Monday, September 24, 2012

“Hey, Weight Watchers is really working for you.” BSC #121 Abby in Wonderland (1998)

AKA Abby Broods While Surrounded by Characters We Don't Know or Care About

Before I begin this, I have to say it. I like Abby. Maybe it's partly because she's a fresh voice in the club, who hadn't become cliché yet. I know it's at least partly because she's a little silly. (In SS #13, she's "rowing a boat" on Claudia's bed and "hits the brakes" when Kristy calls the club to order.) And the way she calls Kristy on her various shit is a welcome change. Yes, she can be overbearing, but overall, I do enjoy her books.
In this one, Abby, Anna and their mother are vacationing at Gram and Grandpa's vacation house in Long Island. The grandparents are having an Alice in Wonderland themed anniversary party. While helping Gram prepare a family tree, Abby learns her grandmother may have breast cancer. She keeps it to herself for a while but eventually discusses it with her Gram. She considers how strong her grandmother is.
Meanwhile, back in Stoneybrook, Mr. Pike's car has died and money intended for a trip to Sea City is put toward that use. The babysitters help them have a stay-cation by doing things like turning their backyard into a beach and having a ridiculous sleepover.
Interesting Tidbits
Abby packs her suitcase by throwing a bit of this and a bit of that in there and without folding it. I seem to remember her doing this in the Hawaii super special too. (Her room seems a lot like mine did a that age; I doubt she folds her clothes when she puts them in her drawers either.)
Abby didn't need to find a best friend when she joined the BSC. Instead of describing how she's "so different" from her bff, as they do for Kristy and MA, Dawn and MA, Stacey and Claudia, or Mallory and Jessi, they compare and contrast Abby and Anna. It's always bugged me that, because Abby is into sports, she has to dress like a jock all the time (lots of spandex at a time when that would have no longer been cool) and, because she's into music, Anna has to dress like she's in Little House on the Prairie or something.
Abby recounts the plot of an entire mystery in this one. I'm not going to say which one, or ruin the plot. Let's just say it was one mystery I was dying to read, and she went and spoiled it for me by ruining the ending.
Abby's initial thoughts of Kristy: "Who did this little squirt...think she was, telling me what to do?" Heh.
Abby describes Mallory as having a dry sense of humor. I've never stopped to think Mallory has any sense of humor, really.
Anna and Shannon are apparently good friends.
The Pikes are disappointed that their trip to Sea City has been cancelled, and the kids are acting like horrors. Mal suggests that when her mother calls looking for sitters, they should tell her she called the wrong number.
Mrs. Stevenson drives a minivan.
MA and Dawn help the Pikes come up with ideas to bring Sea City to their house. Several of them are bound and determined to catch a seagull by the supermarket. That's only one step up from wanting a pigeon.
Abby's grandmother shames her into wearing sunblock. It's totally a PSA.
Gram is making a family tree, and Abby suggests some computer software and a scanner. We're not in 1989 anymore, Toto.
Gram's mother was one of 13 children, but she says 9 of them were killed in the Holocaust.
It's weird reading this book because the other babysitters are barely in it. I guess it's not much different from last week's book in that regard, but it's odder given that I've barely read any Abby books before. It almost feels like it's not a BSC book at all.
The Pike beach party is pretty much what you'd expect: kiddy pools, a sand box, snacks and pink flamingos. Although Nicky does make a lifeguard stand and set himself up in it. When the triplets start spraying everyone with water balloons, Adam ends up attacking his mother with the hose. She retaliates with a super soaker.
Really early on in this one, you get that it's going to be an "issue" book. I was guessing Alzheimer's at first. But Abby finds a bunch of pamphlets about breast cancer. There's some bullshit about how she can't tell her mom or Anna because Gram still doesn't talk to her sister Leah because Leah squealed that Gram went to Weight Watchers back in 1838 or something. So instead, Abby decides to talk to Kristy. Because, yeah. She doesn't have a big mouth or anything.
I just noticed that, since Dawn is home for summer vacation in this book, they shoved her picture on the top left hand corner, above Kristy and the other girls. It looks like she's floating in outer space.
On the same topic, I've always tried to figure out which book the photos came from. I'd had most of them figured out at one point. Several of them are from a super special--Mallory and Dawn are definitely from SS #6, and I think Claudia and Jessi are from SS #10. MA's first picture is from #52; her short hair picture is from #60. I think Abby's picture is from the first Abby book, #90. I'm still working out Kristy and Stacey.
You can tell how exciting I find a book based on how many tidbits have absolutely nothing to do with the plot.
Abby has an aunt she's only known for a few months. While she calls all her great aunts and uncles "Aunt Leah" and "Uncle Izzy," her mother's sister is just Miriam.
Abby researches breast cancer. It reminds me of when MA goes to NYC and reads guide books aloud. She sounds like a "Breast Cancer and You" pamphlet.
Heh. When Kristy first arrives on the ferry, she greets Mrs. Stevenson by saying, "Too much sun isn't good for you." How pleasant of her.
Are the Pikes nuts? They let all their kids have a giant slumber party in the backyard. Now, I only plan on one, maybe two children, but even if I ever did have more than that, I can't imagine all of them having guests at the same time. If I count correctly, then there are eight Pike kids, six guests, plus Claudia, Stacey, Jessi, Logan and Ben Hobart. Cray-zee.
Anna has a friend named Corley, who is apparently crazy smart and plays the cello. (Right now I'm hearing my nephew, 2, yell BIG CELLO! while looking at his music book.) She has a red Afro hairstyle and four younger sisters.
At the party, Abby dresses as Alice; Corley and Anna as Tweedledee and Tweedledum; Kristy as the Mad Hatter; Grandpa as the White Rabbit; Gram as the White Queen; Miriam as the Duchess; and Mrs. Stevenson as the Jack of Hearts. Aunt Leah, who finally agrees to come, shows up as a caterpillar.
The book leaves the ending wide open. You never find out if Gram has cancer or not. I would have hated that when I was a kid, but I like it a lot more now.
Anna: white shorts and blue t-shirt
Claudia: orange leggings, long yellow shirt covered in beads, aqua shoes, dangly bead earrings

Gram's friend Molly: red and orange tie dye outfit with flowing sleeves. (OMG! She's totally senior-citizen Claudia!)
Next week: Starting the babysitters over again at the beginning! #81 Kristy and Mr. Mom

"I'm not saying that all kids who go to private school are snobs (because then I'd be calling myself a snob!)" BSC # 28 Welcome Back, Stacey! (1989)

AKA Stacey's Parents Get Divorced and She Mopes

I've been sick with the Pike Plague...did you miss me?!

Sadly, this little doozy is not part of my collection. I haven't been able to find any Stacey (or Abby) books at thrift stores, except the two I've already blogged. I went to the library and told myself I'd read the first Stacey book I saw. I've read this probably only twice before, so I'm looking forward to rereading and blogging it.
Next week's book is also sitting on my shelf: #121 Abby in Wonderland. It's the only Abby my local branch stocked. I hope to be able to blog the "original" seven BSC members pretty evenly and not play favorites, but there's only a few Abby books so I'm going to spread them out a lot farther. You'll get to hear my opinion of Abby next week though.
The plot of this book is fairly obvious from the title, and it removes ANY dramatic tension the story might have had. Stacey's parents announce their divorce, and tell Stacey to choose where to live. Obviously, she chooses to come back to Stoneybrook, or this very imaginative title would make no sense.
There's no B-plot in this one. Stacey's the only one really doing any babysitting, too.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. It's one of the ones that they re-did when they put the pictures down the side. I seem to remember there being a banner on the house though. Maybe I'm confusing it with #13? But I do know that if they updated it, they didn't change Stacey's clothes or the awesome 80s station wagon. Stacey is also quite possibly the only one on the cover who doesn't have permed hair. At least, MA and Kristy look mighty permed (and you can only tell them apart because Kristy is wearing a turtleneck and jeans and MA is wearing leggings.)

Off topic, sorta. I dropped the book down the back of the couch while typing the last bit and spent 30 minutes getting it back, before I even got to start the book.
The book is dedicated to Courtenay Robinson Martin. Isn't Courtenay the name of the little sister who gets kidnapped in Missing Since Monday? I used to have a copy of that one and remember two things about it. 1. Gabbie and Myriah Perkins are also it in it and 2. Even at age 10 I thought the spelling Courtenay looked silly.
Tidbit #4 and I still haven't started the book.
Stacey keeps saying how much she "hearts" things. As in, there's a little heart in every sentence. She <3 New York, shopping, museums, and even tourists.
Stacey has to point out that the Walkers (a family she babysits for) and Jessi are black, but she just thinks of them as people, not black people. If that's the case, then why even bring it up?
I love when the books try to bring up real amounts of money, and real stores. Stacey's dad is home early from work and before she even goes inside, Stacey can hear them arguing. Seems mom spent $490 at Altmans (is that, or was that, a real jewelry store?) and $1568 at Tiffany's. Yikes. Even these days, the latter is a lot of money.
Isn't it nice of Laine's parents to let Stacey dial long distance from their house? (Laine never asks for permission or anything.) Although, Stacey does later promise to pay her back.
I was at American Girl Place this week for my niece's birthday, and Tessie and I started laughing at the Bitty Baby dolls. In order to have one for everyone, they have an African American baby, a Latina baby, an Asian baby, etc. I pointed out that one of them had "exotic, almond shaped eyes" so we started calling it Claudia. (The black baby was Jessi; the redhead Mallory, etc.) I get that they want to point out what Claudia looks like, just like the other girls. But if they point out she's Asian, or Japanese, do they really need to point out that her eyes are almond shaped? Even an 8 year old knows that with it being pounded into her head.
When Stacey is talking about Jessi in chapter two, it's strange. I *think* they've only met maybe twice. Once was definitely during #24, when Stacey comes back to town for the Mother's Day event. They also show all the BSC members (except Logan) together on the cover of SS #2, but I don't remember that actually happening. All the 13 year olds got to go to the CIT dance and stuff, but Mal and Jessi weren't invited to that. They also didn't come to NYC during #18 as the older girls did.
Claudia misspellings: exited (excited, twice), babysiting, expuryence, bisness (I still don't know why business isn't spelled that way), waht, frist (first), barnch (branch), probelms, tryed. She also says no instead of know and hop instead of hope. And, here's the kicker: she spells both Stacey (Stacy) and Kristy (Krity) wrong.
When Stacey's parents tell her they're getting divorced, they tell her not to be difficult about things. But I honestly think she took it pretty well. She asked what the troubles were and when she didn't like the answers, she slammed her door and turned her music up loud. It's not like she started cursing and telling her parents she hated them or anything.
After about 24 hours of being ignored, Stacey's parents shut her bedroom door and tape a note to it saying, "Do not enter. Go back to the living room and talk to your parents." And it works!
Who thinks it's a good idea to leave custody of a thirteen year old entirely up to the child? I still think it's nutty that Dawn's parents let Jeff and Dawn break their custody arrangement and move back to California. That's just opening the kid up to all kinds of issues, especially given the kind of games Stacey's parents play with her later in the series.
I just love when the BSC throws in sitting or safety tips. Stacey has the Walker kids do a table setting race, but she says you can only do that with plastic utensils and paper plates so you don't break anything.
Stacey reads The Snowy Day, The Owl and the Pussycat, and Angus and the Ducks with the Walkers.
When Stacey starts weighing Stoneybrook v. New York, she compares how "cool" she is in each place. Then she weighs her friends in Stoneybrook against the shopping in New York.
Stacey hopes to get her parents back together, so among other things, she steals official school paper and writes notes to each of her parents, signing them from her school counselor. Her goal is to have the two of them "meet the counselor" at a romantic restaurant and have dinner together. She's surprised when her parents don't fall for it.
The first house Stacey and her mom look at is dated and tiny, with a crumbling front walk and three rooms painted purple inside, including the ceiling. Stacey's mom says they're on a budget, which makes sense. But the house on the cover does not look like something her mom could afford; it looks more like Watson's mansion.
The house Stacey's mom eventually buys is behind the Pikes and used to house the neighbors on whom the Pikes liked to spy. It's bigger than the other houses but has a few problems and "1000 year old" appliances. It's also old, which I guess is supposed to set up the next book, with Mallory and the trunk from Stacey's attic.
Heh. Claudia and the other girls can recognize Kristy by the way she "thunders" up the stairs.

Double heh. Kristy's telling the story of dinner at the Rodowskys'. Dawn keeps interrupting her to correct her grammar. I can't tell if it's Dawn messing with Kristy or making a joke. Kristy says Jackie "squirted his hot dog across the kitchen the second he bit into it." and Dawn says, "He bit into the kitchen?"
There's something wrong with this phrase: "He'd like her for his girlfriend." It sounds...dirty.
When has Claudia ever heard of Nepal?
Ahhh. When Stacey's dad finds an apartment on the East Side, she says she's never lived on the East Side before. And all the stuff I mentioned before happens. Mom gets upsets because she thinks Stacey decided to live with Dad; Dad starts trying to bribe Stacey to live with him. And then Stacey tells her parents she hates them.
Ummm. The Walkers told their children, Henry and Grace, that Stacey was moving away and couldn't babysit for them anymore. When Henry asks WHY, Stacey takes it upon herself to explain divorce to him. It doesn't seem quite appropriate.
I love the picture books mentioned in these books, because they're all ones I remember from my childhood. Stacey reads Millions of Cats and Outside Over There with the Walkers.
Correction to my first tidbit. When the McGills arrived at their new home, there was a banner, held up by some of the random kids who showed up to welcome Stacey back to town. But I'm pretty sure they didn't redo the cover picture after all. After all, why would they take out a banner and still leave Claudia looking like ass? I mean, she looks like an eight year old Latina girl wearing leg warmers. Although, her outfit is almost exactly as it is described in the book (see below).
Mrs. McGill kisses Claudia. I find it a little disturbing, even though it was on the top of her head, and it was to thank Claudia for saying something sweet. She also calls Claud "sensible" which Claudia thinks is nice. This is obviously before the island super special, where she reveals she actually is quite sensible and smart.
I think it's funny that Stacey's room is done up in blue and white. Later on, they make such a big deal about how Stacey is always wearing black and that's part of what makes her "sophisticated." Blue and white just doesn't seem to jibe with that.
When they redid the covers, they added malarkey "letters to the reader" in the back of the books, explaining where the plot idea came from. This one says that AMM decided that Stacey was just too important a character to have floating off in NYC.
Laine: stretchy black cotton pants suit, with cuffed legs and a cropped top, leopard skin leotard, blue and green dangly earrings and bangles
Stacey: short red pants, purple suspenders, black and yellow sweatshirt, purple pushdown docks, red high tops, fruit necklace, sun glass earrings, red headband (she calls this one of her better outfits. You could be arrested for wearing those clothes together in most states.)
Claudia: black and white sweater, black leggings, black and pink socks, headband with rose on it, beaded necklace, earrings with tons of charms on them
Kristy: jeans, sneakers, turtleneck
Mary Anne: flared green dress
Dawn: jeans with zippers (I guess she's not wearing a top.)
Mallory: pink leggings, short skirt, sequined sweatshirt

Monday, September 10, 2012

"I'll just open the window, jump over to that tree branch, and climb down." BSC #17 Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery (1988)

AKA Mary Anne Is Very, Very Gullible
What mystery?!? Does anyone remember reading this as a child and NOT knowing who sent MA the "bad luck charm?" And if so, how old were you when you read it?
In this one, MA receives a chain letter and doesn't send it on. She and her friends start having bad luck (by which I mean that mildly inconvenient things happen to them.) MA receives a "bad luck charm" in the mail and feels she has to wear it. She then discovers that Cokie sent the charm to try to break up MA and Logan. Cokie plans to embarrass the BSC in front of Logan (at Old Hickory's Grave at midnight of Halloween), but they turn the tables on her and she and her friends end up embarrassed instead.

Interesting tidbits
Even before you open this one you know it's the 80s. How else could MA get away with wearing a teal sweater with pink sweat pants? (Other than this, she's pretty cute. I loved the way they drew MA on the early covers.) That must be Jamie with her, as he's the one with a scraped knee later in the book.

This book starts with Kristy describing the school food and everyone laughing about. I think just about everyone's school food was bad, and we all made fun of it at least  a little. I can't imagine MA getting that disgusted by Kristy's descriptions. They're probably pretty accurate.

MA, you're so descriptive: "Dawn is, well, she's Dawn." That's just so...clear.

In this one, MA says Dawn's clothes are trendy. Guess this was before she decided to become California casual.
MA says Claudia's lavender sneakers are the kind boys wear because they have "lots of rubber, and big laces, and the name of the manufacturer" on the side. I don't know about 1988 because I always wore Mary Janes or other dressy shoes in those days, but by 1990, pretty much all kids preferred high tops, especially in well-known brands.

Ever notice that Claudia's "awesome" outfits, at least in the 1980s, are a seven year old girl's dream outfit? Had I read this back then, I would have totally wanted Claudia's outfit. I think that's more a commentary on the fact that her outfits are pretty juvenile than how 80s they are.
It wasn't until I read this book again as an adult that I caught on to the fact that Spier is pronounced spear. I definitely pronounced it spy-er as a child.

Speaking of names, Cokie's real name is Marguerite. As I was growing up, I always pronounced Cokie as cookie. I was probably about 12 before I figured that out.
MA says Kristy has been wearing the same clothes for the last seven weeks. Is it wrong that I pictured her not washing them in all that time?

Oh, here's the real mystery of the book: who sent MA the original chain letter?
MA says she likes Mallory and Jessi, even if they're young. So sweet of her.

MA's bad luck? She falls out of bed, bangs into a chair, knocks orange juice all over her white dress, misplaces her shoes. (She apparently caught a case of Sharon-itis, as her shoes are on top of the TV. How is Richard okay with shoes sitting on the TV all night?) At school, her locker won't open, she left her math homework at home and spilled mac 'n' cheese on the floor. She then forgets about a sitting job.
MA thinks that reading the part of Little Women where Beth dies will put her in a better mood. I used to kinda do that too...I figured if I cried, I would get it out and feel better. I used Goodbye Doesn't Mean Forever by Lurlene McDaniel, or Bridge to Terebithia.

Why do they call Jackie a walking disaster? He's just a bit klutzy. I was at least that bad when I was his age, and I still walk into walls.
MA can tell Kristy's worried about the box containing the "bad luck charm" because she doesn't put her visor on. This made me laugh.

The whole scene where the girls open the box was also funny to me. I think it was actually sort of accurate. The box is mildly scary--it's addressed to MA and the BSC, in care of MA's address, there's no return label, and the letters are cut out of magazines the way ransom demands are. (In fact, MA's first thought is to make sure Tigger hasn't been "kittennaped.") But because the girls are all getting scared over it, it amps everyone's tension. Kristy refuses to open the box. MA asks for some tweezers so she doesn't have to touch the tissue paper inside the box. Then Claudia takes it and tosses the tissue on the bed, causing Dawn to scream because it's near her! This reminded me very much of moments with my high school friends (hi Kelly, Jenny and Ali, if you're reading this!)
Where it breaks down from being realistic is that the girls all believe that if MA doesn't wear the chain, they'll go from having bad luck to having something evil happen. I'd say they're too old to believe in ghosts and boogey men, but I just discovered that several of my coworkers believe that Ouija boards actually work.

MA is babysitting Jamie when he falls down half a flight of stairs. She's lucky he just skinned his knee. If she were really having bad luck, he'd have a broken bone and a concussion.
Once again, MA knows Kristy's upset by her behavior. This time, Kristy was too distracted to even make gross comments about succotash.

They go to the library to look up information on witchcraft and spells. Claudia has no idea how to use the card catalog (this must have been before they made her mother a librarian.) Even though she knows how the library works and that it's a modern building, MA imagines their experience as part of a bad movie: ninety year old librarian; dark, dusty corner of the basement where they hide the witchcraft books.
MA cracks that they should ask Karen to help them, since she's so into witches. I've always pictured Karen being one of those kids who grows up and puts together spells and charms in her teens and flirts with Wicca as she gets older.

When Jessi's babysitting for Jamie, a button breaks off his coat and his shoe lace breaks. Jessi actually sews the button back on and has Jamie show her where the extra shoe laces are kept. Do people normally stock extra shoe laces? And if they do, would a four year old know where to find them?
Lots of real books in this one. In addition to Little Women and Nancy Drew, Jessi reads a Georgie book to Jamie.

Claudia misspellings: werst (twice), siting, experyence, whent, wronge, becuase, bloode, erth. She starts to write argue but ends up just asking Mallory how to spell it. (They are writing a joint entry.)
The Pikes love a dish called Daddy Stew, which is described as casserole with hot dog pieces in it. I'm going to have to agree with Claudia--it sounds revolting.

Byron is referred to as the human vacuum cleaner. I love how in the Pike triplets, Jordan takes piano lessons, and Byron loves to eat and is the sensitive one. There's nothing unique or separate about Adam, though.
A bird comes down the Pike chimney, causing chaos. Claire wonders aloud if it knows Santa Claus, since he also come down the chimney. (The Pikes should close their flue.)

They left all the witchcraft books at Claudia's. MA asks her if the books have been flying around her room or glowing in the dark or anything weird like that.
Ha ha ha. While they're digging through the books, a storm starts up. MA says they were afraid of the storm, but more afraid of the wrath of Kristy, so they kept researching.

They find a couple spells to counteract bad luck, but they're pretty silly.
MA is surprised to find out that there are other girls who like Logan. If he's as cute and nice as she says he is, I would think this would go without saying.

MA and Logan go to the dance in cat costumes. Dawn puts on witch makeup and a wart but wears normal clothes. Claudia dresses normally (for her) and her date, Austin, wears a suit. Cokie and Grace are dressed a punk rockers. I'm picturing Barbie and the Rockers or maybe Jem.
A band playing at a middle school dance? Yeah, right.

Of course, Halloween is both a Saturday and a full moon.
Jessi, who usually calls her parents Mama and Daddy, says Mom and Dad here. I wonder if that's an inconsistency, or if she's just trying to sound more grown up. (I still call my parents Mama and Daddy.)
Why on earth would Charlie agree to take a carful of girls to the cemetery on Halloween night? First off, doesn't he have anything better to do, like a party with his own friends? Second, I can't imagine him being cool with dropping them off outside the cemetery and waiting for them. And not telling his mother about it. Third, what does he do in the car while he's waiting?
Morbidda Destiny hands out apples on Halloween.

MA said she's read enough Stephen King books to know things aren't going to end well. I can't picture her wanting to read Stephen King, or her father letting her.
Then again, MA said Richard rented Night of the Living Dead and they watched it with Sharon and Dawn, so maybe he wouldn't mind.

MA says Logan keeps secrets better than the Pentagon.

What's with the BSC and cramming 3000 people into a car? Third week in a row people haven't been wearing seatbelts. And with the Junk Bucket, people must have been sitting in laps.

Does this sentence make sense to anyone else? "Kristy, also wearing a mask, climbed the tree to the ghost that was attached to the twine."
Logan explains that he left his house early because he didn't know where "Ol' Hiccup's" grave was, and he saw Charlie outside the graveyard, and Charlie gave him directions. When have Logan and Charlie met?

Claudia: vegetable blouse (covered in turnips and cabbages and stuff...basically, it's the soup I'm eating right now on a shirt), short jean skirt, white stockings, lavender sneakers, a poodle hair clip, one huge plastic earring
MA: white dress
Next week: I'm hoping to get to the library to pick up a Stacey book. If I don't, it will probably be #81 Kristy and Mr. Mom.

"It was Project New Dawn all the way!" BSC #50 Dawn's Big Date (1992)

AKA Dawn Acts Like an Idiot to Impress a Boy (Again)

This one wasn't quite as bad as I thought it was going to be. I guess that's because I basically felt like Dawn did at her age, although I never tried to "solve" the problem the way she did.

You see, Dawn started writing to Logan's cousin two Dawn books ago (#37), and now he's coming to town for a visit. Dawn decides to use him as practice for a "real" boyfriend, and decides that since she's never attracted a boy before, there must be something wrong with her. So she changes her looks, her clothes and her personality to try to be cool. It backfires because, of course, cousin Lewis liked her the way she was. She goes back to her own self and gets her first kiss.

In the B plot, a new sitting client named Norman Hill has a weight problem. Kids at school pick on him and his own parents focus only on his weight. He finally stands up for himself to his sister and tells his parents how the weight-centered household makes him feel. He decides to lose weight because HE wants to look and feel good and not for anyone else.

Interesting Tidbits

Dawn says Sharon and Richard dated for "ages." How long could it have been, when Dawn moved to the East Coast midway through seventh grade and they were married in eighth grade?

Lewis is coming in mid-January. MA says his school is on a different schedule than theirs. I don't know any school outside of a college where they're off in the middle of January. I know some schools on the East Coast get a week off randomly in the middle of February, but I can't imagine having a week off when you were just off for a couple of weeks less than a month ago.

Ha ha ha. Dawn says she must not be completely insecure because people are always telling her what an individual she is. She's an individual because she eats what she likes and wears what's comfortable. Some of the people I know who are most insecure (and I include myself in that number) are the ones who are the most different and weird. Dawn is totally insecure...she worries about what everyone else thinks all the time. I think that's what irks me about her--she claims to be so secure and not caring what others think when it's clearly not the case.

Sharon's New Year's resolution is to get more organized. Obviously, she doesn't stick to it.

Dawn points out that even though Claudia only reads Nancy Drews, at least she's reading something. Never thought Dawn and I would agree on something (besides the red meat thing.)

On that note, a friend of mine said that, when she's a mother, she's only going to let her children read classics and not "crap like the Babysitters Club." She was like me growing up, and read everything she could get her hands on, and she wishes her mother had forced her to read "better" literature.

Ah, the toilet monster.

I remembered this right away when I saw Norman Hill was introduced in this one. I remember thinking when I saw his name, "If he's named Norman, he's either really fat or kinda stupid." Norman is one of those names, like Bertha, that is just cliché for FAT.

Okay. When they're decorating for New Year's, Dawn and MA find a banner that reads "1979" and hang it up. This has got to be Sharon's, as I can't picture Richard not throwing that away the second 1980 reared its head. But are we supposed to believe that Sharon hung onto a banner for 13 years, through a divorce and a move? Is she a hoarder in addition to being a slob?

Sharon and Richard invite Jessi's dad to have a drink with them and toast the New Year (conveniently, he walked, rather than drove). What time is this party starting that they're already toasting? Jessi says she's never stayed up to midnight before this year. I remember being excited to stay up to midnight, but I think I was eight or nine.

The girls call boys after midnight to wish them a happy New Year. What if some people went to bed before midnight? I know my dad wouldn't have been happy to get a call at 12:20 at night, even on January 1.

They keep referring to Bart as Bart-man. I guess this is when the Simpsons was really big.

I could swear that in later books, it's Sara Hill, not Sarah Hill. Anyone?

Dawn tells Sarah the Little Mermaid is her favorite movie, and Sarah's thrilled because it's her favorite, too. I think it was just about every little girls' favorite in 1992. (I liked Beauty and the Beast better, myself.)

Claudia misspellings: yesturday, afternon, sory (sorry), unerstand, fristraded (frustrated), wate (weight), gane, probibly, wuldn't. She actually spells most of the words correctly. I'm shocked.

Why do the Hills stock junk food if they don't want Norman to eat it? If he has to go on a diet, the whole family should. It's pretty crummy if, for example, Norman only gets a scoop of tuna fish salad for dinner and Sarah gets to eat a handful of Oreos after.

Mallory teaches Dawn how to blow a bubble. Dawn says it's the first piece of gum she's ever chewed, which I find a little suspicious. Even people who like health food chew gum to get icky tastes out of their mouths.

Mr. Bruno drives Logan, MA and Dawn to the airport to pick up Lewis. All three sit in the backseat. I can't imagine wanting to take my son's girlfriend and her stepsister to the airport like that. Plus, Mrs. Bruno is in the front seat. Two things. 1. Where are Kerry and Hunter? 2. Where is Lewis supposed to sit? It's not a car with three rows of seats, because Logan, MA and Dawn are all sitting next to each other. It's like the Pikes in last week's book. (Sure enough, Lewis is crammed in with the other three on the way home.)

Ooh, this is slightly bitchy. MA tells Dawn to use "you-directed conversations" because it will make Lewis think she's interesting because she's interested in him. Dawn asks MA if she uses that technique and MA says, "No, because Logan likes me the way I am." I know she's trying to help Dawn get along better with Lewis, but she's making it sound like there's something wrong with Dawn (outside the obvious, I mean.)

Norman's pretty smart for seven. He's great at hiding his eating from his family and he has some great stories to tell his pen-pal girlfriend. Later, when his mother tells him to drink lots of water to keep his system flushed, he responds "I'm not a toilet bowl."

Mrs. Hill's first name is Michelle, and Mr. Hill is Harold. I've got songs from The Music Man stuck in my head.

Dawn's self-esteem is practically non-existent in this book. MA is trying to help her, but she assumes that the "help" means that MA thinks there's something wrong with her. Although, MA does go more than a little overboard during the date, pinching Dawn and telling her what to do repeatedly.

Stacey wants to talk to the Hills about Norman and Claudia and Jessi suggest that it may not go well and they may think the BSC is "butting in." But that's what they do best: solving problems between parents and children that the parents a) can't solve or b) don't know exist.

Usually when they describe Dawn foods, even I don't want to eat them. But she had my mouth watering when she made tabouhli, hummus and babaganoush.

Lewis and Logan have the same handwriting. I think it's BSC standard for guys to write in all capital letters.


Claudia: Maroon leggings, large yellow shirt, ballet slippers, belt, side ponytail; wide black pants, sweatshirt with appliqued moon, high ponytail

Stacey: tight dress with pink and purple stripes

Dawn: black leggings and blue fleecy top; ripped jeans and a ripped, off the shoulder shirt with curly hair; black lacy capri leggings, ridiculous silver skirt with crinoline, black and white top with six braids; black turtleneck, jean skirt, black stockings, boots, curly hair gelled back on the sides

MA: flowery dress with a French braid

New Characters

Sarah and Norman Hill (9 and 7)--29 and 27

Next week: Probably #17 Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery