Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Paint goes on paper. Not people." BSC Mystery #32: Claudia and the Mystery in the Painting (1997)

You know how I feel about the mysteries. This one is convoluted and more than a little silly. Claudia ropes the BSC into helping Rebecca Madden, whose grandmother (conveniently named Grandmother Madden) was an artist. She was believed to have destroyed most of her artwork sometime before she died. Now her estate is up for auction and Claudia believes that the art is still somewhere in the house. There's all this goofiness because a Mr. Ogura keeps coming by the house, but never actually talking to Rebecca, despite the fact that she says he's working with her on appraisals. Turns out, there are two Mr. Oguras, father and son. Father is working with Rebecca, while son is in cahoots (love that word!) with Rebecca's cousin Suzanne to find and steal any artwork that turns up. Claudia discovers the art was all painted over and the BSC stops the bad guys. Tra la la, happy ending.

The subplot is so much easier to explain. The museum from mystery #11 is opening a "Kaleidoscope Room" that allows kids to do art projects. The woman running the room wants all the kids to have matching projects, so she doesn't let them be creative. Eventually, she sees the error of her ways, thanks to Claudia and Abby.

Interesting Tidbits

Two things about the cover. First, Claudia's outfit isn't so much wild and crazy as stupid. She's wearing a shirt that's too long to be 3/4 sleeved and too short to be long sleeved. Plus, dark wash jeans with a light wash jean coat cut into a vest. BRRR.

Second, that's one ugly cat (and I love cats.)

Oooh, Mrs. Kishi outfit on page 2! (see below)

Claudia's dad is a partner in an investment firm. I'm not sure if I knew that from an earlier book or from the Complete Guide.

It's not 1988 anymore: Mrs. Kishi shows Claudia how to use the electronic card catalog. (Claudia calls her mom Superlibrarian.)

Heh: "You have a babysitting job with this family, not a detective job."

How does Claudia manage to hide chocolate in her bed? Don't M&Ms left under a pillow turn to chocolate soup after a while?

Abby gets scared of having to supervise kids on an art project. That seems...out of character. Humorously, though, when she asks what she's supposed to do, the BSC members give her "helpful" suggestions: Make sure the kids paint on paper, not each other (Kristy); Stop them from eating clay (Stacey); Make sure they don't put beans up their noses (Mal)

Okay, so Abby's allergic to paint? No wonder she was having issues with the art project. I take back what I said.

Mrs. O'Neal, the woman running the Kaleidoscope Room, is pretty dumb. She puts out outlines of a bear for the kids to paint, but only gives them brown paint (she's never heard of polar bears? panda bears? black bears?) And then she gives the kids clay but only wants them to run it through molds. Yet she's got all these other supplies visible where the kids can see (and want) them. She's more concerned with order and mess than with creativity.

Heh II. Charlie drops Kristy off at the Maddens'. He sees Claudia looking at the rocks at the side of the house--where the key is hidden--and asks her if she's making a rock sculpture.

Claudia decides that Ms. Madden, who is a friend of Kristy's mom, must know a little about the BSC, because she sends Stacey to organize clothing in the closets and has MA working on the books in the library.

Grandmother Madden had a bunch of cats, all of whom looked the same, and called them all by the same name. I can't even imagine doing that. After Mistletoe died in March, I didn't even want another cat that looked like her.

Claudia is at the museum and an employee tells her it's closing in 15 minutes. Claudia's also worried she'll be late for the BSC meeting if she doesn't hurry. What kind of museum closes at 5 or 5:30 in the afternoon?

Heh III: "This deliveryman, who didn't look like a delivery man..." (Stacey) "Meaning?" (Claudia) "Meaning he didn't have any pizza?" (Guess who)

Page 108 of my copy has a random black blob over a couple of words. Doesn't affect the story in anyway, but I've never seen anything like it.

I like that, although we don't see the Addisons very often, anytime Corrie shows up, the book is art related. And they're consistent about Corrie's parents avoiding spending time with her.

Heh IV. Abby's trying to compliment Corrie's work, but can't think of an artist. So she says it's as good as Pele. Sean tells Corrie who Pele is (how does he know?) and Corrie thinks that means that Abby is insulting her artwork.

There's this whole stupid conversation about how Stacey should have redone her fingernail polish before putting on decals. It keeps coming up over and over, so you know it's important. In fact, it's how Claudia figures out Grandma Moses Grandmother Madden had someone paint over her artwork.

They must have been getting lazy by this point in the series: the "painting over the artwork" thing has already been done.

Claudia totally trespasses on the Madden property. She knows where the key is, but doesn't have permission to use it.

When Claudia discovers young Mr. Ogura and Suzanne Madden stealing the paintings, they lock her into a closet. Which made me laugh for some reason.

Conveniently, all the really good stuff with Ogura and Suzanne getting captured happens "off screen."

This one really did suck. BLEAH!


Mrs. Kishi: black skirt, red blouse, earrings that Claudia made: books that really open

Claudia: navy pants, white t-shirt, red suspenders, red and white checked shirt, sunburst earrings; black skirt with flowers embroidered at the hem, pink top, papier-mâché bead necklace, beret, earrings

Stacey: red and black plaid skirt, clunky shoes, black ribbed turtleneck (she sounds like something out of Clueless)

New Clients:

Jimmy Cook (7)--23

Next week: A Forever Friends book. I have two, neither of which I've read. We'll see.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"I know what 'culinary' means, believe it or not." BSC #33: Claudia and the Great Search (1990)

Sorry if this one is short or sounds distracted.  I read as much fan fiction as I could find after last week, and now...I'm writing my own. It's going way better than I expected; it's currently 45 pages long and about one-fifth written. So watch this space.

But of course, I couldn't give Claudia the short end of the stick, so here we are with another fun BSC adventure. Claudia is not exactly bright in this book: she takes the fact that there are few baby pictures of her to mean that she must have been adopted. So she actually starts trying to find her birth parents. But like most half-baked ideas, it goes nowhere.

Meanwhile, Emily Michelle is having trouble adjusting to her new family and life, so Claudia tutors her on two year old skills and she get accepted to start preschool the next year. Go Emily!

Interesting tidbits

The cover. Ignore Emily's awesomely 80s appliqued sweat suit and Claudia's tubular ponytail. Why do the Brewers have a purple couch with pink throw and pink and turquoise toss pillows?

Claudia starts the book by wondering why it's two species and one species, instead of specie or specy. And I feel like I'm reading a Mallory book.

Since when do high school awards come with checks? Unless, of course, they're scholarships.

All of Janine's friends dress like stereotypical nerds, with floodwater pants, clothes that don't match, and pocket protector.

I love how the BSC always act like it's so surprising that a) MA managed to get herself a boyfriend and b) he likes to babysit.

Heh. After Stacey gathers the dues, she then announces that they're rich. I'm completely picturing her doing an evil laugh and twirling a mustache.

Claudia's parents get Janine a cake, and Claudia is a little too gleeful that her cake says "Congratulations Jeanine." (As a side note, I went to school with a Jeannine,  and as a kid, always thought that Claudia's sister's name was spelled wrong...)

Okay, so I buy that parents take more pictures of first born children than the other children. But isn't it odd that there are pictures of Janine's birthday parties but not Claudia's? Claudia's whole theory about being adopted focuses on the fact that there are no pictures of her as an infant, but there are--they're just mixed in with pictures of Janine. She expects that there should be an infant album of Janine and an infant album of Claudia. (Which, I must point out, is how most families I know who actually have photo albums did it.)

Fun fact: Claudia's mom is certified to teach elementary school.

Another fun fact: Janine looks just like her dad.

Claudia has a wild imagination: not only does she decide that she must be adopted, she decides the fact that no one ever told her she was adopted means that there must have been some "terrible reason" for it. For example, she must have been kidnapped from the hospital, and her parents are really criminals on the lam.

Claudia acknowledges that she always thinks of Watson as Watson instead of Mr. Brewer (the way she thinks of Kristy's mom as Mrs. Brewer).

David Michael has a cold, so his words are all stuffed in a way usually reserved for allergy sufferers. ("Doe. She breaks theb.")

Why does Karen have a nightlight, and Emily doesn't?

So Claudia tells Stacey she's pretty sure she's adopted, and instead of telling her to go talk to her parents (good advice), Stacey tells Claudia she should go find her birth parents.

Kristy is babysitting the Papadakises while Dawn is sitting at Kristy's house. Dawn invites Kristy and the kids over to play with DM and EM, then cracks up because she just invited Kristy to her own house.

Does Claudia really think that she can just call an adoption agency and they'll give her details of her adoption over the phone? Especially knowing she's underaged?

Claud actually goes to her pediatrician to get her records. Despite the fact that she hasn't been there in a year, the receptionist not only recognizes her, she remembers that Claudia was two when she first came in.

Claudia would actually make a really good teacher. Not only is she really good with Emily in this book, she tutors Shea in reading in #63, and I remember reading about a book where she's tutoring math.

Stupid Stacey with her hearts over her Is.

Mr. Perkins in a lawyer.

Giant eye roll time: the Perkins girls "cook with real ingredients," meaning they are allowed to actually cook. So Myriah eyes the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies and gets them exactly right. She's five. I've been making cookies for years and I couldn't do that.

Real book: Lois Lowry's Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye. Of course, it's about a girl's search for her biological family.

Why does Claudia assume all births are listed in the local paper? I can think of a lot of reasons why people would want NOT want to list their child's birth.

The book makes a big deal about Claudia's tutoring EM, but other than the session before the tutoring actually starts, I've hit page 110 and not seen a single tutoring session.

Nofe-air! Nofe-air!

Okay, you actually get to see a tutoring session on page 120.

Why does Claudia tutor EM in her room? Wouldn't the living room, which is not a pig sty, be a better choice?

Eventually Stacey starts making sense by telling Claudia she's jumping to conclusions. And then tells her to ask her parents. Shocking!

Stacey has been feeling tired all the time recently, yet there's 10 more books before she really gets sick.

Claudia calls Kristy's house, and Emily answers the phone and says, "Hi, Ko-ee."


Janine: pleated plaid skirt, white shirt with Peter Pan collar, stockings, blue heels

Claudia: short black skirt, oversized white shirt with turquoise and pink poodles, high, side ponytail with pink clip

Next week: probably a mystery

Monday, July 1, 2013

If this is wrong, I don't want to be right!

I know that I'm way behind the times. But I just discovered slash.

Let me rephrase that: I just discovered BSC slash.

So. I'm now out of the slash-fan closet. And I must have more. If anyone is actually reading this (hello? hello? crickets? someone? it's getting to be like the part of a horror movie where the girl thinks something bad is going to happen because it's so quiet, and then someone jumps out at her from behind a tree or something...but she doesn't die for a couple more scenes.)

Recommend me some slash if you can...

July: Happy Birthday, Claudia!

In onor of Claud, I desided to spel this entry totaly rong. Ive always loved reeding about Claudias cents of stile. Yet it allways bothered me that she wore "crazy" cloths in the books but yusualy looked normle on the covers: jeens, teshirts. And onestly, most of her outfits reely wernt that weard uther than haveing weard colur combinashuns.


Comeing up next week: I have sum books picked out for the month but I havn't decided witch won to do yet. Maibe #33 Claudia and the Grate Seerch.

"What's under my scarf? Not much!" BSC #48: Jessi's Wish (1991)

For such a well-meaning book, this story is surprisingly boring. It's another one of AMM's PSAs. Jessi helps take over the Kids Can Do Anything Club (Kids Club) when one of the advisors goes on a trip. The club is a service club at the elementary school, and members include Becca, Charlotte, Vanessa, Nicky and a new character named Danielle, who has leukemia. Jessi sees how hard life is for Danielle and her family, so she tries to help Danielle's dreams come true by contacting a Make a Wish-style organization and arranging for them to take a trip to Disney.

In the subplot, all of the other BSC members decide to do volunteer work for a month and we get to hear about what a few of them are doing.

Interesting Tidbits

This book is dedicated to the "real" Danielle.

When Jessi lists her family members, she mentions her mom, her dad, Becca, Squirt, Misty the hamster and Aunt Cecelia. In that order.

Did you know that best friends have some things, but not all things in common? I didn't. Thank you, chapter 2.

Real books: Aside from all the horse books that always get mentioned in Jessi and Mallory books, there's Green Knowe books by L.M. Boston and Tom's Midnight Garden. (Incidentally, I was telling my mom about how I'd never heard of The Secret Language as mentioned in last week's post. Yet, there at one of my favorite thrift stores was a copy...sitting right next to a copy of #92, Mallory's Christmas Wish, or whatever. I bought Mallory and left the other book behind.)

Heh. Mallory has decided to get a nose job after she makes her first million.

When everyone signs up to volunteer for a month, Kristy worries that they'll be so busy that the club will go out of business. I know plenty of people who work full time and volunteer, so the members should be able to babysit, go to school, and volunteer a couple hours a week.

You know it's bad when I've gotten to chapter 6 and I've barely even snarked.

Apparently, the BSC members are writing up their volunteer work in the BSC notebook.

A boy asks Kristy to help him spell Leonardo and Donatello, and she thinks he's writing about artists instead of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Danielle has been in chemo since summer and has lost her hair, yet she still has eyelashes. Is that normal? I read a LOT of Lurlene McDaniel back in the day and usually when chemo patients lost their hair, they lost all of it, or just had patches here and there.

The BSC members gather together in Dawn's barn to talk about their volunteer work. Kristy points out that it's not a real meeting, and Mallory says, "Right. No phone, no alarm clock, no visor." Because they couldn't have a meeting if Kristy wasn't wearing a visor. (Incredulous Kristy, anyone?)

The Make a Wish organization in the book is called Your Wish is My Command. I had been thinking it was called One Last Wish, but I've realized that I've always just thought of this book as a poor man's Lurlene McDaniel book....I was one of those girls who loved to read until I sobbed. I've considered blogging all of my "death" books after I finish with the BSC.

Mr. and Mrs. Roberts are named Ray and Faye.

Claudia spelling: hart atack, afternon, scluptures, glased (glazed), profeshional projeck, leting, prety, before. She also used grate for great, there for their, cold for could and ether for either.

Damn Karen. She's in the art class where Claudia is volunteering, along with Margo P and Jackie R. She manages to convince the other kids in her class that the elephant she's sculpting is starting to move. Claudia convinces her to shut the hell up by telling her that if it's alive, she can't glaze and fire it.

How is Charlotte in third grade? She's the same age as Becca and she skipped a grade. I'm pretty sure that one of the last two books I read had Charlotte in fourth grade.

Heh. Charlotte's Barbie collection consists of three Barbies, some clothes, a spool of thread, yo-yo, and flashlight. Charlotte refuses to explain to Jessi what the last three items have to do with Barbie.

Poor Greg. He's only six, and the whole recent past of his life has focused around his sister's illness. The Robertses have a barbecue for Danielle's friends (Charlotte, Becca and Jessi) and interrupt a treasure hunt so Danielle can take her pills, and then say the guests have to go home. Greg gets all upset because a) Danielle gets candy with her pills, and he doesn't get any and b) he's not tired yet and the guests are all leaving. I totally get that; my sister was sick some when I was even younger than he is (nothing too serious, but it was recurring and she eventually had to have surgery) and I remember being so jealous of the attention she got when she had to take medicine and especially of the helium balloon she got when she was hospitalized. Seems stupid now, but the other, healthy kid kind of becomes an afterthought sometimes.

Apparently, Jessi doesn't just hang her posters on the wall; she frames them all behind glass.

This whole book makes me want to gag. It's too sweet and goody-goody. First there's the whole lesson on how hard it is to have cancer; then we get to hear about a brain damaged little boy, and a bunch of kids with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, and they even throw cystic fibrosis in there but don't explain what it is. The whole thing is just designed to tug at your heart strings, but it's so poorly done and you don't really get enough details about most of these conditions/diseases to actually learn anything or feel any hope/sadness about the kids.

There are literally nine postcards in the book that Danielle wrote on her three day vacation.

Ooh, a book reference that was actually current at the time the book was published: Lois Lowry's Number the Stars (one of my favorites.)

The book ends sort of sadly but realistically: Danielle is back in the hospital.


Danielle: oversized jeans, oversized t-shirt reading BALD IS BEAUTIFUL, red head scarf

New characters

Danielle and Greg Roberts (9 and 6)--31 and 28