Wednesday, November 20, 2013

“Oh, yeah. Right. Wheat germ biscuits. I have them hidden under the bed with my endless supply of tofu.” BSC #56: Keep Out, Claudia (1992)

As is so often the case, the plot of this one revolves around sitting jobs for one client: the Lowells. Mary Anne sits for them and finds them angelic but nosy. But when Claudia sits, the kids are brats and have no respect for her. Later, Mrs. Lowell calls and requests anyone except Claudia, making Claud think she’s done something wrong. But when Jessi shows up for the job, Mrs. Lowell basically slams the door in her face. Kristy figures out the family is a bunch of racists and when Mrs. Lowell calls again, Kristy tells her there are no sitters that meet her qualifications.

Meanwhile, the Rodowskys’ urge to be stars causes Claudia to put together a band with all the kids from the neighborhood. They put on a performance of Fiddler on the Roof for their delighted parents. The Lowells are originally part of the band until their mother discovers what music is being played. No one really learns a lesson, except the sitters…which is the most realistic part of the whole thing.

Interesting tidbits

As almost always, we start with the cover. The Lowell children look like something out of my childhood nightmares. I think it’s the way the oldest is staring combined with the way the little one is pointing that makes it so creepy. Plus they’re all so blond they look like they’re starting their own Aryan brotherhood (which I guess is the point.)


Yet another book that’s not ghostwritten. Hmm.

Claudia starts off by making an argument for phonetic spelling. I could get behind a few of her ideas…I really don’t know why the letter C exists except as part of the CH combo. Klaudia, anyone?

Hmmm. Apparently Jessi and Kristy hoard their BSC earnings. I can see Kristy doing this, but doesn’t Jessi use at least part of hers for ballet supplies? She doesn’t strike me as the miserly type either.

Mistake! Shea is practicing piano at the Rodowskys while Archie and Jackie build a rocket ship out of Legos. Jackie, being Jackie, knocks over the ship and goes outside while Claudia and Archie clean it up. Later, Jackie comes back in and Claudia tells him that she and Shea cleaned up the Legos.

I have a hard time believing that Janine would ever misplace her house key.

Since I am such a contrarian, every time they mention that Mary Anne has never made a mistake in the record book, I keep hoping to find a time when she actually does make a mistake.

Mrs. Lowell’s name is Denise.

I remembered very distinctly the part where the Lowell kids start interrogating Mary Anne and wanting to know, among other things, what religion she is. MA replies that she’s Presbyterian and I had no idea what that was when I was eleven.

I would totally play Teenage Mutant Stinky Turtles with Jamie.

With several pianos, a violin, flute, trumpet, guitar, tom-toms and a bunch of kazoos and the like, I can’t imagine the kid’s band could be any good at all. No one but a parent could stand to listen to anything like that.

There’s Mr. Ohdner again!

Is it awful that I am amused by the fact that Jessi wrote an entire page entry for a job that never happened?

Oh, so this is the book where Jessi puts together her Kid-Kit to be an office kit. It’s mentioned in a few other books.

Jackie wants to name their band The Beatles. Instead, they settle on All the Children, with the (sappy) idea that they all have different ethnic backgrounds.

Archie keeps cracking me up in this book. First, he says “Duh” to Claudia and Jackie in chapter one. Then he mis-sings the lyrics to Tomorrow, and when Shea tells him he can’t sing any more, he says, “Can I have a tambourine solo?”

Elizabeth: “Kristy? Are you alright? You’re awfully quiet.” Sam: “Quiet for Kristy, or quiet for a normal person?” I love you, Sam Thomas.

When Kristy figures out that the Lowells are prejudiced, she tells the whole club. Claudia gets mad and you get the idea it’s the first time it has ever happened to her. Meanwhile, Jessi just gets quiet and philosophical—because it isn’t the first time something like this has happened to her. I like the line Jessi’s dad uses to explain prejudice: “They don’t hate you. They just don’t understand you.” (Not that that, or anything else, makes being discriminated against any less horrible.)

Mrs. Lowell calls and specifies a blonde, blue eyed baby-sitter. So instead of being mature and saying that’s not how the club works, Kristy gives her a bunch of reasons not to want the club to sit for her. She says that Logan’s available, but Mrs. Lowell says boys don’t babysit. So she offers to come, but points out she might be babysitting her adopted sister. At least she didn’t come out and say, “Sorry, we don’t sit for bigots.”

It’s kinda odd that the main plot is mostly over by the end of chapter ten out of fifteen.

Why in the world would a bunch of kids have all seen Fiddler on the Roof and prefer the music to Annie? Don’t get me wrong, I love Fiddler. But Annie is way more kid-friendly.

Kristy suggests that Karen might want to be Miss Kazoo during the band concert and wear a bathing suit and a crown. This is (just one reason) why they should quit inviting Karen to stuff.

Poor Jackie. They let him be the MC of the concert and Claudia keeps giving him more and more advice before finally saying he should just use his good sense. Jackie tells her he thinks he was born without good sense. Just because he’s klutzy doesn’t mean he’s got no sense.

Claudia wants to pig out on junk food because her parents are serving liver for dinner. Mal suggests that’s akin to serving monkey, which nearly sends Kristy off on one of her disgusting food tirades. I can’t believe Mallory didn’t know what response that would have, even if she doesn’t eat lunch with Kristy at school.

Apparently, if you dial W-E-A-T-H-E-R on the phone in Stoneybrook, you get a weather report. I am shocked that Claud spelled weather correctly. Whether, waither, wether…I’m sure there are more….

Claudia gives Jackie a hug and he’s disgusted and hopes Nicky (the supreme girl hater) didn’t see. I’m trying to figure out when kids grow out of that and start liking the opposite sex. I feel like that had already happened by the time I was in fourth grade, so I’ll give Nicky and Jackie a couple years.

And of course the concert goes well and the band is never, ever heard from again. The end!

P.S. I was reading the preview for the next book—the Voldemort book (I do not name it) and found a spelling mistake: nickle for nickel. I wonder if that’s in the actual book, too?

New characters:

Caitlin, MacKenzie (Mackie) and Celeste Lowell (8, 6 and 3)—29, 27 and 24
Next week (or possibly the week after): Let’s make fun of something near and dear to my heart:


  1. The Lowell children on the cover reminded me of VC Andrew covers. I personally thought the kids were way to young to have seen Fiddler on the Roof.

  2. I have the book (#57, I assume). I can check for you. But I couldn't find the typo in the preview section of this book. Maybe you mean a different part, or I read right past it? I'm really curious now!

    Thanks for another great review!