Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"They'll make you eat rotten vegetables! You have to watch out for those theater people!" BSC #18: Stacey's Mistake (1988)

Just when you thought you'd gotten rid of Stacey permanently after book #13, she gets a book while living in NYC. Because of a meeting about the homeless problem, five families need babysitters. Since Stacey can't babysit 10 kids at a time, she instead invites Claudia, MA, Kristy and Dawn to the city for the weekend. They spend the whole visit embarrassing her. They're too touristy, too loud, too scared. Eventually they make up and have a good time on the sitting outing to a museum and Central Park, and they meet up with Laine for a night of dinner and theater.

Interesting tidbits
And we get to start the book with a letter from Claudia to Stacey, complete with misspellings! I'am (I am), exited (excited), frist (first), woud (would), speding (spending), musims (museums). She also uses their instead of there and attempts to spell Bloomingdales a couple times before saying, "that big huge department store."
Bad start for book: Stacey starts off by discussing roaches.
I hate when books start in the middle of the plot and then the narrator stops and says, "You must be so confused. Let me explain." Lazy, lazy writing.
Interesting: when they don't live in Stoneybrook, both Dawn and Stacey go to private school. I can see it for NYC, but Dawn lives in a nice suburban area of LA, where you'd presume the public schools are pretty decent.
And right after roaches, we get a long essay on the issues of homelessness.
When I read these books, I have visualizations of many of the characters, like the BSC members and some of the parents and sitting charges. Some of them come from book covers (Logan), or super special illustrations (Stacey's mom); others come from the descriptions of the characters in the books. Stacey's dad straightens his glasses in this one, and I was thrown off. I haven't read this one since circa 1991, and I always pictured Stacey's dad as being one of those guys who looks younger than he really is (colors his hair, wears a goatee, etc). I think this comes from reading the later books where he has a girlfriend/fiancé whose name is Samantha, which makes him sound like he's robbing the cradle. Glasses so did not fit into my image of him.
Stacey says she quit perming her hair and let it grow out. This makes me laugh because it's 1988 and the height of mall hair. She should have a perm that's about a foot high.
Stacey describes Kristy as sort of cynical. Sounds about right.
The second Stacey sees her friends, she's instantly embarrassed by them. I get her freaking out over MA acting too touristy--she's right that it will make them a target--but she's worried because they're 15 minutes late; embarrassed because they're loud (they're teenaged girls! or crying out loud!); and embarrassed by Kristy's collie hat and Dawn being a big worrywart.
Dawn read the news about NYC the night before and freaked out because two people were murdered and a building collapsed the night before. Kristy jumps in and the following exchange takes place:
            "And then," added Kristy, "someone fell down an open manhole and was attacked and eaten by alligators and sewer rats."
            "Really?" said Dawn, her eyes widening.
            "I'm making it up!" cried Kristy.
            "You are? But I've heard that there are alligators in the sewers. And pickpockets--"
            "In the sewers?" asked Kristy.
In this era of the books, they've made the relationship between Kristy and Dawn a little bit combative. They spend a lot of time calling each other on their shit.
Stacey's also embarrassed because Claudia's giant suitcase is on wheels. These days, I won't buy a suitcase if it doesn't have wheels. (I'm reading this while watching Degrassi Junior High, so I keep trying to capitalize Wheels. Right now, he's bugging Shane and Spike, who are just about to "do it" and get pregnant. Broomheads!)
At the Hard Rock Café, the girls get seated at a table labeled Chubby Checker and none of them know who that is. Considering AMM's obsession with 1950s and 1960s music in these books, I'm surprised.
After the Café, they all debate where to go. Claudia wants to go to a museum, but everyone else wants to go to Bloomingdales. Even Kristy, which I find a little suspicious.
More Claudia misspellings: peopel, magazin, modles, sox, arested, allmost, siting, apratment (apartment). She also writes New york and misspells Mary Anne.
Mary Anne actually addresses a letter "Dear Dad and Tigger."
According to Stacey, Laine likes gourmet food and has eaten pigeon before. (I think a lot of people have: it's called a hot dog.)
Stacey obsesses over how old people look when they're dressed up. She says Claudia looks 15 and Laine looks 19.
Of course, Claudia and Laine hate each other almost instantly.
I don't normally spend much time feeling sorry for Dawn, but I did after MA tried to make friends with Stacey's NYC friends by making fun of her best friend.
Kristy signs a letter (full of lies) to her parents Ciao. It doesn't sound like her at all.
Oh, Claudia. More misspellings: Babbysiters club, forteen, yetserday, parnets, apratment (again). She also uses car instead of care, are instead of our and their instead of there. Oh, and she says luv, which is usually reserved in this series for teen romances. (MA luvs Logan, Stacey luvs Robert.)
Dawn says she didn't expect to sleep well, thanks to "burglies and ratties." But after the stressful day she had the day before, I'm sure she slept some. As silly as I think the plotline of Dawn being afraid of NYC is, I know how exhausting it is to worry and be afraid all day long.
Kristy tells Dawn to relax because there are things to worry about that she's never even thought up, like food poisoning and getting hit by a bus. Way to be supportive.
Stacey says Claudia is usually pretty neat. Has she forgotten what Claudia's bedroom looks like?
Stacey organizes her friends and the sitting charges for the walk to the museum, but they quit using it once they get inside...which is how they lose Henry inside the museum. Wouldn't it have been smarter if each of the sitters had been personally responsible for two of the children--the two whose hands they held on the way there?
In a letter, Kristy spells Nannie as Nanny.
The BSC is brave to take a child with a wheat allergy to a restaurant. I have a gluten allergy myself and it's difficult to find foods that don't have wheat in them. Luckily, Leslie is satisfied with a salad. Hope they remembered no croutons.
Even Stacey is surprised by a man riding a tricycle, with three Persian cats in the basket. I guess I'm immune to that kinda thing because when I was in college the first time, a guy used to ride by all the time on an oversized children's bike with a banana seat, sucking a pacifier.
Heh heh heh. Leslie doesn't feel good, so Dawn whisks her aside. Later, Stacey thanks her and reminds Dawn of how she feels about "the B-word." Dawn says she doesn't mind a little B. We use the same letter at work all the time, only it's a different "B-word."
Ooh, lucky us. Even more Claudia misspellings! I'me, whent (a favorite of hers), Centrle, remerber, scarry, adertiure (adventure), stachew (statue), climed.
MA writes a postcard to Logan and tells them the BSC rode in a limo...which, as she explains, is short for limousine. *eye roll*
Apparently, the BSC was so busy, they forgot to tell Stacey that Jeff moved back to California (despite the fact that Stacey actually mentioned this earlier in the book.)
Stacey actually agrees to let MA crank call Jeff in California.
Claudia, MA and Kristy are afraid of lox. I wish I had some lox right now.
Stacey says goodbye to her friends by yelling her mother's favorite line, Have fun and be careful.
Happy turkey day y'all. Gotta go. Lucy is just about to get "molested" by the substitute teacher...at Degrassi Junior High!
Kristy: white turtleneck with red and blue hearts, red sweater, jeans
Claudia: black sparkly outfit with stars (real descriptive)
Dawn: peach sweater dress, white lace stockings and flats (this sounds like it would be in style now)
Stacey: short yellow dress, white stockings, yellow socks
Mary Anne: long paisley skirt, white ruffly blouse, boots
Laine: black dress, stockings and shoes, silver bangle and squiggle pin, permed mallrat hair
New characters:
Leslie Reames (4)--28
Henry and Grace Walker (5 and 3)--29 and 27
Natalie and Peggie Upchurch (10 and 8)--34 and 32
Carlos, Blair (m), and Cissy Barrera (9, 7 and 5)--33, 31, and 29
Dennis and Sean Deluca (9 and 6)--33 and 30
Stacey's NYC classmates Jim Fulton, Read Marcus (f), Coby Reese, Carl Bahadurian (13)--37

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Why, no. I never have. What is a democracy, Mary Anne?" BSC #22 Jessi Ramsey, Pet Sitter (1989)

AKA Jessi Animal Sits and Referees her Friends

I think I literally have not read this book since 1991. I picked it up and got to chapter 5 before I realized I hadn't made a single note or tidbit about it. Had to start all over again.
Jessi takes a sitting job for the Mancusis, who have no children but lots of pets--three dogs, five cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, a snake, etc. There's not too much plot involved in that, but one of the hamsters is fat and short tempered. When Jessi takes her to the vet, she learns she's pregnant. Jessi, the Pikes and Jackie R. all get to have a hamster baby.
The B plot gets more action than the A plot in this one. Kristy, Dawn, Claudia and MA are fighting because Kristy's being very bossy. The BSC decides to have elections to decide who should be president, vice president and so on. After Jackie Rodowsky tells Kristy she's bossy, she starts to realize she's been rude to her friends. They have the elections, and every single member votes the girls back into their old office.
Interesting Tidbits
Is it really dorky of me that I'm going through all the BSC titles and trying to see if ALL the babysitters have their last names in the title of a book? This was the first one. Let me pull up my title list:
Kristy: #118

Claudia: #85 and #101

Stacey: #94

Mary Anne: #114

Mallory: #80 and #126

Jessi: #22
Abby: nope
In this one, Jessi says she may want to be a dancer someday, and Mallory might want to be a writer, but they have plenty of time to decide. I wonder when that changed to them definitely wanting to go professional.
Jessi describes Kristy as sounding "cross as a bear." It sounds very British.
When Jessi rings the Mancusis' doorbell, she hears a large number of animal noises from within. I'll buy the dogs and birds going nuts and even the guinea pigs (I used to have one that "wheeked" whenever someone came in the room.) But Jessi can hear cats meowing and mewing. Most cats I know either run from the doorbell, or run to the doorbell, but they aren't vocal about it.
Mrs. Mancusi makes Jessi talk to all the animals, and she can't think of anything to say to them.
Claudia spelling: waht (twice), babbysat, invinted (invited...the hell?), thoght, amials (animals), Mankusees (Mancusis), afriad, ginny (guinea), Chewey (Chewy). She also uses now for know, but she manages to spell trouble right, which is not normal for her.
Claudia takes two four year olds (Jamie Newton and Nina Marshall) to visit Jessi at the Mancusis', and they take the three dogs for a walk. Chewbacca, the Perkins' monstrosity of a dog, joins them and actually behaves himself for once.
Sort of off topic, but when I read these books as a child, I'd never seen Star Wars and had no idea where the name Chewbacca came from, but it's highly appropriate for that dog as he's described.
One of the Mancusis' birds says "Where's the beef?" I bet a number of readers didn't remember the commercial. I only remember it because there's an old family joke about my uncle stealing the beef.
Even Jessi seems annoyed by the girls groaning every time Dawn (or, of course, Stacey) asks for dues.
It seems really unprofessional of Jessi and the other babysitters to bring various charges to the Mancusis, when they never asked for permission to do so.
When has Myriah Perkins ever heard of the mumps? I've never even known someone with the mumps.
Jessi says that because she and Mallory are the youngest, they belong on the floor. I guess it's supposed to be a counterpoint to the fighting going on between the thirteen year olds, but it just sounds kinda silly. What would happen if they came in and sat on the bed one time?
Kristy is really insensitive in this one. Usually, she's bossy but not too over the top. But after all five other members all told her that a checklist that proves they're reading the club notebook was unnecessary, she made one anyway. And tacks it up on Claudia's bulletin board...over pictures of Stacey.
Of course, they have to have a special meeting outside normal hours to have the election.
Jessi describes Mallory as usually being cheerful, which doesn't quite sound right. Maybe because in the book right before this one, she spent the whole time whining...
If they're going to bother with "new" elections, why couldn't Jessi and Mallory run for the offices also? Apparently, being secretary or treasurer is too hard for an eleven year old or something.
AMM must have known someone with a deaf white cat. Not only was the second cat in mystery #3 (the one the Craines adopted after the first was returned to his owner) deaf, but there's a deaf white kitten in this one.
Jessi tries to name the pregnant hamster (for some reason, I keep trying to type hampster...) and the first thing that comes up is Suzanne. Yep. She decides to call her Misty, but the hamster's real name is Snicklefritz.
Even though I didn't plan it this way, it's perfect to read a book about elections right before the real elections. If I'd been a real dork, I'd have read #53 Kristy for President instead.
Oh, ha ha ha. Jessi says if she were in a cage giving birth to hamsters, she wouldn't want faces peering at her. Mallory tells her if she were giving birth to hamsters, she'd be a miracle of science.
Dawn says she used to have a parakeet that could talk and flew into a bowl of mashed potatoes. I wonder if that is ever mentioned in any other books, like Dawn's autobiography.
Claudia spelling: she had boxes under her bed labeled: skeches, pantings and calage supplies.

Dawn was a lot funnier in the earlier books than she became later on...she, Claudia and Jessi were rummaging under Claud's bed when Mallory, Kristy and MA came in. Kristy says she wants to start every meeting by seeing them backing out from under beds, and Dawn replies, "My backside is my best side."

Dawn is eating potato chips in this book, because she throws one at Kristy.

I'm not surprised to learn that AMM had a cat named Tigger growing up. When I was a kid, I knew she modeled Mary Anne after herself, and I thought for a while that her name might have been Ann Marie Martin, and that's where the name Mary Anne came from. (Of course, the info on the back page tells us that her middle name is Matthews.)

My copy of the book is one of the redone ones with the photos in the back. In Jessi's case, she looks like a totally different person in every photo. And Aunt Cecelia looks like Urkel.

Claudia: shirt covered in leaves, green leggings, yellow push down socks, purple hightops, headband with purple bow
Jessi: white sweatshirt with ballet shoes on it, jeans

Next week: Now that I actually have a couple Stacey titles (yaaaaay!) we will be visiting New York next week with #18 Stacey's Mistake.

"I was going to get up anyway. It's time for my next feeding." BSC #31 Dawn's Wicked Stepsister (1990)

AKA Dawn Gets Revenge for Absolutely Nothing

I remember this being one of my favorite Dawn books as a child, but I'm not sure why. I think it had something to do with how she successfully tricks MA. I always wanted to pull off a prank or something that required that much planning.
This one picks up after the cliffhanger of #30. Mary Anne and her dad move into Dawn's house, and the two families have trouble merging. MA and Dawn insist on sharing a room, which does not go well. Eventually Dawn gets her family to talk to one another and discuss their problems...except she doesn't take her own advice. Instead, she tricks MA into moving into the spare bedroom, which makes them both happier.
Over at the Pikes, they experience the infamous Pike Plague. Mallory has chicken pox, the triplets have pneumonia, Claire and Margo had bronchitis, Nicky has broken fingers, Vanessa sprains her ankle, Mrs. Pike injures her elbow playing tennis (while all her kids are laid up...) and Mr. Pike burns his hand. There's no real plot, just a few sitting jobs that are sort of chaotic.
Interesting tidbits
Oh, the cover. First of all, MA is taller than Dawn in this picture, while Dawn is supposed to be the tall one of the group. Jeff looks totally exasperated (and really super short, like if he stood he'd come up to Dawn's elbow). I'm amused by the fact that they're all wearing stripes. I have a shirt with stripes just like MA's...except that it isn't five sizes too big, and I don't wear it tucked into mom jeans with pegged legs.
Dawn thinks she should have caught her mother's bouquet, just because it is her mom. If that's the case, then what's the point of even throwing it? Sharon should have just tossed it straight at Dawn. (It seems to always be the most unlikely ones who catch the bouquet, like the four year old flower girl or a person who normally can't catch anything.)
One thing has always kind of bugged me about the story of Sharon and Richard. Dawn says that her grandparents sent Sharon to school in California to get her as far away from Richard as possible. Wouldn't Sharon have had some say in where she went to school? I mean, she could have chosen to go to the University of Connecticut or something. Maybe they threatened not to fund her schooling if she didn't go where they wanted. I don't know, but it's a plot hole and it bugs me.
Dawn says all of MA's grandparents are dead. Obviously, this was before it was decided that MA lived with her grandma in Iowa for a year.
"But fate intervened. (I read that sentence in a book once. Isn't it great?)" No, Dawn, it's lame and clichéd. Just like the BSC!
Do Sharon and Richard really not have any friends besides their coworkers? They invite the BSC, the Pike triplets, and work friends to the wedding, and no one else.
Dawn is surprised when Sharon takes Richard's last name. She says Sharon said it was okay for Dawn and Jeff to keep their old last name, but why wouldn't it be? Especially because I'm sure their dad would be all HELL NO to his kids taking their stepfather's name.
Really? Charlie comes to the wedding to pick the girls up and take them to MA's house. First, he's got nothing better to do on Saturday afternoon? (Forget Sam. I think Charlie was really the Thomas kid with the hots for one of the BSC members.) Second, eight people in what is probably a car for four? Doesn't Stoneybrook have a public bus or something?
Ooh, chapter two in this book compares Kristy and Claudia! We don't usually get to hear that one!
There's an odd mention of Claudia's one-off boyfriend from SS #2.
Wow, Dawn has a thing for italics in chapter two. She italicizes once when talking about MA, twice when talking about Jessi, three times when talking about herself, and five times when talking about Stacey. Plus, she writes in all caps at one point. (Actually, she continues to have this issue throughout the whole book.)
Tigger cries pretty much the entire day after the Spiers move into Dawn's house. It could have been worse--he could have hidden under the lazy susan and not come out for two weeks.
You don't learn how the BSC operates until chapter 4 in this book.
Dawn says the BSC members are like sisters, and Logan is a brother to them all. Ew to Mary Anne dating her brother.
I love it when MA gets bitchy. She and Dawn fight over a sitting job, and MA tells her that she's fat.
Myriah Perkins makes MA help her write a letter to the President (who, back then, would have been Bush Sr.)
I know Cam Geary has always been described as MA's favorite star, but is it an established fact that he is on a TV show?
Claudia spelling: yisterday, Piks (Pikes'), wehn, becuase, triplits, beter, realy (twice). She also says couldnt' and uses you're instead of your. But the best part is when she says about Mal: "Maybe you didn't lick being babbysat for agian..."
The Pikes play hospital...while Mallory has chicken pox and the triplets are at the doctor's. Claire goes to the Pike hospital ER with a broken head.
Mal's being all pesty while Claudia babysits, and Claud tells her to play with her kid kit.
Here's what's weird about the Pike Plague. I know that in families with small children--especially those with that many kids--germs go around and around and around. But usually everyone gets the same thing at the same time. Either everyone gets the stomach flu, or they all get the same cold, or whatever. But the Pikes have a little bit of everything. And some of them aren't even sick, just physically injured.
I love that Dawn can see how Sharon and Richard are not solving their problems, just skirting around them, but doesn't see how she needs to address her issues with Mary Anne.
Richard organizes his clothes by color. The colors in his sock drawer are in alphabetical order.
Sharon gets really upset because Tigger throws up. At least Sharon didn't find the barf with her bare feet.
Claudia's wearing a candy necklace to the dance, and Dawn's only comment is, "You had candy in your room and you didn't eat it?" (There goes that italics monster again.)
We meet the infamous Carol in this one, and she says that she'll never marry anyone. We all know how that worked out. (Incidentally, I was talking to someone who read the California Diaries books and she said that Carol and Dawn's dad have a baby during that. While Dawn is still in eighth grade. So, in one year, both her parents got married again and her dad managed to pop out another kid. They move about as fast as Stacey's dad getting engaged just months after getting divorced.)
Uh oh. Dawn's getting deep. She wonders if "real" sisters (only she used italics, not quotes) fight half the time and then are close the other half. She should have met me and my sister--I'm in my thirties and she'll be thirty this year, and we still get along best when we're in different zip codes.
Apparently, Mary Anne is an awful liar. She ends up giggling when she tells Dawn that she's not giving her a job simply because Jenny Prezzioso is a brat.
When Dawn and MA get into a shouting match while doing their homework, Sharon and Richard come in to mediate. I don't even think I was surprised when I was ten that Sharon took MA's side, and Richard took Dawn's.
During a Kristy/Jessi joint entry, Jessi says that Nicky and Vanessa will be back in school on Monday. Does that mean that they were staying home from school for three broken fingers and a sprained ankle?! My mom would have never let me stay home for something silly like that. (Although it could be a bit of a problem for Nicky if his broken fingers were on his writing hand.)
I've finally figured out what was bugging me so badly about last week's Mallory book. It's that they always describe Mallory as being sensible, partly because she's the oldest of eight kids and partly just from her personality. So it bothered me that she thought a cat was a ghost. Which leads me to....
While Kristy and Jessi are helping out at the Pikes while all the Pikes (except, by now, Mal) are injured or sick, Mal keeps giving them instructions. Breakfast is a set menu and there are no substitutions. Kristy and Jessi think she's nuts, but she's right. When Jessi gives Margo a banana (not on the menu), it turns into a brouhaha and breakfast ends up going on for two hours.
Charlie is a saint. He goes grocery shopping for the Pikes and then helps Jessi, Kristy and Mallory cook dinner.
Instead of talking to Mary Anne and trying to solve her problems like a grown up, Dawn decides to be sneaky and scare MA out of her room. (*shakes head*)
She also decides she needs revenge on MA for all the things she's done to her. Which is a pretty stupid list, and half the things on it are about MA complaining about the events of the book--which is exactly what I've been reading Dawn doing for the last 123 pages.
Mistake: Charlie picks Mary Anne up for a sleepover at Kristy's. Dawn runs out to meet them and says hi to Kristy, Jessi and Sam. (Italics mine, not Dawn's.) Since Charlie had just come from helping at the Pikes', I'm pretty sure Sam wasn't with them. (And she probably would have greeted Charlie also.)
Dawn decides to pretend to be a ghost in the secret passage, but she's not going to just be a generic ghost. She has to pretend to be the ghost of Jared Mullray.
I remembered this as soon as I started to read it. Claudia is standing on her head, trying to get blood rushing to her brain, as she has a big test coming up. She believes the extra blood flow will make her smarter. Kristy theorizes that, since she's been sitting all day, she must have a really smart ass. (Only she doesn't get to say that. They don't even let her say butt or bottom or anything. She gets cut off.)
When she gets back up, Claudia is light headed. When she asks if that's how it feels to be a genius, Janine shouts out a no from her room. Claudia rolls her eyes, but I thought it was kinda cute.
Dawn tells her family they need to be more honest with each other. Pot, calling kettle. You are black. I repeat, you are black.
Mallory has chicken pox scars, and she won't tell where they are. But apparently Jessi knows...
Claudia: pink sparkly high tops; short, flared skirts over leggings

Next week: I'm between two Jessi books. I was going to do #103 Happy Holidays Jessi, but I'm a major dork and figured that, next time Jessi comes up will be December. So it's probably #22 Jessi Ramsey, Pet Sitter.


I know I'm a little behind on posts. It's probably going to stay that way for a few weeks. I'll post last week's blog and this weeks, and you'll probably see me back in a few weeks. Next week is final exams and I have four papers due. So, Stacey and the BSC are going to have to hold off, at least until I finish writing.

Also, I found out last week that my beloved Mistletoe has about a month left to live. I may put the blog on hold as real life spends some time slapping me about. I promise I will not give up on the BSC...I'm too stubborn and I'll need a good distraction.

Stay tuned.