Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"I'll call the pediatrician, Russ and Peaches, the Simpsons, the neighbors and put an ad in the paper." #123 Claudia's Big Party (1998)

AKA Claudia and Janine Break the Rules and Get Busted

This one is near the end of the series and about four years after I stopped actively reading the books. Unlike everything else I've blogged (and about 75% of the series) I've never read this one before, not even during my blitz of the local libraries. Some of the titles (mostly, for some reason, Stacey ones) seemed too stupid to bother reading, and others (like this one) just never made it onto my list, or came home with me but I ran out of time before reading them.
Interestingly, both my copy of this one and #2 came with the name and phone number of the same little girl inside the front cover. In 1998, she lived just down the street from here, hence why the books were dropped at a local thrift store.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, the plot. Claudia is back in eighth grade after her very silly trip back to seventh grade. She feels like she doesn't have enough time for everything, because, in addition to a large school workload, she's being pulled in different directions by her friends, AND Janine is feeling lonely and wants to spend more time with her. So when her parents go out of town for the weekend, she decides to invite her friends all over to get to know each other. Only, of course, word gets out and her cozy gathering of the BSC and her four seventh grade friends turns into a raging party of random classmates. Aunt Peaches and Uncle Russ break up the party, and tell the sisters their parents will be informed. Claudia and Janine get into one last fight and then make up. They get points from their parents by telling the truth before Peaches can tell them, and also for cleaning up so well.
Meanwhile, in a parallel case of siblings, Bill and Melody Korman are warring with one another. Bill has nothing nice to say to Melody, and she doesn't know how to respond to his meanness. After two negative sitting jobs, the BSC decides they have to solve this problem. Jessi gives MA an idea. She takes the three Kormans for a walk, and MA pretends she lost the key to the house. Melody and Bill have to work together to try to find it.
Interesting tidbits

Right off the bat...Claudia's friend Joanna reminds her they are going shopping and spells the word out. Claudia's surprised that it has two Ps in it. Even she says you'd think she'd know how to spell one of her favorite activities.
Apparently, Claudia's boyfriend, Josh, likes her other friends and doesn't mind going shopping with them. I see. Let's take bets. Does he come out of the closet in high school, or does he wait until college?
Ahh, so that's what Claudia's dad does. He works for an investment firm; he's a partner, in fact. I've always liked getting details about what the girls' parents do for a living.
Is it wrong that, as Claudia is describing her seventh grade friends, I'm trying to figure out who is who on the cover? (Speaking of the cover: ever notice that, after MA got her haircut in #60, she almost always looks like she's wearing a wig on the covers? They really just did a lousy job on her hair.)
Really? The Kishis leave their door unlocked on BSC days so the girls don't have to wait? That seems more than a little dangerous and stupid.
They're setting up Mallory's move to boarding school. When she comes in to the BSC meeting, she doesn't look at anyone. Later, when asked if she wants a sitting job, it's clear she's been crying, and she turns down the job. Poor girl. I went through about three years of the kind of hell she's been experiencing for a couple weeks, and if you don't develop a thick skin and learn to ignore it, it's really tough.
This made me laugh. When Janine wants some candy, she doesn't ask for it; she asks Claudia if they can add C12H22O11 (the chemical compound for sucrose) into the equation.  
Janine keeps trying to get Claudia to do things with her, like bake cookies. When the parents say they're going out of town, Claudia says she doesn't like the gleam in Janine's eye.
I've always liked the Korman kids. Leaving aside the stupid toilet monster, they've always seemed very normal. They moved into the crazy Delaney mansion, turned off the ostentatious fountain and made the place look more like one where children live. And Bill and Melody always seemed to be friendly and fun. Even their fights in this one sound normal.
Speaking of the Kormans' mansion, Abby uses the back staircase. Really? How many houses have more than one staircase?
When Bill and Melody get into a shoving match, Abby tells them they can't have the ice cream sundaes she made them. Is it horrible that I really, really wanted her to eat hers in front of them after she threw theirs in the sink? (BTW, isn't Abby allergic to ice cream?)
Josh and Claudia find Janine watching TV. She tells them she was "channel swimming" and inadvertently throws the remote at Josh. When he returns it to her, he calls it her "electronic wand." He's pretty quick with a quip.
Ahh, Josh. He makes a big scene because he's nervous to go on a date with MA, Logan, Stacey, and Stacey's "older man," Ethan. He ends up inadvertently sitting in MA's lap, but plays it off by saying it's good to see her again.
Poor, poor Janine. She recently broke up with her boyfriend, and you can tell she's been a little lonely lately. She keeps trying to (really lamely) bond with Claudia, who is (as usual) being a bit of an ass about it. For example, for most of the story she never really attempts to do any of things Janine wants her to do, she cuts Janine off before she can finish, and she doesn't really listen to her stories.
More Mal worries: she says she did okay on a test because she got an 86 on it. Everyone's concerned about her because normally she'd consider that to be almost failing.
Wow. Janine is sarcastic to her parents as they are leaving.
Claudia keeps describing herself as taffy being stretched thinner and thinner. It started making me hungry.
Janine and Claudia peruse an art website, back in the days when everyone had dial up and you waited for pictures to load. Sounds horribly dated now but way too "current" for a BSC book.
Claudia tries to think up a list of trivia about her various friends. Some of the trivia is too generic (such as liking the Mets for Logan) and some is kinda mean (do you think Mal, who is already having a tough time, wants everyone to know she talks in her sleep?)
They keep talking about how big the party is getting, but Claudia only counts 21 people at one point. She had originally told Janine 12 guests, but it's more than that. She has invited the six other BSC members, Logan and Shannon, Abby's twin sister, Anna, and her four younger friends. That's 15, not including Janine and Claudia. Then Pete, Rick, Austin, Erica, Emily and Shannon's best friend Greer also make it. That makes 23 people, including the hosts. I guess it's 40% larger than the party was intended to be, but it's not like 75 kids had showed up.
Some of the people at the party are acting more than a little bit crazy (and out of character). I'm not surprised when a couple of people we don't know that well go into the Kishi parents' bedroom to watch WWF death match, but Claudia finds Abby, Anna and Shannon playing keep away with a COOKIE in a room where a vase was already broken. I just don't see it. Also, Janine takes all of Claudia's seventh grade friends to her room and show them stuff on the internet, so she's no longer monitoring the party, and these friends are not mingling the way they're supposed to do.
I do see THIS happening though. When the kids are playing with the cookie-decorating supplies, Pete Black squirts icing into his mouth. When Kristy tells him he's gross, he sprays some on her arm. She pretends to be mad, but then licks it off anyway.
When Peaches catches the girls in the middle of the party, she seems more hurt that Claudia and Janine lied to her than upset that they had a party without permission. They had told her they didn't want to eat dinner with her that night because they had special "sister plans."
Ouch. Claudia and Janine get into a fight after Russ and Peaches leave. Claudia snaps at Janine that she just wishes she actually had any friends. That's cold, mostly because Claudia KNOWS it's true. Janine only agreed to the party because she thought maybe she could hang out with Claudia's friends.
I know MA is trying to bring the Kormans together, but there's a small flaw in her plan. Bill and Melody have decided that the only way to get into the house is to break a window on the back door and unlock it from the inside. MA has placed the house key in Skylar's stroller, where they find it as they put the stroller away. What if they hadn't seen it? Would she have had to follow through with breaking into the house? (Also, it's a good thing that the Kormans don't have an "emergency key" they keep in the garage or under a rock or something.)
When Janine says she doesn't know how to reconnect with her old friends, Claudia suggests she throw a party. That makes the sisters laugh and they end up hugging.
First thing Claudia's parents want to know when they hear about the party is whether drinking was involved. I'm not surprised. The BSC never did delve into that issue that I can remember, and many kids do drink at age 13.
Josh: khakis, denim shirt and tie (which he takes off...just the tie, not the rest! Although, maybe if they HAD been drinking....)
Janine: black pleated skirt, loafers, sweater with red trim
Claudia: black jeans and turtleneck; fleecy jacket with turquoise, pink, lime and red stripes (ewww!), ribbon earrings
Next week: probably a Jessi book

1 comment:

  1. About MA looking like she's wearing a wig on the covers after her haircut: it's because she is. I can't remember which one, but one of the books, the author's note in the back describes that AMM felt bad for cutting MA's hair, because the cover model had to wear a wig for the rest of the series when posing for the covers.