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

1 comment:

  1. As if Claudia can't spell babysitting - she's in a club dedicated to it !