Monday, December 23, 2013

“It’s the jelly. It’s organic.” BSC Super Mystery #4: Babysitters’ Christmas Chiller (1997)

I have been told (repeatedly) that I am a Scrooge. So ignore my fake enthusiasm for this book and for the holiday season as a whole. :P
There are three separate mysteries in this doozy. The most remote first: Claudia and Stacey are in NYC and weird things keep happening. At first they blame Stacey’s boyfriend Ethan, who’s been acting weird. It turns out he has a crazy ex who lives in Stacey’s building and is out for revenge. Because that happens to me all the time.
Second, Mallory stumbles upon a pregnant amnesiac and she actually manages to uncover her identity, despite the police being stumped.
The third mystery occurs in Abby and Kristy’s neighborhood, with some MA and Dawn involvement. Various neighbors keep having their houses broken into and ransacked. The word “Naughty” appears on the wall. Meanwhile, several other houses (Kristy’s and Abby’s) receive messages saying “Nice.” Turns out a lot of the neighbors had let go their gardener and this was his lame-o idea of revenge.
Merry Christmas y’all.
Interesting tidbits
The cover: It looks like they put Logan on the cover and then said, “Wait, he’s not in this story,” and replaced his head with Mary Anne’s. Also, Abby has ridiculously skinny legs for an athlete.

One final note: nothing is stolen at the houses; just ransacked. So why is there a wall of missing electronic devices behind Mary Anne?
I’ve been trying really hard to read all the handwritten journal entries—I used to skip most of them when I was a kid. But this story starts with five pages of Jessi’s handwriting. I got three sentences in and quit. Hope nothing important is in that part!
Oh noes! Mary Anne is late to a meeting! But don’t worry. She “makes up for it” by bringing Dawn with her.
If this book had no title or cover, you’d still know it was a mystery because they bring up the mystery notebook on page 13.
Has anyone else ever noticed that Mallory is totally obsessive-compulsive, especially about the mystery notebook?
You can tell it’s not 1988 anymore when Claudia keeps showing up wearing Docs.
I actually like this: Stacey wants to be a tax attorney so she can fight with the IRS.
Yay, Claudia spelling time! Allot (a lot), all ways (always), exsiting (twice), doubel, hapenned. I can actually understand all of these.
Claudia’s so afraid of getting lost in NYC that she says she wouldn’t have minded holding Mr. McGill’s hand. This would make me laugh if it weren’t for an incident in downtown Chicago when a pedophile kept trying to grab my friend Teah’s hand when we were little girls. (It’s part of the reason I want to work for NCMEC, as mentioned here.) Instead, Stacey grabs her dad’s coat and Claudia grabs Stacey’s. This is smart.
Mr. McGill takes the girls to a restaurant that serves both Italian and “Southern Louisiana.” A) I’ve eaten at a restaurant like that and YUM! B) Why not just say Cajun?
I love how they slip a hint to the solution of the story onto page 33. Watson’s sorting mail and one of the bills is a renewal for the gardener.
Agatha Kristy. Grooooooan!
Kristy twirls her “mustache” while talking to Shannon. Stop copying me, Kristy! (She doesn’t do an evil laugh with it, though.)
Mallory wrote the script for her church’s pageant. Isn’t it already written in the Bible? I guess it sounds better to say she wrote it than she adapted it.
I don’t mean to sound politically incorrect, but would Mallory and Jessi go to the same church? I mean, we don’t really know because church almost never shows up in these books. Abby mentions being Jewish far more than any of the other girls mentions being Christian. I think this book marks the only time the Pikes say grace.
Second time this month Becca has been a ham in a play. Maybe I was wrong last time. This time, she’s the inn keeper and she offers Mary and Joseph a stable with “rustic accommodations.” (For the record, Margo and Claire are shepherds, Nicky is an angel and the triplets are the three kings.)
Mallory is actually pretty good with panicky situations when they come across the amnesiac woman. Jessi can’t think straight but Mal keeps asking her questions and trying to straighten out who she is. She’s the one who thinks of asking if she has an ID on her.
I am totally childish. Stacey wonders what Ethan’s hiding in the closet and the first thought that popped into my head was “himself.”
When Mallory gets called down to the station to talk about Mary the amnesiac, she takes her mom with her. I’d say that was because the SPD finally got some sense, but I think it’s because she’s eleven and not thirteen like the other girls.
Honestly, Mallory would probably make a good police detective. She keeps listening to Mary talk and trying to come up with hints as to where she might be from (an accent) or who she might be.
And now we get our obligatory Chanukah lesson thanks to Abby and Anna. And I’m asleep again. (By the way, why do the Stevensons have a Chanukah party and only invite Abby’s friends? Doesn’t Anna have any friends of her own?)
Mary Anne kicks dreidel ass. I don’t know why that’s so funny, but it is.
Dawn actually likes Abby’s fried jelly donuts. That’s high praise. (And the intro quote is Abby’s response.)
This cracked me up: When the Papadakis house is burglarized, the BSC all go over to offer their help, which the family welcomes (I wouldn’t have wanted them all there, but whatever.) Hannie’s upset and ready to cry, so Dawn gives her a hug. Then a few minutes later she suddenly realizes that Dawn is there at all.
Aww, this didn’t crack me up: Little Sari is scared to go to sleep and doesn’t want Abby to turn off the lights.
How crappy a job is Sgt. Johnson doing that it takes Mary Anne to find critical evidence after everyone’s been told they can clean up?
Okay, so some stuff is actually stolen at the Papadakises, including the VCR.
I can’t believe Kristy’s the first person in her neighborhood to think of a neighborhood watch.
Hint #2: Mr. Korman finds a rake in his yard the day after the Papadakises are robbed.
More Claudia spelling! Werid (weird), startted, prity, turnned, wierd, flet (felt), beeing, followwed, theres (there’s).
Claud and Stacey actually go to a coffee bar. Yet again, I’m reminded it’s not 1988 anymore.
Gross. The control panel in the elevator of Stacey’s dad’s building is covered in “blood” that Stacey doesn’t notice until she hits the button and gets it on her glove. A) How did no one else notice this? B) How did she not look before she touched? Yuck.
Claudia and Stacey love the movie Fame.
I know this isn’t supposed to be funny, but I laughed again when Stacey receives a “present:” a jack in the box with her face pasted over the clown’s. Sophisticated Stacey in the Box. Only $19.99!
Also members of Mallory’s church: the Rodowskys and the Hobarts.
Vanessa manages to rhyme “lambnap” when Claire’s stuffed lamb goes missing, before she realizes how upset Claire is. It would have been funnier if she’d kept rhyming even after realizing how distressing it was.
I love the image of Mal and Jessi beating Stacey and Claudia over the head with so much horse information against their wills that they can’t help but know horsey details.
The two houses that were broken into both had “Naughty” written on their wall in red. Then Kristy’s family receives a note in their mail box that says “Nice.” I get that from a certain twisted perspective. So why did the criminal then break into Abby’s house to leave a “Nice” note? Why would he want to do damage to the home of a family that still employed him?
Abby refers to Watson and Nannie as The Master Plantman and The Guru of Gardens.
Clue #3: Mrs. Korman spotted a vaguely familiar truck driving around at night.
Yet more Claudia spelling! Dont (three times), may be (maybe, twice), parrinoid.
Stacey and Claudia window shop inside Tiffany’s and a clerk even lets them try stuff on. Why? Don’t they work on commission?
“Someone” nearly pushes Stacey onto the subway tracks. This is the part where I would have gotten an adult (other than the doorman) involved, but Claudia and Stacey just keep it to themselves. The rest of the stuff going on in Stacey’s building (gum under the elevator buttons, florescent lights being stolen) is silly and prankish, but that’s actually serious.
Okay, so Ethan’s psycho ex is behind all the stupid little pranks in Stacey’s building, but how much skill does she need to break the elevator so that Claud and Stace are stuck between floors?
Mrs. Pike says she has an announcement to make and Mal assumes she’s pregnant. Her only worry is about how Claire would react. I’d be freaking out, wondering things like where the parents would plan to stuff a new baby in an already overcrowded house.
The Pikes have a fax machine?
Mallory’s one of those nerds who carries a briefcase. That…doesn’t surprise me.
Dawn: “Oh! It’s beautiful!”
Jessi: “The burglar?”
Dawn: “No. The snow.”
One of my favorite moments is when the BSC show up at Morbidda Destiny’s the morning after her burglar alarm goes off and offer to look for clues. She treats them as they should be treated: strangers (mostly) who show up ridiculously early in the morning to bug her. She even glares at Abby for a moment before she realizes she’s her next door neighbor.
I know I said it before, but of the families in the BSC universe, the Kormans are some of my favorites. They just seem normal (barring the Toilet Monster) and they seem to actually like spending time with their kids. Mr. Korman helps Bill, Melody, Linny and Hannie build a snow fort in the yard.
Again, not supposed to be funny, but…: Claudia suggests they go meet Ethan’s crazy ex, Cybil, in the basement like she wants them to do. She says everything will be fine as long as they “don’t pull some dumb horror movie stunt like getting separated.” Later, Stacey points out that “one lunatic could ruin your day.” And then some! Like your makeup or hair!
That said, I would so pay to see movies made out of these super mysteries. They’d be so horrible!
Sharon drives an Outback. Is that environmentally sound? Besides, if you’ve seen the map of Stoneybrook, the Pikes live just doors away from Mary Anne. She lives on the corner of Burnt Hill and Slate, right next door (and across Slate Street) from the Braddocks. The Braddocks’ back yard abuts the Pikes’ side yard. It probably would have been faster for MA to walk there. (Which is what she does a short time later.)
Is anyone surprised that Mary goes into labor right before Christmas in a snow storm?
Ugh. Our Christmas presents to Dawn this year: A) she gets to be in the book at all and B) she gets to be the one to solve the gardener mystery.
Kristy, Abby, Dawn and Jessi all gather at Abby’s during the sting operation to catch the gardener in the act. (Watson calls and fires him, and then police officers are staked out everywhere for when he shows up). Abby’s house is two houses down and on the same side of the street as Kristy’s. How can they even see anything unless the houses are really staggered? You’d think Morbidda Destiny’s house would block the view.
Best (and final) Claudia spelling of the book: Thair (there) aloane, loonatick. (Only three mistakes, but hey, she only wrote one sentence!)
Ha ha ha! Ethan, Stacey, and Claudia try the coat thing again when they’re stuck in the basement without any lights (and, as Claud points out, a loonatick.) Claudia’s holding a shirt and then she realizes that Ethan and Stacey are on the opposite side of the room and she’s holding on to the crazy person!
Claudia’s so considerate. She leaves the room so Stacey and Ethan can make up and make out. Aww.
Sign it’s not 1988 anymore #3: Both Stacey’s dad and Richard have cell phones.
Kristy tells everyone that Mal and MA will be sad to miss out on catching the gardener, while MA thinks Kristy will be jealous that she wasn’t there when Mary goes into labor and Mal finds out her real name (which, for the record, is Lisa Papademetriou.)
Lisa/Mary names her baby Nicholas. It’s funny for two reasons: A) every Greek family I’ve ever known has at least one Nick somewhere in the family tree and B) you could almost argue he was named after Nicky Pike.
And, because Jessi served almost no purpose in this book (she’s also the lucky so-and-so who gets to introduce the club members in the first chapter before anything happens), there is a seven page epilogue all written in her handwriting that I once again didn’t read.
Ooh, there are actually outfits in this one!
Claudia: red turtleneck dress, yellow braided belt, purple tights, yellow socks, black Docs, braided hair with rainbow ribbons. (So many colors…it makes my eyes hurt just picturing it.)
Stacey: dark blue skirt, blue and green patterned shirt that is short in front and long in back, dark blue tights and navy ankle boots, gold star earrings
Ethan: black jeans, black Docs, black sweater, white t-shirt, hair bleached white
Morbidda Destiny: long brown skirt, black and brown sweater
Next week: We’re finishing off the year with #92: Mallory’s Christmas Wish (or whatever the hell it’s called. Bah humbug.)
Starting in January, I’m going back to the roots of this blog. I’m starting over at the beginning of the series and blogging all the books I haven’t read as chronologically as /possible. So the first week of January will be the book that nearly killed the blog. That’s right, I’m finally going to tackle the damn Ghost as Dawn’s House, which will be followed by #10, #12 and #13…


  1. Huh, I was so distracted by the baby Nicholas/St. Nick connection that I missed the Greek part. Really, there could be no name for that baby but Nicholas!

    I'm really looking forward to your review of The Ghost at Dawn's House, because I actually really like that one, and it will be fun to see it from the perspective of someone who doesn't.

    I'm not sure if I should say wish you a merry about have a good Wednesday?

  2. have you got a hand on the sumer before?