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.

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