Thursday, October 25, 2012

"I'm a real jammin' dude and the girls agree/there's no cooler guy than Jordan P." BSC Mystery #3 Mallory and the Ghost Cat (1992)

AKA Mallory Finds a Cat and Acts Stupid about It

Bloody hell, this book was truly awful. As an adult I enjoy the BSC mysteries more than I did as a child. Mostly because I spend less time nit-picking them and more time laughing my ass off. Most of the later mysteries are so ludicrous and convoluted, they feel like they belong in B-movie horror series.  For example, Stacey and the Crazy Halloween Mystery (or whatever it's called) feels like it should be called Prom Night VII or Carrie XXXII or something. (That's the one where they have a Halloween dance, and everyone's up in arms over what happened "last time." Some girl who went insane during a fire at a Halloween Dance in 1983 or something comes back to finish the school off. LOVED that one. Laughed myself silly.)
And a couple of the mysteries were actually kinda realistic. Well, at least, the first one, about the missing ring, could have actually happened. But this just dumb. It felt like a Dawn book, with all the ghosts and spooks in it.
The plot? I guess it has one. Mallory gets one of those standing babysitting jobs for a family that lasts through one book and then just disappears. She and the Craine girls keep hearing a cat, and finally find a white cat in the attic. They name it Ghost Cat, and stupid Mal actually thinks it's a ghost. Its true owner turns up, and he looks just like a man who lived in the house eons ago, who also had a white cat just like Ghost Cat.
Meanwhile, Mallory's great uncle Joe moves in with the family. They try to make things pleasant for him, but he acts crotchety and cranky. Eventually, he's diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is moved into a nursing home, where he's happy and enjoys visits from the Pike Klan clan.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover to this book is absolutely awful. First, Mal looks like a man. Her glasses are about 7 sizes too big for her face and her hair looks like a mullet. Two of the Craine girls look appropriately "scared" (assuming that the cat is actually something to be scared of) but the third looks like a china doll with no expression.
Mallory says that her family doesn't have time to make tomato sauce from scratch. Yet her mother buys a hunk of mozzarella and grates it. Wouldn't be easier just to buy a bag of the grated stuff?
Margo makes a big deal of seeing the Pike boys in their skivvies. In a family that easygoing, I imagine half-naked children would be a regular occurrence. I'm imagining Bart Simpson eating dinner in his underwear and saying, "Hey, this isn't the Ritz."
Okay ghostwriters, make up your minds. Sometimes all the Pikes, even Mallory, are brown haired, sometimes several of them are described as redheads. In this one, everyone has brown hair but Mallory. Different father, maybe?
This is at least the third BSC book I've read to mention A Wrinkle in Time. I keep hoping some of the books from the later 1990s will mention some of my favorite Newbery winners: Walk Two Moons or The View from Saturday maybe. Heck, even the earliest ones could have The Westing Game (which I read in sixth grade and is still, to this day, one of the very best books I've ever read) or something else. Spread the love around, AMM!
Mallory says no one would ever mistake Dawn and MA for "real" sisters because of their hair and eye colors. I call bull on that because as a child, I had blonde hair and blue eyes and my sister had brown hair and eyes. And everyone always knew we were sisters because of some similarities of facial shape.
For once, it's not Byron eating weird food. Mal makes Jordan a peanut butter, banana and salami sandwich for breakfast.
The Craines are usually watched by their Aunt Bud, whose real name is Ellen. She and Mr. Craine always call each other Bud, because they are buds. Kinda clever.
The Craine girls say they got sleeping bags for Christmas. Sophie's has Barbie on it, which seems about right. Katie's is Muppet babies, which feels like a dated reference by 1992. Even weirder is that Margaret has one with the Simpsons on it. While it's current, I don't think a family with three little girls those ages would watch the Simpsons.
Dumbass Mallory is worried to meet Aunt Bud because she rides a motorcycle, so she's probably covered in tattoos and would offer Mal a beer.
When Margaret gets home from school, Mallory tells her to go upstairs and change before they make cookies. Do most kids change clothes when they get home? I didn't even do that when I had to wear a uniform.
Double Dumbass. Margaret's convinced the mewing sound is the sign of a ghost cat, and Mallory lets a six year old scare her.
What's with all the houses in Stoneybrook having attics filled with crap belonging to former owners? Wouldn't you want to take your personal items with you when you move?
Do you think it means something that both of the Mallory stories involving attics have a Sophie in them?
I'm reading this while watching Harry Potter. Guess which one is more realistic.
Claudia spelling: mised, forggoten, persson, unckle (three times), reely, speshall.
Claudia and Mal babysit for the Pikes, and Claudia suggests they might have fried bologna and sardine sandwiches, Cheez-it omelets or spaghetti with chocolate sauce for dinner. I think one of the triplets actually ate the first one in another book.
After Uncle Joe blows up during a very quiet Pike dinner of bland food (well done steak, rice, turnips and Brussels sprouts), Mallory opens the fridge and lets her siblings eat whatever they want--you know, a regular Pike meal. She offers to make Claudia a "Mallory Special." Other than being Mexican food, it's not really explained what that entails.
Mallory's been whining about Uncle Joe ever since he arrived because he's been upsetting the routine and is all cranky. It's not until Margo wants to cheer Uncle Joe up that Mallory considers things from his point of view.
Little Katie names all her own baby dolls. I'd buy that, except that they have names like Martha and Nancy. Where'd she hear those before?
Kristy babysits for the Kormans and takes Karen with her. Karen decides to leave when Melody won't stop pretending to be a cat. Even Kristy is irritated by it, though I can't imagine why. It wasn't as if Melody were being dangerous, or not listening or behaving.
Since when does Mrs. Pike work part time? I know she was temping in the book where Mr. Pike lost his job, but I don't remember her having an actual job.
In this book, at least, Mallory's dad's name is John. I'm pretty sure he's called Daniel in another book.
Oh Dawn, you are such a goon. In her notebook entry, she proclaims herself the ghostbuster of Stoneybrook: "Are there phantoms in your phlower garden?"
It's bad enough that Dawn actually believes in ghosts, but now Mallory believes that Ghost Cat, who is obviously a real, living cat, is the ghost of a cat that died in the Craines' house years before. And she calls Dawn in to help her figure out the truth.
Mal says the Craine girls are too young to be scared of ghosts. In my experience, it's usually kids that age that ARE afraid of ghosts and boogeymen...not eleven and thirteen year olds.
Dawn's kind of jerk to the Craine girls. She wants to take a picture of Ghost Cat to make sure she shows up on film. When Margaret thinks she wants to take a picture of the girls, Mallory has to make Dawn take the picture. Then the girls are happy when Ghost Cat is proven not to be a ghost, but Dawn's all disappointed.
Every time a BSC book is an "issue" book, one of the girls ends up going to the library, or reading an encyclopedia, and then shares the information. It reads like a PSA pamphlet you'd pick up at a grocery store pharmacy.
I don't know why, but I loved this paragraph: "Boy, I was having some heavy thoughts! But it's hard to get too philosophical in the Pike household. Someone usually interrupts you."
Uncle Joe had been quiet and standoffish his entire visit, and it's not until his last day that he starts to warm up and actually talks to the kids and calls them by name.
Ghost Cat's real name is Rasputin, and he comes when the Craines call him by his proper name.
Claire has a dress she calls her "Lucy dress" because it's similar to what Lucy wears in Peanuts. Mallory says Claire wears it practically every day and sometimes sleeps in it. Sounds pretty realistic.
Mallory and Kristy are amazed that Claudia is doing art on her fingernails. Obviously this was before acrylics became fashionable.
No real outfits in this sucker.
Heh. I flipped through the end of the book because there's usually something interesting to see after the story ends. Above the list of books, it reads: "Something new and exciting happens in every Baby-Sitter's Club book." False!

Oh, and it advertises the old BSC fan club. There's no date when the offer expired. Wonder what would happen if I sent in a check?
New Characters
Margaret, Sophie and Katie Craine (6, 4, 2)--26, 24, 22
Next week: I have a book set aside. It’s a Dawn. I just can’t remember which one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Did she even have any acting skills to polish up?" BSC #19 Claudia and the Bad Joke (1988)

AKA Claudia and the BSC Wage War on an Eight Year Old

Claudia gets a babysitting job for a new client who's known as a practical joker. Thanks to the little girl, she breaks her leg and ends up in traction. Being the genius she is, Claudia decides that babysitting is dangerous and she needs to drop out of the club. The club declares a joke war on Betsy and humiliates her, and Claudia decides to stay in the club.

Interesting tidbits

Kristy has a "thing" about wearing food. I find this interesting, since Claudia routinely has veggies on her shirts and watermelons hanging from her ears.

Chapter one in this book = chapter two in all the later books. (Actually, we only hear about the babysitters in chapter one; we learn about the club in chapter two.) It always used to throw me off when I'd read the books and the descriptions would come in chapter one, or (worse still) in chapter three. As a kid, as soon as they started describing all the club members, I would flip to the next chapter. Actually, I would flip to the end of that chapter and find out which kids were going to be the subject of the sitting plot/subplot, because they almost always lined up the first job with them at the end of chapter two. Even at age 10 I figured out how formulaic this all was.

Do we really need to be told that Jessi is short for Jessica? Is there anyone out there who couldn't have guessed that?

There are Oreos in Claudia's pant brush box. That sounds...dirty.

I've never understood why the BSC keeps track of how much money they each earn. That sounds like it would cause giant fights. "Mary Anne, how come you've earned so much more than I have?" etc.

Anyone know if there's a picture of the map of Stoneybrook online anywhere? I'd love to see it. My parents wouldn't let me join the BSC fan club back in the day, but I was obsessed as a child with where all the streets were in relation to each other. Had I known there was a map, I would have killed for it.

In this book, Dawn has been spending a lot of time at Claudia's, staying late after meetings and having dinner with the Kishis. I wish they would have developed that more. It would have been fascinating to see Dawn and Claudia get really close, and then have Stacey come back into the picture.

Claudia is reading Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry and they recently finished A Wrinkle in Time. My other passion in kiddy lit is keeping up with Newbery winners, so this made me smile.

Claudia talks to a couple of Betsy's old sitters before her first job at the Sobaks. One of them is a boy named Gordon. But...I thought Logan was the only boy who liked to sit! *Faint*

Mrs. Sobak's first name is Cookie.

Betsy has a much older sister, Pat, who is already married with a baby.

Betsy's practical jokes: dribble glass, fake fly in ice cube, pepper gum (she switches wrappers so Claudia thinks she's getting Wrigleys), having Claudia sit on a swing she knows is broken*.

*Anyone ever play the computer game The Colonel's Bequest before? There's a swing outside the mansion, and if you have the character (Laura Bow) sit in it, she falls right through the bottom, the way Betsy intended Claudia to do.

Claudia compares her broken leg to eating lunch with Kristy in terms of disgustingness. Yep.

Claudia wants Betsy to call the Rodowskys if she can't reach her parents. She says that it's in the phone book: "Rodowsky is spelled, um, R, let's see...."

Mallory and Dawn are babysitting "a bunch of kids" at the Rodowskys. Dawn insists on going in the ambulance with Claudia, leaving Mal alone with enough kids for two sitters, plus Betsy. Doesn't seem too smart. Couldn't she have called another club member or even someone's parents to come help also?

Even if there are no rules about it, I can't imagine voluntarily taking your four or five year old to make a visit in the hospital. Maybe if a grandparent were dying or mom had just had a baby. But both Myriah and Jamie go to see Claudia, who's not blood related.

This sentence says so much: "Usually, I think my parents are dorks, but every now and then they come through."

 MA actually brings Tigger to visit Claudia in the hospital.

The Pikes try all kinds of lame practical jokes. The worst is Vanessa, over at the Braddocks, who calls three times. After asking if the refrigerator is running, she just says, "Just checking." Later she calls asking for Prince Charles, and Jessi tells her PC can't come to the phone, as he's outside waxing his yacht.

Claudia keeps complaining about the lack of junk food in the hospital. I fully expected someone would bring her treats, but I didn't think it would be Dawn, of all people.

I can understand Claudia's homeroom teacher calling her so that the class can welcome her home, but does she really need to talk to every kid? That seems silly: "Um, hey. I know I snapped your bra a couple weeks ago and called you a fatty, but welcome home."

Oh, Kristy. Her "autograph" on Claudia's cast: "God made the rivers, God made the lakes, God made Claudia...well, we all make mistakes."

Instead of telling the Sobaks that they won't sit for Betsy anymore unless she promises not to pull any more jokes, the BSC decide to start a prank war with her. Which is a lot stupid, but pretty typical of these girls.

Mal and Betsy recite Wynken, Blynken and Nod together.

I can understand not telling the Sobaks about Betsy's joke playing while in the midst of a joke war, but Dawn calls a truce and Betsy still gets her with a shaving cream ice cream sundae. That's probably something her parents should know, as it could have actually made Dawn ill if she'd swallowed it.

You can tell Claudia's bored. She says she wishes she could see various sitting charges again, and she even includes Karen.

Kristy babysits for Betsy at the movies, and crosses over from playing pranks to just plain being cruel. It's not just that she lets an 8 year old go to the popcorn counter by herself--and then changes seats so Betsy can't find her when she comes back--but she also does it right in front of Betsy's classmates.

At a club meeting, Dawn and MA are sitting on the floor. Makes me wonder if Mal and Jessi are also on the floor, and if so, how big is Claudia's room?

New Characters

Betsy Sobak (8)--32


Betsy: (Mini Claudia alert!): red cuffed pants, red suspenders, blue and white striped shirt, two pigtails with blue hair ribbons (very, very 1988!)

Claudia: white shirt, painted and covered in sequins

Next week: probably Mystery #3 Mallory and the Ghost Cat

Thursday, October 11, 2012

If the BSC had continued to have books into their teens....

This is edited from a post in my general, non-BSC blog in 2007. If I can get it to work, I'll add the picture of the book cover for Spinelli and the Secret Pain I made. Ahh, Spinelli.

Originally written December 27, 2007.

I was thinking today about the Baby-sitters Club. Don't ask me why....
But that's not what this is about.* All of the titles of the BSC books had similar titles. A lot of them were (Name) and (Incident/whatever). Kristy and the Secret of Susan. Claudia and Crazy Peaches. Jessi and the Awful Secret. But not all of them, of course, such as the best BSC book ever, Stacey's Emergency. Or the second best BSC book, The Mallory Book. (Okay, so that one's really titled Dawn and the Disappearing Dogs, which fits the pattern. But that title's boring.)

So I started thinking about titles that the series should have had, especially if they had continued as the girls got older. I came up with the following (I randomly selected baby-sitters so I'm not picking on any of them.)

Mallory and the HIV Test
Mary Anne's Big Date Rape
Kristy and the Positive Pregnancy Test
Claudia and the Mysterious Rash
Stacey's Flunk-out Disaster
Logan and the Prostitutes (a special one!)
Dawn Tries LSD (lame title but no worse than Dawn and the Disappearing Dogs!)
Jessi on the Streets

Actually, the worst part of the whole BSC thing was the Baby-sitters Little Sister books. Apparently the author liked Kristy's stepsister a little too much. If you thought some of the BSC titles were bad, check these out:
Karen's Lemonade Stand
Karen's Lucky Penny
Karen's Magic Garden

Oh, and those are real titles, not ones I made up. Karen also had a friend named Hannah who was called Hannie. What kind of acid were her parents dropping? If you want to call your kid by a nickname, name them something with a nickname. Alexandra, maybe.

Well, back when I was actually reading these books, I came up with a GREAT way to end the entire BSC world (which the author didn't take when she ended the series after 15 years and enough money to make a swimming pool like Scrooge McDuck has on Duck Tails). I created these two BSC Little Sister titles that would be the final two:

Karen's Mexican Restaurant
Karen's Big Fart (or Toot, if you prefer)

At the end of the second one, Karen lets one rip so big and stinky that it chokes everyone in existance to death. Which means bye-bye Hannie, bye-bye Mallory's 29 brothers and sisters, bye-bye BSC. I still love the idea and I think if I ever publish a crappy series about totally unrealistic kids (especially one that makes me enough money for a Scrooge McDuck pool), that's how I'll end it.

*Okay, so how the whole thing started was I was thinking out loud and I said "Spinelli and the Secret Pain" which sounded like a BSC book...only about Spinelli and not teenaged baby-sitters.

"Dawn had spent the morning committing a crime of tidiness" BSC Super Special #1 Babysitters on Board! (1988)

AKA Watson Is Insane and Brings Extra Teens on his Family Vacation

As I stated in my post about super specials, I can approximately pinpoint the time this book takes place. It's after #8, when MA and Stacey go to Sea City with the Pikes, but before #10, when they start eighth grade and Logan turns up. What always irritated me about this book as a kid was that it wasn't mentioned in the other books. #9 makes a whole point about how everyone went on vacation except Kristy. It was almost as if this book didn't exist in the continuum of the regular books. They got better at that as time went on.
The basic idea behind this book is that the Pikes are going on a Disney cruise and have asked Stacey and MA along as mother's helpers. Watson hears that Kristy's never been out of the state and he arranges for the Brewer/Thomas clan to go on the same cruise, and, because he's certifiable, he brings Claudia and Dawn along too. Kristy meets an old man and convinces him to have fun. Claudia has a mystery admirer. Dawn has her first date and convinces the boy to be nice to his stepbrothers. MA meets a "sophisticated" pathological liar. And Stacey meets a young boy with a heart condition.
We also get chapters from Mallory, Byron and Karen, because, who doesn't love those? (Except the Karen ones.)
Interesting tidbits
Front cover time. I always loved this picture. First, because I was pretty sure who was who. (Left to right, Stacey, Kristy, Dawn, MA, Claudia; in front, Claire (probably), Andrew and Karen.) Second, Kristy is wearing a polo shirt, which I have always considered the summer version of turtleneck and sweater. (For the record, I would have dressed Kristy in jeans and tees, not turtlenecks or polos, but there you are.) The kicker, though, is that Claudia is wearing lavender shoes like those described in the story.
Before the story even starts, there is a thank you letter jointly addressed to the Brewers and Pikes. Wouldn't it make more sense to have two letters, one addressed to the Brewers and signed by their kids, Dawn and Claudia, and one addressed to the Pikes signed by their kids, Stacey and MA? That put aside, a few things. It's funny seeing everyone's handwriting, including people we usually don't get to see. We don't get to see Sam's handwriting again until SSs 8 and 9, but it's the same signature, and Margo's matches hers in SS 10. Nicky has very girly cursive, especially since his older brothers have messier handwriting. Karen usually writes in all capitals, except in this book. (I have never understood that. Schools don't teach that, so why do so many characters in these books do it?)

The Pikes are going on vacation because Mr. Pike won a contest and the prize was an all expense paid vacation. I know prizes like that are given out, but usually there's a cap of four or five people. Can you imagine how his boss must have reacted when Mr. Pike said, "Okay, well, there are twelve of us."
Even though this takes place over the summer, everyone has magically jumped to their next age. I always thought it was funny reading the early BSC books that all of the sitters were always 12, and then later, 13. The only one to actually have a birthday was MA, and that's because she was (at the time) the baby of the group and the last to turn 13.
In this book, though, all the Pikes and all Kristy's siblings have aged up. The BSC ages are not actually mentioned.
Dating the book: Andrew, Claire, Karen, Margo, DM and Nicky get to go into the cockpit and meet the captain. I remember doing that as a kid and loving it.
Kristy takes Karen to the bathroom and goes in with her. They temporarily get locked in.
Dawn's all excited when streamers and confetti are released when the boat leaves port. Fifty books later, she would have been grumbling about the environment and waste.
Vanessa Pike is lacing up her shoes as slowly as humanly possible. MA just looks at Mallory and, without a word, they grab her and lace the shoe for her. It cracked me up.
MA meets a girl named Alexandra Carmody and keeps going on about how sophisticated she is. As far as I can tell, all she has to go on is that the girl makes her own hair appointments and has a big chest.
After Nicky and Vanessa spot someone hiding in a life raft, they seriously think (and have MA thinking) that he is a stowaway.
Karen forgets her earplugs, so Kristy (very stupidly) agrees to let her go back to the cabin and get them. Instead, Karen goes to get her nails polished and charges it to her cabin, and then gets a drink in the café. And she doesn't get in trouble!
Kristy threatens to call the boat police on Karen.
This is the beginning of the very stupid theme they do through the super specials where Claudia always sleeps on the top bunk and steps on whoever is in the bottom bunk on the way down.
Claudia tells Kristy, "I think Dawn's on the prowl," when she catches her staring at a boy.
Mistake! MA says she took Nicky and Vanessa exploring all day. A few sentences later, Stacey says she took Claire and Vanessa swimming all day.
Mallory is trying to pull a "Harriet the Spy" but she's not very subtle about it. She keeps pointing out various people she's spotted to the members of the BSC, who keep commenting to themselves about it.
Kristy meets an old man and the first thing she thinks is how his Hawaiian print shirt and Hawaiian print shorts don't match each other. (But, you know, if Claudia were wearing it, it would look awesome.)
The triplets, DM and Nicky go exploring on Treasure Cay and find a "treasure map." When they don't find any treasure on the island, they continue looking on the boat and even at Disney. Because, you know, pirates always hide their treasures on luxury liners.
Another sign of the times: when Dawn's boy introduces himself as Parker, Dawn thinks it's weird. It wouldn't even raise an eyebrow now.
Claire wants to buy a sewer-ear of her trip.
Yet another sign of the times: Kristy is really excited that their hotel has cable.
Kristy, Claudia and Dawn have never seen an R rated movie. I saw my first at age 8.
Stupid Karen. After riding the Haunted Mansion, she's convinced the hitchhiking ghost is still with her.
Conveniently in this book, Claudia and Dawn are about the same size. When she was first introduced, Dawn was taller than all the other girls.
Oh, Dawn. She gets nauseous riding Space Mountain. When Parker asks her if she's okay, she considers the answers, "No, I'm going to puke all over you," and "I'm fine, but how would you like to see what I had for breakfast this morning?"
Parker's two stepbrothers are named Roddy and Ricky.
Apparently, Mrs. Pike is very stupid (and not just because she has eight kids). Instead of just dividing the kids, she asks them all what they want to do, which is bound to cause arguments.
Heh. The BSC watches "a Michael J. Fox movie" on TV. Tell me it was Teen Wolf!
After Mallory discovers that Alex, the girl MA met, is lying, MA calls her on her shit. Alex then follows MA, Claire and Margo around...until Margo throws up on her shoes after they get off Space Mountain.
Stacey makes a big deal about riding Space Mountain twice in a row with the triplets, Nicky and DM. She says she won't leave them in line wait outside for them. But, couldn't she wait in line with them and then not ride the ride? My mom used to do that with us all the time at Six Flags. And really, how much trouble could they get in during the short time the ride is going?
Byron actually finds treasure--a bracelet Dawn had lost the day before. Even he thinks it's a big coincidence.
Gawd. Another Karen chapter. This time, she tells the group at a character breakfast that it's her birthday--and once again, doesn't get in trouble for it. Is it any wonder she behaves the way she does?
Stacey enthuses about EPCOT by pointing out it has a "cool 3D video starring Michael Jackson." That would no longer be a selling point.
This is the second book in a row I've read where Kristy cries.
On the plane ride home, Karen asks if she can watch Margo throw up. What is wrong with her?
Damn. Another banner. I can't figure out who made this one, as it's being held by Nannie, Richard, Sharon, Jeff, the Kishis, and the McGills.
Seven year old Marc spells better than Claudia does.
Claudia: blue and white bikini, pink sundress with spaghetti straps, pink and blue scarf, snake bracelet, feather earrings, white sandals with straps
Dawn: lavender overalls, white tank top, lavender sneakers, lavender pushdown socks (that's a lot of lavender), beaded belt, lavender and white bird hair clips
Parker: blue and white polo, tennis shorts, loafers without socks
Next week: I haven't decided. It'll either be Claudia or Mallory.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

BSC bias

Now, I'm no Stacey, but I am a big math nerd. I was wondering the other day about which babysitter had the most books through out the series, and if this said anything about the author and ghostwriters. So I went to tabulating the results. There was no real clear cut winner, if you include just the original BSC books, 1 through 131. Claudia, Stacey and Mary Anne each have 21 books each, while Kristy has 20. Naturally, you'd expect there to be fewer Mallory and Jessi books, as they joined later in the series, and fewer Dawns, as she came in and out.

What was even more interesting to me, though, was the balance of the books. Take a random twenty titles from a period when there were 7 girls in the club. You'd expect that each girl would have 3 books in this set, except one, who would have 2. (3*6 + 2*1) = 20 books. But that's often not the case.

I just opened my latest book--#125 Mary Anne in the Middle--to the inside cover, where the book titles are listed. I pointed at a title at random, and here are that title and the next 19:

#56 Keep Out Claudia*

#57 Dawn Book I Hate and Will Not Speak the Title

#58 Stacey's Choice

#59 Mallory Hates Boys (and Gym)

#60 Mary Anne's Makeover

#61 Jessi and the Awful Secret*

#62 Kristy and the Worst Kid Ever*

#63 Claudia's Freind Friend

#64 Dawn's Family Feud

#65 Stacey's Big Crush

#66 Maid Mary Anne

#67 Dawn's Big Move

#68 Jessi and the Bad Babysitter

#69 Get Well Soon, Mallory

#70 Stacey and the Cheerleaders

#71 Claudia and the Perfect Boy

#72 Dawn and the We <3 Kids Club

#73 Mary Anne and Miss Priss

#74 Kristy and the Copycat*

#75 Jessi's Horrible Prank


Just for fun, I added an * after each title that I consider to deal with a Very Special Issue.

In this sample, we have:

Claudia: 56, 63, 71 = 3

Dawn: 57, 64, 67, 72 = 4

Stacey: 58, 65, 70 = 3

Mallory: 59, 69 = 2

Mary Anne: 60, 66, 73 = 3

Jessi: 61, 68, 75 = 3

Kristy: 62, 74 = 2

I'm glad this random sample included #69. I am convinced someone came up with the idea of giving Mallory mono so they wouldn't have to write books about her. She has book #69 and then doesn't reappear until #80. I thought was the worst for the first part of the series until I realized that Kristy doesn't have a book at all between #62 and #74. I think this is why she ended up with one fewer book than the other three "original" babysitters.

As the series goes on, Mallory and Jessi have even fewer books. Jessi and Mallory each have two books after #100. Jessi ends up with 13 titles, Mallory with 12. And don't even get me started on the mysteries. There are 36 and Mallory and Jessi have one each. Even Abby has three!

I've read in multiple sources that Mallory and Jessi were added to the club because the readers (who average around 10) wanted to read about babysitters their own age. Maybe it was harder for the writers to come up with stories for Mal and Jessi. I don't know. But I know that there was an easy out: how about just have them drop out? Jessi was always busy with ballet, so have that conflict with babysitting. (Anyone who has read the Forever Friends or Friends Forever or whatever books knows that this is why Jessi drops out of the club anyway.) I've always imagined that if Jessi dropped out of the club, Mallory would have, as well. I could see her becoming an associate member: call me if you need me, but I'm not coming to meetings any more.

If any words seem to be missing or out of place in this post, I apologize. My mouse and keyboard have gone crazy. The pointer keeps jumping around, highlighting and deleting entire rows of text. Also, I'll be typing and look up and my words are not where I intended them. The Ctrl key seems to be stuck and several of my vowels are not working right. I swear I didn't spill anything on this one, so I have no idea why it's doing this. Hopefully it's still readable!

"They had dinner. Chee-tos and popsicles." BSC #81 Kristy and Mr. Mom (1995)

AKA Watson Has a Heart Attack and Nannie Moves Out

I went into this one thinking I had read it before. Now that I'm finished, I'm pretty sure I haven't. I think I've just seen it blogged a few times.

This isn't really a Kristy story. It's a Watson and Nannie story. Watson has a heart attack shoveling snow and when he comes back home, he decides to quit working and be a stay at home dad. Nannie feels he's taken over her role in the family and moves out. Of course, things quickly fall back apart after she's gone. She moves back in and Watson starts working part time from home.

In the subplot, Mrs. Marshall is taking an exercise class with a friend. She leaves her two children and her friend's three children in the care of one sitter. The girls are pretty passive-aggressive about dealing with it. They never tell Mrs. Marshall they have a rule about how many children one sitter can care for. Mrs. Marshall has a cow when Stacey refuses to sit for the five children alone. Eventually, they tell her the situation and she realizes they have a point. Yay, happy ending.

Interesting Tidbits

Why is Watson trying to push the car free? Didn't he shovel away some snow first and put traction down under the wheels (boards or kitty litter)? The book makes it sound like he found his car buried in snow and thought, "Gee, I think I'll push it free." Besides, if I were a millionaire with two able bodied teenage stepsons, I'd make *them* push while I drove.

Watson is CEO of Unity Insurance. Other than Mrs. Kishi being head librarian, we don't usually get such detailed information about what any of the parents in these books do.

Kristy finds Emily plopped in front of the TV eating Cocoa Puffs. If the Brewers are going to neglect their two year old, couldn't they at least give her something nutritious to eat? Most toddlers love Cheerios. It's not until they're closer to Andrew's age that they want to eat only garbage.

DM is in a play and has one line, so he's been "rehearsing" all week. Sounds like enough to drive you insane.

Sure enough, it's not until Elizabeth insists that Kristy and Sam help that Kristy puts down gravel for traction. Sam tells Charlie to put the car in neutral and he and Kristy will shift it to a less slick spot. If Sam and Kristy, who aren't old enough to drive, can figure this out, what the hell is Watson's problem?

AMM must know someone named Sabrina Bouvier. Not only did a character with that name win the Little Miss Stoneybrook contest, but she's also the queen bitch in the middle school, starting when MA gets her makeover (#60). This Sabrina must have been someone she didn't like.

Sort of off topic. Spell check suggests “Boozier” instead of Bouvier.

Why must we sit through the explanation of the how the club started in every book? If someone doesn't know, they should just go read #1. I can't imagine picking up a series like this in the middle, anyway.

Kristy says MA cries over kittens in cat food commercials. Sounds like she's got PMS.

Bowl of granola with yogurt and banana? Yum! Stop trying to make it sound gross, Kristy.

Wow, chapter two is long and full of summarizing other books. It mentions the normal, like how Richard and Sharon got married and Stacey's parents got divorced. But it also has more details than normal on the events of #4 (how Jenny got a fever); #72 (when Dawn's dad got engaged and she stole his credit card) and SS #12 (when Dawn's dad and Mrs. Barrett got married.*) Later, when Dawn sits for the Marshalls, they review the subplot from an earlier book (I want to say #54) when Dawn helped solve a problem for Nina Marshall.

*not to each other!

Kristy says she has to take a deep breath to say all the names of the Pikes at once. There are only eight of them...and there are seven kids in Kristy's family. Does she take a big breath to say them all, too?

How in hell does Watson not have a service to plow his driveway and clear his walkways? He lives in Connecticut, not California where snow would take you by surprise.

After Watson's heart attack, Nannie tells Kristy to call Karen and Andrew's mom, Lisa. She offers to come by and stay with Kristy and the kids. Even for someone who had a friendly divorce, that seems just a little too nice. Of course, she also lets Kristy babysit in her house. Either she's a really big person who wants what's best for her kids, or she's just a littttttttle too close to Watson and his family.

Kristy suggests DM and EM put together a basket to take to the hospital. EM seems like she's a little more "with it" than normal. She wants to put her teddy bear and Booboo (the cat) in the basket. And later, when Kristy says they should add some photos, she grabs every picture in the room, including the ones on top of the grand piano. Not even going to guess how she reached those.

DM holds the bus up while he goes inside to look for his script. It takes them several minutes to find it. In real life, there's no way that bus would have still been waiting for him when he got back outside. The second he ran back in the house, it would have left.

Why does Mrs. Marshall think it's a good idea to leave 5 children with a thirteen year old anyway? Of course, I can't imagine leaving 2 children alone with a thirteen year old either. But she never mentions to the BSC that there will be extra children involved in the sitting jobs, and she pays them the same amount she would for just her two children. Does the BSC not have a per-child rate? I know when I babysat (just a few years after this book was published) I didn't have a set rate I charged, but I did expect that babysitting 3 children would pay better than babysitting 1. And one family I sat for a lot required two sitters because they had five children under the age of 10.

Dawn tells Moira that she will put her in the Pit of Despair for ten minutes. Even when you know the Pit of Despair is the laundry room, that seems wrong. Especially because the BSC doesn't usually threaten their charges.

Dawn sets up a treasure hunt for the kids, who completely destroy the den searching for treasure. When Mrs. Marshall comes home early, Dawn just leaves, without cleaning up. Again, it doesn't seem normal for the BSC, but it's pretty realistic. I imagine that the place would have been just as messy if Mrs. Marshall and Mrs. Phillips had been home with the kids.

When Kristy tells DM about seeing Watson in the hospital, he surprises her by knowing some medical terminology he learned from watching TV.

Kristy makes fun of a banner (yes, another banner) that Karen and Andrew make. They use neon colors and Kristy says it looks like it was made with rainbow sherbet.

Charlie actually installs an intercom for Watson to use.

Karen is acting all sulky and brooding. I almost like it better, because it means she's actually quieter. She is upset because she wants to stay with Watson for the month and it's her mother's month. (I don't remember exactly when that became the arrangement for Karen and Andrew. It seems a little complicated.) Lisa (Karen's mom) and Kristy both say they can't change months because schedules are already set and it's just not a good idea to change them. But really, I just think that Karen and Andrew would be in the way.

That said, though, couldn't Lisa bring Karen and Andrew over at say, 9am on a Saturday and pick them up at 6pm, without it interrupting the schedule too much? Karen complains she only got to see her dad for a few minutes since he's been home. That doesn't seem right (and you know it's taking a lot for me to agree with Karen.)

You'd think that the second time Mrs. Marshall called, wanting a sitter for the same time frame, the BSC would have double checked to make sure they would be sitting just for the Marshalls and not for the Phillipses as well, but they don't. And then Mallory acts shocked when she shows up and there are five children there. Mallory is eleven years old, for crying out loud! These days, you can't even legally leave an eleven year old home alone without a babysitter...never mind in charge of five small children.

Mallory has to deal with an accident and a flood and five grumpy children, so she does the smart thing and calls Jessi to help. Unlike other times when there was an accident and a second sitter was called, Mrs. Marshall refuses to pay Jessi. Mal ends up splitting her pay with Jessi (which was the right thing to do.)

Kristy says she loves everything on her pizza, including anchovies. But in other books, she and all the other babysitters refuse to eat anchovy pizza.

Watson quits his job and takes over all of Nannie's form duties, like making dinner, cleaning and looking after Emily. There's a big brouhaha over one night when both Watson and Nannie make dinner, and Nannie's been quiet and depressed. And yet everyone's shocked when Nannie moves out.

Claudia misspellings: emberessing, expekting. And she writes reel instead of real and burrrrr of brrrr. Not too bad. She uses 13 words and only gets 4 of them wrong.

The BSC makes an executive decision to send two sitters to the Marshalls the next time Mrs. Marshall call, and says one can go home if it's just Nina and Eleanor they're sitting for. Instead of, oh, I don't know, ASKING MRS. MARSHALL HOW MANY KIDS WILL BE THERE and explaining that the club rule is two sitters for more than four kids. That would have been more professional.

That said, Stacey handles herself very well. She tells Mrs. Marshall that if there are going to be five children there, she can't responsibly take the job on her own. When Mrs. Marshall says she won't pay a second sitter, Stacey and Claudia leave.

Jessi is the first one to point out that, even though it's a club rule, they've never told clients that it's two sitters for more than four children.

THE BSC SCREWED UP!!!!!! Shocking.

Okay, flash back to #50, when the BSC was sitting for Norman and Sarah Hill. As I said in that blog, by this book here, it's Norman and Sara Hill.

When things go wrong in the Brewer house, they go really wrong. EM gets the flu. Sam forgot to buy bread, and there's no money for lunches. Everyone misses the bus and Charlie's car won't start. Andrew injures himself with a hammer and Karen spills jam all over the floor. And no one remembers to pick up poor DM after his play practice.

As soon as Kristy asks Nannie to come back, she's like "Hot shit!" and moves back in. Doesn't she have a lease she has to honor?

Kristy says Watson packed Karen and DM sardine sandwiches. Come on. He can't be that clueless.

Even Watson calls Nannie Nannie. Shouldn't he call her by her first name or something?

Lame-o. Kristy's whole family cries at DM's play because he's so wonderful.


Claudia: long red underwear shirt, pinstripe trousers, black and white suspenders, ruby slippers

New Characters

Moira, Bryant and Tyler Phillips (7, 6 and 3)--24, 23 and 20

Next Week: Super Special time! Probably #1.