Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"My brothers are being pigs. And pains." BSC #21: Mallory and the Trouble with Twins (1989)

AKA Mallory Takes a Whole Book to Figure Out What's Obvious on Page 27
Before I start this one, I want to comment on Mallory and book covers. From about 1990 until about 1996 or 7, Mallory always looks hideous in any picture she appears in. When she babbles on about her appearance within the pages, you're inclined to agree with her. They put her in huge glasses that look more like you'd see on a man in 1985 (See SS #8.) Her hair also either looks like a mullet or a helmet. Like all the girls, she also tends to look like she's 16 or older. Near the end of the series, they start to get it right. Her glasses shrink, and she actually looks 11.
In this one, she actually looks as I would imagine her from the series. Although, why she's tucked her necklace into her turtleneck, I do not know. I'm more concerned about the Porcelain Doll twins, I mean the Arnold twins, and their lack of necks. The picture is actually a picture taken at the twins' birthday party and is pretty accurate, except for the girls' attire.
Righto. Mallory gets a standing job sitting for the Arnold twins, Carolyn and Marilyn. In addition to having matchy-matchy names, the girls are very identical and their mother dresses them exactly alike all the time. The only way Mallory can tell them apart is by their name bracelets. When she comments on how they're like bookends, they take off their name bracelets and start playing tricks on her. She eventually realizes that they don't like dressing the same, because no one can tell them apart and it causes problems all the time. Once she lets them know she understands, they act civil and she helps them talk with their mother.
The b-plot isn't really much of a plot at all. It's simply Mallory whining about how babyish she looks and how she's ugly. After talking to Mrs. Arnold works for the twins' problem, she decides to talk to her own parents, who let her get a haircut and get her ears pierced.
Interesting Tidbits
Right away, Mallory describes the triplets as "identical, but you'd hardly know it" because they don't dress the same or act the same. This is the clumsiest foreshadowing I've seen since...probably since the last BSC book. Never mind. Moving on.
How are all 10 Pikes riding in one car? Mallory says that she, Vanessa, Claire and Nicky are in one row, and since Claire tries to lunge over her, they're obviously not wearing seatbelts. These days, in some states, both Claire and Margo would still need to be in booster seats.
You'd think a family like the Pikes would take their kids shoe shopping at Kmart, not a shoe boutique. While there, Mallory gets a pair of loafers because they're "practical." During the same era, my uncle with five kids would buy everyone ONE pair of shoes for the year, and they were always sneakers, because that way, they could wear them to gym as well as the rest of the time.
I can't figure out why Claire and Margo react so badly to the ear piercing gun. It's not like it makes a loud noise or anything. But Claire screams and Margo threatens to barf.
I just started chapter two and Mallory has already started at least three sentences with the word US: "Us kids" and "Us club members," twice. I know it's the way people talk, and maybe this is before they made Mallory into Super Nerd, but it just doesn't look or sound right. Plus, I feel they should really not advertise bad grammar in a story aimed at preteens. By the end of the book, she uses that poor grammar 5 times, and uses it right...once.
Jessi and Mallory are scared to sit by Logan on the floor...or to talk to him, apparently.
Logan makes fun of the Arnold twins' names, but all the twins in the series have names like that: Mariah and Miranda Schillaber, who used to sit with MA and Kristy at lunch in seventh grade; Abby and Anna; Rosie and Ricky, who are in #45 and #52 and are babies; and then Karen has twins in her class, also. I don't think they're Sherri and Terri like on the Simpsons, but it's something very similar. I don't care to pick up a Little Sister book and find out. (I looked it up. It's Terri and Tammi.) I've known lots of sets of twins in my life, and although I did go to kindergarten with Molly and Polly, most of the twins haven't had matching names at all: Beah and Maisie, Josephine and Cordelia, Jonas and Elli, Pearl and Franny.
Mallory described Mrs. Arnold as fussy looking: "too much and too cute." I think she sounds a lot like Karen dressed up as a Lovely Lovely Lady. She wears too much jewelry and is covered in bows.
Mrs. Arnold's first name is Linda, as we learn from her name necklace. Do you know anyone over the age of five who has one and actually wears it?
Mrs. Arnold dresses her girls like china dolls. The kicker is, they are still all dolled up when they get home from school, and they stay that way. At my house, the shoes came off, the jewelry and hair pieces got removed and, as often as possible, socks or tights came off. I don't think I remember seeing my sister in socks at home until she was about 11. Of course, my mother didn't dress like a doll, either.
Claudia misspellings: waht (what), frist (first, twice), babbysitting (Claud loves to babbysit), pians (pains), triked (tricked), truoble (trouble, which she then spells properly in the next sentence), goten (gotten), laest (least), waite (wait). Someone needs to teach that girl some phonics; pians and laest are not pronounced anything like pains and least. She also uses of instead of off three times and forgets to capitalize Mal once. At the end of the chapter, she spells Mallory as Malery and tells her she can have the "twines." (Mal then says she doesn't want the twines, which I find a little humorous and a little catty at the same time.)
Claudia gets shamed by the Arnold parents for letting the wrong twin go to a piano lesson. What do they expect when the twins are so identical that babysitters can't tell them apart? The girls do get in trouble also, but a babysitter who has only known the girls for an hour can't be expect to prevent something like that.
Mallory is reading Cynthia Voigt's Dicey's Song.
Kristy's happy to outgrow a dress she got for Christmas. Since it's tight, not short, I'm going to have to assume she's growing in the chest or gut...probably the former, given the reaction.
Mallory wants to be an individual, "like Dawn." Pick a better role model, sweetie.
When asked how they'd like to dress, Marilyn replies she wants to wear "more grown up clothes" like "skirts without straps" (huh?) and Carolyn wants to be Mini-Claudia: push down socks and zipper jeans. She also wants barrettes with ribbons, which were, in my experience (and I was 8 in 1989, same as the twins) very babyish.
Mallory thinks her parents are wizards because they know every trick in the kid book and have eyes in the back of their heads. Maybe she doesn't really go to a Massachusetts boarding school at the end of the series, but to Hogwarts. She could be a Weasley down her mother's side. Hmmm.
Mallory's dad doesn't want her to get a green mohawk, but her mother wants her to wear snake fang earrings. Guess we know where the line is drawn in this family.
They keep describing ear piercing as "punching." Makes me think someone's getting knocked out.
How are these girls getting their ears pierced without parental permission? First Mal and Jessi get a hole in each ear and Claudia gets one hole. Then Dawn the individual copies everyone else and decides to get two holes in each ear. The lady doing the piercing doesn't even ask for a note (which could be faked) or talk to Sharon on the phone (who could have been anyone, anyway).
Why do I always want to gag at the end of BSC books? Sappy endings, bleccch.
New Characters:
Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold (says they've been sat for before, but I think this is the first book where we actually meet them), 8--31
Claire and Margo (doing a "fashion show"): pink sweat pants, white turtlenecks and running shoes; swimsuits, knee socks and high heels
Marilyn and Carolyn: plaid dresses, tights, black Mary Janes, hair ribbons, lockets, and nail polish; red flared skirts, blue sweaters, white turtlenecks and Mary Janes; blue sailor dresses, hair ribbons, tights, Mary Janes; white dresses with pink ribbons and lots of lace, pink tights, hair ribbons, Mary Janes, lockets; yellow jumpsuits
Marilyn: pink jean skirt, ruffly blouse, knee socks with hearts, pink barrettes
Carolyn: "cool" jeans, sweatshirt with stars and moon, headband, yellow push-down socks
Kristy: jeans, pink and blue sweater, white turtleneck
Claudia: hideous hair (lots of little braids pulled back and held in place with a series of scrunchies), hand painted t-shirt, tight blue capri pants, push-down socks, fruit basket earrings
MA: plum skirt over plum and white body suit, white suspenders (I remember wanting this outfit when I was 10)
Dawn: oversized blue shirt with green on the inside, so green showed where cuffed it, green skirt, clogs (which are never cool; even Mallory says so)
Jessi: jeans, t-shirt reading "You are looking at perfection" (that's almost as good as Dawn's "I'm Awesome" necklace...anyone remember which book that is?)
Next week: since I've done Kristy, Claudia, Jessi and Mallory since starting this back up, it's going to be one of the other girls. Most likely Dawn or MA since I don't have any Stacey or Abby books. Let's tentatively say #50 Dawn's Big Date, but since I've revealed that Dawn books tend to turn my stomach (which is in bad enough shape anyway).


  1. Poor grammar in a book really stands out to me when it's not dialogue. I was twitching so many times with the "Us baby-sitters..." when it should have been "We."

  2. I don't remember which book the I'm awesome necklace is from but I think in the same book MA was wearing a 'Mary Anne' necklace. As in, the letters of which spelled out Mary Anne. So I've "seen" a 12/13 wearing one, so, yes, over the age of 5.