Monday, October 28, 2013

“Someday, I am going to give Cary Retlin a taste of his own medicine.” BSC Mystery #23: Abby and the Secret Society (1996)

This is my first time reading this book. I figured Halloween was a good time for “spooky” “mysteries” and so here you go.
A never-before mentioned business exists in Stoneybrook. I bet you’re shocked by that! The Dark Woods Country Club closed down years before, and now the daughter of a former member, Nikki Stanton-Cha, is reopening it as Greenbrook, a less exclusive club. The BSC volunteers to help and runs into Sgt. Johnson, their police officer friend. His friend David Follman, a reporter, was killed thirty years ago while investigating the awful things that were happening in the club. The BSC follows a bunch of clues that lead them to the former mayor of Stoneybrook. He gets arrested and the club opens successfully. Yawn.
Meanwhile, the kids open their own kids club and won’t let Claire or Jenny (who are being pests) or Stephen Stanton-Cha join. So the three of them open their own club with much better equipment and eventually the two clubs join forces.
Interesting Tidbits
WTH?? Yet another Abby book that starts with Abby talking about how much she hates February. Why do almost all of her books take place in the same month? Is it lazy writing? (In a BSC book? Never!)
Actually, the book starts with Abby having a love scene…with her sports equipment (which she can’t use, because it’s…February.)
How come, if Abby wears her glasses about 50% of the time, you never see her wearing them in the artwork?
Abby totally freaks Anna out by greeting her with a giant hug when she comes home. Anna’s response: “Do I owe you money or something?” (The more Abby books I read, the more I love Anna. She’s a pretty decent straight man.)
Why does SMS have a “job board?” Who wants to hire middle school kids?
Heh heh. Abby’s first impressions of the BSC?
Kristy: bossy
Mary Anne: incredibly quiet and shy
Claudia: wacky (because of her clothes), flaky
Stacey: pretty but not much else
Dawn: mellow, together, health conscious
Jessi: one-track mind (for ballet! Don’t be a pervert!)
Mallory: serious
Shannon: studious
Logan: wow! (This is funny considering that Abby doesn’t “do” boys)
Stephen has a tail in his hair, which cracks me up. I remember lots of boys having them when I was about 9 or so—circa 1990—but that was so far out of fashion by the time this book came out.
I’ve figured out why I have a soft spot for Alan Gray. It’s because I’ve met the real-life Alan. He’s my friend’s brother-in-law; we went to school together and later worked together. He’s also the basis for the character of Nate in my as-yet unfinished The Bandroom Gang’s Guide to Life (he of the 365 Reasons to Hate Nate Calendar). There’s a scene where Alan annoys Kristy and then hides behind Cary and says “Protect me!” that is so BRGGtL’s Nate that I almost feel like I should sue. (Of course, considering I created Nate in 1995 but didn’t really start putting him down on paper until 2000, it would be really hard to sue over that.)
This book takes place after the book where Mary Anne and Logan keep getting notes in each other’s handwriting. I had thought that was one of the super mysteries. I haven’t read the first one, and that’s the only one listed in the back of the book. Wasn’t that the Christmas one? Hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.
I still can’t place where Cary Retlin first shows up in these books.
I’m a sucker for the scenes in books where they make chains out of things or stage word plays, as long as they’re not puns. One of my favorite scenes in the history of the BSC is in SS #8. It’s a MA chapter, but she’s watching her friends. One of the sentences talks about how this person was following this person, who was following this group of people who were following this person. The whole scene that follows just cracks me up. I say that as a prerequisite to my love of the following sentence:
“I glared at Cokie, who was glaring at Kristy, who was glaring at Alan, who was still hiding behind Cary.”
Alan suggests that Cokie’s not old enough to be a hostess. Why not? Logan’s old enough to be a bus boy. They obviously have more lax working requirements in Stoneybrook.
I have a hard time keeping straight all the teachers at SMS. Were we aware that Mr. Fiske has “vile taste in ties”? The Complete Guide says that this comes up in one of the other mysteries….
We haven’t even gotten to the mystery yet, but I already know the BSC will be suspecting the groundskeeper, Mr. Kawaja, because he never talks or smiles and Abby finds him creepy.
I wish there were more scenes with Abby and Mary Anne paired up together. Abby manages to get MA singing…out loud…in public…where other people could hear! In fact, Sgt. Johnson joins them in the middle of “Stop! In the Name of Love.”
I knew I’d get back to you on the Logan/Mary Anne note thing! It’s SM#2, which is not the Christmas one, but rather the one where some of the girls are getting stalked at Shadow Lake. (That makes two Shadow Lake references in one post.)
Sgt. Johnson is apparently an idiot. Not only does he investigate closed cases—which I’m sure does not go over well in most police departments—but he goes around telling his 13 year old buddies all about it.
Granny and Pop-Pop are gossips. Enough said.
Margo and Claire play a game where Simba hangs out with Ariel and Pocahontas. I’m surprised Disney hasn’t done this combo.
The whole Stephen thing is kind of annoying. I know it’s supposed to be a PSA—Stephen is biracial and complains that he doesn’t fit in anywhere because of it—but it’s just not realistic. He’s shy and uses the biracial thing to reject the other kids before they reject him. I’m sure that really does happen in real life, but it doesn’t sound like a seven year old behavior to me.
Claudia spelling: Coorton (Cureton), werked (I almost typed twerked…ugh!), becomming, fasinated, intresting. She also gave up on architecture.
Claudia considers becoming an architect until she learns how much schooling is involved. You’d think interior design would be more Claudia’s thing, but it’s Cokie who is working with the interior designer.
So we’re working with clues here. The one Sgt. Johnson was given was “Watch your step.” This leads to “1954 DF” which is written on the floor under a carpet. Then Stacey finds a piece of paper literally sticking out of the wall (how did no one notice that in the time between when Follman was murdered and when the club closed down?) It says, “The secret society exists. I have found it. The proof is near. The risk is great. Think—penguins.”
I know Stacey’s supposed to be a city girl, but she actually checks the fountain for penguins because it has swans on it, and “You know, swans, penguins. They’re all birds, right?” Really?
The cover demonstrates Jessi, Abby and Stephen looking for penguin suits in the old photos...despite the fact that Jessi was looking in the freezer. That should have been Stacey.
I totally fell for it. The penguin note is not written by Follman, but by Retlin. He says “Complications make life more interesting.” (One of my co-workers gets lines from books tattooed all over her. I can picture that one joining her collection.) By the way, I think I am now in love with Cary Retlin.
Stacey takes Stephen to the “Slate Street Kids Club” (aka the Pike yard) and kids are playing every kind of game imaginable. Two things struck me. First is that they have a mini-golf course running the back yard…despite the fact that, earlier in the story, they were making the mini-golf in the Arnolds’ backyard. Second, the triplets are playing basketball with Jordan providing commentary by last name: Pike passes to Pike, Pike does this, Pike does that…
Finally, after playing around, they discover that the note about 1954 was written in grape juice or wine, so they inspect the wine cellar and find a bottle of 1954 wine with a new note in it: a golf tee reading “Open WWII (DF).”
How does a town the size of Stoneybrook have three WWII memorials in it? I mean, there are plenty of Civil War monuments around where I live, but those are actually battle markers.
The BSC finds a trophy from the 1942 Dark Woods Open that has a false bottom containing a key and a note reading “Shelter favorite food (DF).”
How, in good conscious, can Sgt. Johnson and Nikki approve of a plan to trap Mayor Armstrong in his lies that involves Abby forging a note and sending it to him? Especially because it means that Armstrong briefly takes Stephen hostage.
The center of the maze, where no one had (conveniently) been allowed to go, contains a bomb shelter. In the container of Ovaltine is David Fullman’s reporter’s notebook.
Two final thoughts. This mystery wasn’t as bad as, say, the ghost cat one, or as fun as the haunted masquerade one will be. But why didn’t Fullman just give Sgt. Johnson his notes instead of hiding clues everywhere? Seems like anyone could have followed those. Of course, then there would be no story.
Second, I’m truly disappointed that, other than vague references to “blackmail and extortion,” you really never get to learn anything about the secret society at all.
Claudia: checkered golf outfit she’d found at the club (isn’t that stealing?)
Stacey: white tennis dress
Cokie: maroon and gray dress that matched the room (Abby calls it upholstery)
New Characters
Stephen Stanton-Cha, 7 (24)
Next month: I have NO idea what I’m doing, now that the birthdays are over. December is fully planned for Christmas books. (Heh.) I may go through and blog exclusively books I’ve never read before, or I may give you all a special treat. There are a few books I want to include a video with. I need to demonstrate the “only proper way” to say Stacey’s Emergency, for example, and I need to film part of my blog for Claudia and Crazy Peaches. I probably won’t decide until next weekend when I actually pick out a book.

Monday, October 21, 2013

“Enough with the Snow White songs, already.” BSC #104: Abby’s Twin (1997)

Abby and Anna are both sent home from the school health checks told that they have scoliosis. And while Abby’s is minor and doesn’t require attention, Anna’s is more serious and requires a brace. Abby worries about their twin-ness and starts irritating Anna by trying to cheer her up. Of course, Abby’s version of cheering Anna up involves trying to make her do things and wear things Abby likes to do and wear. Anna eventually blows up at Abby, but they make up in the end.

The BSC decides to hold a Winter Carnival to drive away the winter blues. It’s really boring. They’re afraid it won’t snow in time, but of course it does.

Interesting Tidbits

I “love” Abby’s pants on the cover, but I must say she’d be fashionable now. (BTW, isn’t Anna described as having bangs?)

Okay, so this is the other book where Abby’s griping about winter. I knew it was out there.

We had health checks like the ones Abby is enduring in chapter one, but our gym teacher called us in five or so at a time. The way SMS is doing it—calling all the eighth graders to the gym at the same time to wait in line—is really stupid.

Chapter two has Abby rating her friends. Claudia rates a ten in creativity, hospitality and generosity. Kristy (who sometimes rates high and sometimes low) is high in independence and self-reliance. Stacey is a ten in style, “urban cool” and “coolness under stress.” Mary Anne is “Quiet Coolness” and she gets Logan points (worst points ever). Jessi gets grace and elegance points. Mallory gets points for her wit (since when is Mal funny? Anyone?)

This is the second book in a row where Abby says that Richard let Mary Anne “grow up” because he married Sharon. I’m not sure if it’s bad ghostwriter information, or if it’s supposed to be Abby being misinformed about things that happened before she came to town.

Abby says that, as alternate officer, she’s been the president and treasurer at various points. I know she had to be president during Kristy’s Hawaii trip, but I haven’t read a Stacey book between 94 and this one, so I’m not sure when she was treasurer. Maybe Stacey left early for NYC once?

I grinned just a little bit at this. When Abby’s in the middle of overreacting to something, Anna tells her she’s being overly dramatic and Abby basically screams at her. I never noticed before, but Abby totally is a drama queen.

Kristy decides to raise money by shoveling snow, but she stupidly chooses her neighborhood to shovel in. Yeah, the driveways are longer, but the neighbors are rich, so you know they have services to do that.

Heh. Mal says the triplets are easy to tell apart, but Abby says they still confuse her. I can completely understand that. Mal knows who is who because she lives with them; they dress similarly and have the same hairstyle and all that.

Kristy keeps trying to make the kids sing songs from Snow White. The kids get tired of shoveling AND singing after one driveway (and one song.)

I love this, which happens early morning on a snow day: Abby: “Kristy’s had a great idea.” Anna: “Too bad.”

Stacey’s mom volunteers to drive the BSC to the mall, but they won’t all fit in her car (which is a station wagon). How come they all fit in the Junk Bucket then?

Can you picture Sharon buying mint hot chocolate? Yeah. Me neither.

You’d think Abby would understand Anna a little better than she does. She keeps trying to get Anna to do things Abby enjoys, to wear things Abby would wear, etc., when in most ways, the two of them are very different.

Claudia spelling! Yay! Carnivul, redy, reely, exspected. She also uses exited for excited and grate for great. Not bad considering she wrote four sentences.

I know when I decide to make a snow sculpture, I always make snow Stacey.

Oh, St. Charlie. He gives Anna and Abby a ride to the train station. I hope they pay him.

Of course, Anna wears Laura Ashley.

When Anna gets mad at Abby, she turns on the silent treatment. Of course, Abby is more of a shouter when she gets mad.

Kristy actually thinks the BSC Winter Carnival is important enough that the radio station should announce its cancellation.

I have two things to say about this: “’My parents are having a great time,’ Mary Anne reported. ‘Richard’s flipping tapes and Sharon’s inside baking us some more brownies.’”

1.    Since when is MA calling her dad by his first name?

2.    Have Richard and Sharon caught a case of Charlie-itis? Don’t they have anything better to do with their Saturday?

When Abby and Anna make up, Abby admits that her behavior would have even driven herself crazy. That says something.

And because she’s Abby, she has to end the story with a terrible pun about taking the curves life throws at you.

Wow, this review is a short one. There really wasn’t too much to mock. The book was just boring. No outfits or anything interesting.

Next week: It looks like mystery time! I have only one Abby mystery and I forget which one it is. I haven’t read any of them, so we’ll see how that goes.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'm not sure what happened here...

But I used to have a post for Kristy for President. I don't know if I ever published it or not, but it's gone. Huh.

Monday, October 14, 2013

“I don’t know who screamed louder—Lou or Claudia.” BSC # 116: Abby and the Best Kid Ever (1998)

Wowza. I’d never read this one before, and boy, does it pack a bunch of plot into fifteen little chapters. First, there’s a ton of moving going on. The McNallys, who adopted their niece and nephew (Lou and Jay, introduced in book #62) are moving to town. Lou, previously known as the Worst Kid Ever, is trying way too hard to be polite, clean and courteous, and keeps getting in the way because of it. She comes across as very fake, which Abby thinks is a shame, because when she sees the real Lou, she really likes her. Abby eventually tells her off, which leads to Lou being a brat for a while. Eventually, she reveals that, as expected, she’s afraid that if she’s not perfect, her aunt and uncle will give her away and she’ll have to go back to foster care.

Meanwhile, the Addisons are moving away. Corrie’s sad to be leaving Claudia, but Sean (now known as the Worst Kid Ever) thinks the BSC, with whom he’s had several problems, hates him. The BSC decide for some reason they have to prove to Sean that they don’t hate him before he leaves. Eventually, he admits he was being a butthead because he didn’t want to leave and would miss them.

Meanwhile, Abby’s trying to get extra credit in history class by producing a Black History Month project on the Underground Railroad, with the help of a bunch of BSC clients. It basically is a vehicle for two things: 1) a place for Lou to be too helpful and thereby inadvertently cause trouble and 2) a place for Kristy to be disapproving of Abby, as she so often is.

Interesting Tidbits

The cover cracks me up. It seems that being “the best kid ever” means wearing a white dress and sitting pretty while other people are working. Abby looks totally irritated at Lou, which I think is pretty funny, because unless she was supposed to be helping, why’s Abby so annoyed? Also, it looks like they’re just starting to unpack, yet there’s art on the wall. Seems a little…backward.

I seem to remember at least one other Abby book starting with her bitching about how much February sucks. It’s not one of the ones I’ve blogged, because #121 is a summer vacay book, and the last one was in the fall sometime. But I know there’s another one.

Anna is eight minutes older than Abby.

Abby says she and Kristy share many qualities, but Kristy doesn’t appreciate her sense of humor. I wonder if Abby thinks making jokes about disgusting school food is funny. (Although, the quote on last week’s book about school food was an Abby line.)

Sorry, but I don’t think the Addisons (who are so sporadic that they show up about once every twenty books when Claudia’s doing something arty or when they need a “troubled kid”) getting ready to move away is a “dramatic announcement.”

I like that Abby points out that IQ tests only test one type of intelligence. Janine has moments that prove that she’s not too bright in social situations, for example, which is an area where Claudia succeeds.

Did you know that Mallory is “sturdier in build” than Jessi? I guess this is just to point out that she doesn’t have Jessi’s willowy ballet dancer figure, but it makes Mal sound fat.

Hmmm. Abby says she approves of Logan because he’s a jock and has a sense of humor. If Abby were a doormat like Mary Anne, maybe she’d be a better match for Logan. Because I can’t picture him going out with a girl like Abby who would fight with him for the sake of fighting.

Why is it, when they bother describing the (female) teachers at SMS, they’re all “short and big chested.” I was harkening back to The Two Dollies until I realized that the teacher being described is actually Dolly One anyway.

Another thing I like about Abby is that she’s not a particularly good student (she says she’s an okay student, but you get the idea she slides through with a minimum of work and isn’t too crazy about school). She’s like Claudia in that respect. What I like about it, though, is that Mrs. Stevenson isn’t all up Abby’s ass about it the way Claudia’s parents are. As long as Abby’s grades don’t dip too low, she just lets it slide. Pretty realistic, especially when we’ve seen that Abby’s relationship with her family is a little bit dysfunctional.

Ha! Abby says that signing up for a project was easy as pie. That leads to this: Stacey: “Pi? R squared?” Claudia: “Pie? What flavor?”

Lou’s aunt is named Sarabeth and her uncle is Mac. It’s been a long time since I read #62, so I don’t know if that matches up.

Lou’s brother Jay is eleven. He’s like Shannon’s sister Tiffany, though, in that he’s an eleven year old sittee instead of sitter.

Claudia spelling: didnt, goodby, Shean (Sean—that one I can understand), babysiting, everthing.

Wow. Claudia and Corrie draw a picture of Stoneybrook so Corrie can remember it. She draws some weird things like a house on fire, but when she draws Claudia in, she asks for a lock of her hair to glue onto her picture-head. And Claudia gives it to her! Later, she even cuts Corrie’s hair to use in the picture as well. I would have been mad if I were Corrie’s mom.

Do you think Abby had to go back and read the BSC notebook all the way back to the beginning when she joined the club? Or did the BSC members just fill her in on the whole Lou v. Hannie thing before she went on a joint McNally/Papadakis sitting job? I’m trying to figure out why this wasn’t a Kristy book. Really, that would have made more sense. Or even Dawn, because I remember distinctly one scene where Dawn held Lou while she cried. It could have worked better with any sitter BUT Abby, because it’s just so awkward watching her talk about things that happened before she even moved to town.

There’s a funny moment where Stacey shows up during the McNally’s move (where Abby was doing her joint sitting job) with Jackie and Shea. They say that their parents had to take Archie shopping for boots because he lost one. Abby says that she’s pretty sure Shea and Jackie know more than they’re saying about the boot. I’m picturing all kinds of things, but the first one that came to my head is that it got run down the garbage disposal…

Out of absolutely nowhere, I’m wondering about the Rodowskys. They have a Polish-sounding last name, yet they have red hair, freckles and Irish/Scottish  first names.

Also, Abby finds Jackie’s “accidents” hilarious. I would find a kid like Jackie exhausting. I mean, I’m accident prone and klutzy like Jackie, but he’s got enough energy for three of me. Why Stacey and Abby thought having him help would be a good idea is beyond me. He trips over a chair, drops a box of books down the stairs, and gets locked in a closet. The first two I can understand (and have done before) but you explain the last one to me. (Abby also imagines him getting folded up in the sofa…which is something I’ve actually done before. Please don’t ask.)

Stacey’s idea of a funny book: Finances for Dummies. I’m still wondering about that.

Abby takes her Underground Railroad group to the library and they quickly get bored of researching. Abby decides it’s time to go when the triplets start making photocopies of their faces. Yeah.

Mallory inadvertently rhymes at a meeting, and instead of joking “I’m a poet and I didn’t know it,” she just says, “Vanessa should hear me.”

I’ve been trying to figure out why Kristy’s always so judgmental of Abby, and I think I have it. I get that Abby has wild ideas and then doesn’t follow through on them so well (which is pretty much the opposite of Kristy), but other than that, they’re so much alike you’d think they’d get along great. But there are two elements I just put together now. One is that both girls are alpha females. Of course Kristy’s going to get a bug up her butt if Abby’s ideas go over better than hers do, or if people side with Abby over her. The other came to me when I was remembering a conversation I had with an old friend. Someone had asked why we didn’t date each other, as we had the same sense of humor and interests. He replied: “It’d be weird. It’d be like dating myself.” I guess that’s why the BSC friends are always opposites.

Real product! The Addisons drink Apple and Eve juice.

Oooh, foreshadowing! We meet the Nicholls, who move into the Addisons’ house and are the subject of #117. They are just as faux-polite as Lou is.

I like this, too: Mary Anne: “Do you think your folks would mind if we use this can of artichoke hearts on the pizza?” Corrie: *disgusted face* Mary Anne: “They wouldn’t mind, but you would.”

Sean’s idea of a good insult: Cat litter lips

Vanessa strikes again. Abby explains the final format of the Black History Month project—a news broadcast—to the group of kids, and Vanessa says, “Can I be Diane Sawyer? Or an abolitionist lawyer?”

The titular quote comes from when Lou decides to help Claudia sew and sews her finger to the project.

Abby can tell Linny and Jay are friends because they punch each other all the time and make disgusting noises. Ah, boys.

Yay! Finally someone doesn’t let Karen have their way! Go Abby! (Admittedly, she partly does this to a) stop an argument before it happens and b) because what Karen wants to do isn’t really possible anyway.)

Heh heh. When Lou goes bad, she cracks me up. Here’s a list of things she did when she was in “bad mode:” ruined a scene by jumping out of a box, drew mustaches on some background photos, gave gum to the actors, jumped out of a closet to scare people.

Mistake? The BSC is helping Abby with her project, which they are doing at MA’s house (because of the secret passage) . When Lou starts acting up, Abby’s about to let her have it. Instead, Claudia grabs Lou by the arm and tells her to come help. A few sentences later, it says Stacey swept her out of the room.

This book wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, and that’s because not one but TWO babysitters made mistakes! Abby tells Lou off without thinking about the consequences. And then Stacey says something in front of Sean that pisses him off. Add to that the fact that Abby doesn't really solve Lou's problem; she just brings it to a head so her parents can address it. Ahh, a bit of realism.

Lou has a breakdown and finally talks with her aunt and uncle about her fears that she’ll be given away if she doesn’t behave. It’s a great moment, and Abby realizes they don’t need her for it, so she just leaves. I’m pretty sure that she didn’t get paid. I find this happens a lot to the BSC.

Abby’s concerned that her video editing is choppy and the performances were amateurish. It’s a video made by a thirteen year old on a handheld camera starring a bunch of seven through eleven year olds. It’s not supposed to look professional!

Mary Anne is so diplomatic. She tells Sean things were always interesting when they babysat him. Truer words were never spoken…

Hell, I even liked the ending: Abby tells Sean that, even though she hadn’t wanted to move to Stoneybrook, she was glad she had because she liked it there and had a bunch of great new friends. And then she jogs around town and realizes she knows her way around. She decides she’s not the new kid anymore and she’s glad.


Stacey: blue-green cropped sweater, short black faux-suede skirt, pale blue tights, suede boots (skip the tights and she’s right in fashion for that era)

Claudia: red tunic, red-orange braided belt, pink leggings, black flats with rosettes, red silk scarf in her hair (red, orange, pink; how could this NOT be hideous?)

Lou: green corduroys, blue and green striped sweater, blue socks, green headband; green corduroys, rugby shirt, matching socks and headband

Next week on BSC Timeline: Since I only have a few other Abby books, the selection is limited. Let’s tentatively say #104 Abby’s Twin

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

“Never been in a food fight? Does your lunchroom serve edible food or something?” BSC #90: Welcome to the BSC, Abby (1995)

This is Abby’s first book and it tries to cram a lot into one plot. First, it’s sort of a get to know you for Abby and the Stevensons: we learn about her dad and his death, learn her mom is a workaholic because it distracts her from missing dad (okay, that part is inferred), and that Abby, Anna and their mom are not super close. Meanwhile, there’s a carnival for the arts that the BSC and all the BSC families are involved in. Abby’s fam tentatively agrees to have a booth. When the train they believe their mom is on derails, Abby and Anna pull together. Of course their mom is okay, and the three of them address their dad’s belongings together.

Oh, I almost forgot. Kristy doesn’t trust Abby—it’s been a while since I read #89, but if I remember correctly, Abby kind of grated on her when they first met—because Abby has an asthma attack during a sitting job. She keeps trying to give Abby’s sitting jobs to other people. But she gets over it with time. It’s not really a plot line so much as Kristy being bossy.

Interesting Tidbits

The cover art must have been done before it was decided that Abby had no sense of fashion. She actually looks cute on the cover and very fashionable for that era. (In case you were wondering, those are the Papadakises on the cover. You can tell because all of their pets are represented also. Man, Sari has a lot of hair!)

Pretty much the very first thing is Abby making fun of Kristy’s family and their habit of nicknaming their cars.

Abby’s dad was an environmental engineer.

Apparently, Abby’s family has to order two pizzas even though there are only three of them. This is because Abby’s allergic to everything Anna likes on her pizza.

It’s interesting getting a different backstory than you usually get to read. But it’s then ruined by Abby using the same codified language to describe the BSC and its members. Seriously, if they brought in a new member to make the BSC fresh and interesting, they pretty well failed.

Ha! When describing the pairs of friends, Abby says that Mary Anne and Kristy both have blended families and ghosts. I never thought about that, probably because I don’t believe in ghosts. (It says something that the two people who believe in ghosts are Karen, who is seven and you could almost forgive for it, and Dawn.)

It seems that Claudia and Stacey are knockout babes. Huh.

Best. Description. Ever. “…and looks great in combinations of colors and styles that no one else would be caught dead in.” Hmmm. I wonder who Abby is talking about….

Abby asks the question I’ve always wondered: “I wonder if I would feel flattered if someone named a dog after me.”

Abby’s only been in the club for five minutes, and she already wants to make banners. Greaaaaat.

Don’t the Korman kids go to private school? Why would they be involved in a public school carnival? (The book claims that the carnival is for “all the schools in Stoneybrook”, but that makes zippo sense.)

I’m trying to figure this one out. Abby describes the carnival to her mom and says it’s for a good cause. Anna says, “Do we have to?” because she doesn’t want to participate. And then Mrs. Stevenson decides to help, but she says this right as she agrees: “I see your point, Anna.” Is this a mistake on the ghostwriter’s part, or Mrs. Stevenson’s part (which Abby would have called her on) or am I just reading the whole thing wrong?

Also, if Anna’s so into music, why does she dislike wanting to support the arts so much?

I love how, when BSC charges are told that they can’t do something without an adult, BSC members always decide they count as an adult. I mean, it didn’t bother me when Mallory decided she counted as an adult for going into the attic, but Kristy’s watching a nine year old and seven year old and decides she counts as an adult for hammering and sawing.

I always forget the Kormans are Jewish. Melody’s writing fortunes for her fortune telling booth and writes “You will get lots of presents for Hanukkah.” (My favorite fortune? “If your goldfish goes missing, avoid sushi for dinner.”)

Ooh! Melody likes to wear mismatched socks. She’s super trendy!

Abby’s dad was at Woodstock. This was 1995, so it had been 26 years since Woodstock. I don’t know how old he was supposed to be then, but let’s say he was 18. That would make him—had he still been alive—44 years old at the time, meaning that Abby and Anna were born when he was in his early thirties. That works.

Apparently, Marilyn and Carolyn are really close to Mary Anne…because she introduced them to Elvira the goat.

Abby says M&C have identical hair, but didn’t Carolyn cut hers short and Marilyn grow hers out? Sorta like Abby and Anna. I’m almost certain about this because that’s when Mal gets a haircut too. The cover of #66 backs me up, too.

The Arnolds have a veterinarian? Do they even have a pet?

Darn you, Shannon and Claudia. Karen decides to paint the BSC booth (being built by Charlie and Sam, because…well, what else would they be doing with their afterschool hours?) She’s really just using it as an excuse to exact control and be bossy, but Shannon tells her that color is powerful sales tool and Claudia says the color makes an artistic statement. They’re both right, but why did they have to go and vindicate Karen?

Heh. Later, Karen calls DM David Michelangelo.

Oooh, Claudia spelling time! Bild, carnavil, complaning, chalenge. She also uses pikes for Pikes and Im for I’m.

Abby’s booth, which she is working by herself, involves children decorating cupcakes. Brave girl. Later, Mal and Jessi relieve her so she can enjoy herself. She buys ride tickets from Kristy, who says, “One ticket for the girl wearing the food.” (First time, I wrote ticked for the girl wearing foot.)

The Pike kids have a booth selling crafts, and Abby finds them all wearing price stickers. I wonder how much the Pikes are asking for their kids. I bet they’re going realllllly cheap.

Abby walks back up to her booth after leaving Anna alone there the next morning and finds Anna and Shannon fighting with whipped cream cans. I liked this because usually Shannon is so studious and serious that she’s almost boring.

Mistake! Abby overhears an emergency announcement of the train derailment. Earlier in the chapter, she said her mother was on the 12:45 train. She’s standing next to someone who mentions how the 11:45 derailed, and she replies, “the 12:45 from where?” The two sentences are literally one line apart. I don’t know how they missed that.

Mrs. Stevenson has a “cellular phone” but doesn’t usually carry it.

Abby makes a bad pun about how sweet being ‘the Cupcake Family’ was. And I growled loud enough to scare away my cat. Sorry, Bella!

Blah. I think it would have been awesome if the Dads in the BSC-verse had had some more creative names instead of all being named John/Jon/Jack. Where are the Melvins and Ernests and other old man names?

I actually laughed at this part. Kristy doesn’t call the meeting to order at the second it turns 5:30 (which I actually find highly suspect anyway) and is outraged when Abby calls her on it. But then Abby asks if Kristy’s getting a little behind and points to Kristy’s butt. It’s actually not funny until Mary Anne snorts and sprays potato chips everywhere. I think it’s mostly the idea of MA snorting that makes it funny.

And Abby says that she didn’t really feel like part of the club until she talked on the phone with Dawn. For some reason, that makes me like Abby less. Hmmm.


Marilyn and Carolyn: overalls, denim work shirts, and high top sneakers

Next week: I was going to do a mystery next week, but I think we’ll wait until the last week of the month for that. I’m going to jump ahead to #116 Abby and the Best Kid Ever, instead. Part of me wants to force my friend/hetero-lifemate/pseudo-sister Tessie to read it with me, because she’s a social worker. But I think I’ll save that for when I blog the original Lou book, #62. She can be a guest blogger!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

British covers!

So I am, I must say, loving going through and putting covers on the posts. I'll have the rest of them done probably next week. I get to see "other covers" including one that cracked me up:
I guess that, in French, Stacey is known as Lucy? I don't know French, but this is obviously Mystery #1. Bijou is jewel, I believe.

But I love the British covers. I have the omnibus of #43-#45, and the cover features Stacey and Charlotte. Here are all the British Babysitters:

Awesome. Both Kristy and EM look like ass. And Kristy's mega pissed.
Just me, or does Claudia look Latina? There's an ethnic group you don't get to see (unless you read California Diaries.)
Why is Stacey so much cuter than the other girls so far? Also this is nothing like how she looks on MY book.

Mary Anne looks six in the first one. In the second, she looks like LD from Degrassi! It's freaky!
Dawn looks normal, except she apparently has a mullet.
Because we haven't had enough Degrassi Junior High, Mallory looks like Voula.
Jessi's adorable. And chestier than you'd expect.

Okay. Why is Abby's hair green? Seriously?
Logan's not nearly as cute when he's British.

I couldn't find a picture of Shannon, unfortunately.

“Where’s Logan, Mary Anne? Shouldn’t he be sitting in your lap?” BSC # 41: Mary Anne vs. Logan (1991)

I was horribly, horribly sad when I first read this book. Even though, by that point, #46 had already come out, so I knew that MA and Logan got back together.

The plot of this one is pretty straight forward. Mary Anne feels smothered by Logan, so she asks him to step back their involvement and take a break. (Anyone else hear Ross from Friends: “We were on a break!”) After the break, things go right back to the way they were, so MA breaks up with Logan all together. And that lasts for a whopping five books, until MA narrates again.

The Prezziosos are having another baby, and they worry (rightfully) about their spoiled brat of a daughter being jealous. They try to bribe Jenny, but she’s not happy about getting a sibling until she actually meets Andrea.

Interesting tidbits

I know I’ve said it before (though I’m not sure ever on this blog): To me, it looks like they modeled Logan after Zack from Saved by the Bell (ugh…after writing so much Pike triplet fanfic, I try to capitalize By every time I write it.) This cover is a prime example.

Add to that, I’ve never understood why Mary Anne, who hated wearing braids, always wears her hair in pigtails when it’s long. Is that so she is distinguishable from Kristy on group covers? (It may not have been the intended purpose, but it always worked). Are they trying to make her look like Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island?

MA and Dawn are the only members of the BSC who know what gender of baby Mrs. P is having. They can’t believe everyone else didn’t want to know. I’m wondering about the logistics of that. A online friend of mine (hi Shemona!) had twins, and her husband knew the genders and she didn’t. They did the nursery in yellow and always referred to baby one as “he” and baby two as “she” in order to avoid confusion. Even so, by the time she gave birth, she knew because he’d slipped several times and referred to “the girls.” You know that something would give it away to the rest of the BSC. Had none of them ever seen the P’s nursery? You know that’s going to be the pinkest and frilliest thing in the universe. (I’m only half right. The nursery turns up later and it’s frilly and yellow.)

This is kinda hilarious. MA references all the times she and Logan fought: SS#4 and #25, specifically. When describing these horrible circumstances and the fact that she and Logan always fight in crises, she seems more concerned about the fact that Tigger was missing than that Dawn and Jeff (her stepsiblings!) were missing.

Wait a minute. Jenny is dressed “to the nines” (Mary Anne’s words, though she says they’re Watson’s words) yet she’s wearing sneakers? Ratty sneakers, even? Huh? Pregnancy brain must be getting to Mrs. P.

I like the fact that Jenny knows she’s being bribed into liking the baby.

Real book: MA reads Babar to Jenny.

Truer words have never been spoken: “I must have been the world’s biggest wimp.” (Don’t get me wrong. I like Mary Anne. Hell, I was Mary Anne growing up, except the boyfriend. But she wimps out of just about everything.)

I never got the idea that not needing a bra really bothered Kristy. If that were true, you’d think it would come up in some of the Kristy books, the way Mal’s nose, glasses and braces are mentioned in just about every Mallory book.

I love how the only words used to describe Stacey are sophisticated and super trendy. At this point (1991), that means layers, cowboy boots (my sister, who was eight, must have been super trendy back then too!) and sparkly nail polish (does that make my toes sophisticated now, since they are purple and sparkly?)

Did you know Jessi has beautiful eyes?

HAHAHAHAHA! Claudia and Mary Anne find a big brown stain on Claudia’s quilt and are totally grossed out. Claudia sniffs it and determines it’s chocolate. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often with the way she hides chocolate in her bed. Mal’s disgusted that Claud would actually sniff the stain, but does she really think that Claud would crap her pants and not notice it? (Wasn’t it the movie Baby Mama where the woman’s like, “Is that chocolate or poop?” and then licks the stain to find out? “What if it had been poop?!”)

The Ohdners! I think they’re my favorite BSC clients. They show up once every twenty books or so and book a sitter, but their kids (who are mysteries—no names, no ages, no genders) never go to any of the crazy BSC events. It’s like the Ohdners actually like their kids and want to spend time with them.

Ugh. You’d think someone as into etiquette as the Ps would know that a) you don’t throw a surprise shower for a very pregnant woman (who might pee herself or something); b) family members are never supposed to throw the shower and c) showers are supposed to welcome mothers into motherhood, so they are intended for the first baby, not a second or more. (Sorry. That’s a big pet peeve of mine. I HATE being invited to showers when I’ve already given a gift at a previous shower.)

More real books: Wuthering Heights and To Kill a Mockingbird. MA believes you can’t read these books too much. I love the second, but I read WH once and haaaaaated the characters. Never want to read that one again.

Mary Anne. Never, ever quote Karen again. Or I will stop reading your books.

Why would someone as unathletic as MA have a pair of ice skates? Now, I always had ice skates, but we lived next door to a pond and went skating a couple times a winter.

Logan really is an ass in this book. He actually tells MA she can’t be cold because he’s not cold. Well, Logan, some of us have very poor circulation and get cold very quickly.

Karen’s fighting with her “fiancĂ©” Ricky. Is it really sad that I remember reading that Little Sister book? At ten I read every book I could get my hands on, even whatever my sister was reading (which was the LS books at this point.)

Damn, Karen can mope. She’s like a sullen teenager. Kristy makes her pick out a book and she chooses The Dead Bird. (Is that a real book?)

Heh. Andrew puts glitter in DM’s hair and tells him he’s a punk rocker. These days, they’d have said he was a raver.

Wait a minute. Mary Anne is thirteen, and she’s allowed to stay out until eleven on a date? Richard is okay with that?

I think it’s interesting that the only reason MA goes forward with cutting back the amount of time she’s spending with Logan is because Richard suggests it. She’s been thinking about it for five whole chapters, but won’t go forward without the shove.

It’s so realistic that Dawn has MA’s whole life planned for her. I mean, we know that virtually no one marries their high school sweetheart (Hi, again, Shemona!) but it’s not surprising that a middle schooler would plan her friend/sister’s whole life based on the fact that she’s been going out with a guy for a while. I mean, I know I thought that various people would marry each other back in the day, although none of them did.

I just noticed that 30 books seems to be the length of a middle school relationship in these books. Stacey and Robert are together from #70 to #99, while MA and Logan are together (first time) from #10 to #41.

MA says Logan sits as close to her as possible at lunch without sitting in her food. This made me laugh. He’d apparently been sitting with the BSC at lunch every day for the past couple weeks.

Okay. I’m trying to figure Logan out here. Either he’s horribly insecure and needs to declare to the whole world that a) he’s able to get a girlfriend and b) Mary Anne is his (this was the M.O. of an ex of mine). Or, he’s…what? Why is he up in MA’s grill all the time? Is he trying to get something out of MA physically? Or is he just so clueless that he doesn’t realize how overbearing he’s being? I have no answers here.

Heh. MA can’t concentrate on her homework because every guy in her assignments turns into Logan. I’m picturing this in cartoon form.

I love this exchange:

Mal: “You know, I have seven brothers and sisters.”

Jenny: “I know. I’m sorry.”

This says a lot about middle schoolers, too. Claudia refers to all the guys she had brief relationships with throughout the series and says she fell in love with them. By the time she’s an adult, she’ll realize the difference between infatuation and love.

MA has an overactive imagination when it comes to Logan and other girls. (On a side note, this book is dedicated to the birth of someone named Olivia, and MA imagines that Logan is out with a girl with a romantic name like Olivia.)

Jenny wants MA to diaper her. But how would a newborn diaper fit a four year old anyway? (Is it disturbing that that’s my first thought in this scenario?)

Claudia tries to tell Jenny where babies come from, but MA stops her. This happens because the decorations for the baby shower include a stork. Jenny says she’ll stop the baby from coming by putting up a sign for the stork. Later, Jessi solves stork issue by saying that babies come from inside mommies without any more detail. Which is probably what Claudia was going to say before MA stopped her anyway.

Eww. Sharon put red food coloring in the butter so it would look pink on Valentine’s Day.

Mary Anne worries she’s cracking up because her imaginary relationship between Logan and Olivia has become real in her mind…to the point where she actually mentions Olivia to Dawn.

Logan lures MA to his house by promising her a sitting job, but instead he just “heats up” their relationship without checking with her first. This involves a romantic dinner, a corsage, a rose, 5 pounds of candy (I’m gaining weight just thinking about that), and a bracelet.

Poor Jessi. She’s apparently the last name on the BSC’s list of home numbers. She gets the sitting job for Jenny when Mrs. P goes into labor (side note: what were they going to do if the baby came in the middle of the night? Or during the school day? Or, if like my mom, Mrs. P was in labor and hospitalized for days?) but only because she was the only BSC member to answer the phone.

Okay. So “Mrs. Frank from down the street” is going to come stay with Jenny if it gets too late and Jessi needs to go home. But Mr. P says Mrs. Frank is going to be home all day, so why not just have her come over instead of paying an eleven year old for a few hours?

And so Logan and Mary Anne break up. For now. And my ten year old self weeps.


MA: jeans and a baggy sweater (twice)

Claudia: black leggings (of course!) baggy black and white shirt dress, low black shoes, wild earrings (so many details and yet so vague); large raspberry shirt, short black skirt, black leggings, black cowboy boots, ear cuff with dangly stones

Kristy: jeans, turtleneck and sneakers

Jenny: pink plaid jumper with white shirt; pink jean skirt, red shirt, yellow knee socks, blue sandals (Jessi lets Jenny pick out her own clothes)

New characters

Andrea P (infant)—22

Next month: It’s Abby month. Which is about as different from Mary Anne month as you can get in this series. We’re going to start with our intro to Abby #90: Welcome to the BSC, Abby.


One final Mary Anne note

This picture came from Facebook’s BSC page. The picture comes from Mary Anne’s Book. And it is definitive proof of what I’ve maintained for a while. Mary Anne didn’t really get a haircut in #60; she went bald and bought a wig.