Monday, May 6, 2013

"Thaaank yoooou. You saaaaved my sooooul." BSC #29: Mallory and the Mystery Diary (1989)

Stacey and her mom are still unpacking in their new, post-divorce house. They head up to the attic for the first time and find a gorgeous old trunk. Since the McGills don't want it, Mallory takes it home. Inside she finds a bunch of old clothing and a diary of the year 1894 from a young girl named Sophie. Sophie's mother died after childbirth and shortly thereafter, a portrait of her disappeared from the home of her father (Sophie's grandfather.) Sophie's father gets blamed but Sophie's certain he didn't do it. Mal is determined to solve the mystery. She even holds a séance to try to reach Sophie or her father Jared.

Meanwhile, Mal's also tutoring Buddy Barrett in reading. She discovers that he doesn't like to read because he thinks it's boring. Mal lets him read comic books and Encyclopedia Brown books. Since he enjoys mysteries, Mallory tells him about Sophie and the portrait. In a hidden pocket of the trunk, Buddy finds a confession from Sophie's grandfather (Old Hickory) that he couldn't stand to look at his daughter's portrait, so he had it painted over and let his son-in-law take the blame. Mystery solved, and Buddy's been working so hard at reading that he gets moved up to the intermediate reading group from the low group.

Interesting Tidbits

The cover is kind of weird. Mallory and Buddy actually look cute on it--Buddy has super-long eyelashes--but there's something off about it. After looking at it for about ten minutes, I realized that they have very pink skin tones. I guess it could be from the lighting. Or bad art.

Mallory muses on the difference between a journal and a diary; she says a diary is where you record your every doing during the day, every day, while a journal is where you record your deep feelings and only write when you feel like it. I was kinda rolling my eyes at this. But I'm also reading all of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice books (there are a whole lot of these, and I read about the first ten or so when I was 12ish). In the very first one, Alice is eleven and her teacher makes her keep a journal, and the teacher says the very same thing about journals and diaries. I guess Mal is vindicated. (Of course, The Agony of Alice was published in 1985, so it's possible that the ghostwriter had read it. Unlikely, but possible.)

Apparently, being a member of the BSC makes Mallory feel cool. I guess something has to.

Stacey and her mom decide to keep the packing boxes that held all their stuff. Stacey says its because it took so much effort to collect them, but I think there's something else to it. Perhaps they don't believe they'll be staying in that house for long? It wouldn't be surprising, considering they've moved three times in less than two years.

Who moves out of a house and leaves an attic full of stuff? I realize it's in the attic for a reason, but you've also kept it for a reason. There must be some kind of value to it.

Heh. Stacey calls Claudia and Mal "Nancy Drew and Miss Marple" because they want to know what's inside the trunk, which is extremely heavy. Mal only manages to get it to her bedroom by paying the triplets a dollar each to help move it.

The trunk is locked, and there are various suggestions on how to get it open. Adam suggests a bobby pin; when that doesn't work, Byron suggests a credit card and Vanessa, a clothes hanger. Later, Vanessa suggests smashing the lock with a hammer and Kristy thinks Mal should use dynamite.

Poor Buddy. It's pretty embarrassing when your little sister reads better than you do.

Heh heh. Buddy: Mallory. I am not Cinderella. You can't order me around. Mallory: I'm not your wicked stepmother, but I am your tutor, and it would help if you followed directions.

Sophie's spelling is almost as bad as Claudia's. She uses laff for laugh and borther for brother. Also, complacatons, thinck, Octuber, becuase, cleer, eventully, certin. You know it's bad because Buddy calls her on it.

Because Mallory is almost as stupid as Dawn, she's convinced that Sophie and her father are haunting Stacey's house.

The Pikes aged nine and older have to be in bed by 10. I remember being horribly jealous of this, because I had a 9 o'clock bed time when I was reading these books...and I was older than Mallory.

Kristy's brothers and sisters are bored, so they sit in front of the television and watch Sesame Street...and Peewee's Playhouse. Remember when Peewee was cool instead of a pervert?

Sweet...chapter nine starts by describing everyone's clothes. (See below) I had a jumpsuit very similar to Stacey's, about two years later, except hers is striped and mine had tiny flowers on it.

Jessi posits that a silence in the meeting must be at twenty to six, because silences happen at twenty to or twenty after the hour. I remember hearing this before. It's actually five forty five, so maybe the lull monster's clock was slow.

Mal, when a kid uses pictures and the words around it to figure out a word he doesn't know, it's called "context clues."

Buddy's teacher, Mr. Moser, must be taking lessons from the Kishis' rules of Good Literature. He told his class that comics were trash. Honestly, much like Claudia, if you can get a kid like Buddy to enjoy reading anything, his reading skills will improve, and he'll be more likely try reading Good Literature. (Look, I caught a Case of the BSC Caps!)

Kristy, describing a séance to Jessi: "It's when a person wearing a turban on her head goes into a trance and the voice of George Washington comes out of her mouth. Then she collapses on the table from the effort of it all." (She's been watching too many cheesy movies.)

Everyone gets into the séance idea except for Kristy and Stacey, at least initially. Stacey eventually decides it might be fun, and Kristy agrees only if she can be the channeler...which she does, dressed up in a stereotypical gypsy costume. I think she just uses it as an excuse to dress up. Karen plays Lovely Ladies, Kristy plays Madame Kristin.

For those of you up on BSC history: Yes, Sophie's grandfather is THE Old Hickory, upon whose grave they embarrassed the hell out of Cokie in #17.

After they find the painted-over portrait, they show it to Stacey's mom and tell her the story. She offers to have the original portrait restored, and she says she's doing it because she doesn't want Sophie and Jared's ghosts hanging around her house. (Let's hope she was kidding.)

By the way…I totally rocked a side ponytail today. Although I didn’t wear a super-trendy outfit with it, I did feel like Claudia for a minute. Then I realized I can spell and that thought went away.


Mallory: jeans and white shirt that says I <3 Kids (makes her sound like a pedophile)

Kristy: jeans, turtleneck, pencil over one ear, visor

Jessi: leotard, sweatshirt covered in hearts, pink pants with a drawstring

MA: printed jumper over a striped shirt (this outfit is making me dizzy)

Claudia: jeans, white blouse, pink sweater, white socks, and loafers

Stacey: blue and white jumpsuit with cuffs, high tops with the tongues rolled down (this needs to NEVER come back into fashion.)

Dawn: pants, baggy shirt, straw hat

Next week: #80 Mallory Pike, #1 Fan

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