stacey deal with one another by sticking their tongues out. I haven't done that (other than jokingly) since I was about six.

Mrs. Prezzioso's first name is Madeleine and her husband is Nick.

Poor Claudia. She and Mary Anne have just made up when she overhears Mimi call MA "My Mary Anne." Claudia gets horribly upset because, until then, the only person she called MY is Claudia. It might sound terrible, but I completely understand. For a girl like Claudia who always feels inferior to her sister and who always feels like she doesn't live up to her parents expectations, having someone like Mimi--who doesn't judge, just loves--is so vital. Thinking that Mimi is spreading that love has to be very hurtful, to a twelve year old

Claudia misspellings. She is so "made" about the situation with MA that she makes fun of MA's "nitting."

Mary Anne feels sorry for the Pike parents because she and Kristy inadvertently start a game of Telephone that she fears will be played for a long time. In most families, that game would die after about five minutes. It's really the Pikes' own fault for having so many kids.

Oh my. Adam and Jordan want to put on a play of Chuck Norris. This was long before all the CN jokes became popular.

Dawn is either naïve or really stupid--I vote for the latter. She actually believed (or wanted to believe) that MA's friends were all absent for weeks on end.

Oh. Now Dawn and MA are even. Dawn tells MA she's pretty now that her dad lets her wear her hair down. Which kinda means she wasn't pretty before.

Ugh. Pizza toast. I'd forgotten about that disgusting tradition. (Side note: ever notice how in the early books, Stacey doesn't eat processed cheese? She can't have pizza in this book, she ducked out of a BSC pizza party in #1, and in #8 Boy Crazy Stacey, she says she can't have cheese. Yet later on, she eats pizza all the time.)

Baggy shirts and tight pants (I used to wear that too, in the early 90s. It didn't look good on me and I don't think it looks good on anyone else either.)
Dog earring for one ear and bone for the other (My sister and I used to take jewelry making classes. We each made this pair of earrings for ourselves.)
Shirt covered in island print, tight turquoise pants (NOOOOO!) and red high tops (of course)
Mary Anne:
Corduroy skirt, blouse, sweater and penny loafers
Blue jean skirt
Yellow hair clips shaped like flowers

Does anyone really want to hear what the Prezziosos were wearing? In this case, Jenny had a white dress with lavender ribbon, lavender socks and black Mary Janes, and everyone's favorite barrettes with streamers. Mr. P wears an ascot (and now I'm picturing Fred from Scooby Doo.) Later, Jenny wears a pale blue dress with white accessories; her mother is in a cocktail dress and her father in jeans and a polo.

New characters
Dawn (12, almost 13)--38 (It was January and Dawn's birthday is February 5.)
Jenny Prezzioso (3)--28
Byron, Adam, Jordan, Vanessa and Nicky Pike (9, 9, 9, 8, 7)--34, 34, 34, 33, 32

We also learn that Sharon and Richard are 42, which makes them 67 these days. It also means that they were 30 or so when MA and Dawn were born.

Graphic Novels

I was able to get ahold of the graphic novels for Kristy's Great Idea, The Truth about Stacey and Claudia and Mean Janine. (Unfortunately, my library has neither the graphic novel nor the re-write for Mary Anne Saves the Day; my post about that will be based on the original.)

The Claudia graphic novel will get a post under #7, but I wanted to comment on the other two. First, let me say they are ADORABLE! Other than Claudia having a streak of pink in her hair, the girls look pretty much the way I've always imagined them, only updated. Stacey's hair is no longer permed, but long and cute. She looks very generically fashionable--in the way that most of what middle school girls find cute hasn't changed much in the six years since this was published. Claudia's trendiness largely consists of her wearing clothes that clash. It's a very visual way of demonstrating her originality in black and white, and not far off from what I've seen some girls do. In these early books, Mary Anne is still dressed by her dad, and the vision is spot-on. And Kristy's all jeans, t-shirts, sneakers and pony tails.

Some of the other characters I found cute/interesting:
Karen. Yes, I hate her, and she's still obnoxious, but the drawing of her is just so sweet-looking. I almost forgot how annoying she is.
Lucy. Awww, what a cute baby.
Charlotte. I just wanted to hug her--she's so sweet and drawn so well.
Pete. I've already revealed my crush on Pete, and the drawing of him is just so good-looking. He looks so earnest.
Leslie. The BSA member who infiltrates the BSC who doesn't have a mouthful of gum. She's pictured with a lip ring.
The Parents. Both Kristy's mom and Stacey's parents look really young. Watson is all bald and skinny.

The plot lines are nearly word-for-word to the books. And while the clothes may have changed a little bit, you could completely substitute these for the regular books. A few things have changed here and there, but nothing major. (See below.) It's a great way to draw in reluctant readers. Overall, I give them a definite thumbs up.

Changes I saw:

In Kristy, Claudia is wearing a rainbow t-shirt rather than sheep barrettes when she accuses Kristy of dressing like a baby. In this version, she says "Rainbows...are in."

In Stacey, when Stacey gets the popcorn and drink (which had no price in the re-write), it's $9.25.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Then stay tuned for part two!" #6 Kristy's Big Day (1987)

AKA, Kristy Wants to Wear a Pretty Dress

In this noodle-scratcher (one of my favorites when I was a kid, mostly because the plot was so out there) Kristy's mom has had to move up her wedding...and be married in two weeks. In order to be ready, a bunch of friends and relatives come to town to help with the catering and whatnot. Because apparently, Watson's too cheap for a real caterer.

In order to keep the kids from being underfoot, Kristy and the rest of the club gather together all the kids in one spot and keep them entertained for a week. Each one of the girls runs across a problem or two. Mary Anne can't manage to take two babies for a walk. Karen scares a bunch of kids when Dawn takes her and a couple of others to the park. Stacey wants to kill Kristy's cousin Emma when they go to the movies. The boys act like brats when they go to the barber shop. Emma causes chaos the day of the rehearsal dinner when she switches kid's clothes around in their bags.

Interesting tidbits:

Nothing good ever came of a book that started with a Karen quote. *shakes head*

Kristy says she got straight As "again", but that doesn't really jibe with her almost failing science in #53, Kristy for President.

In the original book, Elizabeth offers to pay the BSC $600 for babysitting 14 kids for the week--$120 each. Sam offers to do the job himself for $500, but he has a job at A&P (does A&P even exist anymore? I think all the ones by gramma's house were taken over by another company.) In the re-write, the BSC gets $1000--$200 apiece--and Sam offers $800.

Heh heh. Kristy says she feels like she's in a movie. Sam suggests "Bride of Frankenstein" or "I Married a Witch."

Okay, let's talk for a minute about the ridiculousness of this story. It's not the BSC taking care of fourteen children that's really the issue--it's more about the set up. I get that Elizabeth and Watson need help setting things up. But wouldn't it be easier, to, say, hire a wedding planner and whatnot? They say they need all these friends and relatives to help make food. My cousin got married with not much more notice than this wedding and she was able to book a culinary school to do the catering. How big of a kitchen does Watson have that he, Elizabeth and six other people can comfortably fit in there, cooking? And I get that Watson wanted his best friend at the wedding, but how much help is a couple with four children under six going to be? I know someone whose kids have the exact same age spacing--they're now 13 1/2, 12, 11 and almost 9--and I guarantee you, she was not driving a long way to spend a week preparing for someone else's wedding when her kids were that small.

Getting to a bigger issue, Kristy says the wedding is a large one. Who decides to have a large wedding with a lot of guests when they only have two weeks to plan?? Assuming they HAD to have the wedding then at all-and that's a stretch--why not family and very close friends only, similar to the wedding Richard and Sharon later have? I get that a book aimed at preteens is not going to have Elizabeth and Watson live, unmarried, under the same roof. So IF Elizabeth did have to be out of her house within a few weeks, why not have her take the kids and stay in a motel for a couple weeks? They could have had an August wedding very easily, and had nearly two months to plan and get it ready.

I could say so much more, but my head might explode if I keep thinking about it.                                                             

Kristy says her Uncle Neal is not her favorite relative. This makes me laugh because I also have an Uncle Neal, spelled that way, and he IS one of my favorite relatives.

Fran the counselor has more sense than most of the characters in the BSC-verse. She makes Dawn take Karen home from the playground when she tells the other kids stories about Martians. Later Dawn says she's pretty sure Karen's no longer welcome there. I think Fran is my new favorite character.

Heh heh. Bad Claudia spelling alert! She says it's "unfiar" that it's raining one day.

Claudia gets the idea to have the kids put on a wedding to keep them occupied. Bratty old Karen gets to be the bride. I think they should have let anyone else play that role because I'm sure it fueled Karen's unending desire to be a STAR.

Boy, Emma may be a bigger brat than Karen. On second thought, nahhh. But she is a pain in the ass. She loses her money going to the movies (only to find it in her sock some time later) and then drops half a box of Junior Mints over the edge of the balcony. She makes fun of the boys when they go to the barber and then bites her cousin Ashley when she tries to stop her. And finally, she gets bored during the rain and switches elements of everyone's fancy dress outfits for the rehearsal dinner--so that a 3 year old boy might have a 10 year old girl's slip among his attire.

UGGGHHH. My Karen hate knows no bounds in this book. She interrupts both the rehearsal and the wedding with her witch talk. She scares David Michael, causing him to scream during the rehearsal. And then SHE screams during "first kiss" because Morbidda Destiny shows up with a gift for the happy couple. Man, I wish MD had put a spell on that caused her slow, painful death.

Charlie cracks me up in the last chapter. Until the end of the series--mostly the last Forever Friends book, when he finally graduates high school--Charlie was really the most neglected member of the Thomas family. Right after the happy couple leaves on their honeymoon, Charlie starts giving his siblings instructions such as demanding that no food be eaten in the kitchen--only in the living room in front of the TV. David Michael asks if he still has to take his vitamins--his mother's last instruction to him before she left--and Charlie responds, "Don't press your luck."

Black leotard; tight red pants; lab coat-esque shirt with designs; red clips in her hair
Purple nail polish
Kristy's wedding dress:
Yellow, long, with an empire waist and sash; yellow high heels
Karen's wedding dress
Same yellow material as Kristy's, but with a regular waist and shorter; black Mary Janes

New clients:
None of these new kids are ever seen again, but here they are.
Kristy's cousins:
Ashley, Berk, Grace and Peter Miller (9, 6, 5 and 3)--34, 31, 30, 28
Luke, Emma and Beth Meiner (10, 8 and 1)--35, 33, 26
Watson's friends:
Katherine, Patrick, Maura and Tony Fielding (5, 3, 2, baby)--30, 28, 27, 25

"Now, what would you do with a pet squirrel?" #3 The Truth about Stacey (1986)

AKA Stacey Goes Behind her Parents Back (For the First Time)

Stacey's have a rough time with her parents. They can't accept her diabetes as a fact and drag her from doctor to doctor to try to cure her or at least improve her. Dr. Johanssen helps Stacey get through to her parents by helping her make an appointment with a respected diabetes expert. Stacey talks to her parents, who agree to lay off. Since they stop fighting with her diabetes, I guess they start fighting with each other, so they can get divorced 25 books down the road.

Meanwhile the club has a new problem: competition in the form of the Baby Sitters Agency. The new club consists of older girls who can work later hours. Many of the club's clients switch to the BSA for jobs, including Mrs. Newton, who has a newborn. Eventually, the BSC wins their clients back when parents realize most of the BSA sitters aren't up to the standards they're used to. Yay, happy ending.

Interesting tidbits:

Stacey says there is only one middle school in Stoneybrook, yet by eighth grade ("next year"), there's another, called Kelsey Middle School, that Kristy was supposed to go to. Kristy's mom has to pay a fee so that David Michael and Kristy don't have to change schools. Oddly, though, they're able to catch the school bus. Usually, buses only pick up students who live out of the school's territory if they have special needs and are being bused to a special program. Maybe Watson slipped someone some money to pick the kids up? Karen goes to private school and eventually starts living with the Brewers for a month at a time, so someone (Nannie, I'm sure) drops her off at school, so why not Kristy and David Michael too?

Stacey says Janine is dull, which I don't find fair. She's got a lot to say on a lot of subjects--it just may not be what Stacey's interested in. What Stacey really seems to mean is that Janine is pretty even keeled and rarely raises her voice.

Kristy calls the BSA to see how it works. She says her name is Candy Kane and she needs a sitter for her brother so she can go on a date with Winston Churchill. And being really stupid, the girl on the other end of the line barely notices.

Stacey says much of the reason her parents watch her like a hawk is that they aren't able to have another child, and since she has a life threatening illness, they live in fear of losing her. Talk about pressure.

This book is the first time Kristy sits in Claudia's chair with a visor on. Although she sits in the desk chair while Mary Anne sits in the director's chair. Before that, Stacey says Kristy lounged around on the floor...which is what is seen the (original) cover of Kristy's Great Idea.

Poor Charlotte. The other kids won't even let her play on the playground; they keep calling her "teacher's pet." Wonder what she did exactly to get bees in their bonnets. It says everyone was irritated because she would do all her work quickly and never make mistakes, but that just doesn't seem like enough to cause the hate.

Huh. Mary Anne and her dad are having Thanksgiving with Kristy's family and Watson.

The very first BSC baby arrives in the form of Lucy Jane Newton. I wonder if she's named for AMM's love of I Love Lucy (which shows up every so many books or so--Mary Anne was watching it in #2. In either case, it's not a very eighties name, but neither is Jamie, so I approve.

Is it wrong that I get glee out of picturing Stacey passing out at school and fall face first into a bowl of tomato soup?

Hee hee. A "triple emergency" club meeting.

You know, of all the boys in the BSC universe, I dislike Pete Black the least. Yeah, he does the food sculpting and things the other boys do, but he seems like a nice guy, and he actually takes his job as class president (which he wins in #53, Kristy for President) seriously. There was a boy like that in my high school...he was also captain of our undefeated football team and spent a year in the NFL. He was one of those rare kids that EVERYONE likes, for good reason.

I am trying to put together as many parent names from the BSC-verse as I can. Dawn's parents are Sharon and Jack; Mary Anne's, Richard and Alma. Stacey's mom is Maureen and Mallory's is Dee. Claudia's mother is Riyoko. Kristy's parents are Elizabeth and Patrick. Of course, there are step-parents; Dawn's stepmom is Carol; Watson is Kristy's stepdad and Samantha is Stacey's step-mother to be. Dr. Johanssen is Peggy; Mr. Newton, Roger and his sister in law, Mrs. Feldman, is Julie. I'll be on the lookout for others.

Another update to make things more timeless: Stacey goes to the movie theater concession stand and is short on money, so Laine (her "ex" friend) lends it to her. In the original book, there was an amount for the snacks. Here, it just says, "He told me the price."

No real outfits; just accessories
Dino on a beret
Red glittery, beaded sneakers (maybe with purple?)
Footprint covered leg warmers
Plastic butterfly barrettes
Fingertip-less red lace gloves

New clients
Mallory Pike (10)--36
Baby Lucy Newton--26