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.)
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.